Myanmar

Switzerland provides the population in Myanmar with support in three main areas: peace, state-building and protection; vocational training and market development; and health. The military coup of 1 February 2021 brought radical change to the country. Switzerland adapted its cooperation programme and reoriented its engagement towards the basic needs of the population and conflict reduction. 

Map of Myanmar
© FDFA

With the Swiss Cooperation Programme for Myanmar 2019–23, Switzerland pursues the overarching goal of contributing to a peaceful, inclusive, democratic and prosperous society by promoting sustainable development, conflict transformation, reconciliation and the participation of all people in state-building.

The cooperation programme focuses on the following three areas: peace, state-building and protection; vocational training and market development; and health. Transversal themes are gender equality, good governance, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. The geographical focus is on south-eastern Myanmar (Kayin State, Mon State and part of Tanintharyi Region), southern Shan State and Rakhine State. 

Military takeover

The military coup of 1 February 2021 brought radical change to the country, exacerbating polarisation, conflict, poverty and humanitarian needs. Switzerland strongly condemned the military coup and stopped the collaboration with the military government so as not to legitimise the coup.

Switzerland remains engaged in Myanmar, but has adapted and reoriented its cooperation programme. Interventions that mitigate the impact of the crisis on the population and contribute to conflict transformation and dialogue will be prioritised until the end of 2023. Existing thematic areas in which Switzerland has proven experience, expertise and partnerships provide a solid basis for responding to the growing needs of the population and promoting a negotiated solution to the crisis.

Fragility, conflict and human rights 

Peace, state-building and protection

Switzerland works with decision-makers at different levels to promote peace, democratic principles and decentralisation. It promotes dialogue between parties to the conflict and a strengthening of human rights. It empowers people and communities to participate in decisions that directly affect them, related to their access to land, resources and services. It also seeks to improve protection for vulnerable groups from conflict, violence and natural disasters.

In 2019 and 2020, Switzerland supported negotiations between the parties to the conflict within the framework of the peace process and the revision of the Code of Conduct for democratic elections. It supported civil society and local communities in articulating their positions on decentralisation and securing their access to land. Since 2019, Switzerland has been increasingly involved in the construction/maintenance of child-friendly schools that are safe from natural hazards. It has also been working to protect stateless people, those at risk from landmines and those who suffer from discrimination.

Disaster risk reduction, emergency relief, reconstruction and protection

Skills and market development

Switzerland aims to increase capacities for gainful employment and market-oriented production through improved access to services and markets, with a focus on including remote and conflict-affected areas where employment opportunities are limited. It aims to improve income and livelihood opportunities for vulnerable women and men through technical vocational education and training models inspired by the Swiss dual education system.

In 2019 and 2020, Switzerland and its partners trained 14,000 learners (49% women) in the hospitality sector and other professions. It supported over 23’000 rubber farmers and tappers (36% women) with training in gender, land law, tapping skills, rubber processing and improved linkages with processing plants.

Vocational skills development

Health

Switzerland is committed to strengthening the health system and improving access to health services in conflict-affected and rural areas. It promotes cooperation between governmental and ethnic health organisations in the provision of high-quality health services, thus helping to build trust and strengthen social cohesion.

In 2019 and 2020, 160,000 births were attended by skilled health workers and 197 inclusive Township Health Plans were developed with Swiss support. In 2020, Swiss partners were at the forefront of the response to COVID-19, implementing prevention measures, procuring personal protective equipment and testing kits, and promoting policy dialogue and providing technical support to health actors on the ground.

Health

Approach and partners

The cooperation programme combines the instruments of diplomacy, humanitarian aid, development cooperation and peacebuilding to respond to the complex situation Myanmar. Switzerland’s main partners are NGOs (Swiss, local and international), ethnic organisations, multilateral organisations, the private sector and authorities at central, regional and district level*.  

*After the military coup, Switzerland ceased its collaboration with state authorities and increased its cooperation with other partners to achieve its goals.

Current projects

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Strengthening Civil Society in Myanmar – Paung Ku

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027

In Myanmar, civic space has considerably shrunk since the military coup. In the absence of a legitimate government, networks of independent civil society organisations (CSOs) are essential actors for basic service provision and promotion of democratic values and human rights. Showing commitment to localisation, Switzerland will enable local CSOs to further support vulnerable communities and to protect the foundations of a pluralistic and inclusive society.  


Myanmar - Strengthened self-reliance of displacement-affected communities in Shan, Rakhine and Kayah States (SSDC)

15.06.2023 - 14.06.2026

Myanmar’s prolonged civil war intensified by the military coup has displaced more than 1.8 million civilians and caused immense suffering. Local actors have been faster, more effective and generally better placed to respond to humanitarian and basic needs of displacement-affected communities. Switzerland will strengthen localization of aid by partnering with Meikswe, a multi-sectoral local NGO operating in the nexus, to increase protection and self-reliance of affected communities.


Myanmar - Joint Peace Fund (JPF)

01.06.2023 - 30.05.2027

The conflict in Myanmar is the world's longest ongoing civil war, having lasted more than seven decades. As there is no development without peace, Switzerland supports the Joint Peace Fund (JPF), a multi-donor fund, for joint action on the peace process launched in 2016. Following the military coup where levels of conflict have risen exponentially, the fund focuses on conflict transformation rather than peace and prepare stakeholders to engage in dialogue and negotiations.


Myanmar: Primary Health Care

01.05.2023 - 30.04.2026

The military coup in Myanmar has interrupted the progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and provoked a quasi-collapse of the public health system. Through the Primary Health Care project, Switzerland supports conflict-affected communities in Karen State by providing essential lifesaving healthcare and quality basic maternal and child health services through strengthening the ethnic health system and the community-based service provision.


Women and Girls First

01.05.2023 - 30.04.2026

In Myanmar, the pandemic and military coup have increased the risks for gender-based violence (GBV) and deep-rooted gender inequality. Through the Women and Girls First programme, Switzerland supports women, girls and young people to realise their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and fulfil their potential. It does so by strengthening community-based and ethnic systems to be more responsive to needs related to GBV, SRHR and mental health.


VSDP - Vocational Skills Development Programme

01.04.2023 - 31.07.2028

COVID-19 and the military coup had a negative impact on the availability of jobs, economic resilience and access to training in Myanmar. This last phase of the VSDP project aims to provide an alternative for women and youth to get relevant training and (self-) employment while supporting micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises to improve their income, contribute to learning and create jobs. The project builds on Switzerland’s strategic position and experience in the vocational training sector.


UNDP: Area-based Support to Strengthen Resilience in Myanmar

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2025

Myanmar is in a protracted crisis situation; this project adopts a nexus approach combining humanitarian, development and peace interventions to address long-term challenges and achieve sustainable results. Through its partnership with UNDP, Switzerland will strengthen the capacities of vulnerable communities, enabling them to meet their basic needs, recover from external shocks, and promote their resilience.


Contribution to UNHCR Programme Budget 2023-2024 (earmarked)

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

UNHCR is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners due to its unique mandate by the General Assembly of United Nations to provide protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, refugee returnees, and stateless persons. The strategic direction 2022-26 concretise the overall mandate of UNHCR for the upcoming years. Contributing to these directions allows Switzerland to achieve in particular the human development goal defined in the Dispatch to Parliament on International Cooperation for 2021-24.


Gulf of Mottama Project

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

The unique mudflat ecosystem of the Gulf of Mottama is one of the most important mudflat ecosystems in the world. Communities relying on it as a source of livelihood and the impact of climate change threaten its biological integrity. Building on Switzerland’s specific expertise in Southeast Myanmar, the project aims to conserve the wetland’s unique biodiversity, strengthen climate change adaptation and provide vulnerable communities with sustainable livelihoods and markets.


IIMM - Myanmar – Contribution to the Trust Fund for the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar

01.12.2021 - 31.12.2023

By contributing to the Trust Fund of the IIMM, Switzerland will actively support the collection of evidence on international law abuses and crimes in Myanmar, for increased accountability and with the aim of deterring future international crimes. The support of the Mechanism complements Switzerland’s Country Program by strengthening accountability for human rights.


Women and Girls First

01.05.2020 - 30.04.2023

SDC up-scales the “Women and Girls First” program of its priority partner UN Population Fund in southern Shan, where no other donor is present. The program strengthens government, civil society and ethnic health providers’ systems to be responsive to the needs of young people related to sexual reproductive health and rights. It improves access to comprehensive gender-based violence, mental health and psychosocial support services, and enhances social cohesion.


Culture for Development - Myanmar

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

The project aims (i) to support freedom of expression and cultural identity, (ii) to promote skills and jobs in arts and culture. This will contribute to support socio-economic development and to strengthen social cohesion. Covid-19 has massively eroded livelihoods and carries a further risk for fundamental freedoms and civil society participation. The support to the culture sector is a relevant complement and leverage to Switzerland’s current interventions for peace, democracy and sustainable development in Myanmar.  

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