Strengthening Civil Society in Myanmar (Paung Ku)

Project completed

By supporting Paung Ku, SDC contributes to more participation of vulnerable communities and women in decision-making processes and equitable access to public services. Paung Ku is a local non-governmental organization, unique in the reach of its network in Myanmar’s civil society that advocates for the rights of ethnic and marginalized people and strengthens civil society to drive positive social change towards a development that is pro-poor and environmentally sustainable. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Human rights
Democratic participation and civil society
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
01.07.2019 - 30.06.2023
CHF  2’401’580
Background At the beginning of Myanmar’s democratic transition in 2010, the enabling environment for civil society in Myanmar rapidly expanded; unmentionable issues could gradually be discussed by civil society organizations (CSOs). However, under the current civilian government which came into power in 2016, many CSOs have struggled to play a meaningful role in the transition. The government has increased mechanisms of tight oversight and control. In addition, freedom of expression is declining, which has brought about self-censorship not only for journalists, but also for CSOs. Above and beyond, the fear is developing among the public to collaborate with CSO services. For CSOs to navigate in an increasingly complex context and to reach their full potential, they need better technical and strategic support, and financial resources as well as interconnectedness.

The overall goal of Paung Ku is that the civil society is driving positive social change.

Through a core contribution to Paung Ku, SDC supports both, programme activities and organizational development of civil society in Myanmar.

Target groups Civil Society Partners across the country that focus their activities on supporting ethnic and marginalized population, in particular 170’000 community members from Paung Ku's partners that directly benefit from partners’ actions. 
Medium-term outcomes
  • Civil society is capable to organize and use resources effectively.
  • Civil society is capable to analyze and apply learnings to address social injustices.
  • Civil society has the space to influence decision-makers.

Expected results:  

  • 92 Paung Ku partners will be better organized and effectively manage their resources.
  • 84 partners of Paung Ku will be reporting in a more reflective way and will use learning to address social injustice.
  • 79 partners will be capable to expand their space for better influence.

Results from previous phases:  

Results linked to program activities and CSO partner support:

  • Paung Ku support enabled grassroots civil society actions to influence policy advocacy at national level and beyond. Paung Ku and their partners lobbied successfully for more inclusive actions from power holders related to land, labor rights, education, media freedom, more sustainable investments, natural resource governance, ethnic minority issues, etc..
  • Paung Ku has 400 civil society partners spread across the country, they are supported in building and using their capacities to influencing decision-makers (‘vertical reach’) and to connecting with marginalized communities (‘horizontal reach’).
  • In 2018 alone, Paung Ku supported 330 civil society partners through grants and in-kind support and facilitated 421 reflection and learning events for 144 civil society partners.
  • Advocacy developed over time from ‘no coal activism’ to more constructive ‘sustainable green energy policy options’.

Results linked to internal organizational development:

  • Governance structure, new administrative and human resources manuals were revised, and gender and diversity policy was introduced with the support of an advisor supported by SDC.
  • Paung Ku was able to renew its registration with the General Administration Department.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Private sector
  • Foreign private sector South/East

Coordination with other projects and actors

Regular coordination meetings are taking place with other donors of Paung Ku (Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), MISEREOR, Oxfam, Danish and Norwegian Church Aid (DCA/NCA) and others).

Paung Ku continues to participate regularly in the LagLog activities (local LOGIN network).

Synergies with other SDC local and land governance partners are being promoted.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    2’401’580 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    2’544’418
Project phases Phase 3 01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027   (Current phase)

Phase 2 01.07.2019 - 30.06.2023   (Completed)

Phase 1 01.02.2014 - 30.06.2019   (Completed)