Dr. Cynthia: How foreign donors can bring peace to Myanmar

Dang Ngo

"We hope to see stronger partnerships between Yangon-based groups and border-based groups, working toward a common goal. So many people I know and have met over the last two years are very excited about going inside Burma and seeing the change for themselves. As people start to do that more, social networks will develop and people will make better connections. But those connections need to develop into partnerships in order to create real lasting change and deliver effective services."

— Dr. Cynthia Maung, Founder, the Mae Tao Clinic

Longtime CPI partner Dr. Cynthia Maung recently spoke with Devex, an international development business and news website, about the challenges presented by the recent influx of foreign aid by international donors encouraged by Myanmar's reform efforts.

“Unfortunately, aid donors’ growing focus on Burma is coming at the expense of border-based community groups,” said Dr. Cynthia. “Everyone thinks that refugees will go home and those who stay will get registered in Thailand. But we know that this won’t happen that easily. . . .If donors just focus on delivering aid via Yangon to [international nongovernmental organizations] who are directly implementing, they will find it difficult to access the most vulnerable populations.

"Community-based organizations, many of which have their administrative bases on the border, are best placed to understand the local context and gain the trust of the community. We’ve also seen a lack of coordination and standardized approach when iNGOs directly implement, and iNGOs tend to leave areas when their projects are over, which will not lead to sustainable development and community ownership,"

Read the full interview here