In Myanmar (Burma)'s Ayeyarwady region, Community Partners International is working with vulnerable communities to improve their health status through women-led sustainable development. This pilot project, called "Better Homes, Better Lives", is demonstrating the benefits of integrating health and development, and empowering women to lead change.
The concept of the Better Homes, Better Lives project grew out of an existing health partnership with Baythitsadarna, a Myanmar community organization operating in Ayeyarwady Region. Consultations with communities revealed that a lack of access to basic amenities was affecting community health. For example, children often suffered from diarrhea due to drinking unsafe water. Widespread use of traditional cookstoves in homes was causing respiratory problems for children and the elderly. Despite some electrification in the area, many households could not afford to pay for electricity and so were living off the grid. The community needed a deeper and broader level of support to improve their health status and create better homes and better lives.
The solution, forged in partnership with the communities, was a holistic, community-owned and women-led response. Community Partners International and Baythitsadarna sourced (locally where possible) suitable water filters, solar lamps and clean cookstoves and offered them to households at a very low cost. Households chose whether or not they wanted to invest in these items and, by paying for them, felt ownership and an incentive to use and maintain them.
The Better Homes, Better Lives project also established revolving microloan funds to incubate and expand women-led small agricultural and livestock businesses and to support wider community development. Interest generated from the loans is reinvested to support community services and infrastructure such as schools and footbridges.
At the community level, the project is shaped and led by women’s unions. These unions advise on community needs, act as peer educators and lead the implementation of project activities in partnership with Community Partners International and Baythitsadarna. This approach supports women’s leadership and contributes to project continuity, sustainability and impact.
Empower vulnerable communities in Myanmar and Bangladesh to meet their essential needs.