Switzerland supports Myanmar in four areas of cooperation:  employment and vocational skills development; agriculture and food security; health, social services and local governance; and peace promotion, democratisation and protection.  The geographic focus is south-eastern Myanmar.

Map of Myanmar
© FDFA

Myanmar, with a population of 60 million, is in the midst of three major transformations: from an authoritarian military rule to democratic governance; from a centrally-planned to a market-driven economy; and from 60 years of armed conflict to consolidated peace.  Yet progress is constrained by continued distrust between ethnic, religious and political groups; the continued monopolisation of resources by an economic elite; and weak social services and institutions.

Switzerland aims to contribute to the steady construction of peace and an open, democratic society, the reduction of chronic poverty, and the growth of a sustainable national economy. All stakeholders within the federal administration coordinate their activities using a common approach. Key partners in the development cooperation are:

  • Swiss NGOs: Swisscontact, 600 young people
  • Government and authorities at central, state and district level
  • Local NGOs
  • Representatives of ethnic groups
  • International NGOs: Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Multilateral organisations:  UNFPA, WFP, ICRC, UNICEF, OCHA, UNHCR, IOM, UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Service)

Vocational education and training

Training and access to employment

Switzerland works in cooperation with all the key partners (the government, private sector, development agencies) to expand training opportunities for young and disadvantaged people in rural areas, and to meet the high training needs of the tourism industry. It is also committed to policy changes in the vocational skills development sector in Myanmar (qualification framework, certifications mechanisms, standards).

Basic education and vocational training

Agriculture and food security

Access to land and productive resources for farmers

Switzerland is committed to supporting the adaptation of national policies related to land use and natural resources management at the policy level. At the local level in south-eastern Myanmar, it supports initiatives to promote smallholder rubber production value chains in the coastal low land and sustainable use of aquatic resources in the Gulf of Mottama. Food assistance is also provided in critical and emergency situations through partners such as the World Food Programme (WFP).

Agriculture and food security

Health, social services and local governance

Access to health care, infrastructure and decision-making

Switzerland is committed to improving access to quality health care services in the rural areas of south-eastern Myanmar, with a focus on maternal, child and newborn health. It also supports the development of the health system in Myanmar at the policy level.

Improving community infrastructure such as schools, roads and health centres remains one of Switzerland’s important contributions in Myanmar's remote and post-conflict areas. An initiative to strengthen the voice and capacity of civil society organisations and the local authorities in the country's current development debate is also being supported.

Health

Promotion of peace, democratisation and protection

Supporting the transition to a peaceful and inclusive society

In the area of peacebuilding, Switzerland provides direct support to the parties in negotiation by providing advisory services to government and ethnic groups, and promotes a broader inclusion of civil society and women in the negotiation process.

Swiss engagement for democratisation aims at increasing the acceptance of democratic values and norms within Myanmar society. It strengthens the legal framework by assisting relevant reforms (e.g. electoral system, judiciary) and by advocating for the ratification of key international instruments. In all its activities special consideration is given to vulnerable groups, in particular internally displaced persons, refugees, returnees, children and victims of mines.

Gender equality – gender and women's rights

History of cooperation

Greater commitment following the political upheavals

Switzerland has been involved in the Myanmar since 1994, primarily through the SDC's Humanitarian Aid Department. In November 2012, Switzerland opened an embassy in Myanmar. Swiss humanitarian activities are being complemented by a broader programme to support the transition to democracy, consolidation of peace and poverty reduction. Myanmar is part of the SDC’s regional Mekong programme.

Engagement in fragile contexts and prevention of violent conflicts

Current projects

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Planned project

Primary Health Care

01.01.2023 - 31.10.2024

After years of underinvestment in the social sectors and decades of civil war, access to basic services is low, in particular in the rural areas of the southeast of Myanmar. This project aims to improve people’s health through a primary health care approach in selected townships of the region, both in Government and Ethnic Armed Group controlled areas, strengthening basic services, empowering communities and supporting convergence of health systems.


Planned project

Strengthening Policy and Practice for Land Governance

01.05.2021 - 31.12.2023

In the rapid transition to a democratic market economy, control over land is at the centre of a struggle between smallholder farmer-based and industry-led agricultural growth. This project works with both government and civil society to create institutions and practices that increase smallholder farmer land tenure security, including for women and ethnic minorities, through improved access to information and increased capacities, knowledge and skills.


Strengthening democratic local governance

01.01.2021 - 30.06.2026

The project aims at supporting the democratic transition and the peace efforts in Myanmar. Using a decentralized budget support approach to all townships of one state in the Southeast of the country, it will strengthen township’s participatory planning and budgeting capacity. The project will also deepen the community’s capacity to demand public services. Additionally it will support national level policy discussions based on this experience.


Joint Peace Fund

01.01.2021 - 31.12.2027

After 60 years of conflict, the government and 8 Ethnic Armed Groups have signed a National Ceasefire Agreement (NCA) in October 2015, opening up a unique opportunity to find lasting peace. The Joint Peace Fund is a multi-donor fund set up to channel coordinated international support for such efforts, including the implementation of the NCA and following political dialogue of the peace process, a requirement for development especially in border areas.


Skills for Local Economic Development SLED

01.07.2020 - 31.12.2030

Switzerland will explore opportunities for supporting local economic development through vocational skills development in predominantly rural areas in Southern Shan. A focus on market-oriented skills opportunities accessible to young women and men, especially from vulnerable groups will be identified that open life-long learning opportunities to improve livelihood options and support peace building and security in conflict-affected areas.


International Humanitarian Law, Security Sector Governance and Leadership in Transition

15.03.2019 - 31.12.2019

The project aims to increase the capacities of middle-ranked officers of the Myanmar Defence Forces to (1) drive forward reforms which improve the adherence of the Myanmar Defence Forces to Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, (2) to improve protection of civilians in armed conflict and (3) to support reforms towards democratic control of armed forces.


Primary Health Care (PHC)

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2022

The Primary Health Care project uses a convergent approach to improve the health status of vulnerable people in four conflict-affected townships in Kayin State. It contributes to peace, and brings together the Ministry of Health and Sports and Ethnic Health Organizations. Basic health services are strengthened through better coordination, training, supervision and supplies. Communities are empowered to achieve better health and feedback mechanisms are introduced. 


Allocation of SDC Funding to ICRC Operations in 2019

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

In line with the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, Switzerland recognizes the necessity of predictable and flexible funding to respond to changing needs in humanitarian crises. SDC funding to ICRC operations allows the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to respond proactively and to provide immediate protection and assistance for people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence.


Access to Health Fund (ACCESS)

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2023

The Access to Health Fund (previously 3MDG), is strongly committed to deliver health services in conflict-affected areas to populations beyond the reach of government. By supporting State and Ethnic Health Organizations, the fund contributes to trust, fosters coordination, and mitigates causes of conflict. The Swiss contribution represents a continuation of support to Myanmar's health actors towards achieving universal health coverage.


CDNH: Conflict prevention Rakhine

01.11.2018 - 30.04.2021

After the events in Rakhine in August 2017, violence and communal tensions are still prevailing and mistrust has increased among and between communities, state and village officials and security authorities. The need to gather the stakeholders around conflict prevention, livelihood skills enhancement, conflict analysis and gender and civic education is repeatedly expressed by all. This project helps to improve the relationship between the main key actors in and around Rakhine to lower the potential of further tensions, abuses and install trust-building mechanisms.


Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) Phase 2

01.07.2018 - 31.12.2022

Land governance remains at the centre of development challenges in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV), and land expropriation is a key driver of new poverty and food insecurity. The governments in the region have begun to turn their attention to legal and policy issues on land governance. This creates an opportunity for MRLG and the Reform Actors it brings together, to contribute to improvements in policies and practices regarding land tenure security for family farmers.


Vocational Skills Development Programme (VSDP)

01.05.2018 - 30.04.2022

Over 11’000 women and men will directly benefit from improved access to relevant and recognised skill development and employment opportunities in selected urban and rural areas, particularly in the South East of Myanmar, Yangon and Mandalay. The programme will further contribute to strengthening the overall vocational training system in Myanmar through strategic partnerships with the government of Myanmar and private sector partners from selected industries.

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