Contributing to a sustainable rural development model
Business: community-based trainings
Deeply rooted in the communities it serves, ECLOF is a valued partner in holistic projects for sustainable village development. One such initiative is the “Thadar Consortium”, founded in 2008 in the aftermath of cyclone Nargis as a post-disaster recovery program led by ActionAid. The initiative aims to leverage community-led empowerment and engage government and private sector for rural development. In Mi Kan, an agricultural village in Myanmar’s Dry Zone, ECLOF was selected the micro credit and capacity building provider to the initiative addressing food insecurity by improving agricultural livelihoods and incomes of the most deprived people. In partnership with local Project Fellow Myo Min Saw, ECLOF provided community-based trainings in systematic planning, project management, group mobilization and team work as well as micro loans to the established solidarity groups.
The first project supported was the establishment of a community forest. Trainers from the forestry department taught 73 villagers in obtaining certification and establishing nurseries to supply the community forest. ECLOF provided the start-up capital. This resulted in a Community Forest certificate for 300 acres which are now managed by the community. A second project was the construction of a village road with USD 25,000 of government funding. The village contributed labor and a cash contribution of USD 200 to construct a road drainage system. Furthermore, ECLOF’s training of the Village Development Committee (VDC) enabled its members to manage a village electrification project and take care of maintenance. The village contributed a quarter of the investment for electrification in-kind and in cash. Thanks to the training, the VDC devised a clear plan which they used to successfully garner financial support from the local private sector, in particular from wealthy sugarcane farmers.
Where previously the local people did not trust the VDC and departmental officials who were considered inefficient, a mutual trust relationship has been established between villagers and authorities. The local people have earned the respect of the local government officials who are now enthusiastic to continue working with them. Through the Thadar project, the villagers have gained essential management skills and benefited from the opportunity to practice them. They are now able to respond to the needs of the community in a collective way. Even as the project is phasing out, confident and empowered villagers are now planning a series of activities on their own – including renovation of the main water pond and the village school, establishment of pond fish breeding, a rice bank and a revolving fund for livestock management.