“Using Indigenous Knowledge to Promote Local Leadership and Sustainable Resource Management in Myanmar”

24 Sep

As part of PisaSpeak’s  month-long guest blogger Series – “Tell us what you’re doing in the field” we heard from Priscilla Clapp, blue moon fund, about the need for integrated watershed management in Myanmar.  This week’s post comes from Rainer Eizenberger, Program Coordinator, Heinrich Böll Stiftung and focuses on a new program that taps community leaders in an effort to build support for indigenous knowledge in natural resource management.

Guest Blogger:  Rainer Eizenberger, Program Coordinator Southeast Asia, Heinrich Böll Stiftung

Photos: Rainer Eizenberger, Participatory Indigenous Natural Resource Management Workshop, Myanmar 2013

EditorImage: Suzanne Kelly-Lyall

While Myanmar has seen remarkable political changes over the past few years, conflicts over natural resources and environmental degradation have been on the rise. Reports about conflicts over land, mining projects, hydropower mega-projects and others dominate the recently liberalized local media landscape. In many cases the conflicts are linked to investment projects from neighboring countries (mainly China and Thailand) which result in unsustainable resource extraction with detrimental effects for both- the environment and the local and indigenous communities. As more investment in the resource sector is to be expected following Myanmar’s economic liberalization, it could put further pressure on already vulnerable communities. This is especially the case in the resource rich ethnic areas.

Enter Heinrich Boll Stiftung and EcoDev/Alarm…..

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“In order to empower local communities to manage their natural resources in a more sustainable way it is crucial to build up a critical mass of local development practitioners and NGO workers who are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to deal with these new challenges.” To this end, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southeast Asia together with EcoDev/Alarm and several other local partner organizations, joined hands to create a specialized Training of Trainers Program on Participatory Indigenous Natural Resource Management. Over the past year, more than twenty trainers representing local organizations from all parts of Myanmar have acquired new skills and knowledge at one of several weeklong workshops conducted across the coImageuntry. The training program includes participatory methods such as Participatory Action Research, moderation and visualization skills (VIPP), exposure to legal frameworks regarding natural resource rights and more. In local communities, future trainers learn to appreciate and explore indigenous and local knowledge and the value of indigenous knowledge for sustainable development at the local level. After completing the program the participants receive certificates issued by the Right Livelihood College and continue the training program within their own organizations. As part of the program two manuals on Visualization in Participatory Programs (VIPP) and Participatory Action Research (PAR) are now available in Burmese Language editions and distributed at no cost as hard copy and e-book for downloads to local civil society organizations.

Want to tell us about the fantastic work you’re doing and how it makes a difference?  Send my your written or audio post: sklyall@gwu.edu

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