This project was part of a larger international endeavour that generated from within Southeast Asia. IPSO participated as main sponsor by funding and leading activities covering training, sustainable agriculture, and the reconstruction of disrupted social layers.
Rural development project to help hill tribes in Shan and Kachin State, Myanmar
This project was initiated under the auspices of government agencies and universities in Myanmar. Peoples dwelling the northern states of Shan and Kachin have historically suffered from the by-products of the instrumentalisation of politics. This, plus the fact that they mostly belong to ethnic groups often out of mainstream life schemes, has meant that for very long decades these populations have been left behind, both socially and economically. Living in remote areas has also meant that control over their activities has oftentimes been loose, with many hill tribes lured into illegal opium cultivation by the mirage of large profits.
Many years of unsuccessful crop substitution policies have exacerbated the already precarious situation of these hill people. This project, following an in-depth analysis of the intrinsic advantages of the border location, and the strengths of the people living along the frontiers, has comprehensively targeted the area’s socio-economic development by providing long-term solutions generating solely from local resources and the determination of the people.
The first phase consisted in a meticulous analysis of the characteristics of the soil, atmospheric features, water properties and other external factors, followed by a social analysis of nutritional habits and needs of the population dwelling the areas. The combination of the results of the two analyses produced a list of agricultural products most suitable to the overall conditions of the targeted locations. The second phase implemented a holistic approach to sustainable agriculture for those people who were given very little alternative than going into poppy production.
Providing practical alternatives to peanuts (oftentimes the official crop substitution for poppies) has given the targeted hill tribes a legal way out that is sustainable both in social as well as in economic terms. By regulating such socio-economic activities in the borderlands of Shan and Kachin states, the project had a significant effect on the incidence of similar socio-economic activities in communities living on the other side of the border, on Chinese soil. The correlation of cross-boundary implications in the area is such that effectively addressing them on one side triggers the proliferation of the results on the other as well. These hill tribes, in fact, have kinship links that transcend national boundaries. This correlation, of particular interest to IPSO’s overall research and implementation activities, means that, although difficult to measure, the results and the beneficiaries of this project are far larger than what we can statistically calculate.
- Progress (May 2014 – Apr 2017) 100%