Japan lends a helping hand to UN-Habitat project for ethnic communities in MyanmarNay Pyi Taw, 5 May 2016-- UN-Habitat, with the support of the government of Japan, will assist vulnerable ethnic communities of Chin State of Myanmar by constructing community infrastructure, increasing access to safe drinking water and reconstructing housing badly affected by the 2015 floods. This will be possible with the grant contribution of JPY607million (USD5.1million). The signing of “Exchange of Notes” between the Government of Japan and four UN agencies – UN-Habitat, UNHCR, WFP and FAO - took place on 27th April 2016.

The Union Minister for Border Affairs Lt. General Ye Aung witnessed the event. The Japanese ambassador Mr. Tateshi Higuchi signed on behalf of his government with representatives of the UN agencies signing on behalf of their respective agencies. “The Project for Emergency Support to Poor and Vulnerable Communities in Ethnic Areas” focuses on empowering communities to ensure they will jointly work to build or renovate quality basic services and housing to give targeted population basis for healthy and productive life.

The project is framed within the overall objective of helping Myanmar’s ethnic poor and vulnerable communities to address the emergency needs to restore their normal life and to sustainably improve quality of life. The project will be implemented in 200 villages across Hakha, Tedim, Falam and Thatlang townships. The projects aims to benefit over 90,000 people. UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Mr. Bijay Karmacharya, said the utilization of the grant for housing and infrastructure needs will contribute to helping the Myanmar government in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable and will promote the cause of enhancing peace.

The government of Japan has been supporting Myanmar to help advance democratization in the country. It is also trying to deepen economic relations between Japan and Myanmar by helping improve the country’s infrastructure with the objective of enhancement of people’s lives and livelihoods. Chin State remains the poorest state among 14 regions and states in Myanmar with seventy three per cent of the people living below the poverty line. The 2015 floods affected 9 townships in the state, causing widespread damage to households and basic infrastructure in the region.

The Myanmar Post-Disaster Needs Assessment of Floods and Landslides report determined that Chin State had the second highest (behind Rakhine State) number of affected households in the region, with 3,987 homes either collapsed or destroyed during the floods, and of these households 2,934 requiring relocation.The project will help selected; most needy and vulnerable families; in rebuilding their dwellings. The government of Japan is one of the strongest development partners of UN-Habitat. In Myanmar it has assisted vulnerable communities and supported over half a million ethnic people with its grant assistance in two similar projects earlier.