Myanmar must learn from others to make growing aid flows deliver benefits for the people
A new report from Oxfam Riding the Wave of Reform: Fast-tracking Myanmar's future with good-quality aid argues that growing aid flows to Myanmar could harness the country's economic potential and speed up democratic reform if investment decisions include Myanmar people and are targeted at reducing inequality and boosting inclusive growth.
The research which draws on experiences across the region shows that whilst aid has the potential to act as a catalyst for Myanmar's reform progress, it will only be effective if spent on key building blocks for inclusive and equitable growth such as education, healthcare and supporting small producers to increase their productivity against the rising tide of large scale foreign investment.
Richard Mawer, Oxfam in Myanmar's Country Director says: "Aid has the potential to help deliver huge economic and democratic dividends in Myanmar but only if it addresses difficult issues such as peoples' rights to land, supports responsible investment that reaches the poorest and goes towards financing vital services such as health and education."
Mawer warns: "Aid won't do the job if it is targeted at creating a business climate which primarily stimulates large scale international investment. The benefits of this growth will not automatically filter down to the majority. Donor governments and the government of Myanmar need to aim aid squarely at measures that will deliver on inclusive growth for all."
The report argues that in addition to ensuring new aid flows are targeted at measures which deliver on equitable growth, decisions around aid investments must be made in consultation with the Myanmar people.
"Crucially, decisions about aid investments cannot be made behind closed doors. Time and again, the evidence has shown that when delivered well aid can help to prize open democratic space, but only if decisions are taken in consultation with the Myanmar people. Despite recent positive moves towards democratisation in Myanmar, the international community has a responsibility to ensure that aid supports further progress and does not cut out from the decision making process the people it is supposed to benefit." says Mawer.
The report argues that the Government of Myanmar and donor governments must use the next National Comprehensive Development Forum on 27-28 January to commit to an aid investment agenda agreed with national civil society organisations and the public, which clearly sets out how it will deliver on inclusive growth for all.
Oxfam works with partners around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. As part of Oxfam International, a confederation of 17 Oxfam affiliates, we work in more than 90 countries globally. Oxfam has been working in Myanmar since 2008.