The private sector has an ever increasing importance in the lives of Myanmar people: foreign investments in 2013 were ten times the size of investments in 2000. But business investments can have both positive and negative impacts. Local communities can experience loss of livelihoods, land and restricted access to natural resources like water and forests. On the other hand, businesses can contribute to economic growth and provide new employment opportunities.
In Myanmar’s Western Rakhine State, Oxfam is working with local and international organisations to implement responsible investment programmes including “Tatlan” (Move Forward), a livelihoods programme (funded by the Livelihoods Food Security Trust Fund) in Kyauk Phyu, which helps ensure communities have sustainable livelihoods now and into the future. In Kyauk Phyu, where a major new Special Economic Zone is opening, Oxfam and Scholar Institute are working to prepare communities for the challenges and opportunities that will come with this development, and build accountability and transparency of how decisions from the investment are made. Equally important for how investment happens are the laws, rules and regulations governing how companies behave. Oxfam is working with national organisations to help improve legal frameworks for how investment happens and ensure they deliver for the majority not just the few.