Cablegate: Evaluation of the Wa Alternative Development

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. 02 RANGOON 0114
C. 02 RANGOON 1547

1. This is an action message. See paragraph 7.

2. Summary: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has
invited the USG to participate in the final evaluation of the
Wa Alternative Development Project. We have been the prime
movers behind this project. If possible, we should plan to
participate in the evaluation. End Summary.

3. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has invited
the United States and other major donors to the Wa
Alternative Development Project to participate (at their own
expense) in the project's final evaluation. UNODC has
contracted for two international and one independent Burmese
experts to conduct the evaluation from March 7 to April 3,
2003. Donor experts (one each) would complement that team.

4. We recommend that the USG accept the invitation. The
United States has been the prime donor for the Wa Alternative
Development Project. While other donors (Italy, Germany, and
Japan) have lately stepped in to pick up some of the
financial burden, the United States has contributed about
two-thirds of the project's $11 million cost over the past
four years. Simple prudence dictates that we ensure that
those funds were well spent.

5. Secondly, there may be lessons to be learned from the
project, which appears to have done relatively well in an
extraordinarily short period, despite the stress induced by
cuts in donor support in 2001. Through the end of 2002, the
project had hit its targets for opium reduction, health, and
education, and was opening up a new phase (through the
construction of a Japanese financed canal in the Nam Kar
basin) that may allow it to entirely close the food deficit
in the project area. That is a fairly remarkable performance
for a project that was executed under extraordinarily
difficult circumstances.

6. Thirdly, UNODC has proposed extending and expanding its
alternative development projects in Burma as part of its next
five year plan, starting in 2004. That plan calls for
extending the Wa Alternative Development Project through 2008
and expanding its coverage to areas in the Wa territories
north of Pang Sang and into areas controlled by the Kokang
Chinese. Both areas are major centers of opium production
and operations in them will require a major expansion of
UNODC's budget in Burma. Before the United States commits
support for that effort, we should be certain that the
current approach is both appropriate and effective.

7. Action requested: Designation of a U.S. expert to
participate in UNODC's evaluation of the Wa Alternative
Development Project from March 7 to April 3, 2003.

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