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Cablegate: Resource Center Connects Local Groups with Funds

VZCZCXRO0180
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH RUEHTRO
DE RUEHGO #0610/01 2130911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 310911Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7989
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1401
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 4923
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 8485
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6052
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3944
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1906
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000610

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP AND IO; PACOM FOR FPA; F/EAP FOR ESMITH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM BM
SUBJECT: RESOURCE CENTER CONNECTS LOCAL GROUPS WITH FUNDS

REF: RANGOON 607

1. (SBU) Summary. The newly-created Local Resource Center
(LRC) serves to connect local organizations with one another
and potential donors to conduct projects in the Irrawaddy
delta. According to the LRC's main advisor, Karl Dorning,
the groups with the greatest need and the fewest funding
opportunities are newly established village-based
organizations and groups formed in response to Cyclone
Nargis. These groups seek resources and assistance at the
LRC. Embassy Rangoon could bolster their efforts with the
DRL democracy promotion funds programmed through our small
grants program. End Summary.

2. (SBU) In July, Poloff visited the Local Resource Center
(LRC), which consists of a few small rooms equipped with
computers, maps of the Irrawaddy delta area, and notice
boards. It serves as a networking center for local
organizations who seek support and funding for their projects
throughout Burma, and particularly in the Irrawaddy delta
region. Karl Dorning, the primary advisor to the LRC, told
us that the center came into existence primarily in response
to Cyclone Nargis. Local Burmese groups seeking to assist in
the relief efforts created the center out of necessity and
have extensively utilized its services in recent months.

3. (SBU) Dorning told us there are four categories of groups
the center serves. The first is established groups and NGOs
with offices in Rangoon with a specific sectoral interest
such as environment or capacity building. Another group
comprises faith-based organizations (FBOs). These, Dorning
said, often have a country-wide reach. The third group
includes new community-based organizations (CBO), most of
which have formed in response to Cyclone Nargis relief
efforts. The last group consists of grassroots
organizations, including self-help groups for livelihoods
rebuilding and non-governmental village-based committees.

4. (SBU) One trend in recent weeks, noted Dorning, was that
communities had taken greater responsibility and ownership
for their own reconstruction. For example, a community
leader from a village of 1000 households in Ngapudaw Township
established committees for agriculture, fishing, and small
business livelihood development and created a plan to
implement the programs. He explained to Dorning his concern
that villages were increasingly dependent on handouts from
the international community, so he sought to establish
self-sufficiency in his village.

5. (SBU) As a result of this trend, new CBOs and
village-based groups come daily to the LRC seeking funding
for their initiatives, explained Dorning. Unfortunately,
most major international donors have exhausted their funding
for the relief efforts or are unwilling to fund such new
community organizations. The LRC refers most new groups to
Paungku, a consortium of NGOs that jointly funds small
groups. Currently, Paungku has approximately 150 groups
awaiting funding, Dorning said.

6. (SBU) The LRC is exploring other ways to fund these local
groups. One idea was to have an established NGO from the
network act as a mentor to newer organizations. Dorning also
proposed to get funding from the small grants programs of
embassies in Rangoon, including ours. The LRC would identify
those groups that it considered particularly well-organized,
which embassies could then vet through their own evaluation
systems. Dorning believed this would provide valuable
opportunities for community groups to build self-sufficiency,
rather than depending indefinitely on aid donations.

7. (SBU) Comment: The aftermath of Cyclone Nargis has
provided a rare opportunity in Burma for small community
groups to work openly to rebuild their villages. The LRC,
while short on funding, provides a window into the true
extent of local Burmese involvement in the rebuilding of the
Irrawaddy delta region. The organizations and communities
involved in this process have the unique ability to identify

RANGOON 00000610 002 OF 002


and address their own needs. Since DRL has an estimated USD
417,000 in FY08 for democracy promotion in Burma, we could
easily help strengthen civil society by programming those
funds to these local organizations through our small grants
program. End Comment.
VILLAROSA

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