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Assisting Myanmar’s (Burma's) Development Efforts

Assisting Myanmar’s Development Efforts The Focus Of Senior UN Official’s Visit

New York, Dec 7 2009 2:10PM The United Nations will support a review of Myanmar’s efforts to achieve the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and help the country improve its agricultural sector, a senior official with the world body said during a visit to the South-East Asian nation.

Ajay Chhibber, Assistant Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), held talks with Government officials, UN colleagues and donors during his five-day visit, which focused on further cooperation in the area of development.

Myanmar ranks 132 out of 177 countries in the 2007-2008 UNDP Human Development Index, with an annual per capita gross national income at just $220.

Mr. Chhibber also visited the so-called Dry Zone in central Myanmar, where UNDP is carrying out microfinance and community development projects.

“UNDP helps poor communities meet their basic social and livelihood needs, promote equitable decision-making and participation by all members of the community,” he stated during a stop in the Dry Zone. “These schemes help poor people lift and improve their lives.”

Some 350,000 households across three regions – the Ayeyarwady Delta, Dry Zone and Shan State – are benefiting from the microfinance project, which provides credit at affordable interest rates to poor members of rural communities.

“Microfinance activities begin with very small loans to poor women who are then able to invest in income-generating activities,” noted Mr. Chhibber.

“I am pleased to see that these loans clearly target and benefit women from poor and low-income households and help change their lives.”

UNDP is also playing a key role in supporting the recovery efforts following Cyclone Nargis, which devastated large parts of the country in May 2008, killing some 140,000 people and shattering the lives of 2.4 million more.

Over a year and a half later, there are urgent needs for sustainable shelter for half a million vulnerable people, and for support to agriculture and fishing. To meet those needs in the next three years, the UN, the Government and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) launched the $691 million Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP) in February.

ENDS

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