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Myanmar village learns from China’s experiences, becomes poverty reduction model by Liu Yizhou,August 04, 2020 Adjust font size:

“If you don’t go to the Great Wall, you cannot be called a hero.” Forty-seven-year old Chindidaton, a resident from Naypyidaw city, Myanmar, hiked along a stretch of the Great Wall in Beijing a few years ago and realized that the famous quote means that people have to overcome all kinds of challenges in life in order to achieve their goals.

Chindidaton settled in Aye Chanthar village, Tatkon township, Naypyidaw in 1998. She stated that the residents of the villages in the area used to live in houses made of wood or bamboo, lack irrigation systems, and have to pump groundwater by hand as a result of economic constraints.

“The poor water quality has affected people’s health, ” Aye Chanthar resident Maowei noted. She mentioned that villagers knew that the quality of the groundwater was not good but that it was all they had access to.

In November 2017, Chinese and Myanmar officials signed an agreement related to a cooperative project involving the development of a model poverty reduction village in the Southeast Asian country. China wanted to share some of its experiences with targeted poverty alleviation, improve infrastructure and public services in Myanmar’s rural areas, and help enhance the self-development capacity of its impoverished citizens.

One of the organizations responsible for implementing the project, the Yunnan International Poverty Reduction and Development Center dispatched experts to Aye Chanthar and also Minbyin village in Lewe township in January 2018 in order to help them develop their public services, including transportation, education and healthcare. The Chinese specialists helped connect Aye Chanthar to a water reservoir three kilometers away, build water towers, and connect the dwellings in the village to the water system by the end of the year.

“We have safe drinking water now,” Chindidaton said with a smile. She also mentioned that the road in front of her home used to be too miry to walk on but was eventually paved and that a health clinic now stands on the other side. 

“It was not convenient to go to the toilet at our old school because there was a lot of trash behind the school building,” a student named Aiqiangda stated. The project made it possible for pupils to say goodbye to muddy, rundown classrooms and move into modern ones. “Our new school has a library, which makes it possible for us to study at any time,” Aiqiangda pointed out enthusiastically.

The principal of Aye Chanthar Middle School recalled that teaching conditions were not good in the past and that water used to leak into classrooms when it rained. He recalled that there were not enough classrooms and that some junior students had to study in warehouses. The principal also mentioned that the school was not able to provide teachers who moved to the area with accommodations even though they wanted to. He explained that new facilities with plenty of desks and chairs now exist and that modern dormitories have been built that are connected to the water system and electric grid.

“We took actual situations into account when we were implementing the project and encouraged everyone to participate,” Chinese expert and community coordinator Yin Zhenxiang stated. He has been talking to local residents and officials almost every day since he began working on the project in 2018 in order to learn more about their needs.

Some residents of rural Naypyidaw have had the opportunity to receive special training in China, which has helped them broaden their horizons and improve their techniques, and Chintidaton was one of them. She observed that the farmers in Guizhou province were able to harvest a lot of crops on very limited amounts of land. The training participant brought corn seeds back with her after the program was over, began implementing the cultivation methods that she learned, and the plants that she has grown have thrived ever since.

Aye Chanthar native Angsuowen used to work as a migrant laborer but eventually returned to his village to work as a farmer. He received special training as well and has become more professional. “My vegetables have a good reputation, and the people who live in the area like to buy them,” the agronomist summarized.

In November 2019, 90 delegates from 10 ASEAN countries and international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, visited Aye Chanthar. “We explained the model that we use and shared our experiences. The delegates spoke highly of the project,” noted the Chinese expert Xu Wenli.

“The Chinese staff that have been involved with the project did a great job and have a strong sense of teamwork, which is admirable,” an official working with the Myanmar Agriculture Department stated. He noted that the project involves helping people enhance their skills and improve their livelihoods in addition to developing infrastructure. Many new jobs have been created as a result of the cultivation and animal husbandry projects that have been implemented in Aye Chanthar and Minbyin, and their road, water, and electrical systems have been significantly improved.

Taiminglun played with his classmates after the bell rang at the end of the day at their new school recently. He dreams of studying in China in the future and returning to his local area in order to help it develop further.

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