WHY USAID/OTI WAS IN BURMA
USAID/OTI provided a fast, targeted tool to encourage broader participation in Burma’s peace process and address intercommunal conflict, including responding to the violence in Rakhine State. OTI supported activities essential to long-term stability, furthering democratization, and advancing U.S. strategic interests in the region. OTI supported stakeholders who sought to deepen and expand reforms. Burma continues to face concurrent and multidimensional challenges on its path to self-reliance as it transitions to democracy, peace, and a globally-integrated market economy.
USAID/OTI’S ROLE IN BURMA
USAID/OTI entered Burma in 2012 during a window of opportunity created by initial reforms under the previous government. Goals included:
- Enhancing the ability of key stakeholders to engage in the peace process;
- Reducing the influence of drivers of intercommunal conflict and strengthening capacity to promote intercommunal harmony, specifically targeting Rakhine State; and
- Strengthening engagement in areas affecting fundamental freedoms.
- Brought together political parties, civil society and ethnic armed groups to engage in the peace process. Activities included increasing the ability of delegates to represent on issues related to security sector reform, federalism and natural resource management; a series of fiscal federalism trainings; and translating key documents, including the National Ceasefire Agreement into seven local languages.
- Established the Women’s Participation Fund, which provided transportation and daycare costs to help remove barriers to women’s participation in official peace process events and meetings.
- Worked with community leaders, civil society and government in Rakhine State to increase capacity to mitigate violent conflict and counter hate speech and rumors.
- Supported partners in Rakhine State to increase dialogue and peacebuilding skills in mixed communities to strengthen social cohesion.
- Reduced the risk of intercommunal violence spreading to a national level. For example, the Bago Peace Network in central Burma actively combatted misinformation on the Rakhine conflict by successfully intervening when a person was accused, through rumor, of being a Muslim terrorist.
- Empowered local partners to develop online platforms that countered fake news, hate speech, and rumors.