Collaboration between Local and INGOs for the betterment of the Downtown
As a developing country, Myanmar receives substantial attention from NGOs – both international (INGOs) and local. However there has been some discrepancy between the role of the INGO and the local NGO. In the perspective of local NGOs, their resources and role as humanitarian aid providers have not been utilized efficiently or effectively as they would like to be. Since the time when Cyclone Nargis hit in 2008, it has been proven that local NGOs are able to respond the fastest and quickest to the disaster ¹. The advantage of being locally based allows them to quickly process and respond to crises accordingly. However local NGOs face a major setback – they lack funding. Unlike INGOs that are generally well established and have substantial wherewithal, the local organization must collect funding from their local context as well as the government.
A local NGO, The Local Resource Centre (LRC) who operate in two major cities have said “Myanmar NGOs say they have the best understanding of the local context and can respond the quickest, but they sometimes lack funding, an issue over which the international community has been criticised.” ². The local NGO community is inflexible as to which causes their expertise are required in: education, healthcare etc. Whereas INGOs are able to have more choice as to what cause they want to dedicate themselves to. Generally, infrastructural projects and urban renewal projects on a larger scale are funded by INGOs, whereas humanitarian issues that directly affect the physical well being of the people are addressed by their local counterparts.
However within the context of Downtown Yangon, the problem of discrepancy or ‘sub-branding’ ³ in the NGO community whom operate within the region here does not seem to be prominent. International and local NGOs focused in area fundamentally have to, and do work together in order to strive for the collective aim of heritage conservation and sustainable growth to alleviate poverty. Despite currently not undergoing any eminent crisis or natural disaster – Downtown Yangon is a goldmine of disappearing heritage and crippling poverty and NGOs from YHT to Turquoise Mountain – an INGO have worked together and utilize their collective expertises for local empowerment. Both organizations stated above have worked with local contractors, artisans, artist, architects etc to empower the local workforces and revitalize the Burmese artisan community. This has been fundamental in restoration works in the downtown such as The Strand Hotel and other former colonial buildings.
¹ Jakob Krembzow, “A bigger say for local NGOs,” Frontier Myanmar, September 12, 2016, , accessed December 23, 2017, https://frontiermyanmar.net/en/a-bigger-say-for-local-ngos.
² Jakob Krembzow, “A bigger say for local NGOs,” Frontier Myanmar, September 12, 2016, , accessed December 23, 2017, https://frontiermyanmar.net/en/a-bigger-say-for-local-ngos.
³Jakob Krembzow, “A bigger say for local NGOs,” Frontier Myanmar, September 12, 2016, , accessed December 23, 2017, https://frontiermyanmar.net/en/a-bigger-say-for-local-ngos.