Six students of the International Cooperation Leadership Programme in Fukuoka Prefecture who are studying at different universities in Fukuoka visited UN-Habitat, Myanmar and its projects sites from 6-8 March 2017. On the first day, students visited URDI (Urban Research and Development Institute) where UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager, Mr. Bijay Karmacharya and senior staff briefed them on the country context, UN-Habitat’s country programme and areas of work, community-driven development projects, policy development work and training and capacity development. The visitors actively took part in the discussions after the presentations of the respective presenters.
On the second day, the visiting students visited the Central Training Center (Thuwanna) of the Ministry of Construction. The principal of the training center made a presentation on the 50 years-old training center, its history, and courses offered, the center’s cooperation with National Skills Standard Authority (NSSA) and international organizations and Master Plan. The students toured the center and observed on-going trainings and practical work by trainees. In the afternoon, the visiting students visited the Japanese Government funded and UN-Habitat implemented Low Cost Housing Project for the most vulnerable people totaling 180 families in Dagon Seikkan and South Dagon. The UN-Habitat Construction Manager gave a brief on the progress of the project, rigorous process of beneficiary selection, formation of Apartment Users Committee and Integrated Apartment Users Council. Beneficiaries also joined in to express their appreciation for the apartments.
On the third day, led by an urban planning officer from Yangon City Development Committee for the visiting Fukuoka students toured Hlaing Thar Yar township slum areas. The Township Development Committee deputy officer gave a brief description of Hlaing Thar Yar Township. The students keenly asked some pertinent questions on the slum situation inside this township and approaches towards dealing with squatter issues. The students met village level administration members and with the community leaders and went on a walking visit around the areas of squatters dwellings. The students also had opportunity to visit the Shwe Pyi Thar Water Treatment Plant built and completed in 2014 funded by USAID with the community based approach of UN-Habitat. UN-Habitat Senior Engineer explained about the project and sustainable plan carried out by the community. The students also heard from the residents of the positive impact of the project and the improvement of their social and health conditions. As a sign of solidarity with the people the students joined in painting the water plant building together with local community. The Shwe Pyi Thar Water Treatment Plant provides clean and potable water for approximately 8000 families.
The visiting students were energetic and demonstrated much enthusiasm and active interest in the UN-Habitat’s. They enjoyed field visits to project sites and ground work. As they had gained direct knowledge of UN-Habitat field projects and first-hand experience of the socio-economic development situation in Myanmar, it is certain that they will be carrying home valuable perceptions and insights.