Myanmar

Myanmar is facing a deep political, social, economic, and humanitarian crisis following a military coup in 2021. The Swiss Cooperation Programme in Myanmar 2024–27 combines instruments of development cooperation, humanitarian aid, peacebuilding, and human rights diplomacy to address the complex crisis and needs in the country.

Map of Myanmar
© FDFA

Following a decade of political and economic opening, the military coup in February 2021 has plunged Myanmar into a deep political, social, economic, and humanitarian crisis. In various parts of the country, armed resistance troops are fighting an asymmetric conflict against the military. The escalating violence exacerbates existing conflicts and has had a catastrophic impact on the civilian population: it has led to massive human rights violations and large-scale internal displacement across the country. Household income has significantly decreased due to increased unemployment, inflation, and the depreciation of the national currency. The position of women in the labour market has been further eroded.

As a consequence, poverty across the country has more than doubled since the coup. Food insecurity has increased, with roughly a quarter of the population facing acute food insecurity in 2023. The civic space has drastically narrowed, with limited media freedom, restricted rights to peaceful assembly, and deliberate legal and operational constraints on opposition parties and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). Unsustainable and unregulated exploitation of natural resources and ecosystems is increasingly contributing to environmental degradation. The Rohingya crisis since 2017 remains unresolved, leaving over a million refugees in camps in Bangladesh with no prospects for a safe return to Rakhine State.

Swiss Cooperation

Swiss Humanitarian Aid has been active in Myanmar since 1994. Switzerland opened a humanitarian aid office in 2008 after Cyclone Nargis and established the Embassy of Switzerland in Myanmar in 2012. It launched its first cooperation programme in 2013. Despite the military coup of 2021, Switzerland remains committed to contributing to a peaceful, democratic, inclusive, and prosperous society. Switzerland has adapted its approach and partnerships to ensure that it does not provide any technical and financial assistance to the military government along with other like-minded countries and in line with UN engagement principles. It reoriented its engagement towards the basic needs of the population and conflict reduction and increased its collaboration with multilateral organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and local civil society.

Supporter of the peace process

Myanmar is strategically located in South East Asia, is rich in natural resources and has great economic potential. Switzerland aims to contribute to the development and stability of South East Asia, including Myanmar. It remains committed to supporting the people of Myanmar and reducing the effects of the current crisis on the population, to maintain and support their democratic aspirations and to promote a sustainable and inclusive peace that benefits all citizens.

Switzerland maintains dialogue with all parties to the conflict (NUG, military regime, ethnic armed organisations, and other actors) to support their efforts to develop their own processes and pathways to a non-violent and inclusive solution. Its role is recognised and accepted by all major players and the international community. Switzerland has privileged access to some actors thanks to its support to the peace process since 2011 and strong standing in the South East. It is seen as credible, reliable, and flexible, maintaining a long-term perspective on Myanmar. Finally, Switzerland is renowned for its humanitarian tradition and specific thematic expertise, including support to negotiations, federalism and local governance, vocational training and health.

The Swiss Cooperation Programme

The Swiss Cooperation Programme combines instruments of development cooperation, humanitarian aid, peacebuilding, and human rights diplomacy to address the complex crisis and needs in the country. The SDC (development cooperation and humanitarian aid) is present with bilateral and multilateral projects, including a direct action. The Peace and Human Rights Division (PHRD) supports conflict transformation, violence reduction, and establishing pathways to peace. The portfolio is complemented by regional projects, mainly by the SECO and SDC thematic sections (e.g. Water, Food security, and Migration & Forced Displacement). Switzerland’s main partners include UN funds and programmes, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), NGOs (Swiss, local and international), CSOs, ethnic organisations, and the private sector.

The Budget

The budget for the cooperation programme is CHF 29.5 million per year, consisting of CHF 28 million for SDC (development cooperation and humanitarian aid), CHF 1 million for PHRD, and CHF 0.5 million for SECO (in 2024).

Goals and interventions

Switzerland’s overall goal is to play a role in shaping a more democratic, peaceful, and prosperous society in Myanmar that is inclusive and resilient. It will pursue this goal through three portfolio outcomes: 

Overall goal Switzerland is helping to shape a more democratic, peaceful and prosperous society that is inclusive and resilient.

Portfolio outcomes

(1)
Peace, reduction of violence and protection of civilians

(2)
Livelihoods and food security

(3)
Systems strengthening and access to basic services

Geographic focus

South East (including South Shan) and Rakhine

Several partners / programmes have country-wide reach

Target groups Vulnerable men and women, especially conflict affected people and communities

Cross-cutting 

Governance, gender and climate change and disaster risk reduction 

Current projects

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Responsible Business Fund Plus (RBF+)

01.07.2024 - 30.06.2028

Myanmar’s post-coup conflict escalation and economic turmoil has led to financial and economic instability and destabilised the agrifood industry. Also, extreme weather and climate change further impact farmers and agricultural processors. The Responsible Business Fund Plus project aims to support agrifood businesses while reducing their environmental impact and thus deepening Switzerland's commitment to private sector engagement and an inclusive green economy.


Community-based Health Services and System Strengthening Support in Sagaing

01.05.2024 - 30.04.2027

Three years after the military coup in Myanmar, targeted attacks and scrutiny in the health sector by the military junta led to a partial or total lack of access to healthcare in various regions, particularly in the dry zone. Through this project, Switzerland aims to support locally-led and inclusive community-based health system in Sagaing to provide essential, emergency, quality primary health care services, while ensuring the transition to a new decentralized and inclusive health system.


Strengthening Civil Society in Myanmar – Paung Ku

01.07.2023 - 30.06.2027

In Myanmar, civic space has considerably shrunk since the military coup. In the absence of a legitimate government, networks of independent civil society organisations (CSOs) are essential actors for basic service provision and promotion of democratic values and human rights. Showing commitment to localisation, Switzerland will enable local CSOs to further support vulnerable communities and to protect the foundations of a pluralistic and inclusive society.  


Myanmar - Strengthened self-reliance of displacement-affected communities in Shan, Rakhine and Kayah States (SSDC)

15.06.2023 - 14.06.2026

Myanmar’s prolonged civil war intensified by the military coup has displaced more than 1.8 million civilians and caused immense suffering. Local actors have been faster, more effective and generally better placed to respond to humanitarian and basic needs of displacement-affected communities. Switzerland will strengthen localization of aid by partnering with Meikswe, a multi-sectoral local NGO operating in the nexus, to increase protection and self-reliance of affected communities.


Myanmar - Joint Peace Fund (JPF)

01.06.2023 - 30.05.2027

The conflict in Myanmar is the world's longest ongoing civil war, having lasted more than seven decades. As there is no development without peace, Switzerland supports the Joint Peace Fund (JPF), a multi-donor fund, for joint action on the peace process launched in 2016. Following the military coup where levels of conflict have risen exponentially, the fund focuses on conflict transformation rather than peace and prepare stakeholders to engage in dialogue and negotiations.


Myanmar: Primary Health Care

01.05.2023 - 30.04.2026

The military coup in Myanmar has interrupted the progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and provoked a quasi-collapse of the public health system. Through the Primary Health Care project, Switzerland supports conflict-affected communities in Karen State by providing essential lifesaving healthcare and quality basic maternal and child health services through strengthening the ethnic health system and the community-based service provision.


Women and Girls First

01.05.2023 - 31.12.2026

In Myanmar, the pandemic and military coup have increased the risks for gender-based violence (GBV) and deep-rooted gender inequality. Through the Women and Girls First programme, Switzerland supports women, girls and young people to realise their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and fulfil their potential. It does so by strengthening community-based and ethnic systems to be more responsive to needs related to GBV, SRHR and mental health.


VSDP - Vocational Skills Development Programme

01.04.2023 - 31.07.2028

COVID-19 and the military coup had a negative impact on the availability of jobs, economic resilience and access to training in Myanmar. This last phase of the VSDP project aims to provide an alternative for women and youth to get relevant training and (self-) employment while supporting micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises to improve their income, contribute to learning and create jobs. The project builds on Switzerland’s strategic position and experience in the vocational training sector.


UNDP: Area-based Support to Strengthen Resilience in Myanmar

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2025

Myanmar is in a protracted crisis situation; this project adopts a nexus approach combining humanitarian, development and peace interventions to address long-term challenges and achieve sustainable results. Through its partnership with UNDP, Switzerland will strengthen the capacities of vulnerable communities, enabling them to meet their basic needs, recover from external shocks, and promote their resilience.


Contribution to UNHCR Programme Budget 2023-2024 (earmarked)

01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024

UNHCR is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners due to its unique mandate by the General Assembly of United Nations to provide protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, refugee returnees, and stateless persons. The strategic direction 2022-26 concretise the overall mandate of UNHCR for the upcoming years. Contributing to these directions allows Switzerland to achieve in particular the human development goal defined in the Dispatch to Parliament on International Cooperation for 2021-24.


MYA: UNOCHA_MHF Humanitarian Fund

24.06.2022 - 31.12.2025

With this contribution, Switzerland helps to ensure that crisis-affected/vulnerable women, men and children receive timely, targeted and life-saving assistance. The number of persons in need of immediate humanitarian relief assistance has been growing rapidly in Myanmar. The Myanmar Humanitarian Fund strives to rapidly respond to those new emergency needs, thanks to a good global overview of the needs and a logic of accessing hard to reach areas and neglected zones.


Gulf of Mottama Project

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

The unique mudflat ecosystem of the Gulf of Mottama is one of the most important mudflat ecosystems in the world. Communities relying on it as a source of livelihood and the impact of climate change threaten its biological integrity. Building on Switzerland’s specific expertise in Southeast Myanmar, the project aims to conserve the wetland’s unique biodiversity, strengthen climate change adaptation and provide vulnerable communities with sustainable livelihoods and markets.

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