Health and Education Plan to Support Chin Women, Children

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 5 May 2015

RANGOON — Women and children in Chin State will benefit from a first of its kind five-year social welfare initiative implemented by the regional government in partnership with the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development (MIID).

“The Local Social Plan addresses unmet development needs and rights, prioritized by the people of Chin State and the Chin State government, such as food security, improved access to and retention in education, and expanded coverage of quality health services,” Unicef’s country representative in Burma, Bertrand Bainvel, was quoted as saying in a statement from the UN body on Tuesday.

Rugged and sparsely populated Chin State is Burma’s poorest, with the region lagging in many socioeconomic indicators.

“Children in Chin State are more likely to be underweight and stunted than their peers living in other parts of Burma,” the Unicef statement said. “Only 6 percent of children in Chin are delivered in a health facility, compared with 36.2 percent in the country on average.”

Provisional results of a census conducted last year put the western state’s population at 478,690.

No Than Kat, chairman of the Chin Progressive Party, said he welcomed the initiative, adding that women and children in Chin State had benefitted from fewer development projects compared with other parts of Burma.

Women and girls in Chin State were “always facing gender discrimination” due to deeply ingrained traditional cultural values, the party chairman said, with girls frequently prevented by their parents from attending school.

“And also, children are not receiving enough nutrition, so if this project can support them, I am happy to hear that,” he told The Irrawaddy.

“A lack of education and heath support impoverishes their lives in Chin State, so the state administration should manage this support prudently, so that it reaches the bottom,” he said.

The Unicef statement did not indicate how much money would go toward the Local Social Plan, which is to be implemented over the 2016-2021 period with financial support from the Danish government.

Peter Lysholt Hansen, Denmark’s ambassador to Burma, said his country’s involvement in the program reflected a commitment to Burma’s reform process.

“The people of Chin deserve to see tangible results in their daily life as a result of the bilateral ceasefire agreement and the plan will contribute to this aim,” the Unicef statement quoted Hansen as saying, referring to an accord signed between the government and the Chin National Front, a regional ethnic armed group, in January 2012.