Study visit of university students from Fukuoka to UN-Habitat, Myanmar

February 2018

With the coordination of the International Cooperation Study Program by Fukuoka Prefecture Government and the UN-Habitat Regional Office for Asia and Pacific ROAP, six students from different universities in Fukuoka including Kyushu University, Jo Gakuin University, Seinan Gakuin University, University of Teacher Education made a three-day study visit to UN-Habitat, Myanmar and its project sites from 26 to 28 Feb 2018.

On the first day, the visiting students paid a visit to the UN-Habitat Country office before proceeding to the UN-Habitat facilitated Urban Research and Development Institute URDI where UN-Habitat senior staff presented the country context, areas of work, community-driven development projects, policy development work and urban and disaster risk and reduction projects. The visiting students interacted with the presenters for further information particularly on “the UN-Habitat People’s Process.”

In the afternoon, they visited the Yangon Heritage Trust Fund (YHT)office where, the Programme Manager of YHT gave a briefing on their work, cooperation with government bodies and Yangon City Development Committee and salient information on YHT’s implementing partners and funding partners. The students also visited the photo gallery of Yangon Heritage Trust.

In the morning of the second day of their study tour, the students were able to visit the Central Training Center, of the Ministry of Construction in Thuwunna. The Principal of the center gave a presentation on the center which was established in 1965, its history and branches, training courses delivered, their cooperation with the National Skills Standard Authority (NSSA) for the assessment in line with the ASEAN standardization. The students explored the center and observed the training rooms.

In the afternoon, the students visited the UN-Habitat Low Cost Yoma Housing Project funded by the Government of Japan for the poorest people in Dagon Seikkan and South Dagon. This project including 9 buildings of 5-storey each was initiated in 2015 and benefits 180 families in total who were slumdwellers. The UN-Habitat national senior manager gave a short brief on the project, the beneficiaries selection process, formation of apartment user committee. The beneficiaries also expressed their gratefulness for the provision of buildings. The students queried about the selection criteria, duties of committee members and benefits and changes of the beneficiaries lives in term of this project, then the students toured the apartments.

On the third day, the students were taken to slum areas in Hlaing Thar Yar Township. Before touring the slum areas, the students had a briefing by the Programme Coordinator of the Bedar organization, a local NGO working on slum issues in Hlaing Thar Yar Township. The students also watched a documentary of the lives of squatters produced by Bedar organization with much interest. The students then toured the slums communities around the factory zones having a chance to observe the communities’ real situation.

In the afternoon, the group visited the UN-Habitat implemented Water Treatment Plant Project in urban poor settlement areas of Shwe Pyi Thar township. UN-Habitat started this water supply and sanitation project funded by USAID in Shwe Pyi Thar in 2013. UN-Habitat National Programme Coordinator gave a presentation on the project, the project implementation process and the maintenance system set in place for sustainability. The students also met the Water plant’s committee members. The students were able to learn of the changes of the lives of communities particularly on hygiene and sanitation after having access to clean and purified water provided by project. The students toured the compound to view the water filter system and enthusiastically contributed a painting on the water tank together with the local communities. This project had benefitted nearby communities of approximately over 8000 people.

The visiting students 3-days tour was marked by much enthusiasm and strong interest in the work of UN-Habitat and in the lives of the beneficiaries of UN-Habitat implemented projects in Yangon. Through the field visit of UN-Habitat projects and site visits, they gained direct knowledge of actual ground work and situation in the most important urban center in Myanmar thus hopefully contributing to fulfilling the study programme’s objectives.