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TMCNet:  U.S. Assistance to Burma

[August 11, 2014]

U.S. Assistance to Burma

(M2 PressWIRE Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Washington, DC -- Building on a long legacy of support for the aspirations of the Burmese people, the United States is providing assistance to deepen and accelerate Burma's political, economic, and social transition; promote and strengthen respect for human rights; deliver the benefits of reform to the country's people; and support the development of a stable society that reflects the diversity of all its people. Total U.S. Assistance to Burma since 2012 is estimated at $202,185,000.

Support for Burma's Reforms U.S. assistance to Burma has increased steadily since 2011, reflecting the U.S. Government's support for Burma's political and economic transition. In addition to the reopening of the USAID Mission in Burma in 2012, many other U.S. agencies are providing assistance, including the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of the Treasury, and U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

A Partnership Approach: U.S. assistance also mobilizes the unique assets of U.S. society, building public-private partnerships with U.S. businesses, linking U.S. universities and research centers to development projects, engaging civil society and the Burmese diaspora in the United States, and encouraging the Burmese private sector to invest in its own transition and growth. The U.S. Embassy has launched over 20 public-private partnerships with U.S. and Burmese institutions of higher education; businesses, including Microsoft, Exxon, Hewlett Packard, Cisco, the Gap, Google, Intel, Proctor & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson; and private foundations, including the Gates Foundation, The Henry Luce Foundation and Vina Capital Foundation, who all support small and medium enterprise development, improve healthcare delivery, and bring new technologies to Burma.

Assistance is targeted to five key goals: National Reconciliation Sustaining national unity through peaceful political rather than military means essential to the long-term success of reform. By creating opportunities for greater participation, trust-building and tolerance, U.S. assistance seeks to build networks of cooperation and understanding within Burma diverse citizenry, and strengthen processes for peace and national reconciliation, combating hate speech.

Working with more than 20 local partners, U.S. assistance has ensured greater civil society participation in discussions of federalism, ceasefire monitoring, and women's role in peace processes.

U.S.-funded programs have improved conflict-mitigation capacity of more than 35 local partners, ensuring their programs "do no harm" and reduce conflict in their communities.

The Embassy's Small Grants Programs fund small-scale projects in ethnic states across the country to bolster civil society's capacity and development, including women's engagement in peace and reconciliation processes, and promoting trust between parties to conflict.

Democratic Institutions U.S. assistance builds the capacity of democratic institutions and a politically engaged civil society, promotes human rights, and strengthens rule of law. In 2013, the United States provided technical and capacity support for more than 300 civil society organizations and 5,800 individuals to engage in Burma's transition and political processes.

U.S.-funded programs strengthen parliamentarians' legislative, budgeting and oversight functions; help political parties represent the interests of their constituents; and work to improve the transparency of electoral processes in advance of the 2015 elections. U.S. assistance has contributed to improved legislation and policies protecting the rights of small holder farmers, addressing more secure land tenure, and advancing the rights of disabled persons.

Through the Institute for Political and Civic Engagement (iPACE) program, the U.S. Government supports training for local activists in democratic systems and civic engagement to nurture a vibrant, participatory, representative and capable civil society.

The U.S. Government provides technical assistance to the Burmese police to enhance efforts to combat trafficking in persons.

The U.S. Government supported rehabilitation and reintegration programs for released political prisoners to help them resume productive lives.

The U.S. Government has supported more than 400 journalists with basic training to meet the demand of the growing media sector, and has provided training to journalists for several years on conflict-sensitive reporting and basic journalism skills.

Through the My-PEC program, the U.S. Government supports the reduction of child labor in Burma by increasing public awareness; improving legislation; strengthening the capacity of national and local governments, civil society, labor unions, employer organizations and other key actors; and removing children from the worst forms of child labor through educational and livelihoods interventions.

Healthy Communities U.S. assistance improves the lives of millions across Burma. Programs aim to reduce "under-five child mortality and transmission of high burden infectious diseases. U.S. support has: Created more than 2,000 mothers' groups to increase maternal, newborn and child healthcare.

Provided clinical services to more than 57,000 clients through mobile health clinics.

Distributed Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets to 47,000 homes in malaria zones.

Built and renovated 1,142 community water systems, distributed 64,466 household water systems, and improved access to safe drinking water for 280,970 people.

Partnered with Procter and Gamble and local healthcare workers to provide 100 million liters of safe, clean drinking water.

Funded mobile delivery of rapid diagnostic tests and drug therapy that contributed to a 46 percent drop in malaria cases--from 722,000 in 2002 to nearly 392,000 in 2012.

Reached more than 20,000 individuals at heightened risk for HIV with outreach services and provided HIV testing and counseling services for more than 11,000 individuals.

Screened more than 70,000 people for tuberculosis and treated more than 23,000 individuals.

Trained 460,000 community members throughout the Dry Zone and in Kayah State on health and nutrition.

Provided $2,350,000 for mine risk education and survivor assistance projects that support communities impacted by landmines.

The U.S. Government has a longstanding commitment to internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, and other vulnerable migrants in Burma and in neighboring countries throughout the region. Through initiatives like the Project for Local Empowerment (PLE), the U.S. Government supports the work of dozens of community-based organizations to deliver basic services, including primary healthcare to over one million displaced people and refugees.

Economic Development The United States believes that responsible investment will promote economic reform, inclusive economic development, and the welfare of the Burmese people.

o Partnering with the private sector, other governments, donors, and civil society, U.S. assistance aims to significantly reduce poverty in targeted areas in the next five years. U.S. support will reach 350,000 farm households with new technologies and launch a value chain program to develop the rural economies and build the technical capacity of small holder farmers. This will build on previous efforts has improved the food security of 1,600 rural villages, or more than 2 million citizens.

o U.S. assistance targets the growth and development of small- and medium enterprises by ensuring that entrepreneurs have access to training, technology, and networks so that they can grow their businesses and generate employment opportunities.

o U.S. assistance promotes internationally recognized labor rights technical assistance programs that highlight freedom of association, build the organizational and representational capacity of trade unions and other civil society organizations, and promote improved economic literacy.

o The U.S. Government's Commercial Law Development Program advised the Burmese Government on the draft Foreign Investment Law and draft laws related to small and medium enterprises and telecommunications, incorporating technical advice from several U.S. Government agencies. The U.S. Government is providing further technical advice on draft copyright and trademark legislation, and on efforts to increase the Burmese Government's capacity to protect and enforce intellectual property rights. Additional assistance targets budget and financial accountability, revenue policy and administration, and countering economic crimes.

o Through the Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative, the United States is providing technical assistance for the implementation of international best practices in oil and gas management and oversight, financial accountability, and safety and environmental stewardship.

o The U.S. Government organized a civil aviation reverse trade mission in February 2014 introduced Burmese Government and business leaders to best practices and technologies in the U.S. aviation sector. The U.S. Government is organizing a second reverse trade mission focused on gas-fired power development in October 2014, and evaluating project-specific technical assistance requests in this sector for funding consideration. Several government agencies will also provide new expert assistance to the Government of Burma on "best value" procurement practices, through the Global Procurement Initiative.

Regional Cooperation As chair of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2014, Burma plays an important role in promoting regional peace and stability as well as economic and social development.

The United States is accelerating Burma's development and ASEAN connectivity by bringing the best of U.S. ICT technology to Burma through partnerships with Cisco, HP, Intel, and Microsoft.

The United States provides technical assistance to Burma for the development of a trade portal and a national single window that will link to the ASEAN Single Window.

For further information, visit www.burma.usembassy.gov , www.usaid.gov/burma , or www.foreignassistance.gov .

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(c) 2014 M2 COMMUNICATIONS

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