The Integrated Household Living Conditions Assessment (IHLCA) is a project involving partnership of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The project works with the Myanmar Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development (MNPED) to organize household surveys and other forms of information gathering to generate data and information on socio-economic living conditions of the Myanmar people living in both rural and urban areas. The project has progressively increased its coverage of data, such as estimation of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) for Myanmar as per methodology and technical guidance of the International Comparison Programme (ICP), setting up of systems for estimating gross domestic product (GDP) and national income for Myanmar as per methodology provided for in the updated United Nations System of National Accounts 2008 (2008 SNA), and other socio-economic data. In 2010 the IHLCA project scope was expanded further to include analysis of data generated by the project, and together with other available and assessed data, information and knowledge pieces undertake development analysis with policy and programmatic emphasis on emerging socio-economic and human development issues. Topics for such thematic studies are identified by the project stakeholders and agreed upon by the Project Steering Committee.
The IHLCA project has prepared several reports on living conditions in Myanmar based on the data collected in 2004/05 and 2009/10. The key reports for these two periods are (i) Poverty Profile, (ii) MDG Related Information, and (iii) Poverty Dynamics Report. The data presented in these reports are backed up by two sets of technical reports – (a) Technical Report on the household surveys and (b) Quality Report on the surveys.
These reports have highlighted changes in living conditions over the five year period 2004/05- 2009/10 at the national level as well as the regional/sub-national (region/state) level. The data show that both food poverty and income poverty in both rural and urban Myanmar have declined during the reference period. Food poverty declined from 9.6 percent in 2005 to 4.8 percent in 2010; income poverty declined from 32.1 percent in 2005 to 25.6 percent in 2010. In both reference years, both food poverty and income poverty were considerably higher among the rural population, with 5.6 percent of rural population in food poverty in 2010 compared to 2.5 percent in urban area; and 29 percent of the rural population in overall income poverty in 2010 while urban poverty incidence in the same year was 16 percent.
Living conditions and poverty incidence are also markedly different among the states and regions of Myanmar. Similarly stark regional differences in an entire range of correlates of poverty are found among the 17 regions: in such areas as quality of housing, access to safe drinking water, access to improved sanitation, access to electricity, morbidity, immunization coverage, prenatal care, and other social and economic factors.
The unequal socio-economic and human development among the regions and states is a result of a combination of factors including, among others, differences in natural resources endowments, agro-ecological resource base, climatic condition, topographical features, access to markets, and proneness to natural disasters. Shortfalls in public investments, especially in addressing specific problems of remote, mountainous areas and border areas do not also allow for the special support needed by the “disadvantaged” areas and regions. Further, instability in the local economies of certain areas, especially in some parts of border areas, caused by local conflicts affect the process of growth and development in these areas/regions.
National development policies and programmes in the past have addressed these regional socio-economic development issues. The emphasis of past policies was on the provision of material infrastructures such as roads, bridges, irrigation dams, hydro-electric power generation, water supply systems, and education and health infrastructures. These programmes were implemented within the framework of the “twenty four special regions for development projects”. Additionally, the Government constituted a separate agency, the Ministry for the Progress of Border Areas and National Races and Development Affairs, to implement programmes for the development of border areas.
Upon taking office on 30th March 2011, the newly elected Government placed emphasis on “rural development and poverty alleviation” and national programmes have been rolled out in the context of eight priority areas to achieve the programme objective: (1) agriculture, (2) livestock and fisheries, (3) rural productivity and cottage industry, (4) micro savings and credit enterprises, (5) rural cooperatives, (6) rural socio economy, (7) rural renewable energy, and (8) environmental conservation.
The IHLCA Surveys of 2004/05 and 2009/10 have provided information on household business activities in the form of industrial classification and employment type as well as labour market in the form of labour force participation rates, unemployment and underemployment. However, IHLCA surveys dealt with financial accessibility in the form of access to credit in agriculture and non-agricultural businesses. Yet both reports reflected just credit accessibility by state and region and could not explain critical background information such as potential demand and supply, sources of credit, cost of financing, routes to access credit and other financial services, constraints and the ways to overcome.
According to initial finding of IHLCA surveys result showed that access to credit for non- agricultural sector is declining in Myanmar. In this regard, a study on “Access to Finance” would be subsequent step of IHLCA since access to finance is commonly identified as a key driver of rural development and poverty alleviation. “Access to Finance” is also important for non-agricultural activities in rural as well as urban areas to reduce venerability. There are also distinct risks with high levels of household indebtedness, particularly when debt is provided at prohibitive interest rates and in stagnant economies with few productive investment opportunities while borrowers use the debt to meet their family’s food and essential consumption needs. Under these circumstances debt can be a cause of landlessness when households in distress take on loans using land as collateral (although not legally permitted) and ultimately using this key productive resource.
Accordingly, the proposed study should study various characteristics of access to finance and its importance on poor and non-poor for agricultural and non-agricultural economic activities through formal as well as informal credit sources. The formal sources are public banks, government agencies (including government agricultural credit), private banks, international /national non-government micro-finance organizations. and informal sources are relatives , friends, employer, landlord, traders, brokers, pawn shop and money lenders.
Rooting on the scope and complexity of IHLCA II national survey, it calls for International Individual Consultant to produce a short term assignment on the thematic papers for “Access to Finance”. The international consultant will work closely with Policy Unit and IHLCA Technical Unit from UNDP Myanmar.
Specific Tasks of the International Consultant are to:
- Work closely with a national consultant/Specialist who will be assigned to carry out the assignment in conjunction with the international consultant. The international consultant will act as the team leader and will be responsible for the quality and timely submission of the report.
- The International Consultant will review the IHLCA reports noted earlier in section 1 of this ToR, as well as other reference documents, reports, data and information sets organised by the team of national consultants/Specialists.
- Develop methodology and approaches for setting up data and information sets in the context of topics and issues to be covered for analysing development of access to finance at the region/state level and national level.
- Prepare a work plan for the study and have it approved by UNDP Policy Unit, IHLCA Project Technical Unit and the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development (MNPED).
- Engage in extensive discussion and consultation with Government, private sector national institutes such as the Yangon Institute of Economics, UNDP, UN Agencies, Government, donors, and NGOs.
- Develop Annotated Outline for the study on “Access to Finance” and finalize it in consultation with UNDP and MNPED.
- Select survey areas and conduct the required research work.
- In cooperation with the national consultant/Specialist, prepare a draft report of the study and submit it to UNDP Policy Unit and Project Manager of IHLCA at least two weeks prior to completion of the contractual assignment.
- Obtain comments and suggestions from UNDP and MNPED on the technical report. These two institutions will give their comments and suggestions within two weeks upon receiving the draft report from the international consultant.
- Subsequently, together with the national consultant/Specialist finalize the study report within a week.
Deliverables and respective Milestones:
The consultant will be responsible for delivering the following outputs:
- A detailed work plan outlining the activities to successfully accomplish the assigned tasks, delivered within 2 weeks after signing the contract.
- A draft report with the agreement of the Policy Unit and the Project Manager, IHLCA, UNDP, delivered within 6 weeks of signing the contract.
- A final report, “Access to Finance”, of a quality acceptable to all stakeholders, delivered before end of the assignment.