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. Table 1 shows the rural-urban and regional differences in poverty among the 17 “planning” regions for which data have been collected and organized by the IHLCA 2010. 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 the 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 economic 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 Area 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.
Government has also initiated national level discussions aimed at formulating a comprehensive action plan for sequencing policy and institutional reforms for accelerating economic and social development.
These national level initiatives will have important bearing on the regional/sub-national development and equitable development opportunities for the country’s population and the 14 administrative (or 17 “planning”) regions. National level discussions are also underway for the formulation of regional development plans and programmes for the regions and states in Myanmar. which would provide for the substantive reference for formulating multi-year development budget and financing strategies by each of the 14 region/state governments.
Against the backdrop of the ongoing government initiatives, the IHLCA project seeks to contribute to the national effort in carrying out a comprehensive analysis of regional development issues with an emphasis on developing development potentials and strategies for each of the regions and states of the country. The work will be undertaken in two time lines, beginning with seven regions/states in the immediate item. These include Chin State, Shan State, Mon State, Bago Region, Magwe Region, Mandalay Region and Ayeyarwaddy Region. Priority attention to these seven regions has been guided by the criteria that these are areas where the prevalence and incidence of both food poverty and income poverty as well as social deprivations are highest. After three months of work in these areas, the next segment of work on the remaining seven regions/states will be undertaken. It is not expected that all of the work on the first set of 7 states/regions will be completed within the first three months; indeed, the work on the second set of 7 states/regions will overlap with the first segment, but this should provide for the opportunity to leverage experience of the first segment of the work.
Both segments of the work will be carried out by a team of national and international consultants. The national team of consultants will comprise of several subject matter experts who will work under a team leader with expertise in regional development analysis and planning. The work of the national team of experts will be supported by an international consultant who will have substantial inter-country experience in regional development analysis and planning. The scope of work and tasks to be accomplished by the International Consultant is described herewith.