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International Partnerships

Building skills and bolstering peace through multi-ethnic friendship centres in Myanmar

A person walking behind livestock at sunrise in Myanmar
The friendship centres will provide their users support with agricultural projects such as livestock farming

The west of Myanmar is among the most conflict-affected and impoverished regions of the country. Many of the townships in the western state of Rakhine have seen protracted displacement, ethnic/religious conflict and clashes between a number of different armed forces. Additionally, rural populations are vulnerable to the tropical monsoon climate, with high rainfall for up to seven months of the year that leads to flooding, cyclones, loss of crops and increased food insecurity.

This project delivers an integrated solution to improve livelihoods, provide Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH facilities), strengthens social cohesion and facilitates the disaster risk reduction response. It is accompanied by a research project to identify challenges and opportunities for social cohesion, community development and the fight against climate change. This project is being implemented through funding provided by the Lives in Dignity (LiD) Grant Facility.

Scope and objectives

Innovative ‘Friendship Centres’ are set up to deliver activities under this project. These multi-ethnic community centres are designed and managed by minority community members in order to serve their communities. Communities targeted under the project are identified on the basis of needs, rather than status, in recognition that individuals affected by displacement have unique vulnerabilities and can contribute to the development of their communities in varied ways.

The friendship centres help with the delivery of

  • joint village committees
  • community leadership trainings on social cohesion, peacebuilding and safe social media use
  • multi-stakeholder dialogue sessions (women’s groups, religious leaders, community leaders)
  • capacity building for vocational trainings (including tailoring, vehicle repair, business start-up and financial management)
  • agricultural support (including farmer field schools, home gardening, compost making and livestock rearing)
  • integrated services (such as handwashing station installation, environmental sanitation activities and awareness-raising and distribution of COVID-19 prevention materials)
  • disaster management committees, which will undertake a knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) survey and disaster risk-assessments
  • customised disaster contingency and mitigation plans
  • disaster risk reduction trainings of trainers and distribution of information and education materials
  • basic research training to youth and sessions to share research findings with community members

Expected results

Increased income generation and livelihood opportunities

  • 2 340 displacement-affected people have access to decent work or other sustainable sources of income 3 months after receiving support from the project

Increased access to basic services

  • 1 300 displacement-affected people have gained or improved access to integrated services (education, water, sanitation, health and energy)

Enhanced prevention, protection and solutions for disaster and climate-related displacement

  • 130 people at risk of displacement increase prevention awareness and risk management preparation
  • 260 people have been assisted by policies that facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility in disaster and climate change contexts
  • 130 disaster and climate-related displaced people have achieved a durable solution to their displacement
  • 260 people benefit from disaster simulation exercises, development of early warning systems and operational preparedness planning
  • 260 people supported in preparing to move safely in disaster and climate contexts through information campaigns, training, upskilling and livelihood diversification


The EU-UNOPS Lives in Dignity Grant Facility was founded in 2020. The facility aims to promote development-oriented approaches and solutions to new, recurrent and protracted displacement crises. It funds innovative projects that support the resilience of communities and empower their members through livelihoods and basic services, making a concrete difference in the lives of displaced people.

This project was selected because it addresses the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. It has a strong focus on social cohesion within a mixed target population of internally displaced people, the host community, stateless people and those affected by disaster and climate-related displacement. The project is community-led, with strong local ownership. In addition, it has a strong and well-integrated learning element and creates a climate adaptation fund for emergencies.