On 1 February 2021, the military again seized power in Myanmar, dissolving the democratically elected parliament and the government and imprisoning most of their members. People are angry and frustrated and many are resisting this putsch. The military junta is resorting increasingly to violence and intimidation in order to quell any aspirations towards democracy.
The situation had been problematic even before the coup. The COVID-19 restrictions had been having a devastating impact on the economic situation. In the course of 2020, the number of households below the poverty line rose from 16 to 63 per cent. Moreover, on account of the armed fighting between the military and various ethnic and opposition groups, more than 330,000 internally displaced people are now living in camp-like conditions in the country.
Through its work in Myanmar, HEKS/EPER plans to continue helping to improve the living conditions of ethnic minorities and other marginalised groups in that country. Agriculture is of key importance to Myanmar's continued economic, social and environmental progress. Smallholder farmers need support to boost efficiency in both the production and processing of agricultural products. There is hardly a lack of innovative ideas and well-trained people in Myanmar, but the regulatory environment is not conducive to developing and realising business ideas. One priority of the HEKS/EPER programme in Myanmar is therefore that of identifying, training and networking local social enterprises in the agriculture sector.
In its second year of engagement on the ground, HEKS/EPER mounted small innovative projects to facilitate direct access for 2000 small farming families and indirect access for another 7000 to agricultural machinery, seeds and continuing education and training, specifically in the area of market prices and bookkeeping.