NGOs in Myanmar Research Proposal

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NGOs in Myanmar: Research Proposal



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NGOs in Myanmar: Research Proposal

1.0 Introduction

In Myanmar (also known as Burma) today, there are approximately 214,000 local and international NGOs, which support various programs and services.1 The locally-based NGOs in Myanmar operate at various levels, focusing on giving support to various programs and services, which have overwhelmed or the government is ignorant to give. These NGOs operate on condition that they do not threaten the power base or engage in any efforts to undercut the state. According to Steinberg, their effectiveness in any region in Myanmar depends on their relationship with the local military command.1 Prior to 2006, there were approximately international NGOs operating in Myanmar. Since January 2006, the number reduced significantly as country’s military government increased operational requirements and surveillance for NGOs.1 However, more recently, the regulations have relaxed, giving chance for international organizations to expand their roles in the country.

2.0 Research Review

According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees HIV/AIDs crisis has been a major cause of concern in Myanmar with almost 1% adult population HIV positive as of 2009.2 Malnutrition is also a severe problem in this nation with more than 25% of new born babies underweight, and approximately a third of the children suffering from malnutrition by the age of five.3 Since the military took over the government in 1989, women from all ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds in Myanmar have been denied most of their fundamental rights.4

Steinberg, D. I., Burma/Myanmar: what everyone needs to know (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010) p126

UNICEF.“Myanmar statistics,” Modified March 2, 2010.. HYPERLINK “”

UNHCR, “UNHCR country operations profile – Myanmar, Working Environment,” Modified 2012. HYPERLINK “”

O’Shannassy, T., Burma’s excluded majority: women, dictatorship and the democracy movement( London: CIIR, 2007), p5

In addition, a UNHCR report explains a significant number of Myanmar populations suffer from lack of health care and education, with little government support.3 Another report produced by UNHCR in 2008 showed that only 43% of this nation’s population had access to safe water and adequate sanitation.5 Both the local and international NGOs operating in Myanmar focus on supporting various humanitarian programs and services such as confronting the HIV/AIDs crisis, providing food relief, supporting access to health care and education, providing safe water and sanitation, promoting the rights of women and starting community-based development projects and micro-loans. This paper seeks to investigate the humanitarian and development role related to refugees played by both international and local NGOs in Burma.

Despite the above services, NGOs operating in war prone zones have to meet difficult conditions. Polman presents the case of Darfur in Sudan where though NGOs worked hard for humanization aid, solders took advantage of these NGOs to demand money.6 Polman in addition explain that governments impose high taxes for food items brought in these regions as humanitarian aid, making the work of NGOS much more difficult and unbearable. The lack of sufficient doctors in the battle field to treat both the local citizens and soldiers has been a matter of concern, where in some cases; solders have no food or medication, and yet have to be involved in war.7 Polman therefore argues that in addition to offering free medical aids and food, NGOs have a duty to serve these soldiers. Polman offers the case of Rwanda genocide as the worst humanitarian situation in the modern world that required massive intervention. NGOs carried out fund raisings, with massive aid of about $1.5 billion received from donors and governments to make the Rwandese case the best funded humanitarian crisis in the world.8

UNHCR, “Myanmar, Republic of the Union,” Modified May 21, 2008.

Linda, P., The crises caravan: What’s wrong with Humanitarian aid (New York: Henry Holt, 2010), p1

Ibid, p3

Ibid, p 20

Buddhism has portrayed a major role in offering massive humanitarian aid to many Burmese residents. The economic independence of the Buddhist Monkhood and the intervention in clerical disputes to favor a single sect compared to another portrays interplay between political and religion forces in Burma. Since the colonial time where Burmese monks disfavored the British rule for refusal to support Sangha and make Buddhism a state religion, Buddhism has shaped the history of Burma in acting as a social-political vanguard of the people, and trimming the excesses of the rulers. 10 Buddhism as a religion has been instrumental in supplying aids to affected people similar to other NGOs in Burma. Therefore, it is imperative to carry out detailed research concerning the roles played by NGOs and the difficulties faced by these NGOs in humanitarian crises, in understanding the operations of these NGOs, and how they can be improved to offer better services to refugees, in addition to ensuring safe working atmosphere for the staffs involved in these NGOs.

Research Methodology

3.1 Aim/Objective of this studyThe central aim of this study is to analyse the humanitarian and development role played by both local and international NGOs in Myanmar.

Research strategy influences the design and gives an opportunity for the researcher to examine how each of the various available approaches may limit or contribute to his/her study.9

Trochim, W. M. K.., the Research Methods Knowledge Base, (2nd ed.) (Cincinnati: Atomic Dog publishing, 2001), p96

Donald, K.,S. The Buddhist World of South Asia (New York : State of New York Press, 1995), p98

Research Questions

The research will seek to answer the following questions:

Which refugee’s humanitarian programs and services do local NGOs support in Burma?

Which refugee’s related development programs and services do International NGOs support in Burma?

What has been the impact of the local and international NGOs’ intervention to refugees Burma?

How effective are intervention efforts by local and international NGOs in Burma been?

3.2 Research strategy

Depending on the nature of a study, the researcher may adopt either qualitative or quantitative approaches or both. Qualitative tools are based on content analysis, among other things, after which the results are presented in a non-numerical format. This approach helps the researcher to gain a deep insight into the topic of study. On the other hand, quantitative tools generally borrow from physical sciences in that they are structured to analyse data collected rather than views and perceptions.11

The researcher plans to adopt a naturalistic approach so as to apply the topic of this study in specified contextual settings and also due to the probing nature of the study topic. To achieve the objective for this study, the researcher opts for a qualitative approach defined as a “Sequential Exploratory Strategy.”12 This strategy provides a very flexible approach in collecting and analysing data.

Katsirikou, A., and Christos H. S., Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries: Theory and Applications: Proceedings of the International Conference on QQML2009. (New York: World Scientific, 2010), p96.

Creswell, J. W., Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, (California: Sage Publications, 2003), p214.

3.3 Research methodThe research will be both ethnographic and desk-based. Scholarly articles and books on the humanitarian and development role played by both local and international NGOs in Myanmar will be examined. Additionally, primary data on the same topic will be collected using interviews.

3.4 Research procedure

This research project will rely on two basic phases; a conceptualisation and an empirical phase. In the conceptualisation phase, relevant literature related to the topic of study will be reviewed and the tools of data collection, interview schedules, developed. During the empirical phase, the required data for the research will be collected from the sections selected. During this phase the data collected will be analysed according to content validity as per the set objective of the research. The process of collecting data will start with addressing traditional ethical issues of access, acceptance, privacy, and confidentiality. The researcher will seek permission from all relevant institutions in the places where data will be collected. The researcher will also take initiative to inform participants what the research was about so that they will be able to prepare for the interviews.

3.5 Study population

Personnel from local and international NGOs based in Myanmar form the population for this study. Since the researcher does not have capacity to study all local and international NGOs based in Myanmar, a sizeable and manageable segment of the population will be identified through the sampling process.

3.6 Sampling

The researcher targets to conduct interviews on 20 to 30 personnel in around 20 local and international NGOs operating in different localities across Myanmar. The researcher will use simple random method of sampling to choose the institutions from which the sample would be drawn in Myanmar.

4.0 Data collection methods4.1 InterviewsSeveral semi-structured interviews will be conducted to explore the questions advanced for this study. As noted earlier, the researcher will focus on interviewing personnel working in local and international NGOs. Enquiry designs will be sent to the interviewees in NGOs ahead of interview date. Then interview sessions will be flexible and will be planned based on each interviewee’s availability. The interview sessions will be recorded on tape and the most important information highlighted by the participants will be noted. The researcher will use open-ended questions since this will help to obtain extensive information related to the topic of study. 4.2 Documentary and electronic sourcesThe researcher will gather part of the information needed for the study through documentary sources, especially books, electronic journals, newspapers, magazines and websites for NGOs operating in Burma. The researcher will also seek to be provided with reports and other documents with relevant information such as newsletters from the NGOs where primary data will be collected. Documentary sources, both physical and electronic, help to provide basic background information for a study.13 Thus they will greatly help the researcher to make a study design. Gill John, Phil Johnson and Murray Clark, Research Methods for Managers,( London: Paul Chapman Publishing, 2010), p 28

5.0 Time (Research Schedule)

The research will be conducted between July and December, 2012. Sampling the responses, analyzing the data and writing a report of the findings will be done in January and February 2013. This is shown in the schedule below

Time Schedule

activity 1st month 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th

Sourcing permission

-55880290830 material preparation 276860189865 selecting sample 515620138430 meeting with respondents 163195170815 interviews 431165128905 material research 97790161290 summarizing data and materials 401955205105 writing report -10795147320 Presentation of report 299720193675



1306830-3810Total time 6.0 Limitations of the research

There are several limitations and assumptions that relate to this study. First, the researcher has limited capacity to conduct analysis in NGO institutions from diversified geographical areas in Myanmar and thus, the study will be conducted on NGOs based and working across Myanmar. Thus, it is not quite evident that the sample to be used in the study will be typical of the whole population of study. Another major challenge that the researcher might face is time available to access to the different NGO institutions to conduct interviews on the targeted participants.

7.0 Conclusion

The above research based in Myanmar will shed much light regarding the operations of NGOs in conflict zones. This proposal report seeks to unravel the difficulties and challenges facing NGOs, and participation of governments and other authorities in the country. Generally, the report will lay a basis to understand the operations of NGOs, and how these operations may be enhanced for better performance, especially in delicate conflict prone zones.

8.0 Bibliography

Betsill, Michele Merrill, NGO diplomacy: the influence of nongovernmental

organizations in international environmental negotiations, Bern: MIT Press, 2008

Creswell, John W., Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods

Approaches, California: Sage Publications, 2003

Donald, K., Swearer. The Buddhist World of South Asia, NY: State of New York Press, 1995

Gill John, Phil Johnson and Murray Clark, Research Methods for Managers, London:

Paul Chapman Publishing, 2010

Katsirikou, Anthi & Christos H. Skiadas, Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries: Theory and Applications: Proceedings of the International Conference on QQML2009. New York: World Scientific, 2010

Steinberg, David I., Burma/Myanmar: what everyone needs to know, New York:

Oxford University Press, 2010.

O’Shannassy, Teresa. Burma’s excluded majority: women, dictatorship and the democracy movement, London: CIIR, 2007

Polman, Linda. The crises caravan: What’s wrong with Humanitarian aid? New York: Henry Holt, 2010.Print.

Trochim, William M. K.., the Research Methods Knowledge Base, (2nd ed.), Cincinnati:

Atomic Dog publishing, 2001

UNHCR, (2008), “Myanmar, Republic of the Union,” accessed March 11, 2011.

UNICEF, (2010), “Myanmar statistics,” accessed March 11, 2011.

UNHCR, (2012), 2012 “UNHCR country operations profile – Myanmar, Working Environment,” Accessed March 11, 2011. HYPERLINK “”

World Health Organization, 2012, “Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition,”

Accessed March 11, 2011. HYPERLINK “”

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