This year Women for the World has played a key role in a collaboration between The Bartiett Development and Planning Unit in University College London, The Association of Myanmar Architects, The Asian Coalition for Housing Rights and the Community Association Network, that brought MA students of architecture and urban planning from London to Yangon to explore the specific urban challenges of housing projects in Myanmar.

The collaboration of organizations, universities and municipalities committed to the sustainable development of Yangon aimed to increase visibility around specific urban challenges with a particular focus on the well-being of communities currently living in informal settlements.

Women for the World have been supporting and facilitating the upgrading of informal settlements through the Womens’ Saving and Development Network, an initiative that enables women to access finance to initiate community development programs such as livelihood and income generation, land tenure, housing, community infrastructure, water and sanitation activities.

With WFW’s support, the students from the University College London were able to learn from and work with some of the residents of these townships to develop solutions to the challenges they have been facing. They presented these solution to the township communities at an event in Hlaingthaya and then at a forum in Yangon University called ‘Yangon, Transformation in a time of Transition. City Wide Strategies for Upgrading’ on the 12th of May.  The students created a blog about their experiences here in which they describe the work of WFW and the Womens’ Savings and Development Network as remarkable.

The fieldtrip was designed around the collaboration between Women for the World and CAN-ACHR, who have engaged with numerous community savings groups across different townships, producing remarkable slum upgrading projects in villages with poor infrastructure, limited mobility and complex land ownership dynamics. The BUDD student teams worked on different sites in the Hlaing Tar Yar and Dagon Seikkan townships, engaging with communities at different stages of the upgrading process through interviews, mapping, visual exercises and other means to better understand the sites dwellers’ aspirations as well as their immediate needs.