Myanmar’s political situation has changed recently from a military dictatorship to democratic government. During this transitional period the nation is learning to build a democratic society. To strengthen democratic engagement, the voice of an empowered people is vitally important.
In order to strengthen democratic society, you need to change the unfair and top down structures of management within government. Today people are suffering from poverty but this is not due to laziness. It is because of unfair policies and the structure of management. While the political situation is changing a great deal of development planning is also occurring within these top down structures of governance. As the consequence of this many social problems are increasing. National and international development planning can be actually be a cause of poverty if there is no popular participation. Economic growth brings wealth to some but it will also create many social problems such as land grabbing, increasing the number of jobless people, homelessness, deforestation and many cross border issues.
Therefore, it is urgently needed to have sustainable development planning for the country. By contrast, it is apparent that the role of community has been very limited in development projects. Development projects should be the tools to build democratic community. Development projects should be the opportunity for people to come together, to build trust, to make decisions through consensus, to solve their problems as well as to learn and share their experience and knowledge. When designing and implementing development projects, the communities should be the key actors and they must be the owners of the project. Only people led development will bring positive change.
Development projects without the participation of people will not bring the right kind of success. Further, putting the community in the center of development is the most important thing to do as a way of strengthening democratic society.