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myanmar_mapPopulation: 52,797,319

HDI ranking: 149/187

HDI score: 0.498

Recently, a number of reforms have already been undertaken in Myanmar. The 2008 constitution formed new governments at the regional/state level, and democratic transition has gained significant momentum since the 2010 elections. While the significant change is undergoing, new subnational governance faces limitations to achieve decentralization (The Asia Foundation, 2013).


Local governance at a glance

  • Myanmar consists of 7 states, 7 regions, 1 union territory, 5 self-administered zones, and 1 self-administered division. A region or a state is consisted of districts; and a district is basically consisted of villages, words, towns, and village-tracts (MLIT, 2013).
  • “Most villages and village-tracts had already, or were in the process of indirectly electing village heads to replace centrally appointed village administrators” (The Asia Foundation, 2013).
  • The General Administration Department (GAD) which was created in the Ministry of Home Affairs provides administrative and coordination functions for local governments (The Asia Foundation, 2013).
  • Myanmar has no legislated subnational gender quota (WLB, 2006).

Civil society actors include

  • Myanmar NGO Network (MNN) aims for strengthening and development of civil society working through undertaking cooperation effectively among Myanmar NGOs and dealing with Myanmar Government Agencies (LRC, 2012).
  • Thadar Consortium strengthens Local NGOs capacity, empowers community, and strengthens opportunities for advocacy in supporting effective change in policy and practice (LRC, 2012).
  • Myanmar Egress  promotes democracy through renovation of highly intelligent and politically motivated citizenry.
  • Network Activities Group (NAG)’s main activities include building good governance within community, promoting community-led activities, and approaching to policy advocacy.

Capacity building institutions

  • Myanmar Parliamentary Union provides a series of workshop and trainings for members of the state and regional parliaments (The Asia Foundation, 2013).

Fiscal control

  • Finances for state/region bodies are included in a state and region budget. State/region governments can participate in preparation of this budget (The Asia Foundation, 2013).
  •  A lump sum development, known as the Poverty Reduction Fund, was introduced in 2011. The fund is available to the state/region for whatever their priorities and the first cross-sectoral transfer to the subnational level (The Asia Foundation, 2013).
  • Under the 2008 Constitution, states and regions can collect taxes and revenues listed in Schedule Five in accord with law and deposit them in Region or State fund (The Asia Foundation, 2013).

Key initiatives for participatory local governance

  • Under the 2008 Constitution, 14 state and region governments were created and they form basis of subnational governance (The Asia Foundation, 2013).
  • A general election was held in 2010, and it was the first election since 1990. The election was a part of the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)’s plan to move the country from military to democratic rule under the “road map to democracy” plan (ONI, 2012).
  • Since 2011, decentralization has been a priority reform area under Thein Sein’s government. The president announced five significant public administration reform initiatives to quicken decentralization (The Asia Foundation, 2013).
  • In 2012, the president introduced the 10-point Framework for Economic and Social Reform (FESR) as a reform strategy to people-centered development. The framework emphasizes development of the laws and regulations surrounding decentralization (The Asia Foundation, 2013).

Challenges for participatory local governance

  • State and region budgets are small and distributed unevenly among states and regions. Moreover, there is still central oversight of these budgets (The Asia Foundation, 2013).
  • Regional parliaments face major capacity constraints and lack of human resources (The Asia Foundation, 2013).
  • The executive at the state and region level is still dominated by a top-down appointment process, which prevents Myanmar from achieving decentralization (The Asia Foundation, 2013).

Recent posts on this website about this country:

List of sources (in order of citation):

The Asia Foundation, 2013: “State and Region Governments in Myanmar”

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, JAPAN (MLIT), 2013: “Myanmar”

Women’s League of Burma (WLB), 2006: “Looking through Gender Lenses”

Local Resource Center (LRC), 2012: “Directory of NGO Network in Myanmar”

Open Net Initiative (ONI), 2012: “Burma (Myanmar)”