Participants discussed how local organisations can gain acceptance and recognition of their work. A session on working with the private sector explored how groups could mobilise local inputs and resources to build sustainability.
Guest speakers included Dr Min Thwe, former Programme Manager of the National AIDS Program. He and Professor Aung Tun Thet of the United Nations System Staff College provided advice on building linkages and coordination between civil society and the government.
Although Myanmar has 240,000 people living with HIV, many of whom need antiretroviral treatment, it is very difficult for community based organizations (CBOs) to sustain their activities due to the limited availability of funding.
Alliance Myanmar invited it main donors to a special session of the forum and facilitated discussion between them and CBOs. The donors gave their opinions on funding allocations for AIDS, while the CBOs explained some of the difficulties they face in obtaining resources.
Among the challenges identified were restrictive funding criteria, the gap between the availability of and demand for funding, and geographical limitations (projects are mostly confined to towns and cities, leaving rural areas under resourced). The CBOs stressed the urgency of increasing access to antiretroviral treatment in Myanmar.
Cartoonist Aw Pe Kyae made a presentation on disseminating information to a target audience effectively. A representative of the media expanded on this theme, with a discussion of the issues surrounding effective advocacy. This was a rare opportunity for CBOs to gain insight into using the media for influencing policy.