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Capacity Building Project

The political, social and security context of the ethnic people in Burma is in a high period of flux and all community leaders, especially women, need to be well-informed and highly skilled. With training, community leaders are equipped with the skills and knowledge to assess community needs, run programs and manage local problems. At the same time the broader community request training opportunities. It is vital they know their rights, are able to speak up for the needs of the community, and can define the priorities for development and justice in their areas.

1. Project Goal

To support and strengthen KWO’s capacity to provide essential services to the Karen refugee and village communities in Karen State. By building capacity of membership and leaders the organisation can run well and implement activities which benefit the community.

2. Location

We implement this project in 15 sites: in the 7 Karen-majority Refugee Camps along the Thai-Burma border, in one IDP camp, and in the 7 districts in Karen State in Burma.

3. Overview

This is a project full of training activities. This project supports KWO organisational sustainability, provision of essential services, and the empowerment and education of Karen community members. Every year we conduct a large program of training for our own KWO leaders and staff, so they can do their community work more effectively, and we provide short one-day workshops for members of the community to raise awareness of rights and promote change from the grassroots.

For the KWO leaders and staff we design and deliver training modules related to their community management work. Every year about 500 women leaders and staff take part in the training program conducted throughout the year. The program builds confidence, and strengthens their knowledge and skills in a variety of theoretical and practical subjects, for example, Feminism, KWO Constitution, KWO policies, Office Management, Political Updates and Basic Karen politics, Indigenous People’s rights, Women’s Rights, Public Speaking, Child Rights and Child Protection, Human Rights, KWO Finance Policy and Procedures, Management for KWO Programs and projects, SGBV, conflict-affected community safety.

For community members we offer a separate training program of one-day sessions to raise awareness about key local issues for the empowerment and education of all. Any man or woman may take part. Mostly women are the participants for these sessions, but about 15% of participants are men. These shorter community workshops focus on rights-based topics: women’s rights, indigenous people’s rights, landmine and community safety, child protection, hygiene and sanitation, women’s health, etc.

In all workshops the topics are selected by local KWO leaders from our large “library” of training modules. In this way we ensure training meets specific local needs. The Project staff at KWO central level organise printing of requested training materials, and distribute them to the camp and district training sites. Trainers are all experienced KWO leaders and staff.

Women in positions of responsibility in the KWO, and the men and women in the community, gain knowledge and skills that ultimately strengthens the resilience of the community. Their work is more effective, the community services they provide are better quality, they apply good governance practices, women can engage more in community decision-making, they know their rights and respect the rights of others.

4. Beneficiaries and Participants

In the recent project year from July 2020 to June 2021, due to the unprecedented conditions of the global COVID19 pandemic and then the military coup in Burma we could not carry out all the training activities as we had planned. Despite these new challenges 5,606 people directly benefitted from this project in the recent project year.

  • 61 central level KWO staff and leaders, based in towns participated in training.
  • 201 KWO leaders and staff in the 7 refugee camps participated in training.
  • 360 KWO leaders and staff in Karen State participated in training.
  • 4,984 community members and members of KWO participated in one-day sessions of awareness raising.
    • 15% male and 85% female.
    • 1,976 participants live in Karen State, and 3,008 participants live in the 7 refugee camps.

5. Main Activities

The main activities conducted under this project are:

  • Training of Trainers (ToT).
  • Training with KWO Central level leaders and staff who are based in towns.
  • Training with KWO leaders and staff in each of the 7 refugee camps.
  • Training with KWO leaders and staff in each of the 7 districts in Karen State.
  • Awareness Raising sessions with members of the community (men and women) in refugee camps and in most districts in Karen State.
  • Training with KWO Members.
  • Create, publish and distribute training and learning materials.
  • Monitoring trips to all sites.

6. Who does the work?

There are three full-time project staff who manage this project, with close collaboration of the KWO Central Executive Committee. There are about 60 women trainers spread across all sites who deliver the trainings, plus occasional guest trainers.

7. The Impact

KWO leaders and staff who receive training are empowered, more confident, and more knowledgeable. They make better decisions that affect their lives and the social and political conditions in their communities. As a result, the important role KWO plays in our community, providing essential services, and advocating for change, is sustained and enhanced.

We see improvements in gender equality in our community. More women are working in the community, and more leaders of the community are women. And these women are well-informed, skilled, and stand up for basic Human Rights. This could not happen without our large and rigorous training program.

Among all participants in training we see empowerment happening: in KWO leaders/staff, and in the community members. We observe changes in self-confidence among women and men. They come to believe they should and can “stand up and speak up”. They dare to question or discuss decisions in meetings. They take part. We are slowly building a healthier, more peaceful, more democratic civil society in Karen State and in our refugee communities.