USAID will provide $6 million over five years to support locally-driven efforts to address the effects of the drug epidemic in Myanmar’s Kachin State, a key driver of the high rate of HIV infections in the state and country, according to a press release 14 December.
The new funding is designed to empower local people to take the lead in addressing their challenges, and is part of USAID's Local Works Program. The United States is expanding efforts to focus on drug use, which in Kachin State often affects people with few job opportunities. In Kachin State, many heroin and methamphetamine drug users are subsistence farmers, miners, or mine-waste scavengers, lacking skills or trades to provide livelihoods.
“USAID will work with communities on ways to draw young people away from drug use, such as providing vocational training to increase job opportunities,” said USAID Mission Director Teresa McGhie. “This project is one way that the United States supports building stronger and healthier communities in Myanmar,” she added.
The new $6 million program aims to achieve lasting results in the fight against HIV/AIDS and drug use by addressing the needs of individual communities and offering solutions across many sectors such as health, economy, and governance. “Local ownership of the development process is crucial to achieve long-lasting success against rising HIV rates and drug use,” said Dr. Robert Kelly, who leads the Local Works project in Myanmar. This approach contributes to the USAID vision of strengthening countries and, ultimately, ending their need for foreign assistance.