Continuing on its mission to support the long-term recovery of the Lancang-Mekong subregion, Mekong Institute (MI) pooled best strategies in designing sustainable mechanisms to protect development gains, while targeting multidimensional socioeconomic needs of those gravely impacted by the protracted global health crisis.
“COVID-19 brought to the fore our interconnectedness. As we work to rebuild our economies, the depth of our collaboration is essential for the inclusive revitalization of our respective countries and subregion,” H.E. Dr. Poch Bunnack, Secretary of State, of Cambodia’s Ministry of Planning, stated in the opening session of the online Experts’ Consultation Workshop on October 5, 2021.
Supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, the activity was completed under the newly-launched Targeted Poverty Alleviation for Better Life in the Lancang-Mekong Region: Sharing Experiences project.
Developed to help bridge socioeconomic divides caused by unemployment and loss of livelihood from disruptions in the supply and value chains, as well as decreased consumer demands, the project will source pandemic responsive policies, strategies, and interventions to strengthen programs that are geared towards enhancing social service deliveries, livelihood support through financial schemes, and job creation.
Government officials and experts representing Cambodia, P.R. China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand, including MI Executive Director Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn presented multisectoral priorities. Among these were recommendations to optimize existing regional frameworks such as the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Fund and the Belt and Road Initiative to ensure synergies in investments, expand private sector engagement for more coordinated and impactful results, and strengthen the collection and interpretation of targeted data systems.
“Data must be driven by need and context. Our policies and decision-making can only be as effective as the data that informs them,” Mr. Win Kyaw Myo, Director of the Myanmar’s Department of Rural Development at the Ministry of Cooperatives and Rural Development said.
He added that in using multiple data sets from surveys, key informant interviews, and pollings, governments will have a more holistic purview on assessing and enhancing the effective design, allocation, and mobilization of targeted poverty alleviation initiatives to each sector, particularly the marginalized and vulnerable.
In addition, unanimous calls were made for MI to continue delivering its solution-finding dialogues to foster broader convergence of post-pandemic recovery efforts.
Mr. Suriyan stated that the seven-hour workshop reflected practical approaches and holistic deliveries that support the “No Poverty” campaign of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. He added that other substantive recommendations detailing regional poverty alleviation programs and technologies for transparent data generation will be featured at a webinar in November 2021.
“The Lancang-Mekong is a community. The collective agreement from the workshop to marshal resources and to continue sharing expertise for stronger institutions and more responsive programs will empower more people to lead their own recovery, thus cementing the foundation for the Lancang-Mekong to build forward better a stronger subregion,” he said.