The signature approach by the Myanmar Program is an intensive engagement with stakeholders and a research-driven prototyping of the effort’s outputs. As important as understanding the complex challenges facing Myanmar is, it is only the first step. In a country where formal institutions are weak and plagued by a dearth of reliable data and policy analysis capacity, and civil society has long been confined to a minor role, it is necessary to create a mechanism for enhancing civil dialogue and a platform of shared understanding among various constituencies.
Intensive engagement would not be possible without a close partnership with Proximity Designs, a nonprofit social enterprise operating in Myanmar which won the prestigious Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2012.
About Proximity Designs
Proximity Designs is a unique and complex organization. It started as a social entrepreneurial company that designed, manufactured, and sold irrigation and other equipment aimed at poor rural families. After Cyclone Nargis, it grew into an organization that provided relief in emergency situations. As its name suggests, a deep knowledge of the problems it confronts is necessary to solve them. It understands that relief and better machinery do not by themselves reduce poverty sufficiently unless broader policies are also improved. Proximity spearheads a broad policy research effort which combines its local knowledge with Harvard Kennedy School’s comparative political and economic insights. This partnership with the Myanmar Program has produced studies noted for their depth, nuance, and practicality.