Snapshot on How Tetra Tech is Building Civil Society Capacity to Engage in Public Policy
Through a grant to the Integrated Development Executive Association (IDEA), Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) is building the capacity of civil society to engage in public policy development and advocacy. On October 21, 2017, IDEA conducted an advocacy consultation meeting with State-level Members of Parliament (MPs). Fifteen MPs and IDEA members discussed findings of civil society organizations (CSOs) and technical stakeholders to develop solutions for current community challenges. Media representatives from Thanlwin Thwee Chin Journal, Shwe Maung Journal, the People’s Voice Journal, and MRTV/NRC also attended the event.
During the event, the director of IDEA presented findings from their project, entitled Community Based Legal Service Initiatives (CBLSI), which illustrated the impact of language barriers on access to justice, the lack of legal knowledge, and the need for legal aid, especially in land and environmental cases. Recommendations from CSOs and technical stakeholders included conducting awareness training, enhancing communication and collaboration between Government and local communities, incorporating basic legal knowledge in High School curriculum, and conducting public consultations and engaging legal experts when drafting laws. U Khin Maung Myint, a state level MP, noted that “It is not easy to sustain the rule of law, and everyone should collaborate to find solutions.”
IDEA also discussed the need for both technical and legal experts in the legal drafting process, especially for specialized topics, such as land law. During a group discussion, the participants agreed on the need for MPs to facilitate more community awareness, as well as to participate in legal training sessions. The group also discussed the importance of using plain language to help farmers understand existing land tenure laws. To address ethnic language issues, they suggested using cartoons to explain laws and procedures.
As a result of this advocacy consultation, MPs committed to present the legal issues and needs of these communities to Union level representatives. MPs also agreed to participate in future IDEA events to learn more about community challenges and legal findings from the project. This type of collaborative advocacy is helping Myanmar be more inclusive, accountable, and responsive to the public and develop the rule of law, especially in rural communities.