The EAI has provided ongoing research and institutional assistance to the strengthening of Myanmar civil society organizations since 2015 with the support of National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In 2019, Myanmar partner organizations established Myanmar Democracy Research Network (MDRN) and conducted a joint public opinion survey on Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC)’s public services. This series of reports is compiled as a part of the “Strengthening Civil Society Organizations in Myanmar Year Three” program. As the fifth paper of the series, Yone Kyi Yar published “The Perceptions of Yangon City Residents of Streets and Street Lights”. Using the result of the 2019 MDRN Survey, Yone Kyi Yar assesses citizens’ perceptions of streets and street lights in Yangon City and provides policy suggestions by arguing that citizens have both positive and negative views on the current status of streets and street lights, which YCDC should also be aware of.
Rapid urbanization is a big challenge for Myanmar, and the government, Parliament, and municipal organizations are working hard to plan systematic and sustainable urban development. The respective authorities and policy makers prescribe rules and procedures for urban planning and implementation, which shape the urban life of residents in both the short and long term. However, in Myanmar, authorities have in the past disregarded participation of residents and their opinions in urban planning processes and on other issues due to the authoritarian nature of the prior regime. Under the current democratic regime, government officials have begun to assess and emphasize public opinions and perspectives in the policy process. In democratic systems, public opinions and experiences comprise a vital part of policy making and the policy implementation process. The perspectives of residents in a particular area reflect the real situation on the ground of that place, and so citizen perspectives and experiences of their urban lives, which are a key aspect in managing urban planning and urban development, should always be explored and recorded.
Democratic governments are also accountable to their citizens for the policies they implement and how they implement them. Governments should reflect the priorities and needs of their citizens (International Budget Partnership, 2012). The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) provides urban services within its city limits. Those urban services should be aligned with citizen needs. In the 2017 and 2018 City Life surveys, residents remarked that Yangon is headed in the right direction with continuous infrastructure and road development. Residents also prioritize budget allocation to the improvement of road conditions (The Asia Foundation, 2017 and 2018). Streets are one of the key aspects of the development indices of a city or a town.
At the same time, streets are public spaces and should be for everyone to assess. Particularly in Yangon, which has a high volume of traffic congestion, streets are loaded with cars, yet ordinary people who walk along the streets should have good access to them as well. Citizens should be able to enjoy a pleasant atmosphere when walking along or using the streets. In addition to the streets, the public is concerned with other related infrastructure. Streets and related infrastructure are essential components that every urban authority should emphasize.
The main focuses of this study are as follows:
1. To explore the perception of residents of streets and street lights in Yangon City.
2. To provide evidence to YCDC for better urban planning through the perceptions of Yangon City residents.
Yone Kyi Yar worked as part of the Myanmar Democracy Research Network (MDRN) in conducting the survey “Citizen Perceptions of Yangon City’s Public Services” in April 2019, and the results from this survey are presented in this report. The MDRN survey was conducted using four-step probability sampling. With a 95% confidence level and a margin of error of (+/-) 4.45, the data was collected from 485 adults (aged 18 years and older) in Yangon via face-to-face interviews.
Table of Contents
This paper is organized in three parts as follows:
2. Key Findings
3. Discussion and Recommendations
Yone Kyi Yar stitute was founded by university students and active youth in Mandalay on 22nd July, 2011. At first, its main activities were weekly book clubs, group discussion and topic presentations. At the end of 2013, members of Yone Kyi Yar decided to take another step forward. Then, Yone Kyi Yar rent a building and founded a free public library and training center in Mandalay to serve the community better. Then it also expanded new activities such as intellectual talks and capacity building trainings. Organization was started with community donations before April 2014 of NED grant. Free public library is still independent of international funding and runs only with community donations so far. Now there are 5 founding board committee members, 4 executive staffs, 6 office staffs and more than 40 volunteers in Yone Kyi Yar. Yone Kyi Yar’s main functions are Trainings, Research and Policy Advocacy and Free Public Library Service.