Ink Strategy in Myanmar

An example of using design thinking to create a concrete vision of the Ayeyarwady river delta region.

Ink Strategy has already worked on six different projects with varying stakeholders in Myanmar. Our latest mission focused on session facilitation as part of the consortium supporting water experts and engineers from The Netherlands who work directly with Myanmar to develop an Integrated Ayeyarwady Delta Strategy (IADS).

The Ayeyarwady River Delta is a source of livelihood for the Myanmar people. They rely on it for transportation, fishing, and irrigation amongst others. However, it is a complex and vulnerable system that faces impacts of climate change and future socio-economic developments such as the potential move from rice production to shrimp harvesting.

Ink Strategy’s role

We are helping key stakeholders in Myanmar align their goals. Together with Arcadis, Deltares and local engineering companies, Ink Strategy facilitated sessions to open innovative ways of working to engage unions, local governments and communities, businesses and NGOs.

NGOs presenting their visions and strategies create alignment in all projects

NGOs presenting their visions and strategies create alignment in all projects

We approached this project with the attitude that tangible developments will only take place through full stakeholder engagement. With that in mind the focus was on envisioning the future and being part of the bigger picture through helping Myanmar face the growing challenges around water supply and climate change.

 

Working Together

The village Bogale destroyed after the cyclone Nagris

The village Bogale destroyed after the cyclone Nagris

Taking it step by step and working together were the most important factors in this assignment. Government and local community involvement is crucial to success. We saw this during our first visit in June 2017 when we facilitated four sessions in the township of Bogale where we worked with the local community, government and unions.

Community session in Bogale, discussing the challenges and measures for a safe and prosperous Delta

Community session in Bogale, discussing the challenges and measures for a safe and prosperous Delta

During these sessions, we looked at how farmers cope with the vulnerabilities to flooding, salt intrusion, cyclones and other natural phenomena. We then tried to understand the local government’s vision for Myanmar; is the focus on rice production or shrimp production? What is their plan to meet the increasing demands for industrial development and how can they deal with the ever-present threat of climate change? We also held a session with businesses and NGOs in order to understand what initiatives are already present and what opportunities exist both for new businesses and not-for-profits as these are a key part, both of development in this country and of Ink Strategy’s continued work here.

 What’s next?

An IMF 2016 study shows Myanmar as the world's fastest growing economy

An IMF 2016 study shows Myanmar as the world’s fastest growing economy

 

As you can see from the table above, as recently as 2016 Myanmar was identified as one of the world’s fastest growing economies by the World Economic Forum. Ink Strategy sees this potential in the country. Through numerous projects such as brainstorming about social cohesion and the vision for the Yangon waterfront, we are quickly becoming experts on understanding how start-up businesses can best enter this promising market. Contact us to discuss the opportunities.

Strategy and vision framework that we've designed for our mission

Strategy and vision framework that we’ve designed for our mission

 

Together with the IADS consortium we have designed a Vision and Strategy Framework as a tool to create clarity around abstract terms such as ‘strategy’ and ‘vision’. See the work in progress here.  We are anticipating the future by aligning projects and people, from unions to governments to local communities. We firmly believe engagement and full participation from these varying groups is crucial in working towards sustainability in the country.

Outcomes of one of the sessions, one of the key measures is to create local capacity in water expertise

Outcomes of one of the sessions, one of the key measures is to create local capacity in water expertise

In September 2017, we will be going back to Myanmar. We have already seen our work gaining traction throughout the country and our visualisations being used in training sessions and discussions on the future.  During our time there, which will be our seventh mission to the country, we want to develop a concrete vision for the River Delta and continue working with the different stakeholders in order to further expand our business and build for the future.