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Myan Ku Final Evaluation Report

September 2023 — By Adventura Research Myanmar

The Nexus Response Mechanism (NRM), in partnership with sequa gGmbH and Wave Money, and with funding from the European Union, set up the Myan Ku Workers Support Fund in April 2020. The project was created in response to garment factory closures in Myanmar caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the project scaled up due to the political and economic crisis that escalated factory closures. By the end of the project in December 2022, it had transferred more than 8 billion MMK (3.8 million USD) to an estimated 100,000 unemployed and underemployed garment workers, mainly women, affected by factory shutdowns, along with other services and capacity building activities. Garment workers received monthly cash transfers averaging 75,000 MMK (46 USD) for up to three months and in some cases food vouchers, as well as social and behavior change communication (SBCC), nutritional counselling, vocational and business start-up training. The NRM commissioned Aventura Research Myanmar (ARM) to conduct a final evaluation of the project to provide NRM with an independent assessment of the project’s performance across key evaluation criteria, highlighting its impact and achievements, the challenges faced, lessons learned and recommendations for future projects.

The February 2021 military coup created a challenging environment for the project’s second phase, including difficulties to transfer funds; reduction of operational efficiency and security; and cancelling project outputs, such as technical support for the Social Security Board. Swift adaptations were made to ensure the project’s continued effectiveness and relevance.

The evaluation found that the Myan Ku project demonstrated its significance and relevance by effectively addressing the urgent needs of vulnerable garment workers during times of economic uncertainty, political instability and a global pandemic. The project’s design aligned with the context, offering a comprehensive package of financial assistance, SBCC, capacity building and livelihood initiatives well suited to participant needs. The employment of Wave Money as a distribution method exhibited noteworthy effectiveness and the majority of participants expressed high satisfaction. Limitations of using Wave Money included instances of extra fees for cash withdrawal and some older individuals experienced difficulties in using digital payment methods. The cash assistance was mainly used by participants to cover food expenditures, health expenses and remittance obligations. Participants who benefited from the cash assistance for a longer period exhibited a more diverse allocation of funds. SBCC efforts raised awareness about the negative effects of sweetened beverages, and there was improvement in infant and child dietary diversity, meal frequency and acceptable diet. The project also provided entrepreneurship training with 12% starting their own businesses, the lack of initial start-up capital was cited as the primary challenge. 94% of workers successfully completed vocational training and 60 percent reported finding employment within 4-6 weeks of completion. The project’s ability to provide market-relevant skills and facilitate employment opportunities highlighted its importance in enhancing participants’ livelihoods and employability in a dynamic environment.

Overall, the Myan Ku project stands as a valuable initiative that addressed immediate needs and laid the foundation for improved livelihoods, nutrition and resilience among vulnerable garment workers. The lessons learned can inform future projects in cash assistance, nutrition and social protection programming. Recommendations include:

  1. Enhance data management.
  2. Invest in communication.
  3. Diversify cash assistance modalities.
  4. Extend vocational and business start-up training opportunities.
  5. Tailor SBCC initiatives to the targeted group using different types of media and messaging.
  6. Develop exit strategies.
  7. Consideration for people with special needs