Capacity Advancement of Non-State Actors in Myanmar - CAN

Capacity Advancement of Non-State Actors in Myanmar - CAN

To share the knowledge and visit neighbours is part of a natural practice in my village, and now whenever they have health issues they come to me instead of going to the far away town.

Saw Po Dary, Health Volunteer and a specialist in treating malaria, Tha Min Lit Village, Kayin State.


Kayin State has been suffering from on-going conflicts between armed groups and the government. These conflicts have resulted in many injuries from land-mines and very poor living conditions especially in remote villages where malaria and diarrhoea have been difficult to treat due to lack of basic health care.


  • To contribute to poverty alleviation in Myanmar.
  • To help Non-State Actors implement sustainable approaches to development and deliver effective education and health services in conflict affected ethnic communities in Kayin State, Myanmar.


  • 31 Village Health Volunteers had been trained by the end of 2012. They held regular health awareness campaign in their villages (in both 2013 and 2014), usually in May and December before the rainy season and school holiday time.
  • ActionAid and KDN's work in Myanmar show how the impact of even one Health Volunteer can make a huge difference in a vast area affected by conflict. Not just limited to the individual village, the spill-over effect is making a difference to the lives of many, beyond the community itself.


  • EU contribution: € 539,975 (75% of the total)
  • The project started in 2011 and finished in December 2014.
  • Targeted areas: 31 villages in Kayin State were targeted.
  • Final beneficiaries: 16,500 persons, approximately 9000 of whom are women



Saw Po Dary runs his own clinic in Tha Min Lit Village

Saw Po Dary lives in the remote jungle once occupied by the armed group KNU (Karen National Union). On-going conflicts in Kayin State meant as a child Saw Po Dary had been relocated from place to place, “Till I was grade 5, I had changed 6 different schools…” By the time he was fifteen he had begun working in a local health clinic, helping to care for victims of the conflict between the KNU and the government, many of whom had been seriously injured by the countless landmines laid by both sides. “Though I don’t have high level education and I didn’t receive any formal health training, I had the practical experience by age 15” Saw Po Dary says.

In 1997 the territory was taken over by the government and he moved to Tha Min Lit village, where since then he has been working as a Health Volunteer to serve his community. However, without a formal medical training, he was not confident in his ability to treat the sick.

Living conditions in the village were poor; malaria and diarrhoea was rife and with the village being so remote, there was nowhere nearby to turn to for basic health care.

However, in 2011, Saw Po Dary attended his first basic health care course, organised by Action Aid and Knowledge and Dedication for Nation Building (KDN). Eventually he received a certificate from Leprosy Hospital, located at the mouth of the Thanlwin River in South Eastern Myanmar. Here he learned about treating diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and dengue fever, the importance of a strong immune system, and about the right to health. With the knowledge he acquired he became an advocate for health, engaging with the government to enlist their support: "When I went back to my village, I contacted the Department of Health and they started to provide the vaccine for babies, the midwife also comes to the village every 3 month”, Saw Po Dary says with pride.

To this day he continues to receive training, saying this helps him to recall things from previous trainings: "I am looking forward to improving my professional knowledge.”

Now thirty two years of age, Saw Po Dary runs his own clinic in Tha Min Lit Village where he gives free treatment to those in need. He keeps a medical record of cases of malaria and of his successes saying that "in the raining season of 2012, there were more than 100 cases of malaria, but now it’s less than 30”. He also organises health education sessions to raise awareness about preventable but deadly diseases.