Priorities for Hlegu Township

Hlegu Township in Myanmar sits 45 km northeast of Yangon. It is a rural township within Yangon Region. Despite its proximity to the city of Yangon it has yet to benefit significantly or directly from increasing urbanization in the country’s capital. It boarders Yangon city and the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), though it is administered separately with its own Township Administration and Development Affairs Organization (DAO).

This project is the result of a direct request from the NLD MP U Phyo Min Thein, elected by the Hlegu constituency to the Pyithu Huttaw in the 2012 bi-election, and to the Yangon Regional Hluttaw in the November 2015 election. Based on several discussions with the client (February 2015 and July 2015), the objective of the project is to conduct research and provide information and recommendations regarding development challenges and potentials in Hlegu township, with specific reference to the promotion of urbanization, development relations with YCDC, reduction corruption, and the role that MPs can play in promoting and coordinating development.

Preliminary research suggests that Hlegu township is highly rural with the majority of income being generated from small and medium scale agriculture. The township has few, if any large domestic industries, instead relying on those close to its boarders but housed within other townships. Further, in recent years Hlegu has received a large number of migrant workers seeking to benefit from lower costs of living in the township while working in the Yangon metropolitan area. Anecdotal evidence suggests that YCDC is considering expanding and including more townships in its scope. Were Hlegu township to be included in such an expansion it could potentially undergo significant and rapid urbanisation as a result of inclusion into the Yangon metropolitan area, and a shift towards a more urban makeup of the township would impact incomes and economic activities for local households.

This study will be undertaken as joint effort by the International Growth Centre and the Myanmar Development Resource Institute Centre for Economic and Social Development, with potential support from The Asia Foundation (TBC) with the objective a creating a succinct and user-friendly product for the client. Research will focus on developing a high level assessment[1] of the state of economic development within Hlegu township, and will analyse the economic challenges faced by the residents of Hlegu township, the economic issues that should be addressed moving forward, and provide direction for the client on supporting Hlegu’s urbanization in an effective and transparent manner. Perspectives of government, civil society, and business stakeholders will be considered. Additionally, an assessment of opportunities associated with inclusion within YCDC, as well as potential benefits and costs will be discussed.

Interviews will be conducted in Hlegu township with DAO and township government officials, as well as local civil society and business associations. Further interviews will be conducted with YCDC representatives, and additional organizations able to offer insights into the urban development in Yangon region, and economic development in Hlegu (e.g. the European Union, and Michigan State University, respectively). The expectation is that all interviews will be completed by the end of the first week of February 2016, with a preliminary draft of the report completed two weeks later.

[1] NB – Comprehensive and current economic data remains occasionally challenging to gather within Myanmar. Both the Hlegu General Administration Department and DAO will be approached for data collection.