On Going Projects

Project Title: Community Based Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Environment Protection in the Ayeyarwady Delta, Myanmar. (MSN / EC-NSA project).
Project Details:  
Project Code: DCI-NSAPVD/2011/272-177
Project Location: (30) villages in Pyanpon and (27) villages in Bogale Township, Ayeyarwady Division, Myanmar.
Project Duration: 1st February 2012 to 31st January 2015. (36 months)

Objectives of project:

Overall Objective: To support Myanmar NSA enabling them to contribute to poverty alleviation in Myanmar.
Specific Objective: To strengthen MSN as an association to become a more accountable member owned organization delivering effective services to support the rural communities to sustain their livelihoods in fragile mangrove environment in connection with all stakeholders including local authorities.

Expected results:

1. MSN will have strengthened their governance mechanisms developed their administrative capacities and enhanced an inclusive (gender, generation, religion, landless…) participation of rural households in all processes to fulfill their mandate in a democratic, transparent and accountable manner. 2. MSN will have introduced and disseminated community based reforestation innovative practices, sustaining their livelihoods from mangrove areas through local CBOs.
3. MSN will be a recognized member in national platforms and networks contributing to policies affection a sustainable management of natural resources and viable family farming in mangrove areas.

Main activities:

COMPONENT 1. MSN INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
1. Establishing a functional office with qualified professionals.
2. Supporting MSN governance to be effective with a functional information system.
3. Providing legal support and internal financial audit.
4. Developing fundraising and relationship building strategies. COMPONENT 2. INNOVATIVE ACTIVITIES SUPPORTING FAMILY FARMING CBOs IN MANGROVE AREA.
1. To review on-going and past activities in 10 former project villages through participatory extension approaches.
2. To design resources allocation and collaboration mechanisms to support existing and emerging initiatives.
3. To provide technical and organizational support and expertise.
4. To organize exchange visits and training workshops based on pilot action. COMPONENT 3. NETWORKING PROCESSES.
1. Visit and association with the initiatives (NGOs, projects, rural communities…)
2. To organize participatory workshop.
3. To document and dissemination and recommendation publication news development of website.

Project Achievement:

1. Establishing a functional office with qualified professionals.
MSN Head Office opened at the convenient location of Yangon. Office was equipped with internet, telephone accesses and spare electrical power supply. Office equipment such as PCs, Laptops, Printers, Copiers, Safe box and furniture are fixed. MSN opened the accounts at relevant banks for foreign currency and local currency (MMK).
MSN assigned to chairman, vice chairman and some governing board members to manage the office, an admin and finance assistance, wash man, driver and cleaner are also recruited for main office. MSN also assigned the project admin and finance officers, logistics at Yangon office to support the necessary assistance to field project offices. The main function of MSN head office is to communicate partner organizations at Yangon and supervision of field project activities.
Currently, 3 field offices are opened at Bogale and Kyauk Pyu for 4 projects operation. Those 3 project offices recruited full staff positions and implementing specific project activities. Total of (53) project staffs are working at different projects. 2. Supporting MSN governance to be effective with a functional information system.
Along with the project document, MSN refo systematic governing policy , administrative & financial policy and other effective policies.

Facilitation of the coordination office and field project offices.

Furniture for Yangon Office procured during the reporting period
One Cupboard (Steel and Glass): 26th September 2013

Rental period of both offices at Yangon and Field were extended for one year period as follows:
Yangon office : 1st February 2013 to 31 January 2014.
Field office : 1st May 2013 to 30th April 2014

As the rental period of the Yangon office expires by end of January 2014, MSN approached the owner for an extension of the rental period. As the owner has raised the rental rate from Ks 525,000 /month to Ks 1,100,000/-month, MSN being unable to meet the cost has located anew suitable office building and rented it with effect from 1st January 2014, for a period of one year.

Results: New MSN office arranged for occupying immediately after surrendering present office to owner on 31 January 2014
Challenges: Yearly rental rate increase, causing unnecessary logistic cost and budget constraint. Frequent electrical power failure continues with threat to damages to project equipment.

Developing organizational structure, management and financial procedures, and terms of reference for key staff members
MSN organizational structure (Annex 2), management and financial procedure that was developed in 2102 were presented to the AGM on 30 July 2013. After members’ comments appreciated, these were adopted at the AGM. This MSN book of procedures was attached herewith as Annex (3). Terms of references (TORs) for key staff members have been developed in 2013 and presented at the GB meeting held in October 2013 and agreed to in principle by the GB and will be adopted at the next AGM in 2014. These draft TORs developed were attached in Annex (4).

Activity 1.1.2 To ensure financial accountability and audited book-keeping
The Gret Yangon office finance manager in the early half of 2013 regularly assisted and trained the project Administrative and Finance team in Yangon. . The MSN Yangon office finance team further kept close monitoring of practice of the procedures by staff in the field office, assisted and trained the field office finance assistant on accounting procedures continuously for financial accountability and audited book keeping.

To produce bi-annual internal financial report
As mentioned in the last annual report (2012), the bi-annual internal financial report has been substituted with annual internal financial report which is to be audited in Feb, 2014.

To produce annual bookkeeping for external auditing
The MSN annual accounts book has been produced and awaiting for external audit certification.

Activity1.1.3 To produce a book of procedures (reflecting from and inspiring other NGOs).

Review of financial and accounting procedures of other NGOs and recommendation.

Done in 2012 and procedures are being followed. As advised by Metta Foundation Tally accounting software training was given to MSN Financial team from 13th May to 17th May 2013. The chart of accounts has been drafted with the technical support from Gret finance manager. As there are still unresolved technical difficulties, this will be further studied together with the tally software trainer and Gret finance manager and applied in 2014. Although MSN planned to apply this software accounting in 2013, the capacity of staff still needs to be improved before it could be applied as having difficulty in solving errors. In 2014 MSN will arrange a couple practical training sessions to be trained by the software trainer together with the GRET finance manager to put in place the chart of accounts and start using this accounting software.

Results: Book of procedure produced and enforced.
Challenges: Available free software has limited features that results in difficulties to resolved errors. Limited organization funds for licensed software.

Publication of financial and administrative procedures
The 1st draft of the MSN management book of procedures was completed and presented to the AGM in July 2013, and finalized and adopted at the GB meeting in November 2013.

Results: Financial and Administrative procedures incorporated in the MSN Book of Procedures.
Challenges: No challenges encountered.

Activity 1.2 - Supporting MSN governance organs and mechanism to be effective with a functional information and communication system.

Activity 1.2.1 Build leadership capacities of the MSN Board Members (ethic, charter, peer review)

As part of capacity building for the MSN Board members, workshops / trainings on leadership were given by the Gret backstopping officer in 2012 and also during his mission trips of March, June and October, 2013 in Myanmar.

Project organized training on “Introduction to Accountability and Accountability response mechanism” at Pein Ne Chaung Nursery Training Hall in Bogale from 11th to 13 March 2013. The training was given by some resource persons from Local Resource Center (LRC). A total of 27 members and staff from MSN projects participated.

Follow-up technical support to the MSN GB members was provided by the Gret backstopping officer for the preparation of 3-year strategic plan, on 8th June 2013.

One MSN GB member together with one MSN project staff also attended a training on “Good Governance and Accountability” organized by Local Resource Center (LRC) at Yangon in 3 series of consecutive trainings:- (1) 10th – 12 July 2013, (2) 10th – 13 September 2013 and (3) 23rd to 25thOctober.

Similarly 2 MSN senior members also attended the workshop on “Project Cycle Management & Proposal Writing” organized by partner organizations IUCN /MERN from 11th to 13th November 2013.

Again, one MSN GB member who is MSN-LIFT Project M&E assistant attended the training workshop on “Project Cycle Management”, organized by partner organization IUCN-MERN on 1st&2nd October, 2013.

Our MSN Chairman also attended the Regional Learning Forum on “Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction” organized by Malteser International in Hoi An, Vietnam from 15th April to 18th April 2013.

Results:
Capacity of MSN Board members and key staff from MSN projects is significantly strengthened in terms of leadership, accountability and project cycle management. MSN board members have been facilitated for the development of the first draft of MSN long term strategic plan document.
 

Activity 1.2.2 Ensure the accountability through AGM.

MSN Governing Board Meeting, Annual General Meeting (AGM) and adoption of organizational structure, guideline procedures) (under Activity1.1 Enhancing a transparent and professional management mechanism for MSN.)

MSN organized regular Governing Board meetings 3 times in 3 month intervals during 2013. The AGM for the year 2013 was held on 30th July 2013 at Bogale. MSN annual activity and financial reports were presented to all MSN members at the AGM and were approved by all members.

A total of 49 members and 11 non-member MSN staff and one interested observer attended the AGM. Election for some vacant seats in the GB was also conducted.

The last draft of MSN Book of procedures was presented, approved and adopted.

The 1st draft of the 3-year strategic plan of MSN was also presented, discussed and road map set for improving and attending to upcoming issues.

Utilization of 1% of salaries deducted from all MSN and MSN projects staff was discussed. Most participants suggested that the 1% fund contributed by staff be used for establishing a MSN members’ Credit Scheme.

Results:
AGM report produced.
 
Challenges:
No major challenges encountered.
 

Training staff members on their rights, duties and compliance with management procedures (to also ensure that statutory requirements are met)

After incorporating comments given by members at the AGM, MSN organizational Policy, MSN book of procedures and MSN Finance Policy were adopted at the Governing Board meeting held on 5th and 6th November 2013. All these documents were distributed to all MSN staffs and members in October 2013.

In order to be able to understand the book of procedure and adopt it properly and correctly staff training on their rights, duties and complies will be conducted in the first quarter of 2014.

Results:
 
Members and staff have got access to book of procedures to clearly understand their rights, duties and responsibility.

Activity 1.2.3 To develop procedure to delegate and feed-back

To publish and disseminate an internal quarterly newsletter

Publication and dissemination of MSN Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 2 for the period of April--June was done in July, 2013.

MSN Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 3, covering MSN activities within the period of July- September was published in October, 2013.
MSN Newsletter Volume 1 Issue 4, for the period of October-December will be published in first quarter of 2014.

To train members on reporting skills for proper feed back

One day training on office management, report writing and meeting minute record keeping was conducted in Bogale field office for all project staff on 31st May 2013, as facilitated and led by MSN Chairman.

To design terms of reference for internal delegation

At the Governing Board meeting held in November 2013, MSN governing board members deeply discussed not only on the term of references for key staff members, but also on the term of reference for internal delegation, feedback mechanisms and procedures for MSN. Although the Term of Reference for the key staff members was completed at the meeting, the Term of References for the internal delegation and its feedback procedures is on its process to come up with the first draft. This draft will be developed for presenting at the next governing board meeting and will be adopted after the approval at the AGM in 2014. Activity 1.2.4 Review the vision and mission of MSN and develop a draft strategic plan Organize a strategic planning workshop with members and adoption of plan. (5 years).

After the training workshop on the methodology for drawing up a 5-year strategic plan facilitated by Gret backstopping officer in November 2012, MSN with the assistance of the Gret Project management adviser, worked on drafting the organization 5-year strategic plan. However, due to unstable situation in Myanmar with its revising organization laws and regulations for NGOs, MSN members decided to reduce the term from 5-year to 3-year strategic plan. Now the first draft 3-year strategic plan has been produced and consulted with the Gret backstopping officer his comments and correction. This will be finalized and ready to be presented at the next GB meeting in February 2014. Annex (6).

Activity 1.3     Providing support for legal framework and internal financial management.

Activity 1.3.1    Review legal framework, constraints and opportunities for further development

The existing period of MSN organizational registration had already expired on 31st December, 2012. MSN admin and logistician have been closely following up for renewal or extension with the local township authorities. Although the renewal process for all NGOs are halted at present due to revision process on the previous association laws and procedures, the local authorities had permitted us to continue implementing our project activities under the expired registration certificate till further government legal procedures for LNGOs registration have been announced and enacted.

This delayed registration renewal applies to all LNGOs. Therefore MSN together with other LNGOs continue the implementation of the on-going projects with the expired registration.

Organize internal meetings and discussions for legal matters and development of internal financial management system

To develop the internal financial management system of MSN, as advised by and learned from Metta Foundation, training on “Tally” accounting free software was given to MSN Financial team from 13th May to 17th May 2013. Soon after the training, the present accounting budget headings of all MSN projects were learned and the first draft of the chart of accounts of MSN was developed in consultation with GRET finance manager. As some initial testing of the software by the Gret Finance Manager with the developed chart of accounts resulted some unresolved application popup errors, further sessions of consultation with the software trainer and Gret Finance Manager need to be arranged in early 2014 to be successfully applicable. Moreover, the capacity and confidence of staff needs to be strengthened before complete movement of accounting system from excel based to Tally software based. This situation was discussed with the Backstopping Officer at his mission trip of October, 2013 and Gret team in December, 2013.

In early 2014, MSN will arrange to engage the software trainer together with the GRET finance manager to put in place this accounting software and conducted a practical training workshop that would overcome the difficulties and issues encountered by MSN financial team.

Activity 1.3.2 Set up a permanent internal budget monitoring and audit system involving professionals and leaders.

MSN Admin/ Finance Director, together with the admin/finance team of MSN–LIFT project reviewed all the account cash books, relevant vouchers and cash count register of MSN/EC-NSA project on 2nd July 2013, to check the consistency with the procedures required by the project.

Similarly, Admin/ Finance Director, together with the admin/finance team of MSN-EC NSA project reviewed the account cash books, relevant voucher and cash count register of MSN-LIFT project on 4th July 2013.

Similarly, Admin/ Finance Director, together with the admin/finance team of MSN–LIFT project reviewed the account cash books, relevant voucher and cash count register of MSN-Daewoo reforestation project on 5th July 2013.

The internal audit team (1) MSN Admin/ Finance Director + MSN–LIFT Admin team; (2) Admin/ Finance Director + MSN–EC NSA Admin team, continued reviewing the account cash books, relevant voucher and cash count register of MSN account and MSN-Daewoo OGT project accounts on 9th July 2013.

Activity 1.4 Developing fundraising and relationship building strategies

Activity 1.4.1 Develop proposals inspired by the strategic plan and tentative budget

Although the strategic plan of MSN is still in the preparation stage, MSN took the opportunity to develop and submit the new proposals within the reporting period.

  • MSN prepared a project proposal for reforestation in the Kadonkani reserved forest and submitted to JICA for a 2 years project implementation period. This proposal was not successful at the panel.
  • MSN prepared a project proposal for “Enhancing Community Participation in Environmental Related Livelihood Development Activities in the Ayeyarwady Delta” to AusAid / DAP at the end of September, 2013. This project has been approved and implementation will start in January 2014.
  • An agreement has been reached with Malteser International (INGO) for a joint project to reforest 20 acres of mangrove plantation plots (2 acre/ village) in 10 selected villages of Kyauk Pyu Township starting in 2014. The project implementation is for 2 years. MSN will recruit a few more staff and combine with the existing staff already working in Kyaukpyu (Daewoo project).
  • Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project is still in negotiation process between MSN and Kaidi Corporation of China. The detail functioning modalities and agreement terms are still under discussion.
  • A proposal for “Community Capacity Building in Mangrove Management Technique” was submitted to IUCN / MERN in August. Although the proposal was successful with some amount of reduction in the proposed budget, MSN decided to decline its response to this call for proposal.
  • A new proposal for “Community Based Mangrove Reforestation and Alternative Livelihood Opportunities” at 5 villages within the KaDonKaNi Reserved Forest area of Bogale Township, Ayeyarwaddy Delta, Myanmar was submitted to IUCN / MERN for the second round at end of November 2013. The results are not yet announced.
  • Swiss Development Agency for Cooperation (SDC)
    MSN implemented a “Tree planting at school Level” project with a funding allocation by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for the amount of 6394 US $ in June-July 2013.

Activity 1.4.2 Develop approaches and linkages with strategic partners (MOU, partnership agreements or other means)

MSN has identified Daewoo International Co-operation to be its long term strategic partner. It is learnt that Daewoo International Co-operation is to undertake its cooperate social responsibility and has approached MSN to co-operate and partner with Daewoo for Mangrove reforestation in the area Daewoo International Co-operation for (Shwe Consortium). However, up to date, a long term partnership agreement has not been reached. Activity 1.4.3 Explore other innovative source of funds.

MSN keeps close track on call for proposals from donors within and outside Myanmar through internet and MSN network associated organizations such as Food Security Working Group (FSWG), MERN, FAO, UNDP, UNOPS etc. MSN always participates to the calls for proposal and tries to tap funds that are in line with MSN’s interested interventions.

  1. Direct Aid Programme (DAP) by the Australian Embassy in Yangon.
    AusAid-DAP has approved the MSN project proposal and is now under processing the fund transfer.
  2. Daewoo
    A 5-year reforestation plan that was submitted in 2012 is now underway being its first year of implementation. MSN has an agreement with Daewoo Corporation that the proposals for further duration are to be submitted on a yearly basis at end of each financial year (March). Budget allocation US $ 200,000 per year.
  3. IUCN-MERN
    A proposal for “Community Based Mangrove Reforestation and Alternative Livelihood Opportunities at 5 villages within the KaDonKaNi Reserved Forest area of Bogale Township, Ayeyarwaddy Delta, Myanmar“ has been submitted to IUCN / MERN with the funding allocation US $ 138,512.
  4. Kaidi Corporation, China
    A negotiation is underway an agreeable terms and conditions have been discussed with Kaidi Corporation, China to implement a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project within the existing project townships (Bogale, Pyapon and Mawlamyaingkyun).
Results:
Two project proposals developed and submitted within the reporting period. One approved and one is still under consideration.
 
Challenges:
No major challenges encountered.