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Community Mobilization for Energy Security: A Case Study of the Danu Self-Administered Zone in Myanmar

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Myanmar’s energy planning is highly centralized. The state-managed energy infrastructure has struggled to meet growing demand for electricity and connect populations living in remote regions to the national electricity grid. The 2021 military coup has further undermined the centralized energy system, and the shortcomings call for alternative solutions to achieve energy security. Decentralized renewable energy systems, such as small-scale community hydropower and solar power schemes, have been an affordable way for communities to gain access to energy in many parts of the country and community-based approaches to energy are growing in importance. This paper highlights ongoing exclusions in energy access and evaluates the limitations of centralized electrification, before turning to examine the viability of decentralized offgrid energy options in Myanmar. We examine decentralized community-based pico- and micro-hydropower schemes developed and managed locally with the support of a local civil society organization (CSO) in the Danu Self-Administrated Zone to illustrate that community-managed energy systems fill a critical gap in electricity provision left by the government. The study finds that local communities’ lack of technical capacity and financial resources has been partly mitigated by the support given by the CSO which harbors a network of technical experts and development cooperation partners. An intimate relationship between the CSO and local communities is a key factor in their successful collaboration. Myanmar’s current political, economic, and humanitarian crises, however, is putting the power of community collective action to the test. International partners have an important role to play in ensuring energy access and security for people in Myanmar by strengthening their support for decentralized energy solutions under challenging postcoup contexts.

Product details
Date of Publication
21 December 2021
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Southeast Asia
Number of Pages
All rights reserved
Language of publication
Table of contents

Introduction - p. 4

Limitations of the centralized electrification policy - p. 5

Exclusion in the energy sector - p. 7

Resistance against exclusionary energy policies - p. 9

Community-based energy solutions:

A case study of the Danu Self-Administered Zone - p. 11

The viability of community-driven solutions - p. 20

Conclusion - p. 22

References - p. 23