The Socio-Economic Program
The Socio-Economic Program
The Socio-Economic Program deployed in the Yadana pipeline region applies one of the principles stated in Total’s Code of Conduct and reiterated by Total’s subsidiary in Myanmar, to contribute to the economic and social development of host countries, and in particular that of local communities.
Launched in 1995, even before the fieldwork began, the program has always been considered an integral part of the Yadana project. Its priorities, which were defined with the villagers, focus on four key areas: public health, education, economic development and infrastructure.
The program expresses the long-term commitment made by all the partners involved in the Yadana project.
Initially intended for residents of the 13 villages closest to the pipeline, it was extended to around 20 villages in two stages, in 2001 and 2005. The entire region now benefits. Today, nearly 50,000 people in the pipeline area have access to education, public health services, and road infrastructure, which is not restricted just to the residents of the 25 villages.
The socio-economic program currently covers 25 villages. Total E&P Myanmar is not involved in village government, but provides support to these communities.
- Willingness of the village to host a socio-economic;
- Accessibility of the village by a socio-economic team.
- Resources availability for integrating a new village.
The program also includes initiatives outside the pipeline area, such as support for orphanages around Yangon, a nationwide blindness prevention program, an HIV/AIDS program for HIV-positive tuberculosis patients, and hospitals.
The program achieves a balance through a combination of ongoing dialogue with the villagers and economic and social development measures financed by the project. Its success requires genuine commitment from the villages and villagers, since it must drive a sustainable improvement in living conditions throughout the region. It therefore has to meet the needs of the residents and respect their culture and way of life, which is why it was imperative to put Myanmar nationals in charge of its implementation. Nearly all members of the socio-economic program team are Myanmar nationals and all the related projects (e.g., clinics, schools, transportation infrastructure) are owned by the local communities concerned or by the villagers themselves (agricultural projects and micro-enterprises).
Total E&P Myanmar decided to submit its initiatives to the critical scrutiny of an independent expert, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Collaborative Learning Projects (CDA), a U.S. non-profit organization that specializes in issues related to development aid and the management of projects in conflict and post-conflict environments. CDA partners include governments, international organizations, NGOs and universities. Its Corporate Engagement Project, in which Total and Unocal participate, is designed to help multinational corporations clarify the impact of their operations in areas affected by socio-political tensions or conflict.
The CDA has made five visits to the Yadana pipeline region, in October 2002, April and December 2003, April 2005 and February 2008. It considers that Total’s initiatives have had positive socio-economic impacts for pipeline communities, but offers a number of suggestions for making them more effective.
Total also asked Bernard Kouchner for advice concerning its operations in Myanmar because of his experience with humanitarian medical aid and his political vision. Dr. Kouchner traveled to Myanmar in March 2003 and submitted a report to Total whose findings generally concur with those of the CDA.
Lastly, in October 2010, Total E&P Myanmar asked an outside organization, Myanmar Marketing Research & Development (MMRD), to conduct a quantitative survey of villagers in the pipeline region. Ninety-four percent of the households surveyed said that they had received assistance from the program and 96% had a positive perception of it.