The study seeks to examine leadership modalities amongst Kachin communities 1 , taking into consideration the perspectives of youth and older persons, as well as potential impacts upon peace and conflict. Whilst conducted at a time of ongoing conflict between the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), almost 5 years after hostilities were reignited following the collapse of the 17 year old ceasefire agreement (1994-2011), the study comes at an important time in Myanmar’s democratic transition. Indeed, field research was carried out 2 months after the first democratically elected government for more than 50 years had taken office, and just a few months after the original scheduling2 of nationwide ward and village tract administrator (WA/VTA) elections.
A reconfiguration of local governance structures introduced by the previous government has resulted in Ward and Village Tract3 Administrators (WA/VTAs) now functioning as the main interface between citizens and the State. As such, their election represents a crucial component of Myanmar’s democratic transition. The elections are made all the more significant by the fact that, in recent years, the responsibilities of WA/VTAs have been increased, such that the position is now also concerned with security, law and order, land management and local development. Thus, while the research itself is framed around examining leadership modalities in general and did not explicitly set out to survey public opinion on the WA/VTA elections, understanding local people’s experiences and views on the latter nonetheless constitutes a central theme of the study4.
Primary data collection was conducted in Myitkyina, Waimaw and Momauk Townships during May/June 2016 by the Research and Development Department (RDD) of the Naushawng Education Network (NSEN), an independent and non-profit educational organization founded by Kachin scholars committed to working towards strengthening democratic transition and community resilience in northern Myanmar. An external consultant was commissioned by NSEN in February 2016, primarily to help develop the study design, provide training to the RDD on the research methodology and tools, and later provide analysis of data together with a final report based on the findings and a review of relevant literature.
Download full report in English HERE.