Asean anti-poverty NGOs honoured

Representatives from both the private/corporate sector and NGOs recognised for their work in poverty eradication across Asean, pose for a group shot onstage with Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (in blue and white batik) at the 3rd Asean Leadership Awards on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication.

TWENTY non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and corporations, one of each from every South-East Asian country, were honoured for their efforts in poverty eradication at the third Asean Leadership Awards on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication.

The awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the 10th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (AMRDPE), which took place the same day.

In his speech, Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Malaysia was honoured to host both meeting and awards ceremony.

“This award was introduced in 2013 during the 8th AMRDPE, to recognise the contributions of NGOs in rural community development and poverty eradication,” said Ismail Sabri.

This year, he said, the award was extended to recognise contributions from the private sector.

Bank Simpanan Nasional took home the private sector award for Malaysia, while Kelabit Highlands-based eBario, which started out as a research project, was recognised from Malaysia’s NGO sector.

eBario chief executive officer John Tarawe said it was nice to be recognised.

“We’ve won awards for efforts in providing Internet access to the Kelabit villagers, but this is the first time the project is being recognised for poverty eradication,” said John.

He added that from just equipping the villages with IT, the project had grown into and provided more economic opportunities for villagers, such as a slow food festival, its own community radio and museum, as well as homestays.

Dressed in traditional Burmese costume, Khin Teht Maw said she had started her organisation, Social Vision Services (SVS), nine years ago after a visit to parts of Myanmar’s poorer areas.

SVS, which took home the NGO award for Myanmar, was started with the aim of providing water sanitation to villagers in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis.

“Now, we also run microcredit for women to start small businesses, based on the Grameen Bank’s idea, so that they can reach basic living standards, said Khin, adding that there were programmes in 84 villages around Myanmar.

“I used to be a businesswoman, and people were asking me at first why I had quit earning money to focus on this,” she said with a laugh.

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