An innovative community-based project helping villagers on the Thai-Myanmar border nurture sustainable businesses and attain self-sufficiency has given a new start to people previously faced with no option but to cultivate opium poppies.
Katha is an isolated harbour of almost 24,000 inhabitants by the magnificent Ayeyarwady River in Sagaing Region in Upper Myanmar and bordering the mountains of Shan State in the east. It is where Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name, George Orwell, lived from 1926 to 1927 as an officer of the British Imperial Police Force. And on first glance nothing seems to have changed there since.
Nearly US$3 billion, or at least 5 percent of Myanmar’s current annual gross domestic product – that’s the estimated value of the umbrella atop the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. “As it stood overlooking everything it seemed to explain all about Burma,” Rudyard Kipling wrote about it.