Building an inclusive city in Myanmar, one trash alley at a time
By Thin Lei Win
YANGON, Jan 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – For years, Yee Lay kept the back door of her ground floor apartment firmly shut to keep out both the stench from the rubbish that other tenants would carelessly throw behind the building and the hordes of rats that fed on it.
Now, standing in the narrow back alley in downtown Yangon, the longtime resident beamed at the scene in front of her. There were colourful wall murals, neatly potted plants, small wooden seats, swings and a bright green and yellow see-saw.
“It’s wonderful to see a backstreet looking like this,” sighed Yee Lay, 55.
The alley’s transformation from a trash-strewn street into a public playground and garden occurred in 2017, spearheaded by Doh Eain, a social enterprise determined to make this booming city more liveable.
“Yangon has one of the lowest ratios of public spaces in the region or in the world,” Doh Eain founder Emilie Roell told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in another colourfully-painted alley behind their office.
“That means children have nowhere to play, the elderly have nowhere quiet to sit outside and there are very few places where people can just come and gather,” she said.