Mizima: Social enterprise leads a colourful transformation of Yangon’s fetid back alleys

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The peeling facades of Yangon’s colonial-era buildings have attracted growing local and international attention, with a busy roster of schemes underway to save the built heritage of Myanmar’s former capital. The city’s back alleys, meanwhile, remain its dirty secret.

Occupying the narrow gaps between housing and commercial blocks in Yangon’s downtown grid, the alleys are dark, litter-strewn, and home to teeming colonies of vermin.Largely out of sight and out of mind, few would wish to make use of them, other than as a latrine or convenient waste dump.

Doh Eain, a social enterprise founded in early 2016—concerned mainly with the restoration of Yangon heritage homes in a manner that benefits original residents—has taken the unlikely step of turning one back alley into a community garden.

Despite financial and practical hurdles, the initiative is gaining traction in a number of circles, and has won the vocal support of authorities from the ward to the city level. READ MORE