Myanmar (Burma) | ActionAid UK

Myanmar (Burma)

  • 1/3

    One in three people live in poverty.

  • 35%

    35% of children under the age of five have stunted growth.

  • 500k

    Violence in Rakhine State led 500,000 people to flee the country.

Source: https://www.mm.undp.org/content/myanmar/en/home/presscenter/articles/2019/mlcs-poverty-report.html and https://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/news-and-events/stories/2019/01/tackling-human-trafficking-in-myanmar

Women’s rights and poverty in Myanmar

Opportunities for ordinary women in Myanmar remain limited. Women lack adequate access health services, and there is still gender inequality in education access.

Despite anti-trafficking laws, human trafficking remains a significant issue; in many cases women are trafficked as 'brides'.1

Meanwhile, Myanmar’s poorest people are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and are experiencing more frequent floods, droughts, and cyclones.

In 2015, heavy rains brought intense flooding and landslides to Myanmar, displacing over 1.6 million people. 

  • 1. https://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/news-and-events/stories/2019/01/tackling-human-trafficking-in-myanmar

Daw Soe Soe works on the small piece of land she farms with her husband. Their daughter is sponsored by ActionAid.

Daw Soe Soe works on the small piece of land that she farms with her husband. Their daughter is sponsored by ActionAid.

Photo: Greg Funnell/ActionAid

What we do in Myanmar

ActionAid works to tackle violence against women in Myanmar, including by training community paralegals in basic legal skills, and providing free legal aid to women who have survived violence, so that perpetrators can be held to account.

To change attitudes, we train male community leaders in cultivating zero tolerance policies toward violence among their male networks.

We also train government staff, including the police force, on the implementation of laws and policies designed to prevent violence against women. 

Supporting women’s economic empowerment

ActionAid helps women in Myanmar to set up their own small businesses, and develop the skills and capacity they need to escape poverty.

We support farmers to set up self-help business groups, which provide access to seedbanks and loans on a revolving basis so they don’t have to rely on moneylenders with high interest rates. 

And we support fishers and farmers with the skills and tools they need to become resilient to earthquakes and disasters as the climate changes.

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Disasters in Myanmar

Coronavirus crisis

Before the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Myanmar, the economic consequences had already arrived. Disruption to supply chains from China led to mass factory closures and saw thousands of factory workers lose their jobs, without means to compensation.

Healthcare infrastructure in Myanmar, especially in remote, rural areas, is weak; it is estimated the country has just 200 ventilators, which are concentrated in urban centres. Thousands are living in overcrowded sites for internally displaced people.

ActionAid and our local partners are working to stop the spread of the virus through awareness, prevention and protection measures, especially in potential hotspots such as urban areas and camps.

We are also distributing PPE including gloves and masks, and providing food aid or unconditional cash transfers to vulnerable households.

See more about our Coronavirus Appeal, and how you can help

Rohingya refugee crisis

Since violence erupted in Myamar's Rakhine State in August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya people have fled Myanmar, crossing the border into Bangladesh where they're living in makeshift camps.

ActionAid is on the ground in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, with a full-scale humanitarian response that has reached at least 60,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar with emergency food, clean drinking water and hygiene kits including sanitary products, soap and clean underwear.

Read more about the Rohingya refugee crisis, and find out how you can help

Training ActionAid Fellows to improve village life

At just 19, Khin Soe is one of the youngest ActionAid Fellows in her region of Pakokku, Myanmar.

As a fellow, she took training from ActionAid on subjects like sustainability, gender equality and human rights, and learned skills including public speaking and problem solving.

Khin Soe said: “Once we started learning about development, we began to understand the real reasons why our villages had problems.

"For instance, neighbours had lost crops when the pond ran dry – it was too small and shallow and we had to share it between four villages. And we had no health clinic.

The course opened my eyes - before I just accepted these problems. I’d never tried to analyse the causes and what we could do about them."

Learn more about our work on economic empowerment

ActionAid

Naw Thaw Thi Htoo/ActionAid

Empowering young women in self-help groups

In a remote village in Myanmar, ActionAid is supporting young women to become economically independent and to know their rights

With initial funding from ActionAid, the group has begun a group farming initiative, and pooled resources to develop a clothes business in their small community. 

They are also saving the collective profits to give small loans to group members who need it, and support members of the community who are elderly or ill. 28-year-old Khin Myaing said:

I am very happy to be a part of this women self-help group. We are very active to do the community development work, even though we are young."

"I am very happy to do the community development as much as I can."

Supporting food security through business groups

ActionAid supports farmers like Tin Tin Hlaing, 27, from Ma Gyi Cho village, to set up business groups

These provide access to seedbanks, loans, training and markets so they don’t have to rely on moneylenders who charge high interest rates.

Tin Tin Hlaing is an active member of her village's business group, which meets on a weekly basis.

She can now grow enough to feed her family and also generate enough surplus to make an income.

Learn more about our work on food security

Christopher Davy/ActionAid

Footnotes

Top image: Poe Nay Min, Kali Say and Nay Blute Moo at their school in Myanmar, where ActionAid has supported the building of sanitation. Natasha Mulder/ActionAid