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Christian Aid in Myanmar (Burma)

Overview

Christian Aid has worked in Myanmar (Burma) since the 1980s. We aim to empower poor and marginalised communities, enabling them to take control of their own development.

With more than 130 ethnic groups, Burma is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in Asia. We work to improve the livelihoods of some of the most marginalised communities.

Christian Aid works with partners to strengthen livelihoods and the security of rural communities, increase their ability to prevent and respond to natural disasters, and strengthen community responses to HIV and AIDS and basic healthcare issues.

Disasters

Myanmar is vulnerable to cyclones, earthquakes, floods, fire and landslides. Such hazards destroy years of development. In May 2008 Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar killing 130,000 people and affecting 2.4 million. In October 2010 Cyclone Giri affected over 200,000. These hazards affect the poorest the most, threatening lives, resources and livelihoods.

Secure livelihoods

Myanmar was once the ‘rice bowl’ of Asia, but is now one of the poorest countries in the region. Approximately a third of the population do not have their basic needs met. Unfavourable economic policies, marginalisation of ethnic and other groups, displacement, and natural disasters all contribute to food insecurity – for example, a third of the rice harvest was lost after Cyclone Nargis in 2008. Poverty and food insecurity is particularly pronounced in border areas, where many of the country’s ethnic minorities live.

Health

Data on HIV prevalence is unreliable and it is believed that the rates are particularly high for specific population groups. Lack of knowledge surrounding HIV and sexual health, inadequate healthcare, and widespread intravenous drug use contribute to 8,000 new infections each year.

Malaria is also a significant threat and a major contributor to child mortality – nearly 7% of children do not live to see their fifth birthday. Maternal and child mortality indicators in conflict areas of Myanmar are amongst the worst in the world.

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