Housing poverty in Myanmar

  • 1,000 people served in FY18 1,000 people served in FY18
  • 1,292 volunteers hosted in FY18 1,292 volunteers hosted in FY18
  • Projects: water and sanitation, disaster response Projects: water and sanitation, disaster response

Our work addressing housing poverty in Myanmar began after the devastating Cyclone Nargis struck on May 2, 2008.

Together with our partner World Concern, we built and repaired more than 1,700 core houses in the worst-hit Ayeyarwady delta as part of a large disaster recovery programme. In January 2014, we began projects in water and sanitation with disaster risk reduction in collaboration with World Concern. In September 2014, we received government registration allowing us to directly implement programmes in Myanmar, without the need for another partner.

Natural disasters

Myanmar is among the poorest countries in Asia with one in four people living below the national poverty line.

Most of the poor live in rural areas which also tend to be affected by civil conflict or natural disasters such as forest fires, landslides, floods and storm surges.

Conflicts and Sanitation

A 2011 joint survey by UNICEF and the Myanmar government in 24 townships showed that nearly 40% of the population doesn’t have access to water and sanitation facilities.

Moreover, only 1 in 10 persons handled water safely before drinking while 85% of the population still defecated in the open.

Read more about conflicts in Myanmar

How we address housing poverty in Myanmar

Since January 2014, we have been working in 11 villages to improve 965 families’ health through water and sanitation facilities…

Since January 2014, we have been working in 11 villages to improve 965 families’ health through water and sanitation facilities such as:

  • Wells
  • Water points
  • Latrines
  • Rural health centres

Local communities are involved in raising personal hygiene standards and families make decisions to build their own sanitation facilities.

In addition, our local team has built a cyclone shelter to reduce the risks from future disasters.

Volunteers building in Myanmar with bricks

Facts & figures:

  • Population: Over 56.8 million
  • Urbanization: 34.1 % live in cities
  • Life expectancy: 66.6 years
  • Unemployment rate: 4.8 %
  • Population living below poverty line: 32.7 %

Water and sanitation facilities

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Our team currently works with World Concern in 26 villages in Myanmar through two new projects that began in March 2015. In Mon state, an estimated 6,330 people in 14 villages will benefit from clean water and improved sanitation by June 2016.

In the Ayeyarwady delta region, about 5,000 people in 12 villages will gain access to improved sanitation and clean water as well as a cyclone shelter which will double up as a school when there are no disasters. This project ended in December 2015.

Healthier communities

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In Mon state and the Ayeyarwady delta region, the lack of clean water drains families’ limited incomes on buying water. Women and children also have to walk longer distances and spend time fetching water from another village. With support from our programmes, wells are being installed and water filtration systems distributed to families in Mon state.

Through training, communities are educated on the importance of safe sanitation and inspired to build their own toilets. In the delta region, funding from Nissan has enabled families to improve their health through water and sanitation facilities as well as the construction of a cyclone shelter to protect lives in future disasters.

Natural disaster relief

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In response to the devastating Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, Habitat and World Concern built and repaired more than 1,700 basic houses in 18 communities in the Ayeyarwady delta. Habitat houses used strengthened timber-frames and were built on lightweight concrete stilts. Walls and floors were made from woven bamboo, and roofs were fitted with galvanized iron sheets.

Each house came with a latrine and water catchment system. We also helped to supervise the construction of jetties and the repair of roads.