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Sida's work in Myanmar

The military seized power in Myanmar through a coup in February 2021. It will have consequences for the development of democracy and human rights. Sida has chosen to suspend the parts of support that are channeled to government agencies via UN. The support to democracy and freedom of expression, peace-building and gender equality through independent partner organisations continues, as well as humanitarian work in the country.

Sida's support to Myanmar 2020

Progress has been made

Declining poverty

Poverty in Myanmar has fallen by almost half since 2005. In that year, 48 percent of the population lived in poverty. In 2017, the proportion was 25 percent. Poverty is declining faster in cities than in rural areas. 

More mothers and children survive

The risk of children and mothers dying during childbirth has decreased since the 1990s. In 1990, just over one in ten children died before the age of five, according to UNICEF. Today the proportion is just over four percent. More children than before are also registered at birth. 

Challenges remain

Violations of human rights

Since 2016, conflicts between military and minority groups have increased, and with them the number of human rights violations. 

Discrimination of women and minorities

Many women and girls are subjected to discrimination and violence. Ethnic minorities and internally displaced persons are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence and risk becoming victims of slave labour and trafficking. 

Limited access to health care

Thousands of children and mothers still die during childbirth – lives that could be saved with better access to care. The quality of care varies greatly in different parts of the country and minorities and people living in poverty have less access to care.

Two types of aid in Myanmar

The military coup in February 2021 will undoubtedly have far-reaching political, economic and social consequences for the people of Myanmar.

Even before the coup, the military was involved in fighting with armed ethnic organisations in several of the country’s states. The situation continues to deteriorate, with systematic abuses committed against the civilian population, armed offensives and people driven from the areas in which they live. Armed conflicts have spilled over into entirely new areas.¹

This has had an impact on the entire society. There is no functioning banking system, the healthcare system is paralysed and fuel and food prices have risen sharply. This situation is making it difficult for aid organisations to grasp the scope of humanitarian requirements, never mind gaining access to those in need.

It is estimated that in the region of one million people are in need of humanitarian aid² and this need is expected to increase significantly during 2021. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that over 4 million people will suffer from food insecurity.³

Other minority groups also remain vulnerable. The precarious position of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, not least the Rohingya, has its roots far back in the country’s modern history. In 2017, violence by the military forced 740,000 Rohingya to flee from Rakhine State on Myanmar’s west coast to the Bangladeshi district of Cox’s Bazar on the other side of the Bay of Bengal. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), approximately 470,000 stateless Rohingya remain in Rakhine in desperate need of aid.4

Myanmar is also highly vulnerable to natural disasters.5

Updated: 21 September 2021