Just 60 years ago, Burma was one of South East Asia’s wealthiest nations. Today it is one of the region’s poorest. Although it continues to be rich in resources, over one third of the population live in poverty.

Burmese villagers
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Why do we work in Burma/Myanmar?

Myanmar has experienced rampant inflation and rising commodity prices. There is limited funding for basic healthcare and education, and a lack of clean water helps spread waterborne diseases such as dysentery. Myanmar also has over 300,000 adults living with HIV/AIDS; on of the highest rates in South East Asia. The average life expectancy is only 66 years and the child mortality rate is 45 deaths per 1,000 live births (over ten times higher than in Australia).

In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis devastated the Ayeyarwady and Yangon Regions of Myanmar killing at least 138,000 people and severely affecting 2.4 million more. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed and extensive damage was done to communication and transport infrastructure. Myanmar is also prone to landslides during the monsoon season, as well as occasional droughts. Deforestation is a major environmental concern.

As a result of a protracted internal conflict that has divided the country since 1948, an estimated 130,000 people have been killed. At present, approximately 450,000 people remain internally displaced while 141,000 more live in refugee camps across the Thai border. Driven by poverty and oppression back home, up to 2 million Burmese have moved – often illegally – to Thailand as transnational migrants in search of work. A further 228,000 have drifted to Bangladesh, over 200,000 to India and 80,000 to Malaysia.

Our work in Burma/Myanmar

Caritas Australia supports 5 programs implemented by 6 local partners both within Myanmar and on the country's border. Issues include disaster risk reduction, emergency assistance, HIV/AIDS, and water and sanitation.

Examples of our work

Following Cyclone Nargis in 2008, more than 250,000 people were given critical emergency relief, and over 165,000 were supported in the subsequent recovery and rehabilitation phases. Learn more about our Burma humanitarian response.


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