Burma humanitarian response

Cyclone Nargis killed 140,000 Burmese and left more than two million people without homes. Cyclone Nargis was the most destructive natural disaster in Burma’s recorded history. Total damage amounted to over $10 billion. 

Burmese village destroyed by a cyclone

Burmese rehabilitation school

Caritas' response

Caritas Australia provided emergency support to more than 150,000 people in Burma as well as long-term recovery programs such as rebuilding homes and schools, repairing infrastructure, protecting livelihoods and building the capacity of local organisations. 

Since 2008, Caritas Australia has implemented a range of short and long-term assistance programs, including: 

  • Rebuilding more than 450 homes and repairing more than 1,500 more
  • Restoring safe drinking water by constructing wells, water pumps and ponds
  • Providing livelihood opportunities and research for non-farm based livelihoods for the landless poor 
  • Providing grants for small business and vocational training 
  • Educating communities in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies and emergency preparedness 
  • Providing 'Health Behaviour Change and Prevention of Communicable Diseases' training 
  • Facilitating counselling for nearly 4,000 survivors and training for villagers to respond to and support the psychosocial needs of their communities 
  • Recruiting and training community volunteer teachers
  • Identifying and assisting children orphaned or marginalised by the disaster
  • Providing project management training to local organisations.


Difficulties with access to affected area and a shortage of food due to loss of agricultural production, continues to affect more than 5 million people across the country. Nearly half a million cyclone survivors are still without homes. Although much has been achieved, Burma’s recovery continues to face significant challenges. Rangoon’s Archbishop Bo, thanked the world and particularly the Caritas community for their generous support of Burma but impelled us not to forget that it will take many years to build back what has been lost. 

“Myanmar continues to be a humanitarian challenge; Myanmar cannot be forgotten. We have gained a new confidence, reached out to thousands, but thousands still wait for some basic needs,” he said.

Read more from our blog series five years on from Cyclone Nargis: