Individuals served in FY18: 1,000
Volunteers engaged in FY18: 1,292
- Population: Over 53.3 million
- Urbanization: 30.6 percent lives in cities
- Life expectancy: 66.6 years
- Unemployment rate: 4 percent
- Population living below poverty line: 32.1 percent
Source: World Bank, World Factbook
Habitat for Humanity in Myanmar
Habitat for Humanity’s involvement in Myanmar arose after the devastating Cyclone Nargis struck on May 2, 2008. Together with its partner World Concern, Habitat for Humanity built and repaired more than 1,700 core houses in the worst-hit Ayeyarwady delta as part of World Concern’s integrated multi- sector disaster recovery program. In January 2014, Habitat for Humanity began projects in water and sanitation with disaster risk reduction with World Concern.
The housing need in Myanmar
Despite impressive economic growth over the last five years, Myanmar remains one of the poorest countries in Asia with one in three people living below the national poverty line. Most of the poor live in rural areas, but many pockets of poverty exist in urban areas where one in four people reside in slum communities. The population and housing census in 2014 showed that close to 81 percent of housing units were made of wood, bamboo and hut that were not durable because the materials were not properly treated. About 28 percent of households obtained their drinking water from unsafe sources and nearly 14 percent did not have a toilet.
How Habitat addresses the need in Myanmar
Habitat Myanmar and its partner World Concern had helped 965 families in Ayeyarwady and Mon through the construction of wells, water points, latrines, two rural health centers and a cyclone shelter. The projects were supported by Nissan and Habitat Australia. In 2016, Habitat Myanmar and World Concern began a Nissan-funded project to serve 15 villages in Thanatpin, Bago. The project includes the construction of flood-resistant model houses and latrines, rehabilitation of community ponds, distribution of ceramic water filters to households, improvement of water and sanitation facilities in public schools as well as social enterprise on filtered drinking water. With support from Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Habitat Myanmar and its local partner YMCA are strengthening community structures and improving access to water and sanitation for school children in Dala, Yangon. Habitat Myanmar is also strengthening resilience of seafarers in Myanmar through the support of Sailors’ Society.
Improving housing conditions of the poor and vulnerable
In Myanmar, Habitat contributes to the development of low-income communities by building decent shelter, safe water and improved sanitation facilities. It delivers new and improved affordable, disaster-resilient homes through project activities that require planning and working with community groups. The use of locally available and sustainable construction materials such as treated bamboo is promoted. Construction is complemented by masonry training and Habitat also raises awareness of proper sanitation and hygiene in the communities it works in.
Increasing market access
Habitat Myanmar is piloting a community-based social enterprise to improve access to clean drinking water for families in rural villages in Bago region.
Mobilizing volunteers to help reduce poverty housing
The first team of international volunteers under the Global Village program was hosted in Bago in February 2017. Habitat also encourages local volunteerism, especially among the youth. It hosted the Asia Build in 2018 and 2019 as part of the Habitat Young Leaders Build campaign. HYLB engages young people to volunteer, fundraise and raise their voices on the need to build strength, stability, self-reliance through housing.
Meet a Habitat family
With a limited income, Daw Thuzar could barely afford the annual repairs for her old bamboo house after the monsoon rains. She earns just over US$2 a day from hand-rolling cigars while her husband, a carpenter, drives a motorcycle taxi when he doesn’t get construction work. Things began to look up after her family of four moved into their Habitat house made of treated bamboo in June 2017. She plans to use the money that is saved for house repairs for her children’s tuition fees and other expenses at the local township school that provides better quality education in her opinion. The children also get less mosquito bites, she said. There is another welcome change. “Before we had to ask the kids to be quiet and careful in order not to damage the house. Now they can play and run.”