Families served in 2016: 312
- Population: Over 56.8 million
- Urbanization: 34.1 percent lives in cities
- Life expectancy: 66.6 years
- Unemployment rate: 4.8 percent
- Population living below poverty line: 32.7 percent
Source: World Bank
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. In September 2014, Habitat for Humanity received government registration allowing it to directly implement programs in Myanmar.
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 four 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 a third of the country’s population resides. 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 941 families in Thanatpin, Bago. Training in disaster risk reduction and raising awareness of proper sanitation and hygiene will be conducted. The project includes the construction of disaster-resilient model houses, rehabilitation of community ponds, distribution of ceramic water filters to households, and improvement of water and sanitation facilities in public schools. With support from Habitat Australia, Habitat Myanmar and its local partner Share Mercy are strengthening community structures and improving access to safe water for 1,447 families in Dala, Yangon.
Improving water & sanitation facilities and disaster risk reduction
Habitat Myanmar will contribute to the development of poor communities by increasing access to safe water and improved sanitation facilities. It will rehabilitate community ponds and deliver 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 will be promoted. Construction will be complemented by masonry training or raising awareness of proper hygiene and general information on the land management system.
Analyzing the local housing industry
Having received government registration in 2014, Habitat Myanmar is currently seeking robust information about the local housing industry before promoting the expansion of market- based products and services for affordable housing. It will define its strategic role in the housing market based on the outcome of a value chain study planned for fiscal year 2018.
Mobilizing volunteers to help reduce poverty housing
Habitat Myanmar began hosting international volunteers under the Global Village program in Bago from February 2017 while encouraging local volunteerism. In March 2017, a group of Japanese students will help build homes, marking the first Habitat Young Leaders Build event in the country. HYLB engages young people to volunteer, fundraise and raise their voices on the need for decent housing as a way out of poverty and toward building strength, stability and self-reliance.
Meet a Habitat family
Ma Cho, who lives in Kyauk Phyar village in Mon state, used to make several trips a day to fetch water from a small stream. Her four children often suffered from diarrhea, skin infections and other waterborne diseases. Her life changed when Habitat for Humanity and World Concern installed a gravity flow water supply system in her village. As one of the 17 water points is near her house, she saves time in fetching water. Her family income has increased since she started helping out her husband, a street vendor. Ma Cho and her family also attended sanitation and hygiene training as part of the project. She believes that her family members’ health has improved since they adopted hygienic practices.