Myanmar: Disaster Management Reference Handbook 2017
Myanmar, also commonly referred to as Burma, is one of the largest countries in South East Asia with 56 million people.4 Myanmar shares borders with China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh, and India. In the south, Myanmar has marine borders with the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Myanmar is ethnically diverse with a majority of the population made up of Bamars. Eight major national ethnic races are present in Myanmar. Each ethnic race is comprised of diverse ethnic groupings (Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Bamar, Rakhine, and Shan). The largest city in Myanmar is Yangon and the capital of Myanmar is Naypyidaw. The predominately spoken language in Myanmar is Burmese and 89 percent of the population is Buddhist.
Myanmar is vulnerable to natural disasters such as flooding, drought, earthquakes, cyclones, and communicable and infectious disease outbreaks. Myanmar ranks as one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change and the impacts of natural disasters are expected to increase in the immediate future. Floods and landslides in 2015 demonstrated the vulnerability of the country to natural disasters. In addition to natural disasters, Myanmar has been affected by ongoing national conflicts for the past 40 years, which have yielded population displacements and humanitarian crisis including the Rohingya (or Bengali) population.
Myanmar has made significant progress in its disaster management policies, plans, and procedures since 2008 when Cyclone Nargis impacted the country leaving devastation in its aftermath. The Government of Myanmar (GoM) has modified the government structure and created new authorities and plans to improve the effectiveness of disaster management at all levels. While this progress is encouraging and shows the determination of the government to make necessary adjustments, the resources to implement the policy changes have been slower to develop.
In 2011, Myanmar began the stages of its transformation reform and a civil government, led by President Thein Sein was implemented.6 In 2016, a democratic government took over when President U Htin Kyaw assumed office on March 30, 2016, after the National League for Democracy party led by Aung San Suu Kyi won the general election in November 2015.7 Aung San Suu Kyi is a prominent political leader of the country and one of the world's most prominent political prisoners as well. She has been offered support of various countries including the U.S. for her efforts to install democracy in Myanmar by peaceful means.
Myanmar is classified by the United Nations (UN) as a Least Developed Country (LDC). The classification of LDC by the UN is based on the following considerations; low income, weak human resources, and economic vulnerability. Nearly 70 percent of the Myanmar population reside and work in rural parts of the country. The livelihoods for rural workers are subsistence-based. Limited access to markets in rural areas is limited and often have higher costs attached. The rural areas of the country are further compromised by civil unrest. Rural areas of Myanmar are also vulnerable to climate factors and natural disasters. Increased migration from the rural areas in Myanmar to the more developed urban area is common practice.
The Government of Myanmar has implemented significant changes to the political, social, and economic areas. However, the Government understands that increased and rapid development is not possible without international stakeholders and cooperation. Therefore, the Government of Myanmar has established a transparent use of international support and resources. The Myanmar Government seeks to maximize the level of assistance received from international partners to increase country development.