Where We Work - Myanmar

Our Work in Myanmar

In 1995, Save the Children initiated activities in Myanmar and first signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health in 2001. Save the Children efforts have focused primarily on Development Programs for Children High Impact Program Initiatives in education, health and economic opportunities. A strong commitment to community empowerment has both created sustainability of programs in impact areas and supported the prospects for scaling-up programs to achieve greater national impact through advocacy.

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Challenges for Children

Despite Myanmar's natural wealth, a third of its people live in exreme poverty. Myanmar possesses rich natural and human resources but is ranked only 149 out of 187 ciountries on the Human Development Index. With a population of approximately 50 million, Myanmar faces economic challenges, an escalating HIV/AIDS epidemic, and health and education systems that are strained due to limited resources. Children's access to quality education, adequate healthcare, and economic security is increasingly threatened.

Health and Nutrition

More than 90,000 children under five die every year in Myanmar, primarily from just three diseases we know how to prevent or treat. From the moment a child is born in Myanmar, their life chances are threatened.

In some areas where we work, up to 60% of children are underweight — with up to 12% of them acutely malnourished. Children here will live shorter lives than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. But there is hope. In 2010, Save the Children directly reached nearly three-quarters of a million children and adults with health and child survival programs.

Emergency Response

By far the most significant setback to the country's stability over the past few years has been Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar in May 2008. The scale of human loss and suffering was vast. Nargis was the worst natural disaster in the history of Myanmar: nearly 140,000 people died and 2.4 million were severely affected by the cyclone.

Save the Children played a key role in the ensuing humanitarian response, responsible for nearly 10% of the total raised by the international community, and establishing a large-scale response that reached 40% of all the children severely affected. Our 500 national staff inside Myanmar at the time of Cyclone Nargis has grown to nearly 1,000.

Save the Children has incorporated disaster risk reduction activities into our long-term recovery work for children and families affected by Cyclone Nargis. We have targeted over 100 schools for structural improvements that will not only ensure that they are better able to withstand future storms, but will also provide a shelter in many villages for the whole community in the event of a storm.

Education and Youth Development

Save the Children served as a key advisor in the drafting of the first national ECD plan with Ministry of Education departments during the national “Education for All” planning process. As part of the Save the Children's regional “Reading for Children” initiative, education programs in Myanmar have also begun to utilize a new strategy which integrates ECD with the adult literacy activities.

Myanmar Facts and Statistics:

  • Population: 54,584,650
  • Child Death Rate: 66 per 1,000
  • Infant Death Rate: 48 per 1,000
  • Life Expectancy: 60 Years
  • Underweight Children: 23%
  • Human Development Rank:149
  • Maternal Death Risk: 1 in 180
  • Girls' Education: 10 Average Years in School
  • Clean Water Access: 83%


Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children's 2012 State of the World's Mothers report. You can access detailed data here.

Other sources as follows: Infant Mortality Rate: CIA World Factbook 2012; Life Expectancy at Birth: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; National Poverty Rate: World Bank's World Development Indicators 2012; Population: CIA World Factbook 2012; Human Development Index Rank: United Nations Development Program

Last Updated October 2013

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