Myanmar, the country formerly known as ‘Burma’, is a country with a unique diversity of more than 130 different ethnic groups and an abundant wealth of natural resources. Myanmar has a population roughly equal to that of England and Wales combined, yet in one three live below the poverty line.
Since the inauguration of the first democratically elected government in 2011, Myanmar is slowly emerging from decades of military rule and a civil war that started in 1948 and still continues today.
The country also faces stronger storms, floods, and droughts that ravage the country, displacing, killing and destroying the livelihoods of thousands.
Myanmar has opened up to foreign investors recently. This has led to many opportunities but is also increasingly threatening local communities through land grabs and environmental destruction caused by companies exploiting natural resources.
CAFOD in Myanmar
CAFOD has been working in Myanmar since 1993, most recently through our church partner, Karuna Myanmar Social Services (KMSS) which is Caritas of Myanmar, as well as other local and regional civil society organisations.
We aim to support the poorest and most marginalized people in the country regardless of faith or ethnicity through:
- supporting them to adapt to and prepare for future disasters as well as rebuilding their lives after huge tropical storms such as Cyclone Nargis in 2008
- prevention of HIV in vulnerable populations and improvement in the quality of life of women, men and children living with HIV
- supporting ongoing peace efforts by listening to those excluded from the process and by empowering young people and faith leaders to transform conflicts in their own communities
- bringing together, training and empowering local groups and community leaders to speak out and work on issues that matter most to people on the ground.
Kyin Nu lives in Pathein diocese. In 2008, she lost two of her children to Cyclone Nargis. We supported her in the initial days after the storm as well as helping to build back her life today.
Without all this work of KMSS, the village would face serious problems. The land would get flooded, we wouldn’t have as good a harvest because of the flooding. There would be more pests. We would not be able to grow as much food, we would grow hungry and we would not have any protection from any type of wind. Even a small storm would cause great damage – it wouldn’t have to be a great cyclone like Nargis.