Myanmar, a small Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma, is one of the three poorest countries in Asia. In the text below, top 10 facts about poverty in Myanmar are presented.
Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Myanmar
- More than 32 percent of the Myanmar population live below the poverty line, according to a study conducted by the World Bank. In 2010, the national poverty line was measured at 19.4 percent. Compared to its neighbor, Cambodia, whose rates stand at 14.0 percent, there is still a long way to go towards the goal of eradicating large-scale poverty in Myanmar.
- Between 66 and 70 percent of the Myanmar population live in rural areas and depends heavily on low-tech fishing and farming largely for subsistence. This exacerbates the gap between the urban and the rural, with the U.N. stating that rural poverty is twice as high as in urban areas. The government mostly invests in extractive industries such as gas, oil and hydroelectric power rather than focusing on agricultural needs.
- Within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, Myanmar had the lowest adult life expectancy at 66.04 years in 2015, according to the data that the World Health Organization (WHO) published. The breakdown between males to females show that women have a slightly better average life expectancy rate at 69 years compared to 65 years for men.
- Myanmar also has the second highest child mortality rate in the region, since 6.2 out of 100 children die before they turn one year and more than 7 percent die before they reach their fifth birthday. In 2014, the government spent only 3 percent of its GDP on health. In comparison, 13 percent of GDP was spent on defense.
- Many people in the country, particularly in rural areas, do not have access to basic infrastructure and services. Two-thirds of the population do not have electricity and there is a low road density at 219.8 kilometers per 1000 square kilometers. Poverty in Myanmar cannot be eliminated if a large portion of the population has no access to rudimentary technology that can be used to conduct transactions and access transport.
- Myanmar’s attempts to control the AIDS epidemic among the working population have largely been successful. The figures currently stand at less than 1 percent infected, according to the United Nations. On May 17, 2017, The Ministry of Health and Sports launched its latest five year HIV plan, called “90-90-90.” It has a goal that 90 percent of HIV positive people know their status, 90 percent of those aware of their status receive treatment and 90 percent of those living with HIV have suppressed viral loads.
- With the World Bank’s National Electrification Project, around 1.2 million people who live in rural areas have either new or better access to electricity. This affects 140,000 households and introduces community-based solar electricity systems to combat poverty in Myanmar.
- Tuberculosis (TB) incidence has decreased dramatically since 1995 and the goal of reducing TB mortality rates below 50 percent set in 1990 was achieved by 2010. The death rate from TB fell by more than 40 percent between 1990 and 2011.
- Poverty in Myanmar has been on the decline, decreasing from 44.5 percent in 2004 to 26.1 percent in 2015, according to the World Bank. Rural and urban poverty have both been decreasing, although at a faster rate for the urban dwellers. Consumer purchases of motorcycles, indicating greater disposable income, has increased to over 42 percent of households in 2015, from 10 percent in 2009.
- The government has made plans to spend more on education, and under the National Sector Education Plan, spending increased from $251.8 million in 2013 to $1.2 billion in 2o17. The government has also planned to use a 5 percent tax on mobile phones for education, which will allow the government to hire a larger number of teachers and improve access to free education.
In conclusion, although Myanmar has made significant strides in the process of eradicating poverty, it still has a long way to go before achieving parity with other developed and even developing nations in the region.
– Maneesha Khalae