Myanmar has suffered from a roller-coaster relationship with poverty as long as it has been a nation. Rich in jade, timber, and other natural resources, Myanmar was one of Asia’s wealthiest nations at its independence in 1948. Five long decades of military rule — marked by global isolation, international sanctions, and a stagnant economy — turned Myanmar into one of Asia’s poorest countries. When the country opened politically and economically in 2011, Western nations removed sanctions and Myanmar’s economy soared. From 2005 to 2017, poverty almost halved in Myanmar, dropping from 48 to 25%.
Now, the dual devastation of COVID-19 and the military coup threaten to unravel over a decade of economic progress. At the end of 2020, 83% of households reported having lost half of their income to the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns. When the coup rocked the country, it sent Myanmar’s economy spiraling further into chaos. Urban areas, the main source of jobs and income for poor communities, became the epicenter of both military violence and COVID infections; now urban poverty is set to triple. Banking has all but collapsed, foreign businesses have pulled out in the worsening instability, and unemployment is rising. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) grimly warns that by 2022, poverty in Myanmar could nearly double from 14 million (24.8%) back to 26 million (48.2%). Many long, hard-fought years of economic growth could be erased within months.
Poor families in Myanmar, especially women and children, are bearing the brunt of Myanmar’s economic loss. Living on less than 1,590 kyat ($1 USD) per day, many are barely surviving as the economy crumbles around them. One ministry has devoted itself to bringing food relief to the hardest hit families in slum communities near Yangon. This ministry recently delivered food packages to 184 needy households in the area. Though the need is great and resources are scarce, they are determined to do all they can to sustain vulnerable families through this time of crisis.
To support this ministry in their efforts to care for poor families, give below:
- Pray God overwhelmingly provides for ministries that are acting as Christ’s hands and feet to Myanmar’s poor and vulnerable.
- Pray that poor families in Myanmar would know and receive the blessing of God’s eternal Kingdom, finding true riches and provision in Jesus.