Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is emerging from decades of isolation from the West. It has now embarked on what will be a long and challenging road of democratic and economic reform. Since 2010, the Government of Myanmar has enacted a number of reforms that have set in motion critical transitions. Myanmar is moving toward:
- an inclusive, parliamentary democracy;
- negotiating ceasefires after decades-long civil wars; and
- shifting to a market-oriented economy.
The international community has suspended most of its economic sanctions against Myanmar, which has elected its first democratic government in more than 50 years. Canada is committed to improving the welfare and well-being of the people of Myanmar. In 2014, Myanmar was listed as a country of focus for the Government of Canada’s international development efforts.
Myanmar is among the world’s poorest and least developed countries. It has an estimated population of 53.6 million, of whom 25.6 percent live below the national poverty line. On the United Nations Development Programme’s 2015 Human Development Index, Myanmar ranks 148th out of 187 countries.
Humanitarian needs in the country persist, primarily because of ongoing local conflicts, prolonged population displacement and continued vulnerability to natural disasters, such as floods and landslides. Myanmar ranks second globally in terms of the threat posed by agricultural productivity loss due to climate change.
Since 2000, Canada has provided over $150 million in official development assistance to Myanmar, primarily through international humanitarian assistance and support of multilateral institutions. Since 2013, when Canada lifted most of its sanctions, the country has disbursed over $60 million to Myanmar through all channels.
Canada will focus on implementing programs that stimulate sustainable economic growth and advance democracy. This aligns with the international development priorities and needs identified by the Government of Myanmar. Canada will continue to provide humanitarian assistance as needed, working with Canadian and international partners and civil society groups to reduce poverty in Myanmar, especially in the areas of greatest need.
A small but active donor, Canada currently has four operational bilateral development projects in Myanmar. The projects cover a range of activities, including empowering women economically, managing information, understanding federalism and promoting inclusive governance.
Although Canada does not have direct maternal, newborn and child health programming in Myanmar, Canada has improved the health of women and children there by working with Canadian and global partners. For more information, please visit Myanmar: Maternal, newborn and child health projects and Canada delivers results for the world’s women and children.
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