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Overview

  • Myanmar is a nation in transition, seeking to break with a past marred by authoritarian rule, economic mismanagement, and multiple conflicts that persist today, driven by social exclusion and predatory natural resource extraction. The country’s opening, in 2011, and the first democratic elections, in 2015, marked critical turning points for Myanmar, generating a wave of optimism. Unification of exchange rates, initial liberalization of product and factor markets, integration into regional markets, and modernization of economic and financial institutions and systems resulted in rapid economic growth (above 7 percent per year) and measurable improvements in social welfare since 2011. Poverty almost halved, falling from 48 percent to 25 percent between 2005 and 2017.

    Reform momentum slowed after 2016 as a newly elected civilian government grappled with defining its economic vision and managing the public administration to implement policies and programs. Most recently, the Government adopted an ambitious Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan, reinvigorated its economic reform agenda, and has gradually begun to tackle the more difficult second-generation reforms needed to sustain the economic transition. The second democratic national elections are scheduled for late 2020.

    Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic economic growth in Myanmar was projected to increase to 6.7 percent in 2021/22 after picking up to 6.3 percent in 2019/20 and 6.4 percent in 2020/21. However, Economic growth is expected to instead decline sharply in 2019/20 to 2.0 to 3.0 percent due to direct and indirect impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The economy is expected to recover next year to grow in a range of 4-6 percent, in line with regional peers. Recent manufacturing data in China and trade data in Myanmar show some progress. However, a severe domestic COVID-19 outbreak poses a major downside risk. This would have much greater effects on domestic demand and could lead to difficult short-term tradeoffs in terms of public health measures and economic activity. And even if the base case growth scenario unfolds, there will be deep local impacts in rural and urban areas, the tourism, manufacturing and agriculture sectors, and among already vulnerable groups.

    As in other countries, exclusion in Myanmar occurs along many lines including gender, ethnicity, and citizenship. This—coupled with widespread underdevelopment and weak service delivery—means that human capital is particularly limited in Myanmar. Unless Myanmar invests in all its people it will not be able to maximize economic growth, undermining prosperity not just for the excluded, but for everybody. There is a two-way association: broadly shared economic opportunities are needed to reinforce durable peace, but progress is needed for peace and civil liberties to offer economic opportunities to all and maximize growth and shared prosperity in Myanmar.

    The crisis in Rakhine State, together with intensified conflict in other states, poses a serious threat to Myanmar’s goal of becoming ‘a peaceful and prosperous’ nation.  Since the tragic events of 2017, the World Bank Group (WBG) has engaged in a profound reflection on how best to respond to Myanmar’s recurring conflict and violence.  This has involved analysis of the drivers of exclusion and conflict and on social inclusion within the WBG program.  On this basis, the WBG adjusted its strategy, redesigned its planned pipeline and introduced new operations focused specifically on social inclusion in conflict areas.

    Climate change is another major challenge for the development of Myanmar. It is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, exposed to multiple hazards, including floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides and droughts. Along with Puerto Rico and Honduras, Myanmar is one of three countries most affected by climate change in the period 1999-2018 according to the 2020 Global Climate Risk Index and 19th out of 191 countries on the INFORM Index for Risk Management.

    Last Updated: Apr 16, 2020

  • The World Bank Group seeks to support Myanmar through a challenging transition to achieve progress in the twin goals of reducing poverty and increasing shared prosperity. We aim to help Myanmar advance its economic transition sustainably, while ensuring that the benefits of the transition are shared more widely. Our support is centered around the cross-cutting theme of promoting social inclusion for all people, including in conflict-affected areas.

    Under the new Myanmar Country Partnership Framework (FY2020-2023), the focus areas of WBG engagement are a) building human capital and fostering peaceful communities; b) fostering responsible private sector-led growth and inclusive economic opportunities; and c) enhancing climate and disaster resilience and sustainable natural resource and environmental management.

    To build human capital and foster peaceful communities the World Bank Group:

    • targets its investments at the community level to make sure that underserved communities receive critical infrastructure and services, including basic services of health, education and nutrition, including in conflict areas.
    • helps institutions, from the village to the national level, to coordinate better and respond more effectively and inclusively to the needs of everyone, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
    • supports building human capital in conflict affected areas through education, health, and nutrition interventions that facilitate cooperation between Ethnic Service Providers (ESPs), civil society organizations, and authorities of the self-administered areas and state governments.

    To foster responsible private sector-led growth and inclusive economic opportunities the World Bank Group:

    • is committed to helping Myanmar to manage the economy and financial sector, and to develop a private sector applying regulations uniformly and without discrimination, with open and competitive tendering processes -- to ensure a more prosperous, equitable future for all the people of Myanmar.
    • prioritizes bringing tangible income generation and employment opportunities to the poor with a focus on developing Myanmar’s largest employment sectors, agriculture and tourism.

    To enhance climate and disaster resilience and sustainable natural resource and environmental management the World Bank Group:

    • supports building the resilience of Myanmar to cope with natural disasters while ensuring that natural resources and the environment are managed sustainably for the benefit of existing and future generations.

    The Myanmar Partnership Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) was established in 2014 and  represents a collaboration between the Government of Myanmar; Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT); UK Government Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID)the Kingdom of Denmarkthe Republic of Finland; and the World Bank Group represented by the International Finance Cooperation and the World Bank (IBRD/IDA). The Myanmar Partnership MDTF seeks to implement Myanmar’s Sustainable Development Plan through enhanced coordination, World Bank Group technical assistance and government executed projects. The Myanmar Partnership’s MDTF program activities align with and compliment the World Bank Group’s major focus areas for Myanmar.

    Last Updated: May 20, 2020

  • The World Bank supported the government’s reorientation to a more people-centered and bottom-up approach by helping to design the National Community-Driven Development Project (NCDDP). The project was financed with an US$80 million International Development Association (IDA) grant and additional financing of US$400 million through an IDA credit. Since 2013, the NCDDP Project has benefitted more than seven million people in 63 townships (20% of the country) and more than 12,000 villages, through the financing of approximately 30,000 sub-projects that improve basic infrastructure and services for transport (roads, bridges, jetties), water, schools, electrification, etc. The NCDDP invested heavily in capacity building and facilitation support for community members who would take direct responsibility for identifying priority development needs and implementing solutions. In the first two years, the project did not operate in conflict areas, but now more than one-third of project areas are considered conflict-affected.

    The Government of Myanmar adopted the National Electrification Plan in 2014 – drawing from World Bank analytical support and expertise through the National Electrification Project (NEP) – to achieve universal access to sustainable electricity services by 2030. One third of the population without electricity access belong to over 130 distinct groups, have distinct languages/dialects, are often among the poorest, and reside in the most isolated regions, which compounds the challenges of service delivery. Since its implementation, NEP has successfully provided access to electricity to 1.4 million people, of which 750,000 female beneficiaries, in 5,000 villages in remote rural areas through 381,000 solar home systems. In addition, the project has provided electricity access to all schools, rural health clinics and community centers in villages. In total of 46,778 solar streetlights have been installed and been providing safety to the residents. As part of implementation support, the project helped the government in the procurement system that resulted cost efficiency and value for money through US$50 million savings on the budget using international competitive procurement. Also, a mobile phone-based Citizen Engagement Platform has successfully established in the pilot phase and being scaled up parallel to increase of solar home system installations.

    The Decentralizing Funding to Schools Project  (DFSP) has disbursed funds to township education offices, schools, and at-risk children and their families, in which  244,331 students in 57 townships have received stipends to date, all government schools (47,008) and monastic schools (1,500) in 330 townships receive school improvement funding, more than 20,000 mentee-teachers in 150 townships benefitted from in-school visit and support from a teacher mentor, six rounds of early learning assessment data were collected, analyzed, and used to inform to design an early reading pilot. The project upholds two underlying principles, which are non-discrimination and inclusive consultation.

    The Inclusive Access and Quality Education (IAQE) project builds on and extends the geographic scope of the ongoing DFSP and takes a national and a focused approach, covering all states and regions and supporting programs to reach out to schools across the country, while placing greater emphasis on social inclusion and support to conflict-affected areas. More than 70 percent of the financing will be channeled to Myanmar’s most disadvantaged townships, with a particular focus on the most under-performing schools and teachers within these townships. The IAQE project will also support strengthening the efficiency of the education system, including through improved public financial and human resource management and technical support to the Ministry of Education, and will closely monitor implementation across the country.

    Since 2015, the Myanmar Essential Health Services Access Project (EHSAP) has been supporting over 12,000 primary health care facilities across the country, ranging from township hospitals to the sub rural health centers, with monthly health facility funds to improve service delivery readiness of these critical frontline health facilities, thus expanding access to basic essential health services for mothers, newborns and children both at the facility level and within the community. In addition, EHSAP strengthens the quality of care by skills building of frontline health workers – about 9,000 midwives were trained on how to provide emergency care during pregnancy and immediately after birth for mothers and babies, and 4,500 midwives learnt also how to identify and manage common childhood illnesses. At the systems level, EHSAP enhances supervision practice by improving the regularity and systematic approach of the supervision visits, improves efficiency and responsiveness of public finance through financial trainings and financial data system modernization, and supports introduction of tablets-based health management information system to the midwives.

    Funds under EHSAP have also been mobilized to assist Myanmar’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by financing (i) capacity building  and operational costs to intensify surveillance activities in all states and regions; (i) establishment of functioning information and reporting system for all suspected cases; (iii) engagement with basic health staff (BHS) including Ethnic Health Organizations for community surveillance; (iv) dissemination of guidelines to BHS and community volunteers on COVID-19; (v) development and dissemination of Information, Education and Communication materials for risk communication on COVID-19; and (vi) operating expenses at the point of entries.

    Supporting a dynamic private sector to create jobs

    Reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity will entail diversification beyond extractive-based industries. Increased openness and integration will result in higher growth, as labor reallocates to more productive sectors and trade drives innovation and productivity. The World Bank Group is helping to foster inclusive growth and a vibrant private sector that will create jobs through investments and support for markets, trade and modern financial institutions.

    IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development organization working with the private sector in developing countries. Since 2013, IFC has invested and mobilized over US$1.4 billion in Myanmar to help create jobs. A strong private sector is vital to ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. That’s why IFC is focused on unlocking private investment, creating markets and opportunities where they are needed most. In Myanmar, IFC is focused on helping the country meet its critical needs for infrastructure, especially power, telecoms and transport; agribusiness, and financial services, including support for the microfinance sector. IFC’s work has for example helped more than 600,000 gain access to microfinance with more than 80 percent of those women. IFC’s Lighting Myanmar program, launched in 2016, has reached almost 80,000 households, some in the country’s most remote off grid areas.  Our advisory services are also aimed at helping encouraging reforms to improve the business environment as well as raising corporate governance and environmental and social performance standards, and helping banks develop new products for small and medium sized enterprises. Our work has also focused on helping to create respectful workplaces and tackling childcare.

    The World Bank Group is also contributing to informed debate and decision-making on development policy within a rapidly changing Myanmar by bringing the most recent data and analysis on development issues to policy makers, think tanks, civil society, and citizens.

    Analytical and diagnostic work covers a wide range of development areas, including the Myanmar Country Environmental Analysis, which is a comprehensive analysis on the country’s environment and natural resources challenges and identifies strategic recommendations, the Subnational Public Expenditure Review 2019, which examines Myanmar’s nascent subnational institutions, focusing on governance, union-local administrative and fiscal relations and service delivery from a local perspective, and, Multidimensional Welfare in Myanmar, which aims to formulate a multidimensional view on how deprived the people in Myanmar are, understand the intensity and determinants of multidimensional disadvantages, and provide a view of multidimensional disadvantage at the sub-national level, pointing to relative disadvantage of each Township in Myanmar.

    The World Bank Group also releases Myanmar Economic Monitors, which examine economic developments and reforms, twice a year. And, the Systematic Country Diagnostic, which identified prioritized policy areas and actions for progress in Myanmar in preparation of the new Country Partnership Framework (2019-2023)

    Last Updated: Apr 16, 2020

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LENDING

Myanmar: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments



PHOTO GALLERY

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In Depth

World Bank Group Strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence

The draft strategy is now available for review and comment. The six-week online consultation period will run until January 16, 2020.

Myanmar Partnership Multi-Donor Trust Fund

The Trust Fund supports Myanmar with its long-term development objectives including education, private sector development and finance.

Turning on the Lights

Rural communities are receiving on-grid and off-grid electricity services as part of a National Electrification Plan.

Empowering Communities for Local Development

The Myanmar National Community Development Project (NCDDP) has put people at the center of decision-making.

Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Yangon Office
Level 21, Sule Square, 221, Sule Pagoda Road, Kyauktada Township, Yangon 11182, Myanmar
+95 1 925 5030
myanmar@worldbank.org
Washington DC
1818 H Street NW, Washington DC 20433
+1 202-473-4709
eastasiapacific@worldbank.org