Overview of Australia’s aid program to Myanmar

How we are helping

2015-16 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$75.4 million

2016-17 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$42.1 million

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$59.8 million

Myanmar faces significant development challenges. Over a third of Myanmar’s population are living in poverty, more than a third of children are chronically malnourished, and only 54 per cent of children complete five years of primary school. Decades of conflict and instability have resulted in over 640,000 people displaced within Myanmar, and the border regions with Myanmar’s neighbours have the highest numbers of refugees in our region. Government capacity is low, systems are weak, and Myanmar is one of the hardest places in the world to do business, although this is improving.

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $59.8 million in total ODA to Myanmar in 2016-17. This will include an estimated $42.1 million in bilateral funding to Myanmar managed by DFAT.

Our aid program is focused on supporting and entrenching Myanmar's reforms and is organised around three mutually-reinforcing objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan.

Objective 1: Enhancing human development

Enhancing human development through education contributes directly to economic growth, stability and poverty reduction. Education transforms lives, builds a skilled and competitive workforce and enables men and women to invest wisely in their future.

Investments for enhancing human development

Objective 2: Promoting peace and stability

Peace and stability are necessary to achieve inclusive and equitable growth in Myanmar. Australia provides support to peace negotiations, political dialogue, democratic reform processes, including elections, and development activities that provide new opportunities for people affected by conflict.

Promoting human rights will be fundamental to building an inclusive state that values ethnic and religious diversity and protects the rights of all groups. We are supporting Myanmar to become a party to international human rights treaties and implement international human rights norms.

Australia continues to provide humanitarian assistance, including in Rakhine State and on the Thai-Myanmar border. This includes supporting people to return to Myanmar when appropriate, and addressing the root causes of displacement such as statelessness, violence, exploitation and poverty.

Investments for promoting peace and stability

Objective 3: Promoting inclusive economic growth and government management

Myanmar's economy has been stunted by decades of authoritarianism, international sanctions and civil war. Per capita GDP (PPP) is the second lowest in South-East Asia.

Australia promotes economic growth in Myanmar by supporting a policy environment that provides incentives for responsible foreign direct investment, trade and economic reform. We will increase investments in aid-for-trade, support legal and regulatory reform and broker engagement between government and the private sector, to promote private sector-led growth, entrepreneurship and responsible business. Australia will also provide targeted support to improve the management of natural resources.

Investments for promoting inclusive economic growth and government management

Our results

  • In 2014-15, over 140,000 additional girls and boys were enrolled in school, and Australian assistance to the Comprehensive Education Sector Review and National Education Sector Plan strengthened policy, planning and budgeting to further increase education access and quality.
  • In 2014-15, 326,813 students were provided with essential school supplies and textbooks, including in conflict-affected areas.
  • In 2014-15, support through the school grants and stipends program helped to promote free and compulsory education across 43,000 schools.
  • In 2015, 136 new Australia Awards were granted to Myanmar applicants.
  • In 2014, Australia provided life-saving assistance to 235,313 vulnerable women, men, girls and boys in conflicted-affected communities, including in Rakine State and on the Thai-Myanmar border.
  • In 2015 a total of 13,389 (7,383 female) beneficiaries received national identification cards through Australian support.
  • In 2014-15, 980 rice farmers were assisted to improve crop management practices and trial new crop varieties, resulting in a 40 per cent increase to productivity.
  • In 2014-15 Australia’s support for the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) increased incomes for 12,420 Myanmar households, diversified food consumption for 8,730 households, and achieved at least a 5 per cent agricultural productivity gain for 11,970 households. In 2014-15, we assisted the Myanmar Government to promote economic growth by developing investment policy and initiating a Myanmar business forum to promote private sector views to government.

Our changing program

Our changing aid program in Myanmar reflects Myanmar’s rapid reform process and our growing engagement with the Myanmar Government. We are aligning our assistance with the government’s own reform priorities and will work more through government systems where appropriate. Over time, we will look to transition to a full economic partnership model as reforms progress and our relationship matures. Our aid program is consolidating, targeting areas where Australia can add value and where we have a good track record of results.

Last Updated: 3 May 2016
Students at the Karen Young Women Leadership School reading the news (credit: Angela Wylie/The Age, International Women's Development Agency).
Ploughing fields, Shan, Myanmar (credit: DFAT).
A senior midwife attends to her malaria and primary health patients by motorbike (credit: 3DFund.org).