Overview of Australia’s aid program to Myanmar

How we are helping

2017-18 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$84.2 million

2018-19 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$42.1 million

2018-19 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$76.9 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. Government capacity is low, systems are weak, and Myanmar is one of the hardest places in the world to do business. Myanmar was listed at 145 out of 188 countries in the 2017 UN Human Development Index, making it one of the poorest countries in southeast Asia.

The Myanmar Government is undertaking complex economic and political reforms and pursuing a nationwide peace process after five decades of military rule. Many people are internally displaced in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine States as a result of years of conflict and outbreaks of intercommunal tension. In Rakhine State, attacks on government forces in August 2017 and a disproportionate security response led to large numbers fleeing to Bangladesh. This has created the region's largest humanitarian crisis.

The situation underlies the need for ongoing engagement on human rights issues as well as development and humanitarian assistance. Our efforts in Myanmar will continue to promote and protect the international rules based order and human rights norms in line with Australia's Foreign Policy White Paper priorities and support stability, prosperity and global cooperation.

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $76.9 million  in total ODA to Myanmar in 2018-19. This will include an estimated $42.1 million  in bilateral funding to Myanmar managed by DFAT. Our aid program is focused on supporting and embedding 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 implement international human rights norms.

Australia continues to provide humanitarian assistance to enable those affected by conflict and displacement lead safe and dignified lives. In Rakhine, Kachin, northern Shan, and southeast Myanmar, Australia supports international and local humanitarian partners to deliver essential supplies and services, with a focus on protecting vulnerable women and children. On the Thai border, we also support preparations for voluntary returns to Myanmar when appropriate.

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.

Governance in Myanmar is weak. Australian aid supports Myanmar to strengthen core democratic institutions and reform economic governance in line with Myanmar's reform priorities.

Investments for promoting inclusive economic growth and government management

Our results

Australia contributed to significant development achievements in Myanmar in 2016-17, including:

  • providing school grants to approximately 47,000 schools, reaching over 9 million children
  • providing 158,000 disadvantaged students (54 per cent girls) with stipends to enable them to continue their education
  • enabling 60,000 women and girls to access services addressing gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin States
  • increasing incomes for around 342,000 Myanmar households (32 per cent of which are female-headed in Myanmar)
  • improving the conduct of national by-elections held in 19 seats
  • passing legislation important for increasing private sector investment in Myanmar.

Last Updated: 21 September 2018
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).