Review Myanmar through World Bank
The escalating conflict in Rakhine State has added to the complexity of issues impacting Myanmar, where almost one-third of the country is conflict-affected. Populations in other parts of the country– such as Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, and Shan – are experiencing, or are prone to, humanitarian crises. The Rakhine crisis alone has led to more than 700,000 people fleeing into Bangladesh, with around 150,000 internally displaced people remaining in Rakhine.
As a response to the Rakhine crisis, the World Bank Group has reviewed its engagement in Myanmar to focus on social inclusion in conflict-affected areas in support of the country’s historic political and economic transition.
With an emphasis on the importance of achieving peace and security as a foundation for inclusive and sustainable development for all communities in Myanmar, the Bank continues to provide technical and financial support, especially through high-impact projects. These focus on education, health services, access to electricity and other essential services, response to natural disasters, and inclusion of all ethnic groups and religions, in Rakhine State and other conflict-affected areas in the country.
Myanmar is a lower-middle-income economy with a GNI per capita of US$1,210 in 2017. Strong economic growth translated into a reduction in poverty from 48 to 32 percent between 2005 and 2015. However, stark variations in the overall degree and types of disadvantages among states and regions in Myanmar remain, according to the Multidimensional Welfare in Myanmar report, which constructed a multidimensional index of disadvantage consisting of 14 non-monetary indicators related to education, employment, health, water and sanitation, housing and assets. Overall, rural populations are more than twice as likely as urban populations to experience multiple disadvantages. Households in Rakhine, Ayeyarwady, and Kayin are much more likely than in other states and regions to suffer from severe multiple disadvantages. Sixty percent of households in Rakhine and 36 percent in Kayin are disadvantaged in at least five different areas, and Rakhine State is by far the most disadvantaged state or region.
Economic growth remains strong by regional and global standards but is slowing. Myanmar’s economy grew at 6.8 percent in 2017/18, driven by strong performance in domestic trade and telecommunications, but offset by slowing growth in manufacturing, construction, and transport sectors. Real GDP growth is projected to moderate to 6.2 percent in 2018/19.
The medium-term macroeconomic outlook nevertheless remains positive. Economic growth is set to recover to 6.6 percent by 2020/21, driven by an expected pickup in foreign and domestic investment responding to recent government policy measures. Building on the continuing implementation of the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan, the government’s policy intent was reflected in recent reforms including implementation of the new Myanmar Companies Law, the opening of the insurance sector and wholesale and retail markets to foreign players, services sector liberalization, and loosening restrictions on foreign bank lending.
Myanmar 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 the countries most affected by climate change in the last 20 years, ranking third out of 184 countries in the 2019 Global Climate Risk Index and 12th out of 191 countries on the INFORM Index for Risk Management.