UNDP: Dual crisis can send half of Myanmar’s population into poverty

The consequences of the military coup are exacerbating the country’s economy, which was already hit by the corona pandemic – and is already one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries. Here are protesters in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, on Friday. Photo: Str./Ritzau Scanpix

The crisis in Myanmar risks putting the country back 16 years in the fight against poverty, the UNDP warns in a recent press release.

UNDP is the United Nations development program to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities through the sustainable development of nations, in more than 170 countries and territories. Denmark and Norway were some of the founding members of the UN back in 1945, Sweden became a member the following year and today Sweden is one of the largest donors to the UN.

According to UPDN’s study, entitled “COVID-19, Coup d’état and Poverty: Compounding Negative Shocks and their Impact on Human Development in Myanmar”, the Covid-19 related crisis-hit Myanmar hard and when the military in the country seized power three months ago it triggered another crisis. This could lead to every second individual in Myanmar living in poverty in a year – which would be twice as many as now.

Since 2005, Myanmar has seen the progress that has lifted millions out of poverty and halved the number of people living below the national poverty line. But within the next year, 12 million people risk falling below the poverty line again, Kanni Wignaraja, UNDP regional director warns. “We are witnessing a complex crisis of unprecedented seriousness and complexity. Myanmar had managed to halve poverty and with its democratic transition showed signs of strengthening the fragile progress in the field of development. Now it feels like we’re pushed back to 2005,” she states.

The February 1 military coup has sparked widespread protests across Myanmar. Among other things, many take part in a civil disobedience campaign and refuse to go to work as long as the military is in power. It has partially paralyzed the economy and the military coup has also caused international investors to slam the coffers.

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