Quick facts

  • 53 million people
  • 6.4% living on less than USD $1.90 / day
  • 17.3% of women have experienced intimate partner violence

Myanmar is undergoing fast and complex changes, all with the potential either to relieve or exacerbate the poverty, conflict, inequality and vulnerability which characterise the lives of the vast majority of women and men.

Oxfam Australia’s goal is to contribute to the reduction of poverty and inequality and to foster the resilience and long-term security of communities affected by conflict and disasters.

We also aim to increase the power of men and women to harness the benefits of political reforms and economic development. The rights of women are at the heart of our work.

Oxfam’s is also working in Myanmar to strengthen local civil society and communities to participate in decisions and management around water governance to ensure fair and sustainable usage. Six countries, including Myanmar, depend on the Mekong River region to provide water for agriculture and fishing, energy and supporting bio-diverse ecosystems – their fates are all connected. Oxfam has a long history of supporting rural farming and fishing communities throughout the Mekong region. The area is rich in natural resources but there are growing concerns that climate change and competing interests in water management are leading to instability and food insecurity, worsening the divide between rich and poor, and making life much harder for rural communities by putting pressure on the natural systems that underpin their livelihoods and well-being.

Key areas of work

Governance & Social Accountability, Sanitation

One story of change


The Salween is one of the world’s longest free-flowing rivers. Rich in biodiversity, it sustains the livelihoods of more than10 million people—including Daw Awe Kyi (pictured above) who told us that: “The Salween River is important for many ethnic groups. It’s a great source of our daily food because our livelihoods depend on growing vegetables, rice and other crops twice a year.”

Nutrients from the river fertilise people’s vegetable gardens and farms, but they also support local fisheries, providing vital dietary protein for river communities. That’s why Oxfam partners with Kalyana Mitta Foundation (KMF) to implement the Water Governance program, which aims to ensure all people living along the banks of the Salween have equitable access to water resources. “After many training sessions provided by KMF, I feel very confident leading my community —especially to help [other] Shan ethnic women gain leadership skills,” says Daw Aye Kyi. She teaches villagers about land rights and human rights and explains the impacts of hydropower development projects in their region: in recent years, proposals to dam the Salween —both upstream in China and downstream in Myanmar —have raised social and environmental concerns.

Daw Aye Kyi has taken part in many KMF campaigns, but she’s particularly proud of the We Love Salween campaign, which brought attention to the ongoing hydropower project in Kayah State. “KMF and Oxfam made this campaign happen to promote awareness, to love and value the Salween, and motivate us to maintain the water resources. We have to help each other to keep our Salween safe and free-flowing.”

Key projects

Breaking Down Barriers to Socially Inclusive Market Based Sanitation in Myanmar

Oxfam Australia is working in Myanmar to achieve improved health, wellbeing and gender equality in Rakhine and Magway. The project utilises market-based strategies that strengthen local government, the private sector and communities to deliver and access safe and affordable sanitation services. This is coupled with smart subsidies to ensure the entire community benefits from sanitation. The project aims to support 40,000 people through the construction and use of new toilets and 160,000 with direct hygiene face-to-face sanitation and/or hand washing messaging. Oxfam is partnering with Water for Women to implement this $4.3 million, four and a half year (2018-2022) project.


Inclusion Pillar Project

Oxfam Australia is working to increase the inclusion of civil society in water resource governance and decision-making in the Mekong region (Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos). Through this project Oxfam Australia is strengthening local civil society and communities to participate in decisions and management around water. The Inclusion Pillar Project is part of Oxfam’s Mekong Regional Water Governance program. This $9 million five year project (2014-2019) is part of an Australian aid initiative implemented by Oxfam Australia on behalf of the Australian Government. It is one of four pillar projects within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Mekong Water Resources Program (2014-2018).





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