Syndicate content

Myanmar

Closing the gap in Myanmar: Expanding access to social services

Hnin Hnin Pyne's picture



Myanmar’s people are its greatest resource. Its current young population and growing number of productive workers hold the promise of a demographic dividend and inclusive growth. With a steady pace of economic growth, Myanmar has the potential to get rich before it gets old.
 
For Myanmar to deliver on this potential it can prioritize investing in its people, by strengthening the country's health, education, and social protection systems. Education and health directly improve chances of employment. Individuals who complete more years of schooling earn a higher income.  Improving health, education and social protections – closing the gap – is not a mere by-product of economic development, but is essential to shared prosperity.
 
Myanmar in the early 1960s, poised to be the economic engine of the region, prided itself for having the highest literacy rate in Asia. After decades of underspending and neglect of social services and programs, human development outcomes deteriorated, ranking among the lowest in the region.  Rural and poorer households bore a greater burden of ill health, low educational attainment and vulnerability. 
 
In 2009, a major share of the total education and health spending came from households, 63% and 82% respectively.  This direct out-of-pocket spending, which was one of the highest in the world, prevented people from seeking care and attending school, because they could not afford it. In the case of health, families were made even poorer, as they had to sell their belongings to pay for the care they needed.  And there was no system to protect them. 
 
Even today, social assistance programs only reach 0.1% of the population, compared to 39% among East Asian and the Pacific countries.  This is in part due to extremely low level of social assistance spending, which is only 0.02% of GDP, compared to an average of 1.1% of GDP among low-income countries.
 

Malnutrition denies children opportunity and stunts economic development

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture

Nearly 50 years ago, books such as Asian Drama: An Inquiry Into The Poverty Of Nations, by the Swedish economist and Nobel laureate Gunnar Myrdal, offered a dire prediction of famine and poverty for the region in coming decades.

How to scale up financial inclusion in ASEAN countries

José de Luna-Martínez's picture
MYR busy market

Globally, around 2 billion people do not use formal financial services. In Southeast Asia, there are 264 million adults who are still “unbanked”; many of them save their money under the mattress and borrow from so-called “loan sharks”, paying exorbitant interest rates on a daily or weekly basis. Recognizing the importance of financial inclusion for economic development, the leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have made this one of their top priorities for the next five years.
 
Last week, the World Bank Group presented the latest data on financial inclusion in ASEAN to senior representatives of the ministries of finance and central banks of all 10 ASEAN member countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). The session, held in Kuala Lumpur, is one of the joint activities the new World Bank Research and Knowledge Hub and Malaysia is undertaking to support financial inclusion around the world.
 

How can rapidly aging East Asia sustain its economic dynamism?

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: 中文
Panos Agency


In the last three decades, East Asia has reaped the demographic dividend. An abundant and growing labor force powered almost one-third of the region’s per capita income growth from the 1960s to the 1990s, making it the world’s growth engine.
 
Now, East Asia is facing the challenges posed by another demographic trend: rapid aging. A new World Bank report finds that East Asia and Pacific is aging faster – and on a larger scale – than any other region in history.
 
More than 211 million people ages 65 and over live in East Asia and Pacific, accounting for 36 percent of the global population in that age group. By 2040, East Asia’s older population will more than double, to 479 million, and the working-age population will shrink by 10 percent to 15 percent in countries such as Korea, China, and Thailand.
 
Across the region, as the working-age population declines and the pace of aging accelerates, policy makers are concerned with the potential impact of aging on economic growth and rising demand for public spending on health, pension and long-term care systems.
 
As the region ages rapidly, how do governments, employers and households ensure that hard-working people live healthy and productive lives in old age? How do societies in East Asia and Pacific promote productive aging and become more inclusive?
 

Five facts about rice and poverty in the Greater Mekong Sub-region

Sergiy Zorya's picture

The Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) is a major global rice producer and exporter but its population suffers from serious levels of poverty and malnutrition.
 
Spanning six countries – China, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam – the region is home to 334 million people. Nearly 60 million of them are involved in rice production, growing collectively over 44% of the world’s rice. All of the countries, except China, are net exporters of rice. This means they have more rice available than required for domestic consumption. Yet, nearly 15% of the population is seriously malnourished and about 40% of children under five are stunted, in other words, too short for their age as a result of under nutrition.
 

We must prepare now for another major El Niño

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: 中文
El Niño is back and may be stronger than ever.
 
A wooden boat is seen stranded on the dry cracked riverbed of the Dawuhan Dam during drought season in Madiun, Indonesia's East Java province.  October 28, 2015 © ANTARA FOTO/Reuters/Corbis



The latest cyclical warming of Pacific Ocean waters, first observed centuries ago and formally tracked since 1950, began earlier this year and already has been felt across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Weather experts predict this El Niño will continue into the spring of 2016 and could wreak havoc, because climate change is likely to exacerbate the intensity of storms and flooding in some places and of severe drought and water shortages in others.

El Niño’s impacts are global, with heavy rain and severe flooding expected in South America and scorching weather and drought conditions likely in the Horn of Africa region.

Reflections from the field: On the road with communities in Myanmar and Laos (Part 1)

Susan Wong's picture

So I just returned from a terrific mission to Myanmar and Laos, two countries experiencing strong annual growth rates, and both facing challenges of making rapid growth inclusive and just for all its citizens.

Maintaining momentum in Myanmar

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture

Myanmar is undergoing a historic transition. After decades of armed conflict and economic stagnation, the country is beginning to make important strides toward realizing its potential and the aspirations of its people.

Our engagement in Myanmar started more than 60 years ago when it became a member of the World Bank, soon after gaining independence from British rule.

Back in 1955, the Bank’s first economic report stated: “the lack of security remains a disrupting influence on the economic life of the country” while “the long term economic potentials are bright” on account of its moderate population growth and abundant natural resources. It also noted the importance of “encouraging private sector enterprise to improve the standard of living of the people”— these are topics that continue to resonate in today’s development discourse.

In the early 1950s, Myanmar’s GDP per-capita was comparable to that of Thailand, Korea, and Indonesia.  Like others in the region, Myanmar was coming out from colonial rule and a period of struggle. Sixty years on, Myanmar has a per capita GDP just above $1,100, less than one third the average for ASEAN countries and one of the lowest in East Asia.

The good news is that Myanmar has begun the catch up process. Major political and economic reforms since 2011 have increased civil liberties, reduced armed conflict, and removed constraints to trade and private enterprise that long held back the economy.

ถึงเวลาที่ต้องสร้างความแข็งแกร่งให้กับการลดความเสี่ยงจากภัยพิบัติในเอเชียตะวันออกและแปซิฟิก

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
ใน PDF: Korean | Khmer

ทุกครั้งที่ผมทราบข่าวว่ามีภัยพิบัติทางธรรมชาติเกิดขึ้น ผู้คนบาดเจ็บเสียชีวิต บ้านเรือนพังเสียหาย ชีวิตความเป็นอยู่ของผู้คนที่ประสบภัยต้องเปลี่ยนแปลงไป ผมรู้ว่าเราต้องทำอะไรสักอย่างเพื่อช่วยลดผลกระทบอันน่าสลดใจนี้ แทนที่จะรอให้มันเกิดขึ้นอีก

เรามีโอกาสจะผลักดันเรื่องนี้ในการประชุมนานาชาติเรื่องการลดความเสี่ยงจากภัยพิบัติที่จัดขึ้นปีนี้ ณ เมืองเซนได ประเทศญี่ปุ่น เพื่อสรุปแนวทางการดำเนินงานกรอบการดำเนินงานเฮียวโกะ ระยะที่ 2 (Hyogo Framework for Action-HFA2) ซึ่งเป็นแนวทางในการบริหารจัดการความเสี่ยงจากภัยพิบัติแก่ผู้กำหนดนโยบายและผู้มีส่วนเกี่ยวข้องในระดับนานาชาติ การประชุมครั้งนี้ถือเป็นโอกาสที่จะตั้งเป้าหมายในการลดความเสี่ยงจากภัยพิบัติและต่อสู้กับความยากจนอีกด้วย

ภัยพิบัติจากธรรมชาติมีมูลค่าความเสียหายมหาศาล ในรอบ 30 ปีที่ผ่านมา มีผู้เสียชีวิตไปแล้ว 2 ล้าน 5 แสนคน และสร้างความสูญเสียเป็นมูลค่า 4 ล้านล้านเหรียญสหรัฐฯ นอกจากนี้ยังส่งผลกระทบให้การพัฒนาชะงักลง

ในภูมิภาคเอเชีย การพัฒนาเขตเมืองอย่างรวดเร็วผนวกกับการวางผังเมืองยังไม่มีคุณภาพได้เพิ่มความเสี่ยงให้เมืองต่าง ๆ เป็นอย่างมาก โดยเฉพาะเมืองที่ตั้งอยู่แถบชายฝั่งและลุ่มแม่น้ำที่มีประชากรอาศัยอยู่หนาแน่น พายุไต้ฝุ่นไห่เยี่ยนได้คร่าชีวิตผู้คนกว่า 7,350 คนในฟิลิปปินส์ เมื่อปี 2556 แล้วยังส่งผลโดยตรงให้ความยากจนเพิ่มขึ้นร้อยละ 1.2

Pages