Displaced children using a water pump in Rakhine State, Burma.
Displaced children using a water pump in Rakhine State, Burma.
Brian Heidel/USAID

Key Developments

Heavy seasonal rainfall that began in June and Tropical Cyclone Komen, which brought strong winds and additional rain to western Burma in late July, caused significant flooding and landslides throughout the country, resulting in 132 deaths and displacing more than 1.6 million people by the end of August. The floods damaged or destroyed approximately 500,000 houses countrywide, including the houses of more than 6,600 families internally displaced by conflict, according to the Government of Burma (GoB).

In August, humanitarian actors—in collaboration with the GoB—conducted multi-sectoral initial rapid assessments in 34 townships in six heavily affected regions and states: Ayeyarwady, Bago, Chin, Magway, Rakhine, and Sagaing. Preliminary findings released in early September indicated food, safe drinking water, and agricultural support, specifically replenishment of seed stocks for cultivation, as priority humanitarian needs. As of September 30, the GoB had provided approximately 27 billion Myanmar kyat—or $21 million—to fund flood-response activities in 12 affected areas.

The Burma Humanitarian Country Team—comprising UN, international organization, and non-governmental organization representatives—recently released a revised floods response plan in support of the GoB-led response, requesting nearly $62 million to assist more than 582,000 people through December.

Based on a July–September Post-Disaster Needs Assessment, the World Bank estimates that flood-related damages and losses throughout Burma exceeded $2 billion. The floods most significantly impacted productive sectors, such as agriculture and industry. With approximately $600 million of damages and losses, the Sagaing Region experienced the most severe effects of the floods, followed closely by Ayeyarwady Region.

In FY 2015, USAID contributed nearly $5.1 million for humanitarian flood-relief activities in Burma, primarily to support agricultural and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions in flood-affected areas. In addition, USAID and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration continued to respond to the ongoing complex emergency in Burma, providing more than $50 million in FY 2015 to assist displaced and other vulnerable populations in Burma and the region.


Ongoing conflicts in multiple states of Burma have resulted in increased internal displacement and humanitarian needs in recent years. In June 2011, a ceasefire between the GoB and the KIO broke down, leading to an upsurge in conflict and associated displacement. In western Burma’s Rakhine State, several bouts of ethnic clashes starting in June 2012 resulted in casualties, property damage, and internal displacement. In Mandalay Region, clashes between Buddhist and Muslim residents of Meiktila city in March 2013 resulted in significant displacement and property damage in Meiktila and surrounding areas.

In addition, Burma faces a number of natural hazards, particularly cyclones, floods, and earthquakes. In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis made landfall in Burma’s Irrawaddy Delta, killing more than 84,000 people and devastating Burma’s agriculture sector and fishing industry.

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: October 22, 2015

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