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Myanmar Humanitarian Background

Disasters, Conflicts and Migration

Natural Disasters

Yes / No

Comments / Details


YesDry Season


YesMyanmar is seismically active with the strongest measured earthquake of 8.0 on the Richter Scale in May 1912. Strong earthquakes are rare.


YesEpidemics include: Bacterial Infectious Diseases (Cholera), Viral Infectious Diseases (Dengue)

Extreme Temperatures

YesYes, heat and humidity in both dry and rainy season


YesFlooding is one of the most prevalent disasters ranking with 11% second behind fires. Flash floods in the mountainous north and in the areas along the four major rivers (especially in Ayeyarwaddy, Mon, Kayin and Bago) in the monsoon season from May to October and along the coast due to cyclones and storm surges during April to December.

Insect Infestation

YesDuring dry season


YesDuring wet season in mountainous areas

Volcanic Eruptions


High Waves / Surges

YesThe coastal regions of Ayyarwaddy region and Rakhine state are prone to storm surge. Tsunamis have rarely hit Myanmar, but the Northern Sunda Megathrust fault located of the coast in the bay of Bengal creates a threat for tsunamis.


YesPredominant threat of forest fire is in the upland regions during the dry season from December to May. Most fires are caused by people through slash and burn agricultural practices and intentional fires.

High Winds

YesAlong the coast during the cyclone season from April to December, but most dangerous of the season are pre-monsoon April-May and post-monsoon October-December.

Other Comments

In 2008 Cyclone Nargis caused extensive damage in the delta of the Irrawaddy Division. It was categorised as the worst natural disaster to hit Myanmar in the last 50 years.

Man-Made Issues

Civil Strife

YesCivil wars have been on going since independence in 1948. As of Oct. 2012 the conflicts include the Kachin arm conflict and the communal conflict in Rakhine state and the Shan, Karen and other ethnic minority arm conflicts in the Eastern half of the country.

International Conflict


Internally Displaced Persons


467,400 IDPs in Kachin state, Rakhine state and the South East plus 1,090,000 people without citizenship, total 1,557,400 people.

Source: UNHCR (publisher), Myanmar fact sheet Sept 2014,, Date accessed: 19 Nov 2014.

Refugees Present


479,608 refugees and 45,038 asylum seekers from Myanmar in border area of Thailand. 0 Refugees in Myanmar.

Source: UNHCR (publisher), Myanmar country profile,, Date accessed: 19 Nov 2014.

Landmines / UXO Present


In 2013, there were at least 101 new mine/UXO casualties in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, mines/UXOs remained a source of concern in an estimated 10 out of 14 regions/states. Kayin state and Bago region are suspected to contain the heaviest mine contamination.

Source: The Monitor (publisher), Myanmar/Burma,, Date accessed: 19 Nov 2014.

Source: The International Campaign to ban landmines (publisher), Spotlight on Myanmar,, Date accessed: 19 Nov 2014.

Other Comments

Urban fires are the most frequent hazard in Myanmar. The highest incidence of fires occurs in Yangon, Mandalay, Ayeyarwaddy, Sagaing and Bago, accounting for 63% of total fire cases.

Source: Reliefweb (republished), MSWRR (publisher), Myanmar Action Plan on Disaster Risk Reduction (MAPDRR), June 2012, 2012.pdf, Date accessed: 19 Nov 2014.

Source: COE-DMHA (publisher), Burma (Myanmar) Disaster Management Reference Handbook, May 2014,, Date accessed: 19 Nov 2014.
For more detailed database on disasters by country, please see the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters: EMDAT information on Myanmar

Calamities and Seasonal Affects

The climate of Myanmar can be divided into three seasons: hot season, monsoon season and cold/dry season. Hot season is from March to mid-May; the monsoon rain falls from mid-May to the end of October; and the cold/dry season starts in November and ends at the end of February. Temperature varies from 38°C to 19°C, humidity from 82.8% to 66%. The cold/dry season runs from late October to mid-February. Temperatures are lowest at this time, although the climate remains tropical throughout most of Myanmar. The hot season lasts from late February to about mid-May. During this season, temperatures often top 38 °C in many parts of Myanmar.
There is normally no shortage of trucks, however fewer are available and more expensive during the rice harvest from October to November. In North East in Pang Kham there can be a shortage due to a high demand for trucks for building roads. In the North during February, in Lashio city, there can be a shortage of trucks. During Myanmar New Year, in mid-April, there are fewer trucks available and the price is higher. Secondary road transport shortages can be experienced in Mandalay, Myitkyina and in Wa Self-Administered Division. In case the Government initiates new projects, truck availability is limited and prices increase. Land slides occur regularly in the monsoon season, from Magway to Sittwe and in Kachin, Chin, northern Rakhine and Shan states, which can lead to obstruction of regular roads, that however often can be negated by using alternative roads.
Yangon-Magway waterway during the dry season is sometimes not passible by barges.
From Yangon to Sittwe, as per national regulation, rice has to be transported over the river by government boats. However, sometimes the government boats are not available. Government policy states that a permit is required to move food from one division to another division.
Trains are generally not riding on schedule, especially in the monsoon season.
In-country air transport is mainly used for passengers for a negligible volume of cargo.

Seasonal Affects on Transport



From (month) to (month)

Primary Road Transport

Affected, however less affected than secondary roads

Monsoon season

(mid- May to end of October)

Secondary Road Transport

Affected heavily during heavy rains. Most secondary roads are dirt roads that become muddy with restricted travel 

Monsoon season

(mid- May to end of October)

Rail Transport

Less affected- if there are problems they are quickly resolved. 

Monsoon season

(mid- May to end of October)

Air Transport

Affected- In-country commercial flights are not regular and can be affected by weather 

Monsoon season

(mid- May to end of October)

Waterway Transport

Affected – some rivers are susceptible to flash floods and flooding in the monsoon season

Monsoon season

(mid- May to end of October)

Seasonal Affects on Storage and Handling (economic, social, climate…)



From <month> to <month>


Over the monsoon season extra precautions are required to avoid water damage to commodities.

During the hot season commodities can be spoiled due to high temperatures or/and high humidity.  

Monsoon season is from April to December, hot season is from March to mid-May, 


Frequent rains slow down handling work during the monsoon season.

From April to December




Monsoon season - There is a potential need to pre-stock commodities due to potential constraints of transport and handling operations due to rain or non-availability of transport.

Hot season - Handling can be slowed down due to high temperatures and heat sensitive commodities can be damaged in non-temperature controlled warehouses.

Capacity and Contacts for In-Country Emergency Response


A Standing order on Natural Disaster Management, Jan 2009, defined the disaster management roles and responsibilities for ministries and committees. In April 2011, the Myanmar Disaster Preparedness Agency (MDPA) was established as the main body responsible for Disaster Management. The National Natural Disaster Preparedness Central Committee (NDPCC) and the constitution of 11 sub-committees replaced the MPDA, by Notification no. 24/2013 of the President on 14 May 2013.
The NDPCC coordinates with the MSWRR, which constitutes of three departments: the Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD), Fire Services Department and Department of Social Welfare. The RRD is responsible to coordinate with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on disaster preparedness activities. A Disaster Management Law (DML) was passed in August 2013. As of June 2014 the Government of Myanmar is finalizing the regulations related to the DML, which may modify the current institutional disaster management structure.

Myanmar Institutional framework for disaster preparedness


Agency / Committee


National Disaster Preparedness Central Committee


National Disaster Preparedness Management Working Committee (NDPMWC)


 Eleven sub-committees of NDPCC


Region and State Disaster Preparedness Working Committee (RDPMWC)

Sub-Region/ Sub-State

District Disaster Preparedness Agencies

Township Disaster Preparedness Agencies

Village Tract Disaster Preparedness Agencies

Eleven Sub-Committees of NDPCC


Chaired by

1. Information

Dept. Minister of Information

2. Hotline

Dept. Minister of Communication and Information Technology

3. Search and Rescue

Dept. Minister of Home Affairs

4. Collection of preliminary damages news and emergency aids

Dept. Minister of Commerce

5. Confirmation of damages and losses

Dept. Minister of National Planning and Economic Development

6. Transport and route clearance

Dept. Minister of Railways

7. Disaster risk reduction and building of emergency tents

Dept. Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement

8. Health care

Dept. Minister of Health

9. Rehabilitation and reconstruction

Dept. Minister of Border Affairs

10. Security

Dept. Minister of Home Affairs

11. International relation

Dept. Minister of Foreign Affairs

Image Source: UNOCHA (publisher), Emergency Response Preparedness Plan Myanmar, 25 June 2014.

Ministries and Disaster Management Responsibilities

Ministries are involved with varying degrees of responsibilities in disaster management

Ministry Responsibilities 
Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement

Relief and Resettlement Department: Responsible to deliver relief to people who face manmade and natural disasters, provide aid to IDPs, provide food-aid to people affected by drought, climate change or crop-failure.

Fire Services Department: Responsible for fire precaution, prevention and extinguishing, social humanitarian services and to develop and train firemen.

Department of Social Welfare: Responsible to protect the vulnerable population of children, women, elderly and physically challenged.

Ministry of Agriculture and IrrigationResponsible to identify disaster prone areas, maintenance of dams & reservoirs and provide agriculture assistance post-disaster.
Ministry of Construction Responsible for construction, maintenance and repair of roads and bridges. The Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development (DHSHD) is responsible to manage town plans, post disaster evacuation and resettlement of disaster victims, designate safe shelters and provide generators to disaster victims
Ministry of TransportThe Department of Civil Aviation fulfils the responsibility for safe and secure domestic and international air transport, including acceptance of foreign aircraft and foreign military aircraft only with invitation of permission in writing of the President.
Ministry of EducationDepartment of Educational Planning and Training (DEPT) is responsible for Disaster Preparedness Response Education, conduct school based risk assessments, prepare school preparedness plans and maintain facilities used for relief and shelter locations.
Ministry of Foreign AffairsResponsible to communicate and share information with foreign embassies, ASEAN, UN and international NGOs.
Ministry of Health Responsible to train mobile medical squads, health staff, NGOs and community on first aid and emergency relief, to provide healthcare post-disaster, collect data on the injured, treat water for consumption and manage sanitary waste disposal.
Ministry of Home AffairsThe General Administration Department is responsible for maintaining rule of law and peace at the division, district and township levels, to identify relief camps, disaster management training and disseminate early warning information.
Ministry of National Planning and Economic DevelopmentThe Planning Department serves on disaster preparedness committees at State/Division, District and Township levels to assist with development of disaster management Action Plans.
Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence supports the MDPA and the national level committees. The ministry of defence and the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) perform an integral role in disaster management and response:

by maintaining security, search and rescue, evacuation of victims, setup of shelters for IDPs, dead body management, support of emergency medical care, debris removal and clearing of roads and distribution of relief goods by road, water and air.

The responsibilities of the Ministry of Defence and armed forces during four disaster phases are outlined in the Standing Order on Natural Disaster Management of Myanmar, 2009.

At the time of Cyclone Nargis, May 2008, the Government of Myanmar as an isolated regime initially halted acceptance of humanitarian assistance. In the aftermath ASEAN was instrumental in creating a coordination mechanism for humanitarian relief and recovery work between the government of Myanmar, ASEAN partners and UN agencies.

For information on Myanmar Government contact details, please see the following link:

4.1 Myanmar Government Contact List

Humanitarian Community

In late 2006 the UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar was appointed as Humanitarian Coordinator (HC). In 2010 a Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) was established, chaired by the HC, composed of representatives from UN agencies, INGOs and international organisations such as IOM and the Red Cross Movement.

The following table identifies the humanitarian sector and cluster leads based the UN Strategic Response Plan for 2014 as well as the linkage with government NDPCC sub-committees.

Humanitarian sector and cluster leads and linkage with NDPCC sub-committees

Lead agency


NDPCC Sub-Committee


Camp coordination and camp management cluster

Disaster risk reduction and building of emergency tents

Save the Children

Education in emergencies sector

(Ministry of Education)


Emergency Shelter Cluster

Disaster risk reduction and building of emergency tents


Emergency Telecommunications sector



Food Security sector

Rehabilitation and reconstruction


Health Cluster

Health Care


Reproductive health TWG

Health Care


Logistics Sector

Transport and route clearance


Non Food Items Cluster

Disaster risk reduction and building of emergency tents


Nutrition Sector

Health Care


Protection Sector

Disaster risk reduction and building of emergency tents


Child Protection sub-sector


Gender based violence sub-sector


Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Cluster

Rehabilitation and reconstruction

For information on Myanmar Humanitarian Agency contact details, please see the following link:

4.2 Myanmar Humanitarian Agency Contact List