Islamic Relief has this month launched a major livelihoods programme to enable vulnerable people across three Myanmar states to improve their living conditions.

The 12-month project funded by Islamic Relief Canada covers Rakhine, Kayin (Karen) and Mon states and serves internally displaced people who are especially food and livelihood insecure.

The economy of Myanmar is amongst the least developed in the world. Most of its population depends on small-scale farming, fishing and forestry and lives on less than $2 USD a day.

The country has some of the longest-running conflicts on the planet and is particularly prone to natural disasters – fuelling large-scale displacement of its people.

Lasting livelihoods for displaced families in Rakhine

Remote communities in Rakhine have limited access to essential services and livelihood opportunities. In addition, the eruption of inter-communal violence forced about 140,000 people, mostly Rohingyas, to flee their homes to camps around the state capital, Sittwe.

Inter-communal violence in Rakhine state forced about 140,000 people to flee their homes.

Inter-communal violence in Rakhine state forced about 140,000 people to flee their homes.

The project, which is funded by Islamic Relief Canada, will work with 2,647 displaced families in two villages around Sittwe. As well as training, the families in Ohn Daw Shay and Kyay Taw Pipesite villages will receive fishing gear, agricultural tools, seeds or livestock to enable them to develop lasting sources of income.

Sustainability and environmental protection are key features of our programme, which aims to support families to escape poverty, permanently. We are to promote livelihoods which protect the environment: empowering local people to restore mangrove forests and work together to undertake aquaculture in specially designed shrimp ponds.

Brighter futures for conflict-affected people in Kayin and Mon

In Kayin and Mon, opportunities to build decent livelihoods are much-needed as decades of conflict have left the social infrastructure highly underdeveloped. Our programme will enable refugee returnees and conflict-affected communities to build brighter futures.

Here, we will construct two vocational centres and train local staff to deliver training under the management of the state educational authorities. The extensive curriculum on offer in will cover agriculture and forestry training, including organic farming and agro-forestry. Students will be able to learn about animal husbandry, poultry farming and fish cultivation.

In addition, they benefit from a broad range of vocational training covering areas such as green energy, masonry, and handicrafts. Islamic Relief will provide the first cohort of 400 students with educational materials, hygiene kits and school uniforms.

Over 13,235 people are expected to benefit from the wide-reaching programme, which is being implemented by local independent and humanitarian agency Myanmar Heart Development Organisation on behalf of Islamic Relief.