Rice paddy in Myanmar's northern Rakhine State

Bringing together humanitarian, development and peacebuilding activities.

Rakhine State

Working for all people living in Rakhine

Rakhine is one of the poorest areas in Myanmar, with poverty rates before the COVID-19 pandemic already estimated at 80 percent. Since the Myanmar military takeover in February 2021, and in the wake of the pandemic, poverty rates have further increased. Rakhine State also has a history of conflict between different ethnic and religious groups, social exclusion, and is at risk to the threats of climate change disasters. 

The violence of 2017 forced over 700,000 Rohingya from the northern parts of Rakhine State to flee the country, most of them to neighboring Bangladesh. In addition, an estimated 140,000 Rohingya have been forced into camps within Rakhine State, unable to return to their homes where they had lived and worked for years. Both those communities living in camps and those still in their villages face movement restrictions and severely limited access to work and basic services, such as health care and education. 

Additionally, conflict between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army has caused widespread displacement among ethnic Rakhine communities, with some 90,000 people living in internal displacement camps across several townships. The risk of outbreaks of fighting and the widespread use of landmines makes it difficult for many people to safely return to their homes and are deprived of livelihood opportunities.

Meager living conditions, caused by poor access to public services, insufficient infrastructure, unemployment, and a weak legal system affect all communities in Rakhine State. Escalating commodity prices and declining incomes exacerbate the situation. Many people rely on subsistence-based activities such as agriculture or fishing, while others, especially younger people, have resorted to migrating elsewhere in Myanmar or to other countries in search of better opportunities. Due to persistent gender inequalities, the challenges in Rakhine State are felt especially by women and girls, who face greater obstacles to attaining a decent standard of living when compared to men.

Community members walk along a road UNDP helped construct in Rakhine State's Kyauktaw Township

Local residents walk along a road in Rakhine State's Kyauktaw Township UNDP helped to construct

UNDP/Ben Small
UNDP’s approach in Rakhine State

UNDP supports inclusive development in Rakhine State for all communities. Our activities are focused on improving the living conditions of the most marginalized communities across the state, including IDPs, Rohingya and other minority groups. We aim to meet people’s basic needs and address the root causes of the challenges in Rakhine, including poverty, conflict, limited development, and the impacts of climate change and disasters. Our activities invest in gender equality and aim to empower women and girls. We are: 

  • improving livelihoods, agriculture productivity and stimulating local economies by providing people with seeds, fertilizers, fishing nets and boats, and agricultural tools, as well as training and connecting suppliers with traders
  • ensuring better access to essential service, including education, health care, and clean water, and protecting the legal rights of displaced people and marginalized communities through raising awareness of legal issues and providing assistance to help individuals resolve housing, land and property, and gender-based violence cases
  • promoting social cohesion and improve relationships between all communities living in Rakhine State through providing forums through which people living near each other can share information, advice and plan economic activities that are mutually beneficial 

  • assessing needs and quickly implementing small-scale, low-cost projects in northern Rakhine State that address issues including access to food and income, or that stimulate the local economy through providing key inputs and skills training, which helps to create work opportunities.

Strengthening the humanitarian-development-peacebuilding nexus

Connecting the humanitarian, development and peace sectors underpins UNDP’s activities in Rakhine State. This triple nexus approach helps to meet people’s needs, mitigate risks and vulnerabilities, and move towards sustainable development and peace.


  • 500,000 people over two years helped to improve their livelihood and income, including over 20,000 women entrepreneurs. 

  • 50,000 people benefited from infrastructure projects, including building community access roads, wells and ponds, and agriculture facilities.  

  • 30,000 people benefited from legal awareness and assistance, including cases related to gender-based violence, and housing, land, and property rights.