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Adapting to the effects of climate change

Rakhine State is the region of Myanmar most threatened by natural disasters. The effects of extreme weather on the country are plainly to be seen. Every year, Myanmar faces cyclones and disastrous flooding. The locals – who often rely on little more than bamboo huts for shelter, are often utterly unprepared for such events, and helpless in the face of them. The effects of climate change are making this situation increasingly serious.

Since 2005, Malteser International has been working to protect especially vulnerable communities against the effects of climate change – and to help them to prepare for extreme weather events and significant changes to their environment. One of the ways in which this is being done is through the creation of community based disaster preparation plan and early warning systems to allow the local population to be informed of extreme weather events in advance, and give them a chance to evacuate the danger area. Supporting the establishment of mangrove plantations has the advantage of preventing coastal erosion, and thereby protecting coastal communities from damage caused by cyclones and storm surges.

The project is being implemented in a region of central Rakhine State that is especially affected by climate change. The region is for the most part pronouncedly rural, and deeply impoverished. Most households are in no position to absorb the effects of extreme weather – the loss and damage to crops and other material goods caused by storms and flooding leads locals ever deeper into debt and poverty. This makes protecting these communities, and strengthening their resilience against natural disasters all the more important.

Climate models of the region estimate that by the end of the century, the intensity and total amount of rainfall will increase significantly, as will the intensity of storms affecting the area. In conjunction with these developments, an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events such as cyclones, storm surges and flooding is to be expected – against which the target population would otherwise have no protection. An accompanying increase in sea level would leave the low-lying coastal areas even more vulnerable to extreme weather.

  • Local government is better informed of its responsibilities with regard to risk management and climate change adaptation, and able to actively contribute to the implementation of the national adaptation program.
  • An expansion in the coping capacity of communities in the field of disaster prevention.
  • A restoration of the protective function of the mangrove forest.
  • The spread of successful measures for adapting to climate change.
  • Further training in climate change adaptation measures for local officials.
  • Implementation of local and national events for international disaster preparedness day.
  • Development of a general training handbook for increasing resilience against the effects of climate change.
  • Creation of community based climate change adaptation plans and risk analyses with the active participation of the population.
  • Implementation of search and rescue; first aid, and evacuation training.
  • Mini projects to reduce identified risks – for example, the renovation of mooring facilities, or the construction of food bridges and evacuation paths.
  • Plantation of mangroves and coastal zone management.
  • Creation of a climate vulnerability analysis for the Rakhine coastal region.
  • Documentation and publication of various examples of climate change adaptation at the community level.

Country info

Capital: Naypyidaw
Area: 676,578 km²
Population: c. 51.5 Million

Project data

Project duration: since January 2013
Donors: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, private donations

Last updated: July 2016

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