Water Woes Put a Damper on Myanmar’s Surging Economy

The central plains of Myanmar, bordered by mountains on the west and east, include the only semi-arid region in South East Asia – the Dry Zone, home to some 10 million people. This 13 percent of Myanmar’s territory sums up the challenges that the country faces with respect to water security: an uneven geographical and seasonal distribution of this natural resource, the increasing unpredictability of rain patterns due to climate change, and a lack of water management strategies to cope with extreme weather conditions.

Water Security Critical for World Fastest-Growing Economy

Lack of water management and limited access to data risk hindering Myanmar’s economic growth, making water security a top priority of the new government.

Meet the 10 Women Who Will Stop at Nothing

On Apr. 6, 2013, Nadia Sharmeen, a crime reporter, was assigned to cover a rally organised by Hefazat-e-Islam, an association of fundamentalist Islamic groups in Bangladesh whose demands included a call to revoke the proposed National Women Development Policy.

After Persecution, Rohingyas Face Erasure

An exiled leader of the Rohingyas, a persecuted Muslim minority in Myanmar, is raising the alarm from his London office about the fate of his community. He fears “ethnocide to remove all references to the Rohingyas” if the first census in 30 years goes ahead in the Southeast Asian nation.

Thailand Brings Same-Sex Marriage Debate to Asia

A draft law being readied for parliament that seeks to offer lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples could make Thailand the first country in Southeast Asia to legalise gay marriage.

Q&A: “The U.N. Is Too Slow to Respond to Crisis”

As the situation in Myanmar deteriorates, thousands of Rohingyas have fled the country in search of a safe haven.

Myanmar’s President Makes Historic, Divisive Visit to White House

Myanmar’s President Thein Sein on Monday became the first leader of that country in almost a half-century to pay a call on the White House, a visit that has simultaneously highlighted a series of monumental changes seen in Myanmar in recent years as well as a reforms process that many are warning may have stalled.

Myanmar Report on Anti-Rohingya Violence Skewed Toward Security

A long-awaited official report on last year’s sectarian violence in western Myanmar is being heavily disparaged by human rights and advocacy groups here, who say a government-backed commission has placed undue emphasis on strengthening security while almost completely ignoring issues of discrimination and accountability.

Debt Relief Package for Myanmar Unusually Generous

Nearly 20 of the world’s largest creditor countries have announced that they would be cutting nearly half of Myanmar’s total foreign debt, worth some six billion dollars.

IFC to Fund Major New Microfinance Institution in Myanmar

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group arm that focuses on the private sector, announced Wednesday that it would be backing a new microfinance institution in Myanmar aimed at reaching 200,000 people by 2020.

U.S. Urged to Stem Broader Ethnic Violence in Myanmar

Worried over the possibility of further escalation of armed conflict in Myanmar, activists here are calling on Washington to take stronger action to condemn state forces for aerial bombardment of ethnic Kachin rebels and civilians in the country’s north, which some say constitutes crimes against humanity.

Drug-Resistant Malaria Pushes Rural Thailand to Shoulder Global Role

As Thailand braces itself to combat drug-resistant malaria, a spread of small, nondescript buildings scattered close to corn and rice fields along its hilly, western border are being cast into a bigger, international role.

Myanmar Accused of Dragging Feet on Rakhine Violence

With a new surge in sectarian violence in western Myanmar estimated to have killed more than a hundred people in recent days, top officials in the United Nations are criticising the Myanmar government for dragging its feet on addressing the “root cause” of a conflict that could disrupt the delicate reforms process underway in the country.

Myanmar’s Rohingya Face “Permanent Segregation”, Activists Warn

Following sectarian violence in the western Myanmar state of Rakhine in June, human rights researchers are now warning that the government appears to be attempting to permanently house parts of the stateless Muslim-minority Rohingya in “temporary” refugee camps, segregating them from the rest of the population.

Suu Kyi Backs Lifting of Final U.S. Sanctions on Myanmar

Speaking on Tuesday at her first public address in the United States, Myanmar’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, said that she supported the lifting of the last remaining U.S. economic sanctions on her country, but also warned that all remaining political prisoners need to be released.

A Rohingya woman in a refugee camp. Credit: Rohingyarefugeebangladesh/cc by 2.0

Mob Violence Continues Against Myanmar’s Rohingya

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has taken important steps towards democracy and greater respect for human rights during the last months with one exception, activists say – the situation for the Rohingya minority, which has faced an outburst of violent attacks this summer.

Microfinance Brings Hope to Myanmar’s Farmers

After decades of grinding poverty under successive military dictatorships, Myanmar’s rice farmers have a chance at a better future through rural reforms ushered in by the country’s quasi-civilian government. Microfinance is at the root of it.

U.S. Opens Investment in Myanmar Oil and Gas, Over Suu Kyi’s Advice

Following on a May announcement, the U.S. government on Wednesday moved to implement its most significant rollback in longstanding sanctions on Burma, also known as Myanmar.

Communal Violence Threatens Democratic Change in Myanmar

The outbreak over the past week of communal violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine State seriously threatens the ongoing reform process in Myanmar, according to experts here.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win at a Feb. 20 press conference in Rangoon. Credit:Mizzima

Burmese Hinge Hopes on Free, Fair Polls

As campaigning for the Apr. 1 poll in Burma (also Myanmar) gets into full-swing, there are misgivings on whether the National League for Democracy (NLD) party of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will get a fair deal.

EU Moves on Myanmar Questioned

Extraordinary political changes in the year since former army general Thein Sein came to power in Myanmar have prompted European powers to ease restrictions on the isolated nation, raising questions whether such rewards are too little or too much.

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