CWS Asia


Biosand water filter in Yae Le Gyi School in Maubin Township in southwest Myanmar. Photo: CWS

Feeding time. Photo: CWS

Overview |

During the 1960s CWS was in Myanmar (Burma) through the Burma Council of Churches and the YMCA. Our work expanded in 2008, after Cyclone Nargis devastated much of the country. Today CWS initiatives, funded by our members, CROP Hunger Walks and individual donors, support integrated community development with special focus on preparedness for and resilience to perennial disasters, especially floods, in the Irrawaddy River delta region. We also partner with community-based groups, including local YMCA chapters, to help families improve their livelihoods and food security. Livelihoods support, usually for improved home gardening and poultry raising, helps families improve their diets and earn money selling eggs and surplus vegetables.

Partnerships with families and communities also focus on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in challenging environments. CWS helps communities increase their safe water access with new and restored wells. CWS also supports families to build sanitary latrines at home, and this relates to another part of our work with families. Through education from Mother-Leader volunteers, mothers and other caregivers better understand young children’s nutritional needs, and how to ensure a balance diet for them. In addition, the volunteers lead conversations about ways to promote their overall health and wellbeing. Simple things, like keeping a clean kitchen and a sanitary latrine, are key topics. Another part of CWS WASH work is with principals and teachers to bring safe water and sanitary latrines to schools.

Finally, with local government and community leaders, team members work to help communities address natural disaster risks related to flooding, mainly, and to changing weather patterns. Focus in on risk reduction and mitigation as well as preparedness to respond when needed. In an ongoing initiative with the Global Network for Disaster Reduction (GNDR), CWS is also organizing grassroots advocacy from villages to the national government to ensure that people’s experiences of risk and harm are considered when national policies and plans are made.

Latest News

CWS Supports Better, Balanced Diets … Everyday!

CWS Myanmar | October 15, 2020

Not just on World Food Day, but for six months of the year, CWS supports volunteer Mother-Leaders in Myanmar to help families improve their diets. Together with our Field Coordinators, the leaders host cooking demonstrations for mothers and other caregivers of children under age 5. Demonstrations focus on making nutritionally balanced meals. They also give […]

Local chickens mean a hopeful future in Myanmar

CWS Myanmar | August 19, 2020

Farmer Ko Ye Naing is always looking for opportunities to improve his family’s livelihood. The 38-year-old father of two and his wife, Ma Nandar Win, live on a three-acre farm 55 miles west of Yangon, Myanmar. They grow about 700 pounds of chili peppers, which they sell for about $500 yearly. He also works as […]

Rainwater Tank Adds to a Village’s Clean Water Supply

CWS Myanmar | July 13, 2020

July 13, 2020 – A lack of reliable drinking water has been a chronic problem for many years in Myanmar’s Wai Dauk village. In this village five hours southeast of Myanmar’s commercial capital, Yangon, 60 families source drinking water from two 60-square-foot ponds. The ponds are not reliable year-round, though. First, evaporation leads to shortages […]

CWS Continues Partnering in Both Old and New Ways

CWS Myanmar | June 1, 2020

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, CWS program teams are busy working with civil society partners, local government colleagues, communities and families. In Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects continue with added info-sharing about how the novel corona virus spreads. And, vitally, information is shared about ways to prevent infection. […]

CWS Grassroots Development Work with Families and Communities Continues

CWS Myanmar | April 19, 2020

Things are a bit business unusual for CWS these days, as they are for much of the world. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is slowing us down and causing us to reschedule larger group activities. These include Community-led Total Sanitation start-up events and cross-community sharing and learning field trips. But, in most rural areas where CWS […]

Let There Be light!

CWS Myanmar | March 3, 2020

Now there is … where once there wasn’t. Electricity, that is, at 16 village emergency evacuation sites in the Ayeyawaddy River delta area of in Maubin Township in southwest Myanmar. Thanks to CWS partner, Week of Compassion (WOC), their investment to help communities had paid off. With tangible, transformative changes in their lives, one small […]

Vocational Training Opportunities Offered for Women in Myanmar

CWS Myanmar | January 20, 2020

CWS and the YMCA of Maubin Township in Myanmar recently launched a vocational education and training pilot for 20 women who will learn how to sew over the course of eight weeks with 270 hours in the workshop. Already during their first week, students reviewed manual sewing machine parts: switches, levers, pedals, etc. to learn […]

Paths out of Poverty in Myanmar: Haircuts, Textiles, Rice and More

Marvin Pannell | January 6, 2020

You may have heard about CWS and the ACT Alliance before. ACT is a coalition of churches and faith-based organizations that work in countries all over the world. It’s a platform for its members, including CWS, to coordinate our programs to be as efficient and effective as possible. To that end, many countries, including Myanmar, […]

The CWS ornaments were made in Yangon

CWS Myanmar | December 30, 2019

Church World Service Christmas Ornaments this year are from Myanmar Social Enterprise, Hla Day, which provides a sustainable marketplace along with design and business training to support the livelihoods of Myanmar artisans, many of whom are struggling to overcome disability, exclusion, and poverty. Hla Day aims to capture the uniqueness of Myanmar design by celebrating […]

Being Tired from Teaching Is Worth It for One First Aid Expert in Myanmar

CWS Myanmar | November 27, 2019

Red Cross volunteer, U Myint Swe, has helped drowning and bike accident victims since 1979. The 54-year old retired police sergeant first earned a First Aid Trainer certificate in 1986. Then, he took a refresher course in 2000. Since then, he has led or co-led 30-plus basic First Aid courses with the Myanmar Red Cross […]

CWS Is Supporting Community Inclusion in Disaster Reduction Policy Advocacy

CWS Myanmar | November 26, 2019

Views from the Frontline is an initiative to support inclusion of local perspectives and voices in disaster reduction and response policy making. The project’s first survey and report were in 2009. Ten years on, the 2019 edition continues as a 50-country independent global review of disaster reduction efforts, successes and lessons learned. Views from the […]

CWS Hosts a Successful Sphere Standards Workshop for ACT Myanmar Forum and Other Partners

CWS Myanmar | October 27, 2019

Since 1997, Sphere Standards have guided humanitarian response globally. Updated and expanded standards published in 2018 spurred CWS to organize a workshop to update all staff, some of whom are new to humanitarian work and its high standards requirements. In all 14 humanitarian response professionals from CWS, other ACT Alliance Members and local non-government organizations […]

ACT Alliance Teamwork Accelerates Flood Response Impact in Southeast Myanmar

CWS Myanmar | October 26, 2019

Eight feet of flood waters during a two-week period in August disrupted lives in riverside towns along the Zami River in Karen State of southeast Myanmar. CWS responded to the Karen Baptist Convention (KBC) appeal for help by supporting 187 people in Htee Pa Htaw Hto village as part of the KBC coordinated relief for […]

What a Difference a Loan Makes!

CWS Myanmar | October 3, 2019

Widower U Htein Win and his four young children used to live on 3,000 Kyat (about $2) a day. After securing a low-interest loan to buy shrimp traps to grow his fishing business, he now makes at least 5,000 Kyat ($3.33) daily. Sometimes, it’s double from the past. What’s more, he has some savings at […]

U Aung Myint’s Journey Continues

CWS Myanmar | October 2, 2019

Earlier, the CWS Myanmar team shared the story of Village Development Committee leader U Aung, age 56 and single father of four children in Auk Htone where he makes bamboo basket mats and trays to earn a living. We recounted U Aung’s first experience with CWS back in 2015 when his village and others nearby […]

U Aung Myint’s Journey

CWS Myanmar | August 27, 2019

This story tells U Aung Myint’s journey, on which CWS has accompanied him since we met him in 2015 when his village, Auk Htone, was flooded and CWS gave material support to families who needed help. Since then, when we first met U Aung, he has been an active community member. He has been the […]

Better Nutrition Is Better Than Medicine

CWS Myanmar | August 26, 2019

During the six- or seven-month dry season in her southwest Myanmar village, Ma Bo Ma, who is 25 years old, works as day laborer. But for five or six months each rainy season, she is jobless. Her 27-year-old husband is Ko Oo, and he earns a living as a carpenter during the dry season and […]

Blessed Are The Poor (Luke 6:20)

Yukiko Maki | August 5, 2019

My first visit to the Ayeyarwady River delta and the Myanmar villages where CWS Japan supported a nutrition education project was in 2017. This work was done in partnership with the Japanese food products company, AJINOMOTO; and, it was a success despite the challenges families face every year from of flooding and riverbank erosion. I […]

Instilling Savings Habits a Little at a Time

CWS Myanmar | July 31, 2019

Parents of five children ages four to 16, Ko Tun Tun Win and his wife Ma Tin Tin Htay work hard to make ends meet. Ko Tun Tun owns a small boat that he uses to ferry one to three people at a time, around his communities’ waterways, and Ma Tin Tin sells betel nut, […]

Planning + a Small Loan + Patience = a Difference!

CWS Myanmar | June 17, 2019

In 2017, Ma Ei Chaw and her day laborer husband took a 130,000 Kyat loan from a CWS-initiated community development fund. Their goal was to improve their two young sons’ nutrition, which has assessed to be quite poor. Surprised by this, Ma Ei Chaw was determined to change things – and she did! First, the […]

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