COVID-19 PublicationShort Description
UN-Habitat Rapid Assessment of Informal Settlements in Yangon

Approximately 400,000 residents of informal settlements in Yangon find themselves at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19. While it is urgent that Myanmar takes action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in informal settlements, these efforts are likely to be stymied by a lack of data on the unfolding situation on the ground. This rapid impact assessment study aims to fill this gap and presents a view of the extant conditions in informal settlements in Yangon. UN-Habitat conducted phone interviews with 100 respondents living in informal settlements in Dala, Shwepyitha, and Hlaingthayar townships in Yangon. Our study examines 6 key indicators:

- Livelihood security and household income
- Household debt
- Food security
- Security of tenure
- Access to healthcare
- Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) related to COVID-19

UN-Habitat COVID-19 Discussion Paper on Policy Options for Myanmar

The impact of COVID-19 is being most devastatingly felt in the world’s urban areas- among the 210 countries affected by COVID-19, 95 percent of all cases are in urban areas. As states around the world instruct households to stay at home and practice physical distancing, realizing the right to adequate housing is now a matter of life and death for vulnerable urban communities around the globe.

This discussion paper brings to the forefront the centrality of housing as a critical infrastructure of healthcare, highlighting four key actions as critical to protect and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the vulnerable urban poor in Myanmar:

1. Focus attention on informal settlements which are uniquely vulnerable to prevent the spread of COVID-19
2. End homelessness as a public health priority by identifying and allocating shelters for the homeless
3. Ensure that no resident is evicted or displaced by announcing a moratorium on evictions
4. Protect renters and homeowners by instituting an immediate rent freeze and negotiating mortgage holidays

UN-Habitat COVID-19 Response Plan

UN-Habitat is responding to a growing volume of requests from both national and local governments to help them prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on more than 40 years of urban experience, much of it in humanitarian situations, we are focusing on the city-level response to the crisis. We are leveraging our extensive network of partners on the ground, bringing together mayors, governors, transport and utilities providers, urban NGOs, women’s and youth groups, and slum-dweller community organizations. And we will bring our catalytic support to help central and local governments, communities and UN agencies to make their work more impactful.

UN-Habitat is focusing on three major response areas to tackle COVID-19 and its impact in different urban contexts and types of communities.

1) Support local governments and community-driven solutions in informal settlements
2) Provide urban data evidence-based, mapping and knowledge for informed decision making
3) Mitigate economic impact and initiative recovery


COVID-19 IEC MaterialsDownload LinkCOVID-19 IEC MaterialsDownload Link
COVID-19: Prevention (Pamphlet)COVID-19: How to make Mask (Pamphlet)
COVID-19: Working in the Wet Market (Pamphlet)COVID-19: Prevention (Poster)
COVID-19: Family Awareness and Preparedness (Pamphlet)COVID-19: Hand Washing (Poster)

COVID-19: Relevant Documents

1) UN-Habitat’s key messages on COVID-19 and housing
2) Key messages: COVID and informal settlements
3) UN-Habitat Covid-19 Key Messages
4) UN-Habitat Covid-19 Policy and Programme Framework
5)UN-Habitat launches COVID-19 Response Plan and Campaign targeting the world’s most vulnerable communities
6) COVID-19 Prevention Actions for the Vulnerable Urban Poor

UN-Habitat Response on COVID-19

The continuing spread of the COVID-19 crisis threatens the most vulnerable in cities and communities, particularly the one billion people living in slums and informal settlements, including refugees, internally displaced people and migrants. To address the crisis, UN-Habitat has launched an urgent COVID-19 Response Plan for 64 countries focusing on immediate action in poor and densely populated areas including in Myanmar.

Pandemic will hit the most vulnerable

Over 95 per cent of the world’s coronavirus cases are in urban areas with nearly 1,500 cities affected. People in informal settlements are particularly at risk as they live in overcrowded conditions, lack adequate housing and basic services such as water and sanitation and many are informal workers surviving from one day to the next.

Informal Settlements in Myanmar

In Myanmar, UN-Habitat has mapped all informal settlements in Yangon in 2017- 2018. There are 423 pockets of informal settlements with 80000 households and nearly 400,000 who are in slum like informal settlement with no tenure security and 1.1 million more people in Informal settlements which are very dense, with lack of housing, water supply, drainage, electricity, health services etc. This makes it extremely hard to implement measures to slow transmission such physical distancing, self-quarantine, regular hand-washing or community-wide lock-downs as they continue to look for daily subsistence income. Due to their extremely poor living conditions, these population are extremely vulnerable to potential outbreak. Authorities preparedness and ability to respond in these areas are extremely limited.

UN-Habitat in Myanmar COVID-19 initiatives in Yangon and Sittwe town

Awareness raising, passing some key information, family preparedness plan etc. by reaching out to the community through the network of CDCs, local NGO partners to reach out to 30,000 people in the areas we worked earlier. These communities are in Hlaingthayar, Shwepyi tar and Dala townships.
Installing 60 Contact free hand washing stations (40 in Yangon and 20 in Sittwe) in strategic locations in the communities and making them operational
Mobilizing partners and urban stakeholders in mapping of the actions, preparedness and response.
Mapping the locations of health services, hospitals, designated hospitals which are nearby the pockets of slum by townships.
Conducting rapid assessment on loss of employment, livelihoods, hardships and coping mechanism to feed in to socio-econmic response plan and to provide policy advise, drawing attention to the vulnerable groups.

Moreover, UN-Habitat will be conducting the above activities through distinct working modality and limited movement of critical staff while window of opportunity to movement is still open in Yangon.