Mapping Yangon: The Untapped Communities

Background and Objectives


Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and its commercial capital, is home to over 5 million people and is expected to grow significantly in the coming years as its citizens migrate towards cities under the newly liberalized economy. Like many other Asian cities Yangon is home to a number of slums and informal or underserviced settlements which have developed over decades as the city struggles to provide sufficient housing, land and infrastructure to absorb people moving from rural areas to the city. To date no systematic attempt has been made to analyse the extent, number, or living conditions of slums in Yangon.

However the material conditions of slums in Yangon is very poor: residents often have limited access to water, no power, small and overcrowded houses, and are built in areas prone to flooding which can be detrimental to the health of those living in them. These areas are often poorly integrated into the city’s formal planning process which is a major factor in the development and ongoing persistence of slums. Slums are often spatially segregated from the rest of the city, which contributes towards social and economic inequality, and the absence of formal tenure in many areas discourages residents from improving their houses.


Mapping Yangon: The Untapped Communities is a first step towards providing dignified and safe living conditions for those living in Yangon’s slums. Funded by the Cities Alliance Catalytic Fund, which has a mandate to support innovative projects with a potential to unleash wider benefits, the project will begin to establish a knowledge base about poor communities in Yangon – their extent, their location, and their living conditions. It will also work with Yangon City Development Corporation (YCDC) to develop their capacity to incorporate informal settlements into formal city mapping and databases.

Knowing where informal settlements are, and the specific nature of poverty and underprovision of services in these settlements, is an essential first step in slum upgrading. Incorporating slums into the city’s formal databases will allow YCDC to begin to plan for service delivery to these areas and integrate them – spatially, socially and economically – into the city as a whole.


The project will undertake the following activities:

  • Identification of informal settlements from satellite imagery and field verification
  • Mapping internal network and layout of informal settlements and historic resettlement areas
  • Enumeration of residents of informal settlements
  • Detailed socio-economic survey of residents, including housing conditions, demographics, livelihoods and employment, income, and health
  • Developing GIS capacity of YCDC and township level government to integrate this data into existing planning datasets

Development partners/ Partners

Development Partners: Cities Alliance