Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Exploring the Livelihoods of Internally Displaced Persons in Kachin State, Myanmar

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posted on 2021-12-09, 01:57 authored by Lazum, Htu Tawng

The issue of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is a global crisis yet little research has been focused on the issue of the livelihoods of IDPs. Providing short-term emergency assistance is not enough when the period of displacement becomes permanent or longer than expected. IDPs need long-term solutions in order to resume a normal life. Pursuing appropriate livelihoods in urban areas is a big challenge yet constructing potential livelihoods is fundamental to achieving decent living not only for short-term situations but also for the long run. The lack of access to livelihoods is one of the most serious obstacles to durable solutions for IDPs, and long-term livelihood strategies are needed to lay the foundation for future development.  This study explores Kachin IDPs in Myanmar and their livelihood strategies and activities in urban camps by applying qualitative methods, the study focuses on how IDPs have been building their livelihoods during their displacement and who has been involved in supporting their livelihoods. This research also seeks insight into the effectiveness and sustainability of those livelihood activities and other potential strategies.   Results show that most livelihood activities are supported by both local and international humanitarian and development agencies and are mainly undertaken through local organisations. Agriculture and livestock rearing are preferred livelihoods of IDPs although getting appropriate land is challenging in urban areas. Income-generating programmes such as food processing, carpentry and bamboo handicrafts are also popular and successful activities. Moreover, tailoring, brick making, and pig rearing are also effective and helpful livelihoods for individuals. Those who are involved in livelihood support activities receive benefits and advantages for their family and daily needs while the majority of IDPs are working in day labouring. Respondents believe current livelihood activities can become sustainable as long as they maintain the quality of the products. Some IDPs have adapted to the city environment quite well by applying their capacity and the skills they learnt from humanitarian organisations. Supporting livelihood strategies may not resolve the problems of IDPs, however, it is an effective partial solution.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Overton, John