José A. Gómez-Ibáñez and Nguyễn Xuân Thành, March 2012
Yangon is an attractive and relatively livable city that is on the brink of dramatic change. If the government of Myanmar continues its recent program of economic and political reform, the economy of the country is likely to take off, and much of the growth will be concentrated in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and commercial capital. This paper argues that Yangon is poorly prepared to cope with the pressures of growth because it has only begun to develop a comprehensive land use and development plan for the city that would guide the location of key activities including export-oriented industries and port terminals. In addition, the city lacks the financial resources to finance the infrastructure and other public services required to serve the existing population, let alone support a population that is larger and better off. Failure to address these challenges will not only make Yangon a less livable city but will also reduce the rate of economic growth for the entire country. Myanmar needs a dynamic and vibrant Yangon to thrive.