Burma: Food Assistance Fact Sheet - March 3, 2019
Intercommunal violence, subnational armed conflict and recurring natural disasters undermine vulnerable communities’ access to food in Burma. In addition, inadequate dietary diversity, household-level food insecurity and poor access to health care services contribute to high rates of undernutrition.
• Vulnerable communities in Burma lack access to sufficient nutritious food and livelihood opportunities due to poverty, conflict, natural disasters and movement restrictions. Nearly 30 percent of children under 5 years of age suffer from stunting, a common measurement of chronic malnutrition. Recurring extreme weather events—including cyclones, earthquakes and floods—often lead to population displacement, destruction of crops, loss of livelihood opportunities and restricted access to markets, the UN World Food Program (WFP) reports.
• In August 2017, attacks by armed actors on Burmese security posts and subsequent military operations in Rakhine State caused mass displacement to Bangladesh. Clashes between the Government of Burma and the Arakan Army in Chin and Rakhine states since December 2018 have resulted in new displacement and additional access restrictions that continue to impede the ability of humanitarian actors to assess and respond to the needs of vulnerable populations.
• In Burma’s Kachin, Kayin, Rakhine and Shan states, nearly 823,600 conflict-affected people are vulnerable to acute food insecurity and an estimated 181,300 children and women require life-saving nutrition services, the UN reports. Displaced communities lack access to livelihood opportunities and essential services due to movement restrictions and rely heavily on external assistance to meet their food needs. Delivery of humanitarian assistance remains constrained due to lack of access to areas with the most acute food and nutrition needs.
• In FY 2018, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) contributed $14 million to WFP to support emergency food, nutrition and early recovery activities in Burma. The support enabled WFP to reach crisis-affected populations in Rakhine with emergency food assistance. Additionally, FFP supported WFP to assist food-insecure families with cash transfers in government-controlled areas of Kachin and combined food and cash assistance in Shan. FFP-funded cash-for-work activities—including farmland development, road construction, pond renovation and home gardening—helped resettled formerly displaced people and food-insecure non-displaced communities in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan.
• Through FFP support, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides ready-to-use therapeutic food to children younger than 5 years of age suffering from acute malnutrition across Burma. UNICEF targets vulnerable populations—including displaced and crisis-affected women and children—for community-based malnutrition screening and treatment. Additionally, UNICEF builds the capacity of health authorities to implement nutrition interventions through technical support.