Intercommunal violence, armed conflict, and recurring natural disasters drive food insecurity in vulnerable communities across Burma. In addition, inadequate dietary diversity, household-level food insecurity, and poor access to health care services contribute to a high prevalence 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 younger than five years of age suffer from stunting, a common indicator of chronic malnutrition. In addition, 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, clashes between armed actors and the Government of Burma military, as well as subsequent military operations in Burma’s Rakhine State caused mass population displacement, including many individuals fleeing to Bangladesh. Clashes between the Government of Burma and the Arakan Army in Chin and Rakhine states since December 2018 have resulted in additional population displacement and access restrictions that continue to impede the ability of humanitarian actors to respond to the needs of vulnerable people.
• In Burma’s Kachin, Kayin, Rakhine, and Shan states, nearly 824,000 conflict-affected people are experiencing acute food insecurity and more than 180,000 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. Lack of access to crisis-affected areas continues to hinder the provision of essential humanitarian assistance.
• In FY 2019, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) contributed more than $22 million to WFP to provide internationally, locally, and regionally procured food assistance and cash transfers for food to over 326,000 food-insecure people in Kachin, Shan, and Rakhine States. With FFP support, WFP also provides high-energy biscuits in schools across 11 states; and nutritional assistance to children younger than five years of age and pregnant and lactating women experiencing or at risk of moderate acute malnutrition
• FFP also supported the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to provide nutrition assistance in the form of ready-to-use therapeutic food used to treat children younger than five years of age suffering from acute malnutrition in Rakhine State and poor, urban areas of Yangon Region’s Yangon city. UNICEF targets vulnerable populations—including displaced and crisis-affected women and children—for community-based malnutrition screening and treatment.
• With FFP support, Save the Children provides emergency food assistance in the form of cash transfers to over 9,000 conflict-affected households in Sittwe and Pauktaw.