UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin discuss development and humanitarian needs in Myanmar

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Families in Myanmar. Leaders from the UN Development Programme and the World Food Programme stressed the importance of ensuring humanitarian assistance reaches all who in need whilst on a visit to Myanmar. © UNDP Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar - United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin met with government officials in Nay Pyi Taw, and visited Sittwe, in Rakhine State, on a two-day visit to Myanmar this week.

Clark and Cousin emphasized the importance of ensuring that humanitarian assistance is provided to all those who are in need, and that there is also strong support for development leading to inclusive and sustainable growth and improved living standards for all. They commended all partners who are providing assistance, including in challenging circumstances.

“Myanmar is in the midst of a number of a wide range of complex political, administrative, and economic reforms and peace building processes. There are many challenges, and the country has experienced both progress and setbacks in recent years”, Helen Clark said. “UNDP is committed to its work on strengthening governance and to working through its rights-based approaches to support the attainment of higher levels of human development for all in Myanmar.”

Addressing the issue of hunger, WFP’s Cousin said: “The path to development runs through the achievement of zero hunger. WFP is committed to working with the Government and our partner organizations starting with UNDP to support Myanmar’s transformational goal of reaching Middle Income Country status by 2030.

An important prerequisite for achieving this goal requires successfully addressing the chronic malnourishment problem today which affects one in every three children under the age of five. WFP applauds the Government’s adoption of the Zero Hunger Challenge and its aim of achieving Zero Hunger in Myanmar by 2025.”

The two visited Rakhine State on Wednesday, a region suffering from inter-communal conflict and internal population displacements where humanitarian and development needs are most acute.

In the state capital Sittwe, Clark and Cousin met with the Chief Minister U Maung Maung Ohn. They discussed the current situation and the government’s programmes in Rakhine State, as well as priorities for continued humanitarian assistance and scaled-up development support by the UN system. They visited rural areas to observe WFP’s monthly food distribution at Thet Kyae Pyin IDP camp, as well as Oh Re Paw village, where UNDP is constructing a bridge that will connect villages to Sittwe and thereby give better access to services and markets.

On Thursday, Clark and Cousin held high level meetings in Nay Pyi Taw with Vice President Dr Sai Mauk Kham; Vice President Nyan Tun, the Speaker of Parliament, Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and other interlocutors.

In Rakhine State, UNDP is providing development assistance and working with communities in 63 villages to improve livelihoods and strengthen social cohesion. UNDP is also investing in developing the capacity of local governments to improve public administration, and people-oriented service delivery. WFP, as the largest world’s humanitarian organization, has been providing life-saving food assistance to over 128,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rakhine, since 2012. WFP has also been providing food assistance to other food-insecure and vulnerable populations through nutrition programs, community asset creation, and primary school meals.

Stressing the importance of the general elections scheduled for later this year, Helen Clark said that “the elections provide the opportunity for the people of Myanmar to select who governs them. UNDP is actively supporting democratization, development, and peace building processes in the country.”

Cousin said that WFP would continue to be part of addressing the underlying causes of hunger across the country while also providing food assistance to the most vulnerable people in Myanmar - particularly during the rainy season when hunger needs are most acute. “During a period of increasing acute humanitarian needs around the world, however, we are concerned that funding shortfalls will reduce our operational capacity ahead of, and ability to meet needs during, this year's rainy season, which begins in May”, she said

Contact Information


Shobhna Decloitre, Communications Specialist, UNDP Myanmar, / +95 (0) 9250345158

Christina LoNigro, UNDP New York, / +1212 906 5301


Ayuka Ibe, Head of Partnerships, Communications & Reports, WFP Myanmar / +95 (0) 1 230 5971~6 Ext: 2403

Silke Buhr, WFP Regional Communications Officer for Asia, / +66-81-701-9208