October 14, 2016

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For further improvement of food security

Myanmar has a vast area of land measuring 676,578 square kilometers inhabited by more than 51 million according to 2014 national census. A plethora of ethnic races make up diversified ethnic and religious groups. Despite Myanmar’s being endowed with natural resources with immense possibilities inclusive of agricultural land, forests, natural gas, metals, gems and water resources and despite being possessed with human capital as well as comparatively sound economic growth performance, Myanmar is still among the least developed countries-LDCs, considered one of the poorest countries in Asia, ranking 132 out of 169 countries in 2010 UNDP Human Development Index. From 2005 to 2010, the number of people living under the poverty line dropped from 32 per cent to 26 per cent. Nevertheless, there is growing concern over rising inequality, disparities among divisions and regions, urban and rural areas, as well as constant low investment and lack of productive assets.
In this regard, it is worth noting that more than 25 per cent of Myanmar citizens are poor according to the 2010 IHLCA Survey. Despite agriculture’s being the mainstay of the dominant share of the rural population, food poverty in rural area is higher than that of urban area. This can be attributed to the different availability of food as well as to economic access to food. What is more, Myanmar is unfortunately vulnerable to natural disasters like cyclone, landslides, earthquake and drought. All these have made World Food Programme (WFP) intervene in 2010 when WFP launched a new Protracted Relied and Recovery Operation (PRRO). This operation of WFP has focused its attention on the improvement of food security, nutritional status and livelihood of the vulnerable people of Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states and Magwe region. WFP’s food assistance targets poor and vulnerable households, children under 5 and pregnant and lactating women, school children and their families as well as HIV-AIDS and tuberculosis patients.
Concerning the livelihood programmes, they are twofold— food for work activities and food for training while the school feeding component aims to increase both enrolment and attendance. In 2010, WFP provided family take-home rations of rice to 266,000 children as an incentive for their families to send them to school. It also provided monthly rations to 2,000 community teachers. However, since early 2016, WFP has been turning its assistance programmes to IDPs. Cash-based transfer was introduced to enable the IDPs to diversify their food choices. In this regard, 27,600 IDPs have transitioned to cash-based transfers. Based on a recent market assessment, WFP intends to employ combined cash and food (rice only) transfer modality for the remaining 8,000 IDPs, who are presently receiving regular food baskets.
To sum up, WFP has been present in Myanmar since 1994 and has implemented several food assistance interventions to improve nutrition, food security and livelihood access for the most vulnerable people in remote areas throughout the country. WFP’s interventions are welcomed and we hope WFP can extend assistance programmes far and wide.


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