Myanmar is the second largest country in Southeast Asia. The nation’s economy is one of the least developed in the world and is suffering the effects of extended isolation and stagnation. More than 13 million people—26 percent of Myanmar’s population—live below the poverty line and 3 million people are spending a high percentage of their limited income on food with a restricted diet that does not meet all their consumption needs.
Due to the military takeover on February 1, 2021, WFP estimates that a total of 6.2 million people could face hunger by October. The political crisis, compounded by the economic effects of COVID-19, is driving millions of families into hunger and desperation. Fuel prices have risen by 30% across the country, and food prices for staples like rice have risen by 5% since January 2021.
Development in Myanmar has been compromised by prolonged ethnic conflicts and intercommunal violence since its independence in 1948, resulting in massive displacement of people. In education, the net enrollment rate in primary schools is close to 88 percent, and 75 percent of children starting grade one reach grade five. However, the net completion rate is only 54 percent.
WFP implemented its first operation in Myanmar in 1978 in the northern Rakhine State and established its office in 1994. Today, 80 percent of households have lost nearly half of their income because of COVID-19. The February 2021 military takeover pushed an additional 3.4 million people into hunger. To meet these urgent needs, WFP is tripling the number of people it assists in Myanmar from 1.3 million to 3.3 million.
WFP is working to reduce poverty, food insecurity and undernutrition, responding to disasters and increasing resilience among the most vulnerable. WFP has been providing regular life-saving food assistance to more than 280,000 people displaced and impacted by conflict, violence and natural disaster.
Nutrition – Linking with the national health system and in line with a national protection scheme, WFP provided nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive support for 70,000 pregnant and nursing mothers and children under five in March 2021.
HIV and tuberculosis program – As balanced nutrition is pivotal for both HIV and tuberculosis patients to keep the immune system strong, WFP provided food- by-prescription to 1,250 patients in March 2021, aiming to enhance adherence and treatment success.
Community asset creation – WFP strengthens community resilience by creating community infrastructures and providing cash or food for more than 200,000 people in exchange for participation in asset creation activities.
School meals – WFP and the Ministry of Education have started working toward nationalization of the school meals program from the 2015-2016 academic year onward. In February 2021, WFP provided 213,000 schoolchildren with take-home rations.