Photo: WFP/Gaurab Tewari

Myanmar

The Situation

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 an additional 3.4 million people could face hunger by October.This comes on top of the estimated 2.8 million people already unable to meet their food needs prior to the takeover. 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 nearly 50% across the country, and food prices for staples like rice have risen by 13% 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's Work

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. In May, WFP provided food and cash assistance to 346,000 people in conflict-affected states. 

Nutrition – Linking with the national health system and in line with a national protection scheme, WFP provided nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive support for 62,000 pregnant and nursing mothers and children under five in May 2021.

HIV and tuberculosis program – As balanced nutrition is pivotal for both HIV and tuberculosis patients to keep the immune system strong, WFP provided nutrition support to 3,000 patients in May 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 10,000 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.