Humanitarian food assistance activities of the United Nations World Food Programme will expand in Myanmar during 2008, building on work undertaken during 2007.
Through creative programming, we are helping to reduce the size of the food gap
Chris Kaye, WFP Country Director
At the end of the first year of a 3 year programme, WFP has reached 500,000 beneficiaries with assistance that enables vulnerable communities to overcome chronic food shortages.
“Not only have we helped marginalised communities to overcome the immediate difficulties they experience during the monsoon period, but through creative programming we are helping to reduce the size of the food gap in these areas by improving livelihood opportunities” said Chris Kaye, WFP’s Country Director in Yangon.
The work has been acknowledged as vital by donors notably Australia, the EU, Japan and Switzerland who generously supported WFP operations during 2007.
Recent contributions from the Governments of Norway, Germany, Finland, Belgium, Denmark and Estonia have helped to ensure the continuity of operations into 2008.
The Government of Myanmar facilitates the work of WFP by granting access to the several of the most marginalized areas of the country.
In so doing, it acknowledges the needs of people whose lives are constrained by poor access to land and other livelihood opportunities. Many of those supported are from former poppy growing communities in the eastern border areas of the country.
Bringing food to people in these areas is particularly challenging in view of the difficult logistical problem of moving food to very remote, sometimes mountainous, areas.
It is also constrained by the complex clearance system imposed by the authorities which controls the movement of goods and commodities from region to another.
However, recently in one area in North Rakhine, the authorities have eased procedures which will help speed up the movement of food to where it is needed most.
“The easing of bureaucratic procedures in NRS by the Area Commander is an initiative we hope will be replicated elsewhere” said Kaye.
“It will certainly improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our operations” he added.
WFP expects to expand its operations in 2008 to assist impoverished communities in eastern Kachin. A critical element that will ensure food can be delivered to these communities is the Government’s agreement for WFP to partner with a number of Non-Governmental Organizations.
“Discussions with Government to expand our operations with our NGO partners have been positive and I am confident that we will be able to deliver food assistance in these areas in early 2008 providing we continue to receive donor support.” said Kaye.
Operating in Myanmar in collaboration with 22 UN and NGO cooperating partners, WFP provides food assistance to vulnerable persons in Myanmar including HIV/AIDS and TB patients under treatment and school children in marginalized areas of the country.
A programme giving nutritionally-enriched foods to mothers and children addresses malnutrition that prevail in several operational areas.
Over three years, WFP plans to reach a total of 1,600,000 vulnerable people at a total cost of US$51.7 million.
WFP assistance is provided to the returned Rohinga and marginalised muslim communities in North Rakhine State, drought-affected areas in the central dry zone, and farming communities in former poppy growing areas in the Shan State.
WFP provides vulnerable families and households with a food basket consisting of rice, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and high-protein blended food. WFP operations in Myanmar rely on the Government to facilitate the movement of food and personnel.
Donors to WFP’s protracted relief and recovery operation in Myanmar include Australia (US$5.1 million), European Union (US$2.4 million), The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (US$1.4 million), Japan (US$1.1 million), Finland (US$1,404,000), The Germany (US$1.0 million), Switzerland (US$870,000), Denmark (US$750,000), The United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (US$ 648,000), Norway (US$546,000) New Zealand (US$437,000), the United States (US$300,000), Flemish (US$221,000) Italy (US$140,000) and Estonia (US$46,000).
A further US$2.3 million has been received in multilateral donations and US$40,000 in private donations.