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Myanmar is the largest country in Southeast Asia with a land area of 676,578 square kilometers. The country's estimated population of 57.5 million is made up diverse ethnic and religious groups. It is rich in natural resources with immense possibilities, including agricultural land, forestry, natural gas, various metals and gems, and water resources.
Despite natural and human capital as well as relatively good economic growth performance, Myanmar is categorized among the Least Developed Countries and considered one of the poorest nations in Asia, ranking 132 out of 169 countries in the 2010 UNDP Human Development Index. Between 2005 and 2010, the number of people living under the poverty line dropped from 32 percent to 26 percent. However, there is growing concern over rising inequality, disparities among regions and divisions, urban and rural areas, as well as a persistent low investment and lack of productive assets.
Several States and Divisions suffer from high levels of food insecurity, especially Northern Rakhine, Chin, Kachin and Shan states, as well as Magway Division. The national prevalence of acute malnutrition among children under 5 is nearly 9 percent. According to the 2010 IHLCA Survey, more than a quarter of Myanmar people are poor. Although agriculture is mainstay of dominant share of rural population, food poverty in rural area is higher than that of urban area. This is because of the difference in food availability and economic access to food. Myanmar is also vulnerable to natural disasters, such as cyclone, landslides, earthquake and drought.
WFP started a new PRRO (Protracted Relied and Recovery Operation) in 2010 focusing on the improvement of food security, nutritional status and livelihoods of vulnerable populations.
of Rakhine, Shan, Kachin, Chin States and Magway Division. WFP’s food assistance targets poor and vulnerable households, children under 5 and pregnant and lactating women, schoolchildren and their families, as well as HIV-AIDs and tuberculosis patients.
Livelihood programs are two folds: food for work activities provide unemployed, landless and able-bodies from the most vulnerable households, with food assistance and temporary employment, while building or repairing assets, which will benefit entire communities. Food for training assists vulnerable households in acquiring knowledge and skills in agriculture, health and nutrition, and literacy. In 2010, WFP provided over 77,000 vulnerable people with food rations through food for work and 17,000 beneficiaries through food for training.
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. In response to low salaries and non-availability of teachers in remote areas, WFP provided monthly rations to 2,000 community teachers who attend regularly.
WFP, in coordination with UNICEF, is also supporting Early Childhood Development centers for children aged 3 to 5. In 2010 over 3,600 children received a daily hot meal.
WFP’s nutrition program helps preventing malnutrition among pregnant and lactating women, and children aged 6 to 35 months through blanket supplementary feeding. In Northern Rakhine where malnutrition is persistently high, children aged 6 to 59 months are targeted. In 2010 over 27,000 children received nutrition rations, as well as more than 7,000 women. WFP also assisted 14,000 HIV/AIDS and TB patients on ART and DOTS as well as their families. Starting from March, WFP will produce its fortified blended food in Myanmar, made of locally purchased rice, soya bean, oil and sugar.
WFP provides relief assistance to highly food-insecure people during the six-month annual lean season. In 2010, 71,000 highly food-insecure people (women, elderly people, orphans and handicapped people) received monthly rations to be able to cope during the most difficult period of the year, when food stocks are at their lowest level, and food insecurity is high.
In 2010, WFP provided emergency food assistance to nearly 360,000 victims of the floods and Cyclone Giri in Rakhine State.