Burma facing the specter of malnutrition

More than six million Burmese are at risk, in the short term, of seeing the quality of their food drop, or even of being confronted with virtual food shortages, affirm the World former experts from international institutions, still recently stationed in Myanmar. These sources, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of a subject on which these institutions have not yet expressed themselves publicly, are alarmed by the fact that, since the military coup of 1er February, ” the progress made over the past decade in terms of reducing poverty, malnutrition and food security has come to a halt since the putsch and, in certain areas of the country, is in the process of retreating ”.

These same sources collected disturbing information in central regions of the country and the seven “ethnic” states of the federation, the latter located on a periphery in which fighting has recently resumed – or increased – between the guerrillas. local and Tatmadaw, the Burmese armed forces. While it is difficult for these experts to draw up a precise picture of the food situation zone by zone, it is clear that the clashes have, in these States, had direct consequences on the food supply and, in particular, the nutrition of the people. children. Besides the fact that the fighting has caused the internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, especially in the Karen states in the south-east and Kachin in the north.

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As early as April, the World Food Program (WFP) sounded the alarm, warning that the increase in the prices of food and domestic fuel could “Greatly weaken the ability of the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society to feed their families”, as Stephen Anderson, director of the WFP Burma office, said at the time. The price of palm oil had increased by 20%, that of rice by 35% – especially in theKachin State -, and that of fuel by 15% nationwide.

“Hope was on the horizon”

Experts fear that the number of poor people will double by 2022 when, according to World Bank figures, nearly 30% of Burmese 54 million already lived two years ago on less than 1,590 kyat per day: less than one dollar (0.85 euros) at the then exchange rate of the Burmese currency.

Before the coup, two million eight hundred thousand people suffered from nutritional deficiencies and more than half of the population could not have an adequate diet. From now on, our sources point out, between one million five hundred thousand and three million four hundred thousand more people could fall into a situation of food insecurity “. The collapse of the banking sector, weakened by the general strike, has also had dramatic consequences for farmers, whose access to credit has been severely reduced.

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