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Burma: Food Assistance Fact Sheet – January 16, 2018

Burma has a population of approximately 53 million people comprising at least 135 ethnic groups. Armed conflict, inter-communal violence, high food prices and recurrent natural disasters continue to undermine food security in Burma.
According to the UN, approximately 779,000 conflict-affected people living in Kayin, Shan, Kachin and Rakhine states are vulnerable to severe food insecurity.

Chronic poverty hinders access to adequate and nutritious foods in Burma and movement restrictions negatively affect livelihood opportunities, particularly among crisis-affected communities. Approximately 38 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Communities in Burma suffer from high rates of undernutrition due to inadequate dietary diversity, household food insecurity, inadequate feeding practices and lack of access to health care. Nearly 30 percent of children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, according to the UN World Food Program (WFP). The 2017 Global Hunger Index reports approximately 7 percent of children younger than 5 are experiencing acute malnutrition.

Attacks by armed actors on Burmese security posts in August 2017 and subsequent military operations in Rakhine State have caused severe food insecurity and mass displacement. Lack of humanitarian access and ongoing population movement in Rakhine State have left an unknown number of people in need of immediate food assistance. Approximately 655,500 people have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since August, where they are living in camps, makeshift settlements and host communities and are vulnerable to food insecurity, malnutrition and disease.

There are approximately 107,000 internally displaced people in Kachin and Shan states due to protracted armed conflict, according to the UN. Vulnerable groups—particularly women and children—lack access to essential services, such as health and education, livelihoods and markets due to ongoing insecurity and movement restrictions, exacerbating humanitarian needs.


  • In FY 2017, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) contributed $12 million to WFP, enabling them to reach approximately 515,000 displaced and conflict affected populations in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states with locally and regionally purchased food as well as cash transfers for food where functioning markets exist.
  • In Rakhine State, $1.2 million in FFP support to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF) to children under 5 suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Focusing on displaced and crisis-affected populations, UNICEF and its partners provide malnutrition screening for children, community-based SAM treatment for children and capacity building for local government health authorities via monitoring, planning and training support.
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