Ongoing crises throughout the world such as inflation and social unrest have left many of the poorest populations in even more vulnerable situations. Myanmar is an example of one country that is grappling with numerous crises resulting in a dramatic rise in hunger levels. Here are five things to know about the hunger crisis in Myanmar.
5 Things to Know About the Hunger Crisis in Myanmar
- Political Takeover: In February 2021, the former ruling party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), was overthrown by the military in a coup de tat. The civil unrest initially started with peaceful protests but gradually escalated to riots and, subsequently, a retaliatory response by the military. The situation progressed to the point where the military was destroying whole towns at any sign of dissidence. This unstable political state displaced over 1 million people and forced millions more into poverty.
- Food Shortages: The need for humanitarian aid in Myanmar has grown at an exponential rate since the military coup. As of 2022, more than 25% of people in the country are food insecure.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 13.2 million Burmese do not know where their next meal will come from and the food that they do get is insufficient in meeting their nutritional needs.
- Impact of the Pandemic: Myanmar is still reeling from the economic impact of COVID-19. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the nation lost between 6.4 and 9.0 trillion Kyat ($3.04 billion and $4.29 billion) due to a lack of production in 2020. To compound the effect, the World Bank projected the economy contracted by 18% in 2021. These economic pitfalls have played significantly into the ongoing hunger crisis in Myanmar.
- Children: The hunger crisis plaguing the nation especially affects children. The U.N. reports almost 8 million children are out of school across Myanmar and 250,000 are internally displaced. In addition, roughly 33,000 could die in 2022 due to preventable causes such as lack of immunizations and malnutrition. Furthermore, children also end up as political ploys with hundreds currently being held as political prisoners. In addition, over 1,400 children faced arrest without justifiable cause since the 2021 coup.
- International Aid: The international community has acknowledged that the crisis in Myanmar is far from over. In March 2022, the United States pledged $152 million to help alleviate the suffering of countless Burmese. Myanmar will allocate this funding to the provision of basic needs and help the displaced individuals find their way back home.
Food crises continue to run rampant across the world. The road ahead is not smooth or easily traversable by any means, but countries and organizations remain committed to providing aid to those in dire circumstances. As long as there is awareness, there is hope.
– Alex Peterson