Ethnically and religiously diverse Myanmar (also known as Burma) is perhaps best known for the military junta that has ruled this Southeast Asian country since 1962. The international community’s standoff with the military government has led to economic embargoes that have crippled Myanmar’s economy and driven up inflation. And while there were recent signs of a possible political transition, Myanmar remains one of the poorest countries in Asia.
From a humanitarian perspective, Myanmar ranks poorly on most human development indicators: with half of its population living below the poverty line, literacy rates among the lowest in the world, and little public health infrastructure, Myanmar places 190th out of 191 countries ranked annually by the U.N.’s World Health Organization.
Myanmar’s political isolation, economic stagnation, and public health woes make high rates of malnutrition an unfortunate reality. Acute malnutrition rates were an alarming 19.5% in the state of Northern Arakan recently, thanks to insufficient food resources, limited access to health care, and inadequate breastfeeding practices. But food insecurity is rampant across Myanmar: 85% of households in the state of Kayah face frequent food shortages, and the country’s agricultural production as a whole is routinely undermined by erratic rainfall and the high costs of agricultural inputs, limiting productivity and household consumption.
Action Against Hunger has worked in Myanmar since 1994, offering life-sustaining nutrition, food security, and water, sanitation, and hygiene support for vulnerable communities. Our current objectives are to improve access to treatment for acute malnutrition, assist populations affected by armed conflict, strengthen community resilience to natural disasters, and respond to chronic food insecurity and address undernutrition across Myanmar.