FAO Myanmar supports vulnerable conflict – and COVID-19 – affected farmers in Rakhine State with urgent food security and livelihood needs
15 September 2021
Through the financial support of the Myanmar Humanitarian Fund (MHF), FAO is implementing a project to support farming and livelihoods in Rakhine State.
Rakhine State is one of the poorest states in Myanmar, with over 40 percent of its households food insecure, more than half of whom are moderately or severely food insecure. The most vulnerable communities are unable to access sufficient food or a source of livelihood. Violent clashes over the past year have increased in regularity and intensity, the geographical scope has expanded and the civilian toll has grown. This conflict combined with the health-related COVID-19 restriction measures have severely reduced access to food and livelihoods, and has reduced vulnerable households’ purchasing power. Insecurity, displacement and disruption of agricultural production has led to an increase in poverty levels, especially for smallholder and landless farmers.
Through the financial support of the Myanmar Humanitarian Fund (MHF), FAO is implementing a project entitled “Farming and livelihood support to 1 200 landless and most vulnerable farmers in Maungdaw and Buthiduang Townships, Rakhine State, Myanmar”. The project’s overall objective is to meet the urgent food security and livelihood needs of the most vulnerable conflict- and COVID-19-affected small-scale farmers and landless seasonal workers. The project aims to ensure continued food production and support livelihoods through the provision of multipurpose cash transfers and agricultural inputs. In addition, it aims to increase the capacity of beneficiaries to use the provided inputs effectively while enhancing the communities’ knowledge of nutrition. Information on best hygiene practices were also shared to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The project has targeted extremely poor households with limited access to land and productive assets, as well as landless farmers, stateless households, and households headed by women or with malnourished children.
Through this project a total of 500 farming households (3 088 people) have already received agricultural inputs consisting of rice paddy seeds, vegetable seeds and fertilizers to enable them to continue their agricultural production and sustain their livelihoods during the 2021 monsoon season. These 500 households also received leaflets on Good Agricultural Practices, nutrition-sensitive agriculture, resilient crop production and improved hygiene practices. Additionally, they were provided with hygiene kits, including face masks and bars of soap, as well as information to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The information was shared using a social and behaviour change approach and was communicated through orientation sessions, posters and leaflets.
Daw Oo Than
Daw Oo Than, 38, lives with her family in Ywar Thar Yar Village, Maungdaw township and is one of the beneficiaries of the project. Her family includes her husband, U Aung San Nu, who is unemployed, their two sons and one daughter, who has disabilities and is deaf. The family owns a small plot of farmland, which is 1 acre in size.
Daw Oo Than said her family is fortunate to be included as a beneficiary of the project because they do not have any source of income, and it is challenging to acquire enough food to feed her entire family. She also shared that their economic situation worsened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as income earning opportunities became scarcer due to the restrictions of movement for people and goods.
Through this MHF-funded project, FAO provided Than’s family with paddy seed, vegetable seed, compound fertilizer and hygiene items, including bars of soap and face masks. The family is so happy and thankful to MHF and FAO for this assistance. Without this support, Than’s family would have faced difficulties, which may have forced them to resort to negative coping strategies, such as borrowing money at high interest rates. The family expects to harvest enough rice to feed themselves for at least four months and enough vegetables to last the whole monsoon season.
Ze Bu Raw Man
Ze Bu Raw Man, of Let Wai Dat Ywar Thit Village, Buthidaung Township, Rakhine State, Myanmar, also benefited from the MHF-funded project. He lives with his family of six, including his wife, three sons, one daughter and his father. The family owns a small plot of farmland 1 acre in size, but Ze Bu Raw Man stated that life is difficult for his family, and that it is hard to find income-generating opportunities to support his family’s the basic needs. His wife is not employed and the family has little money and relies on subsistence farming, provided that they manage to acquire agricultural inputs.
With the inputs provided by the project, Ze Bu Raw Man and his family are expected to harvest enough rice and vegetables to cover their own food needs for the next few months. Ze Bu Raw Man highlighted that if his family had not been supported by this FAO project, it would have been very difficult to obtain inputs to farm this year and that his family would have run out of food, which would have led them to engage in negative coping strategies, such as reducing the number of meals eaten per day.
This article was originally published on the FAO Website.
FAO Emergency Program
UN entities involved in this initiative
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations