Ongoing Food Crisis Puts Southern Chin State on Brink of Starvation
01 December 2010: The situation resulting from the ‘bamboo-and-rat-related food crisis’ has seriously affected at least 60 villages in Kanpetlet Township of Southern Chin State, pushing the villagers in the remote areas on the edge of starvation.
An estimated 114 villages in Kanpetlet Township are suffering from the natural phenomenon, locally known as Mautam, and are facing acute food shortage after their crops and food storages have been completely destroyed by the rats.
A local pastor from the southern township told Chinland Guardian: “People in our area have no more food left to eat. And their crops such as paddy, corns and vegetables are being destroyed by the rats. So, they have nothing to reap from their farms. We are really in dire need of help and assistance from any possible sources, especially from our Chin brothers and sisters across the globe.”
In addition, the Giri Cyclone that recently hit the Arakan coast brought destruction to crops, plants and fruits, making the ongoing mautam-affected situation in the areas worse, according to the 42-year-old Christian leader.
“As a community and a group of all Christian denominations, we have written a proposal to the local authorities for a few times. But until today, we haven’t received any responses from them. Frankly speaking, we have no help from inside the country and therefore, call on the Chin communities and churches across the world for your earnest prayers,” the Kanpetlet pastor told Chinland Guardian.
Since the start of the mautam-caused food crisis, the Chin villagers have tried to cope with the crisis through various ways such as by selling what they have including domestic animals such as chicken, pigs, and cows, and have now reached the devastating dead-end situation.
The total population in Kanpetlet Township is estimated to be around 20,000, with about 2,899 houses.
Mautam, a cyclical phenomenon that happens almost every 50 years has prompted an increasing number of local migration into other parts of Burma including Mandalay and Rangoon, and to Malaysia, breaking the communities and families apart, with more children dropping out of schools to help their parents find foods such as edible roots in the jungles.
In its report ‘An Analysis of the Food Security Situation in Chin State’ released in October 2010, the WFP (World Food Programme) said there will be a significant reduction on crop production for many households this year due to the fact that crops were damaged by rodents. The findings of the survey conclude that the food security situation in Chin State remains critical due to the reasons: i) infestation of rodents; ii) high expenditure on food; and iii) unsustainable copying mechanisms (sale of livestock, taking food on credit, reducing meals).
The ongoing food crisis caused by the bamboo-and-rat-related natural process started in late 2006 mainly along the Indian-Burma border, hitting the bamboo-covered areas of Chin State, currently affecting the Southern Chin Townships including Kanpetlet, Paletwa, Mindat and Matupi.
Van Biak Thang