Food Crisis in Chin State Likely to Worsen, says OCHA
10 April 2011: The ongoing situation of food insecurity in Chin State is expected to get worse, with the coming of monsoon that dramatically reduces access to other off-farm income-generating activities, according to the United Nations OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
In a report issued on Friday, the OCHA in Burma fears that higher cost of basic commodoties such as food items and seasonal water shortage anticipated during the dry season will add to the humanitarian problems facing the Chin locals in both urban and rural areas.
The report stressed the prices of basic food items and fuel have risen by 6% to 15% in March 2011 across Chin State, compared to those of last month, according to the recent market survey of WFP.
“The higher cost of living may be one of the compounding factors, leading to a deterioration of food security in the region,” highlighted the report based on a survey update conducted last month.
In Chin State, subsistence farmers normally start their cultivation such as corn and millet in March, with harvest expected in September.
Food insecurity in Kanpetlet, Matupi, Mindat and Paletwa townships of Chin State still remains a challenge following severe devastation caused by the ongoing rat infestation and crop failure last year.
The report also said that emergency stocks of rice, previously received from the humanitarian partners, are reportedly running low, especially in the worst-affected areas in Kanpetlet Township.
In its ‘Food Security Situation’ document issued late last year, the WFP clearly stated that Paletwa Township, which has also been severely affected by the mautam food crisis since 2007, was not assessed due to inaccessibility and remoteness.
Meanwhile, the WFP (World Food Programme) is implementing for the first six months of 2011 the ‘controversial’ Food-for-Work and Food-for-Training programmes in Matupi, Thantlang, Hakha, Tedim and Tonzang Townships through its cooperating partners, according to the OCHA’s report.
It is also reported that the local authorities has just granted CARE Myanmar permission to provide rice assistance to 36 villages in Mindat Township while food distribution is to begin in 58 villages in Kanpetlet for a period of two months by France-based Solidarites International in cooperation with WFP.
Other local and international NGOs engaged in responding to the humanitarian issues in Chin State include CAD (Country Agency for rural Development), Ar Yone Oo, GRET (Groupe de Recherche et d’exchange Technologiques), Merlin, World Vision, UNDP, UNICEF, AusAid and YMCA.
Van Biak Thang