Food Shortages to Worsen in Southern Chin State: UN
11 February 2012: The food security condition in parts of Chin State is of great concern due to crop failures and an extreme reduction of yield in 2011, a report in January 2012 by UN-OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) said.
The report said the situation in southern areas of Burma’s poorest state is getting worse than previous years and even more serious than during the rat infestation of 2008/9, according to the study.
Local villagers are running out of food stocks early this year and the next harvest will be available only in September 2012, added the report.
Rangoon-based the UN agency also said: “Available data indicates that severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and global acute malnutrition (GAM) levels are above emergency thresholds in southern areas of the State.”
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners are expected to soon release their findings of food security assessments conducted in Kanpetlet, Matupi and Mindat townships last month.
In the aftermath of the devastating bamboo-and-rat-related food crisis that has ravaged much of Chin State over the past few years, a renewed food shortage is on the cards to hit Chin villagers in at least four townships including Kanpetlet, Matupi, Mindat and Paletwa.
Many believe that the new government of Chin State, which voices about the issues of development, will be judged on how well it handles the ‘continued’ food crisis facing the Chin locals in remote villages.
Since late 2006, Chin State has been plagued by a severe food shortage called mautam following a bamboo flowering phenomenon that triggered an explosion in the rat population and resulting in the destruction of crops.
In its report in July 2008, the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) estimated from the field surveys that as many as 200 villages with no less than 100,000 people were directly affected by acute food shortages caused by mautam.
In 2010-2011, CHRO distributed relief assistance to about 60 villages in the most effected areas in southern Chin State with humanitarian support from the Czech government, Burma Center Prague and Global Health Access Program.
“We have been monitoring the situation closely since 2008 and the latest UN report just confirms what we have been saying all along. Immediate action should now be taken to address this crisis,” says Salai Bawi Lian Mang, Executive Director of CHRO.
CHRO also notes that the various UN reports on poverty in Chin State do not take into account the human rights dimension to the crisis. It argues human rights violations against the Chin people, including forced labor and extortion, exacerbate poverty and undermine people’s livelihood.
“Human rights violations need to stop in order to effectively address the issue of poverty in Chin State,” adds Salai Bawi Lian Mang.
Van Biak Thang