Hunger re­mains at ‘se­ri­ous’ lev­els: re­port

The Myanmar Times - - News - LIL­LIAN KALISH l.kalish@mm­times.com

MYAN­MAR con­tin­ues to have “se­ri­ous” lev­els of hunger, com­pa­ra­ble to North Korea, Rwanda and Nepal, ac­cord­ing to a re­cently re­leased global in­dex.

While the coun­try has made some strides since it was first eval­u­ated in 2008, Myan­mar con­tin­ues to have among the worst rates of hunger in the South­east Asia re­gion, and ranks among the bot­tom 50 coun­tries in the world.

This year Myan­mar re­ceived a score of 22 on the Global Hunger In­dex, where val­ues from 20 to 34.9 in­di­cate se­ri­ous hunger – any worse rep­re­sents “alarm­ing” lev­els. The eval­u­a­tion noted that the per­cent­age of over­all un­der­nour­ish­ment has dropped sig­nif­i­cantly from 26.4 per­cent in 2008 to 14.2pc in 2016 but stunt­ing re­mains preva­lent at 31pc of the chil­dren un­der five years old.

The in­dex, re­leased last week by the In­ter­na­tional Food Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute, eval­u­ates a coun­try’s hunger based on four com­po­nents: un­der­nour­ish­ment, stunted growth in chil­dren, low weight for chil­dren and child mor­tal­ity. The cal­cu­la­tion fo­cuses on chil­dren as food in­se­cu­rity and lim­ited ac­cess to nu­tri­tious food puts those un­der age five at the most risk.

Myan­mar’s rank­ing this year was com­pa­ra­ble to Iraq which also scored 22, and slightly im­proved over Togo at 22.4 and Mau­ri­ta­nia 22.1, but worse off than Nepal, 21.9, and Kenya, 21.9.

Ac­cord­ing to the World Food Pro­gramme, while a greater pop­u­la­tion in the coun­try ex­pe­ri­ences food sta­bil­ity, those on the mar­gins of so­ci­ety, and phys­i­cally on the bor­der­lands, con­tinue to suf­fer from ex­treme poverty and hunger.

The WFP high­lights dis­placed Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties in north­ern Rakhine State and fam­i­lies tran­si­tion­ing from opium farm­ing to other work av­enues in Shan State as just some of Myan­mar’s sub­groups who are dis­pro­por­tion­ately at risk.

More­over, the WFP high­lights Myan­mar’s sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, such as 2008’s Cy­clone Nar­gis which left thou­sands in the Ay­er­awady Re­gion in a state of dev­as­ta­tion, as one of the non-po­lit­i­cal fac­tors in­volved in wide­spread hunger.

Though Myan­mar has suc­cess­fully cut its score in half com­pared to hunger rates in 2000, the re­port rec­om­mends the gov­ern­ment and NGOs step up ac­tion to reach zero hunger lev­els by the global 2030 tar­get.

In ad­di­tion to pri­ori­tis­ing sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment poli­cies across agri­cul­ture, health, ed­u­ca­tion and san­i­ta­tion sec­tors, the re­port also urges to leave no one be­hind by ad­dress­ing in­equal­i­ties in “the most ex­cluded groups”, in­clud­ing women, eth­nic mi­nori­ties and chil­dren.

“End­ing global hunger is cer­tainly pos­si­ble,” said IFPRI di­rec­tor gen­eral Shenggen Fan in the re­port. “But it’s up to all of us that we set the pri­or­i­ties right to en­sure that gov­ern­ments, the pri­vate sec­tor and civil so­ci­ety de­vote the time and re­sources nec­es­sary to meet this im­por­tant goal.”

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