FAO in Myanmar

FAO success stories in Myanmar

Since 2007, multiple strains of Gs/GD/96-lineage H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus have entered Myanmar and caused reported outbreaks. The country is at risk for zoonotic avian influenza A (H7N9) virus incursion. Furthermore, active surveillance in live bird markets regularly detects H5N1 and H5N6 HPAI viruses and low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) H9N2 viruses.

In 2018, heavy monsoon rains in July brought floods to many states and regions in central and south-eastern parts of Myanmar. According to the official statements, at least 22 people died and more than 155 000 people were displaced by this natural disaster at present year.

In conflict-affected areas of northern Rakhine, malnutrition rates are high and protein consumption low. In the townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw, where Warcha is located, the percentage of children consuming the minimum acceptable diet is alarmingly low, at two and three per cent respectively.

"Now we are receiving FAO assistance with goats, we will be able to generate more income.  With the extra income we will use the money to buy food and use the rest for the children to attend school," says An Bira Hatu.

Taung Ywar Ward had the highest water levels in all of Buthidaung during the 2015 floods associated with Cyclone Komen, rising up to three feet and sweeping away precious food storage (mainly rice, potatoes and oil) as well as non-food items such as clothing.

Daw Thein Shwe’s house in Taung Ywar Ward appears to be leaning. The roof is patched together with tarpaulin and bamboo and slopes precariously over the single-storey structure. It looks unlikely to withstand a strong storm, let alone the impending monsoon rains.

Living on the banks of the Chindwin River in Myanmar's Sagaing region, Daw Nye Mya (60) reports that she "had never seen flooding as bad" as the floods which swept through her village in July and August 2015. 

As head of her household, Daw Nye Mya grows sesame, groundnut and pigeon pea on ten acres of land. She employs some casual labourers while two of her daughters also work the land to make enough money to fund a third daughter who attends university in Monywa. But the outlook for her daughter's tertiary education is precarious.  

After the floods swept through his village in July 2015, Than Win (43) and his two older sons could not find work for nearly three months. As casual agricultural workers, their daily income of 6500K (roughly US$5) was literally buried under the mud.

"I had to sell some of my things in order to buy food for the family, including some special possessions of jewellery that I had bought from savings. We also borrowed money from neighbours," said Than Win.

Like so many communities in rural Myanmar, the 114 families in Tha Koar village depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. The village is in central Rakhine state, one of the six states or regions worst affected by the floods that swept through Myanmar between July and October 2015.

In this village alone, nearly one-third of the houses were destroyed in the floods, 45 buffalo and cows were killed and 90 percent of the paddy crop was wiped out. The paddy was replanted after the disaster, but by then it was late in the season and the ground was covered in mud, so the staple crop will be smaller than hoped. Many stored seeds were damaged in the floods and farmers now lack draught power because so many animals were lost. As a result, families also fear their winter vegetable crop might be reduced by two-thirds, compared to a normal year.

The fishing and aquaculture sectors in Myanmar have faced a number of challenges in the past, including the uncontrolled expansion of fishing effort, illegal fishing and conflicts over land use. Uncontrolled or illegal fishing and land use conflict can leave fishers vulnerable and less able to negotiate the price paid for their catch, affecting their livelihoods and their ability to support their families. However, an FAO project, funded by the Government of Italy, is helping to build sustainable small-scale fisheries and aquaculture livelihoods in coastal mangrove ecosystems in the Ayeyarwady Delta.

The project was implemented in a region where natural events such as droughts, floods, pest infestations as well as limited agriculture and financial inputs are major risks to food security and where the recent effects of climate change are worsening the situation. The Central Dry Zone is considered one of the poorest and most backward areas of the country. Its chronic food deficit is aggravated by weak infrastructure, harsh climate, shortages of water, inadequate farming inputs and lack of access to land.