Enhance food security in remote Myanmar

Completed

Chin State is one of the poorest and most isolated areas of Myanmar. Since late 2007, the people of Chin State have been struggling with massive food shortages and hunger after the vast bamboo forests that cover the steep and mountainous landscape began to wither and die, triggering rat infestations and the consequent destruction of most of the local crops and food stocks. Periodically the region suffers inadequate access to food and undernourishment is widespread. The Foundation supports Action Against Hunger’s programme in order to reinforce livelihoods and food security, and to improve people health and nutrition status in 27 villages in the particularly impoverished Paletwa Township.

Duration
2013-2014
Focus area
Access to Basic Services
country
Myanmar
partner
Action Against Hunger

Context

Chin State is one of the poorest and most isolated areas of Myanmar, bordering India and Bangladesh. Since late 2007, the people of Chin State have been struggling with massive food shortages and hunger after the vast bamboo forests that cover the steep and mountainous landscape began to wither and die, triggering rat infestations and the consequent destruction of most of the local crops and food stocks.

Disease, periodically inadequate access to food and undernourishment are widespread. In particular, the remote and impoverished Paletwa Township is increasingly impacted by climate variability and confronted with unpredictable rainfall patterns that cause water shortages and soil erosion, reduce harvests and exacerbate hunger even further. Social indicators in the area are alarmingly low and income generation options extremely limited. 

Action

Complementing the efforts of the Danish International Development Agency, the Foundation supports Action Against Hunger’s programme to reinforce the livelihoods, food security, and health and nutrition status of 800 households in 27 villages of the Paletwa Township, dependent on slash-and-burn farming for their subsistence.

Activities include:

  • The undertaking of a socio-anthropological study and two technical surveys (one an analysis of the farming system and the other an analysis of post-harvest and storage practices) to identify and develop potential improvement strategies.
  • The setup of Farmer Field Schools in each village where famers learn, share and test improved methods in land preparation, seed selection, sowing, weed control, improvement of soil fertility, integrated pest management, proper handling of herbicides, and crop diversity.
  • The creation of community rice banks (known as paddy banks) to help villagers become more self-reliant. The banks enable them to borrow rice at the start of the growing season and replenish them after harvest. The paddy banks are managed by community-based committees that establish their own rules and regulations in a cooperative way.
  • The organisation of training sessions in each village on infant and young child feeding and care (including modules dedicated to how to prevent malnutrition and how to breastfeed adequately).

Expected results

  • The three studies identify improvement strategies and suggest recommendations to strengthen and develop the farming system as well as to improve post-harvest and storage practices.
  • Provision of technical training through Farmer Field Schools for at least 800 households.
  • Community rice banks are established for 400 households and function effectively. At least 50% of programme participants borrow food from the community banks. At least 50% of targeted households have a paddy yield increase of at least 20%.
  • 75% of targeted households have an acceptable food consumption score during the lean season.
  • 75% of targeted households have increased their awareness and received training on infant and young child feeding and recommended child care.

Long-term strategy

The programme’s main aim is to enable vulnerable rural communities to improve their livelihoods and become more resilient to food gaps. The involvement of villagers at every stage of the decision-making process ensures a strong sense of ownership and responsibility for all the programme inputs. Implementation is completely transparent and participatory. Capacity-building activities to support paddy banks management committees ensure members will be able to take over responsibility.