Food Assistance Fact Sheet - Burma

Map of Burma

September 30, 2018


  • Burma has a population of approximately 53 million people, comprising at least 135 ethnic groups. Approximately 38 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, the UN reports, hindering access to adequate and nutritious foods. Furthermore, inadequate dietary diversity, household food insecurity, inadequate feeding practices and lack of access to health care contribute to high rates of undernutrition; the UN World Food Program (WFP) reports that nearly 30 percent of children younger than 5 years of age in the country suffer from chronic malnutrition.  
  • In Burma’s Kachin, Kayin, Rakhine and Shan states, ongoing armed conflict, inter-communal violence, high food prices and recurrent natural disasters exacerbate food insecurity, with an estimated 779,000 conflict-affected people across the four states vulnerable to severe food insecurity, according to the UN.   
  • In August 2017, attacks by armed actors on Burmese security posts and subsequent military operations in Rakhine caused mass displacement. Since the August 2017 attacks, approximately 725,000 people—predominately Rohingya—have fled to neighboring Bangladesh and as of late August 2018, more than 128,200 p­­eople are known to be displaced in Rakhine state. Displaced communities lack access to livelihood opportunities and face restrictions on movement; they rely heavily on external assistance. Government of Burma-imposed restrictions continue to impede the ability of humanitarian actors to assess and respond to the needs of vulnerable populations in Rakhine, relief actors report.
  • As of late July 2018, there were approximately 8,800 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Shan and 96,700 IDPs in Kachin due to protracted armed conflict, according to the UN. Vulnerable groups—particularly women and children—lack access to essential services, such as health, education, livelihoods and markets due to ongoing insecurity and movement restrictions. 


  • In FY 2018, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) contributed $14 million to WFP to support emergency food, nutrition, and early recovery activities in Burma, including in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan. The contribution enables WFP to reach IDPs and other crisis-affected populations in Rakhine with emergency food assistance. Additionally, FFP supports WFP to assist food-insecure families with cash transfers in government-controlled areas of Kachin and combined food and cash assistance in Shan. FFP also supports cash-for-work activities—including farmland development, road construction, pond renovation and home gardening— for resettled former IDPs and food-insecure non-IDP communities in Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan states.

Food for Peace Contributions

Total Contributions:

Fiscal Year U.S. Dollars Metric Tons
Fiscal Year 2018 $14.0 million 4,610 MT
Fiscal Year 2017 $13.2 million 10,200
Fiscal Year 2016 $8.4 million 5,342

* Metric tonnage does not reflect funding for vouchers or cash transfers. 

Related Resources

Last updated: November 08, 2018

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