Published by reliefweb on July 5, 2017
FOOD SECURITY: In line with the previous remote emergency assessments, the survey confirmed a worsening of the food security situation in already highly vulnerable areas after the October 2016 incidents and subsequent security operations. Nearly one third of the population was severely food-insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance. Only 14 percent of women achieved minimum dietary diversity and none of the children met the minimum adequate diet. Income opportunities were scarce and households could not access sufficient food to cover their needs. About half of the markets were not functioning or were only partially operational, food prices were highly volatile and supply of affordable foods in many markets was scarce.
Maungdaw district is among the most vulnerable and chronically food-insecure areas in Myanmar and the assessment confirmed a further deterioration of the food security situation.
Measured by the food consumption score, about two third of the households could not meet an adequate diet and 28 percent of them had a poor food intake the week prior to the survey. With respect to previous surveys (2014-16), an increase was registered in diet inadequacy rates, from 43 to 62 percent, and in the share of households with poor food consumption, from 9 to 29 percent . During thirty days prior to the survey, about one third of the households faced extreme experiences of food insecurity, such as no food of any kind in the household (28 percent), went to bed hungry (34 percent), or went for the whole day and night without eating (28 percent).
Income opportunities were scarce, households could not access sufficient food to cover their needs, and were employing disruptive coping strategies to manage the food gaps. Compared to the period of January-April 2016, food prices have increased on average by 7.4 percent while the purchasing power of households has dropped by 44 percent. Nearly half of the markets were not or only partially functioning. Food prices were highly volatile, and supply of affordable dried fish, a main source of proteins for the population, was scarce.
High food insecurity, limited access to essential services including health care, and poor access to safe water and sanitation may have exacerbated an already serious malnutrition situation (based on DHS 2015-16 for Rakhine State, the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) was at 13.9 percent while the Severe Acute malnutrition (SAM) – 3.7 percent). None of the children from 6 to 23 months met the minimum adequate diet, only 2.5 percent reached minimum dietary diversity and 8.5 percent met the minimum meal frequency.
It was observed that 24 percent of the households in Maungdaw and 17 percent in Buthidaung were composed of female adult members only. This was in line with focus group discussions findings indicating that many male adults had to leave their household due to the security operations. With the highest frequency of episodes of severe hunger, this group was the most vulnerable to food insecurity (Figure 2).
Under these circumstances and with the upcoming rainy season that may aggravate an already fragile situation, the capacity of the most vulnerable population to access sufficient food in the long-term is severally undermined and will depend on the humanitarian assistance in the near future. It is estimated that about 38,000 households corresponding to 225,800 people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Preliminary data of early 2017 shows an increase in children requiring treatment of acute malnutrition, and it is estimated that 80,500 children under the age of five are expected to be in need of treatment for acute malnutrition over the next twelve months.