Join the discussion on 'Prioritising nutrition in Myanmar as part of the humanitarian response: Urgent action is needed.

Wednesday 14thJuly, 2.30-4.30pm MMR/ 8-10am GMT

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The number of children who are wasted or too thin has been reduced by almost half from 13% 1991 to 7% in 2016 (DHS 2016). However, children who are wasted face increased risk of infection and death with a weakened immune system. Years of multiple protracted crises related to conflict and natural disasters have left almost one in three (29%) children under five stunted or too short for their age, limiting their ability to learn as children and potential to earn and contribute as an adult (DHS 2016). Significant progress has been made in improving the national under-five mortality rate but Myanmar still has one of the highest mortality rates for children in the South-East Asia region. 

Key nutrition numbers

29% of children < 5 are stunted

7% of children < 5 are wasted

16% of children < 2 are receiving a minimum acceptable diet

58% of children < 5 are anemic

47% of women and girls of reproductive age are anemic

51% of children <  6 months are exclusively breastfed

Nutrition recommendations

©HARP-F partner

  1. Invest in coordination to facilitate an adequate nutrition emergency response considering the changing environment, building on existing development frameworks e.g. MS-NPAN.
  2. Ensure funding is increased and coordinated optimally, to allow for flexibility given the changing operational environment.
  3. Increase the capacity of national organisations to lead the nutrition response
  4. Improve collection, analysis and use of data for decision-making, to enable a greater understanding of the evolving nutrition situation and trends and to inform the nutrition emergency response.
  5. Protect the collapse of basic maternal and child health and nutrition services and scale-up lifesaving nutrition services in priority locations in anticipation of increased nutrition needs.
  6. Increase coverage of wasting treatment services, including screening and referral, with a focus on severe wasting treatment of children 6-59 months and management of at-risk infants under 6 months and their mothers (MAMI).
  7. Increase coverage and quality of infant and young child feeding (IYCF) services, including support for exclusive 
    breastfeeding <6 months and continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age, timely introduction of complementary feeding, and monitoring of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) and violations of The Code.
  8. Ensure specific nutrition vulnerabilities faced by women and adolescent girls are considered and their nutrition needs, including micronutrient needs, are comprehensively addressed.

    What our partners are doing - example

    ©HARP-F partner

    Stepping up nutrition assistance in Northern Rakhine

    One HARP-F partner has provided food and nutrition support to remote communities in Rakhine since 2018 and has expanded its food security activities to more people in 2020 in response to COVID-19. Recently, it started providing additional nutritional support to pregnant and lactating women to meet the increased needs of these vulnerable communities following the military coup.

    Communities in Northern Rakhine State have been facing increased food insecurity since the COVID-19 pandemic, which is thought to have worsened since the military coup. Their dietary diversity has decreased, as households increasingly rely on rice as the main food, according to an analysis conducted in 2020.  The 2021 military coup has compounded this situation, with access to available foods even more limited, markets disrupted and cash being restricted.

    Our partner provided food distributions to vulnerable households throughout the pandemic. Following the military coup, emergency assistance switched to cash distributions for most households, to ensure distributions could continue, and also food distributions for pregnant and lactating women. The foods distributed to these women were based on locally available and regularly consumed/ preferred foods, to ensure they would be used by the population rather than sold. They also consisted of foods usually side-lined in a household for cost reasons. The foods distributed focused on nutrient-rich varieties, including dried fish and chickpeas, rather than staple foods like rice that are more widely available but which are also not nutrient-dense. The ease of obtaining and delivering the food items was also a factor that was considered.

    In addition, our partner distributed home gardening kits with seeds, tools, materials and fertilizer to over 1,300 households in order to set up a community-based food bank. In the context of low food security forecasts, home-gardening activities are a good way to protect these most-vulnerable households from food insecurity, and to mitigate increased food prices, travel restrictions and low market access. 

    Seven hundred additional households are expected to benefit from this programme in 2021, which targets especially vulnerable members of the community such as women-headed households (1/3 of the households involved), households where the head does not have a source of income, single-parent households and households with people with disabilities, older people and young children. Recently, our partner conducted advocacy work to gain the communities’ understanding and acceptance of why the home-gardening aid is targeted to specific groups, and why certain beneficiaries are not eligible, and conducted over 700 household vulnerability assessments.

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