On 1 February 2021, Myanmar’s military announced a State of Emergency and detained members of the government. The events of 1 February have led to an unfolding and worsening political crisis. This crisis poses a significant threat to the livelihoods and food security of the people of Myanmar. The ongoing political crisis is having significant impacts on all realms of the economy and the society and is significantly affecting people in both urban and rural areas. Prior to the coup, people were already facing significant economic hardship from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges.
More than one third of all townships in Myanmar are affected by long-term conflicts and more than 250,000 displaced people remain in camps or camp-like situations. Along with being the poorest country in South-East Asia, there is also considerable inequality in access to markets, natural resources, job opportunities and services across the countries 135 different ethnic groups. Despite enormous potential and agriculture being the most important sector of the Myanmar economy, productivity is amongst the lowest in the region.
HEKS/EPER has been working in Myanmar since 2017 through supporting new and innovative approaches to sustainably address these critical challenges.
Objectives and priorities
HEKS/EPER's work in Myanmar has been focused on supporting inclusive business models and facilitating market development in the agriculture sector. This has involved, for example, working with DCA/NCA and its local partners NAG and SIT to implement a market systems development project in Magway Region and Southern Shan State. The interventions were focused on the groundnut, corn and jaggery value chains and directly benefitted more than 2150 farmers. Under another project, HEKS/EPER supported the development of a financial literacy bot with social enterprise ONOW to improve financial literacy, farming and business skills for more than 2070 farming households.
HEKS/EPER is building on its existing experience and partnerships in Myanmar to adapt to the changing context. This involves identifying and supporting conflict-sensitive and market-based solutions which address the basic food security needs of crisis-affected groups, strengthen food systems, and improve skills, income and employment opportunities for marginalised groups.