Mr.Stephen Anderson, Country Director and Representative of the World Food Programme (WFP) Myanmar, responded to the Kantarawaddy Times’ inquiries that after finding that some of the rice provided by the World Food Programme being resold in the market, they are working on a new policy to reach those who really need it.
“ We are gradually working to change from an all-encompassing model of assistance, to one that only provides assistance to those who need it most. Now we have conducted a community needs assessment survey, to better understand the needs of families and identify who should receive WFP’s support based on individual needs. We work with local volunteers to conduct the survey in collaboration with the community,” he said.
Regarding WFP;s support in Loikaw, a Loikaw resident said, “IDPs also get support. At first everyone living in Loikaw, both poor and non-poor, just went to get support according to the population of each neighborhood. Now they don’t give it out like that anymore. They ask questions about the condition of the house and income.”
Mr. Stephen Anderson added that WFP is currently providing food to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in the areas they are allowed to visit in the Karenni state.
Currently WFP’s support is mainly provided in Loikaw township, providing basic food such as rice, beans,oil, and salt. In mid-2022, some of the rice supplied by the WFP was being sold in some shops in Loikaw town, some local residents said. Mr. Stephen Anderson added.” Some people who received food aid make their own decision to sell food in exchange for other emergency needs (or other food), and wholesale sales without permission, will no longer be accepted.”
However WFP’s distribution does not cope with the realities of many IDPs. Karenni people are also fleeing from Loikaw townships as well as Demoso, Hpruso, Shadaw, Mese, Bawlakhe, HpaSaung, Pekon townships.
U Banyar, director of the Karenni Human Rights Group (KnHRG), said that since these townships are difficult to travel to, and IDPs may lack food due to the restrictions of the Military Council, it is necessary to consider cross-border assistance from international organizations. Those helping IDPs said many displaced people are still not being reached by WFP and having a tough time to get any food.
The ngo director elaborated, “ We started thinking about whether it would be more convenient if we could do it after crossing the border. This is a method that we must consider. It is also a method that we must find a way. If we pass through an area controlled by the public, we can reach more people. WFP’s rice distribution can only be distributed in the city. They cannot actuall distribute it among many IDPs. That is why it makes sense that we can carry out this cross-border program in an orderly manner only through a route that the public has access to.”
UN agencies including WFP, WHO and UNCEF all based in Yangon have lobbied by Myanmar exile ngos based in Thailand to work with them on safe routes for Myanmar- Thailand for cross border aid. Up till now these UN agencies have not been very willing to adopt some much-needed “out of the box” alternative ways for humanitarian aid distribution.
WFP responded to the Kantarawaddy Times that” the fighting is still going on in Karenni state, and WFP is working with partner organizations to reach those who need help the most,” a response that does not answer the key question.