The coronavirus epidemic, along with the unrest after the military coup in February, could plunge nearly half of Myanmar’s population into poverty, restoring wealth to the past 16 years, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
“The ongoing political crisis, no doubt, has exacerbated the economic crisis, and reduced spending,” a UNDP report (PDF) published Friday.
Of the most active in the organization, 48.2% of Myanmar’s population, an estimated 26 million people, will be living in poverty by 2022, compared to 24.8% in 2017, UNDP said.
The agency defines Myanmar’s global poverty rate as those living below 1,590 kyats ($ 1) per day in 2017.
The political crisis could also hit small businesses hard, leading to lower wages and reduced food, basic services and social security, according to the UNDP.
Women who carry the burden
As a result, it is women and children who are expected to be the worst of the two.
“The effects of COVID-19, which have been exacerbated by the overthrow of civilians, are bound to lead to more urban poverty.
“This is in line with the fact that urban areas, where many livelihood activities of the impoverished poor are nearby, have become increasingly difficult for the epidemic to stabilize and intensify,” the report authors wrote.
Even before the recent incident, a third of Myanmar’s population was “undernourished, which puts them at risk of poverty,” the agency said.
More than 83% of households have reported declining economies since the beginning of 2020, according to the UNDP.
Myanmar was embroiled in controversy on February 1 when the military arrested President-elect Aung San Suu Kyi and members of the National League for Democracy and seized power. The commission set up an insurgency and large-scale demonstrations throughout the country in which security forces have taken violent measures.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a human rights group that has been on the run since its incarceration, said 759 people have been killed since the ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi. His records show that 3,461 are in prison.
Myanmar has reported that COVID-19 cases have 142,800 people and 3,209 people since the outbreak began, according to Johns Hopkins University. New daily cases have fallen sharply since the beginning of the year.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said last month that rising food and fuel prices in Myanmar since the government’s coup threatened to impoverish poor families.
The World Food Program (WFP) says food prices are rising, palm oil is up 20% in some areas around Yangon since early February and rice prices have risen 4% in Yangon and Mandalay since late February.
Myanmar’s military, or Author, controls the country’s major economic, mobile phone and Myanmar mobile, tourism, food and beverage and profit sectors gemstone mining companies. Foreign suppliers, as well as the international clothing brand that used Myanmar as a cheap place, has also highlighted its participation in the country, which is exacerbating the economic and labor crisis.