Poverty spikes in Myanmar following second wave of pandemic

The second wave of COVID – 19 in Myanmar has had a significant impact on incomes, with a rising number of households now living below the poverty line compared to before the pandemic, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Myanmar.

In September, around 59pc of 1000 households surveyed by the IFPRI in Yangon and 66pp of another 1000 rural households in the dry zone of Myanmar were earning less than the US$ 1.90 per day.

“In January, before COVID-19, only 16pc of respondents were poor. But now the poverty rate is over 60pc. Worryingly, one-third of households surveyed in the second wave of COVID – 19 said they had no income,” Derek Headey, a Senior Research Fellow at the IFPRI, said.

This is despite over half the households surveyed having received K20,000 in cash assistance under the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

The survey found that income losses were more pronounced among urban households due to the higher number of COVID-19 cases in Yangon, stricter prevention measures in cities, greater dependence of urban households on non-farm livelihoods which were more affected by prevention measures and the significant number of mothers in this sample who had recently given birth.

Prior to COVID-19, just 7pc of Yangon households reported earning no income. In September, 38pc of urban households surveyed had earned no income.

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