COVID-19 second wave in Myanmar causes dramatic increases in poverty

November 24, 2020

Yangon, Myanmar: In September 2020, 59 percent of 1000 households surveyed in urban Yangon and 66 percent of 1000 households surveyed in the rural Dry Zone earned less than $1.90/day (a common measure of extreme poverty), according to a new study from researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The study provides new insight into the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and strict lockdowns, as well as the additional efforts needed to protect Myanmar's vulnerable people and fragile economic recovery.

"Only 16% of our respondents were poor in January this year before the COVID crisis hit, but now 62% are poor. What is really worrying is that during the second COVID-19 wave one-third of our households said they earned zero income in the last month. That level of poverty poses huge risks for food insecurity and malnutrition" said IFPRI Senior Research Fellow and lead author of the study, Derek Headey.

"Though necessary to control the virus, lockdown periods have resulted in disastrous impacts on poverty and need to be accompanied by larger and better targeted cash transfers if Myanmar is to successfully contain the economic destruction of COVID-19's second wave."

The study, "Poverty, food insecurity, and social protection during COVID-19 in Myanmar: Combined evidence from a household telephone survey and micro-simulations," analyzed data from over 2000 women in Yangon and the Dry Zone between June and September. The findings were recently highlighted in a recent IFPRI policy seminar, "Assessments of the impact of COVID-19 on Myanmar's food security and welfare". In that seminar, officials from several government ministries acknowledged the challenge of expanding social protection in response to COVID-19, as well as the need to strengthen monitoring and evaluation of COVID-19 economic relief programs.

"The government of Myanmar has rapidly expanded social protection in 2020 and they should be commended for that. However, the scale of the second wave simply means they must do more. Over half of poor households in our survey received cash transfers by September, so unfortunately a lot of poor people are still falling through the cracks", said Headey.

The study also used a forward-looking simulation analysis to show that extreme poverty at the national level triples in lockdowns but can be reduced by cash transfers larger than those the government is currently employing. The Myanmar government has been giving 20,000 kyat transfers to most households, which can reduce national poverty by 18 percent. However, increasing those transfers to 40,000 kyat would cut the lockdown poverty rate by half.

"I think there is a growing consensus both within government and among development partners that greater social protection efforts are needed", said Headey. "We know the disease is not going away soon, so we must do better to protect households from the economic ravages of this disease."
View the policy seminar: "Assessments of the impact of COVID-19 on Myanmar's food security and welfare"

Read the full policy note: "Poverty, food insecurity, and social protection during COVID-19 in Myanmar: Combined evidence from a household telephone survey and micro-simulations"

About IFPRI: The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. IFPRI was established in 1975 to identify and analyze alternative national and international strategies and policies for meeting the food needs of the developing world, with particular emphasis on low-income countries and on the poorer groups in those countries. It is a research center of CGIAR, a worldwide partnership engaged in agricultural research for development. Visit or for more information.

International Food Policy Research Institute

Related Poverty Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 second wave in Myanmar causes dramatic increases in poverty
New evidence combining surveys from urban and rural Myanmar and simulation analysis find COVID-19 second wave dramatically increasing poverty and food insecurity.

Advancing the accurate tracking of energy poverty
IIASA researchers have developed a novel measurement framework to track energy poverty that better aligns with the services people lack rather than capturing the mere absence of physical connections to a source of electricity.

If you're poor, poverty is an environmental issue
A survey from Cornell researchers -- conducted among more than 1,100 US residents -- found that there were, in fact, demographic differences in how people viewed environmental issues, with racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income people more likely to consider human factors such as racism and poverty as environmental, in addition to more ecological issues like toxic fumes from factories or car exhaust.

Poverty associated with suicide risk in children and adolescents
Between 2007 to 2016, nearly 21,000 children ages 5-19 years old died by suicide.

New index maps relationships between poverty and accessibility in Brazil
Poor transportation availability can result in poor access to health care and employment, hence reinforcing the cycle of poverty and concerning health outcomes such as low life expectancy and high child mortality in rural Brazil.

Repeated periods of poverty accelerate the ageing process
People who have found themselves below the relative poverty threshold four or more times in their adult life age significantly earlier than others.

Poverty as disease trap
The realities of subsistence living in a region of Senegal hard hit by schistosomiasis make reinfection likely, despite mass drug administration.

Persistent poverty affects one in five UK children
Persistent poverty affects one in five children in the UK, and is associated with poor physical and mental health in early adolescence, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Poverty leaves a mark on our genes
In this study, researchers found evidence that poverty can become embedded across wide swaths of the genome.

Satellite images reveal global poverty
How far have we come in achieving the UN's sustainable development goals that we are committed to nationally and internationally?

Read More: Poverty News and Poverty Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to