This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000240
STATE ALSO FOR EAP/BCLTV; CINPAC FOR FPA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/22/2014
SUBJECT: BURMA: WFP PLANS EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE TO
Classified By: DCM Ron McMullen for Reasons 1.5 (b,d)
1. (C) Summary: The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to
initiate on March 1 a one-year program to assist former poppy
farmers suffering from food insecurity. The program will
cost about $4 million and target about 180,000 beneficiaries
in the ethnic Kokang and Wa border areas through
food-for-work activities, school feeding, and vulnerable
group feeding. In addition to consulting with the U.S.
Embassy, the WFP Country Director recently met with leaders
of the pro-democracy opposition to discuss the new program.
The initiative is similar to existing WFP food assistance in
Burma and also appears to be closely coordinated with UNODC
counter-drug initiatives in the Wa and Kokang regions. We
have faxed the project proposal to EAP/BCLTV. End Summary.
2. (SBU) According to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP)
Burma Country Director Bhim Udas, WFP plans to target about
180,000 people in the Kokang and Wa regions with a one-year
emergency food program to assist former poppy farmers and
their families who are suffering from severe food insecurity.
In response to an urgent request from the Kokang Authority
and the GOB, WFP already assisted about 50,000 poor ex-poppy
farmers in the Kokang area during the last three months of
3. (SBU) The "Emergency Food Assistance to Ex-Poppy Farmers"
is planned for the period March 1, 2004 through February 28,
2005 and would include almost 10,000 metric tons of food at a
total cost to WFP of just over $4 million. A March 2003
joint assessment of humanitarian needs, conducted by the
UNODC and JICA (Japanese aid agency), determined that farmers
in the heart of Burma's poppy regions on average now only
grow enough rice to live on for about half a year. U.N.
agencies expect food insecurity to increase as pressures
mount on local Wa authorities to cease poppy cultivation
entirely by 2005. Currently, the average poppy farmer earns
about $160 cash per year from the sale of opium, which
represents roughly 70 percent of the farmer's total cash
4. (SBU) Based on the findings of a recent WFP rapid needs
assessment, WFP will target 90,000 people in the Wa region,
60,000 people in Kokang, and 30,000 in Kutkai, Muse, and
other areas in Shan State. WFP will assist beneficiaries
through food-for-work activities (50,000 participants,
reaching 165,000 beneficiaries), primary school feeding
(45,000 children), and vulnerable group feeding (5,000
elderly, disabled, and chronically sick people). WFP
currently has a field office in Laukai (Kokang) and to help
implement the new program will open two additional field
offices (Lashio and Pangsang). WFP expects to implement the
overall program through its existing partners, which include
CARE, World Vision, and ADRA.
5. (SBU) WFP is planning its emergency food program largely
in response to UNODC's appeal for partners to help implement
"KOWI" (Kokang and Wa initiative) to keep farmers poppy-free.
In the Wa region, WFP will tap into existing UNODC resources
including office facilities and a comprehensive database. In
exchange, UNODC plans to establish a technical coordination
unit (TCU) within existing WFP facilities in the Kokang
region as a key first step in implementing its KOWI
6. (SBU) Udas, the WFP Country Director, says that the WFP
food program will be mostly independent of the Burmese
regime. However, "NATALA," the GOB's intra-ministerial body
that administers border area affairs, will facilitate WFP's
program discussions with local authorities in Special Regions
#1 and #2 (self-governed by former Kokang and Wa insurgents)
and secure GOB permission for static and mobile
7. (C) Comment: WFP's Country Director has submitted a
proposal and budget to his Executive Director in Rome, where
WFP is expected to make an appeal to donors for support. In
addition to his approach to us, Bhim Udas recently consulted
with members of the NLD's Central Executive Committee on the
emergency food assistance program. (Note: We have not heard
the results of his meeting with the pro-democracy opposition
leaders. End note.) The new WFP program is in line with
existing WFP food assistance in Burma's central dry zone,
with repatriated refugees in Rahkine State along the
Bangladesh border, and also appears to be closely coordinated
with UNODC counter-drug initiatives in the Wa and Kokang
regions. End comment.
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