Rice recently donated by the UN World Food Program (WFP) is being resold in a local wholesale market in Pekon, according to an aid group that helps Karenni IDPs.
A volunteer from the aid group told DVB that they found the WFP-branded bags of rice while they were shopping at a grocery store in Pekon to obtain donations for local IDPs.
He added that the price per bag of rice (which contains an estimated 50 kg) stands at around K35,000 (US$19) and nine bags of rice worth a total of K315,000 (US$170) were bought from the grocery store.
Aid workers suggested that the WFP reconsider the effectiveness of its aid strategy and to try to donate to alternate sources.
“What is needed on the ground is being distributed elsewhere. The WFP’s donation program is not effective as they cannot provide aid to the necessary places and only support people in cities and towns where things are more peaceful and quieter,” an aid worker told DVB.
Residents say that the WFP is currently distributing one bag of rice to each household inside the town of Pekon and Loikaw for humanitarian assistance. There also are reports that some locals have resold the donated rice as the quality of the rice is inferior.
The WFP said it was aware of reports that its donations were being sold.
“WFP is aware of social media reports showing some bags of food bearing WFP logos in a store… Sometimes our beneficiary families make a personal decision to barter small amounts of WFP food in exchange for other urgent needs, such as soap, or different varieties of food,” the WFP’s Burma director Stephen Anderson said.
Officials from the Embassy of Denmark in Burma, one of the countries that donated to the WFP, recently visited areas in southern Shan State.
“Denmark is pleased to support them with essential food assistance through the good work done by WFP,” said Anders Graugaard, the Head of Mission of the Danish Embassy in Burma, at the time of his visit.
The difficulty in providing aid to IDPs posed by the military’s perpetual attacks on communities and control of border points have left NGOs dithering over potential means of delivery. To the dismay of Burma’s opposition groups and international human rights bodies, ASEAN recently announced that it would send aid via the military.