The resilience of the Mara in the face of on-going crisis. | Mission East

The resilience of the Mara in the face of on-going crisis.

There is a general consensus that the reforms started in 2011 present the best opportunity for conflict resolution and peace in Myanmar since the 1962 military coup brought an end to the democratic, federal and civilian aspirations of post-colonial leaders. The result is that multiple channels inside and outside the government have opened for some degree of citizen, media, opposition, and NGO access to policy and governance processes on policy issues. However, there are still threats for the future development and democratization of the country, such as the ethnic conflicts, the ongoing power of the military and the poorly functioning justice system.
Chin State is split into 9 different townships, with a population of approximately 500,000. The state is sparsely populated and composed of many different sub-ethnic people groups. The majority of Chin people are Christian, with a minority Buddhist and Animist. Chin State is one of the poorest and least developed states in Myanmar, with deficiencies in most sectors. It is estimated that 73.3% of the population live below the poverty line, and that 81% of households have inadequate food consumption.
Part of southern Chin State is a region occupied by the Mara ethnic group, an area referred to informally as the ‘Maraland’, in an isolated mountainous bamboo forest region. On the Myanmar side (East Maraland), a population of approximately 30,000 Mara people reside in 53 villages in 3 townships of southern Chin State (Thatlang, Matupi and Paletwa).
Serious food shortages have been reported regularly in recent years in East Maraland, and food insecurity has become a chronic problem. The widely-used slash and burn agricultural system is not only destroying the environment, but is also heavy, time-consuming work and is no longer bringing good results. In 2007 the death of the bamboo (an event which takes place every 50 years) made the situation even worse, leading to a food crisis and widespread malnutrition. Many young Maras have emigrated to Yangon, India or Malaysia.
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