A new World Food Programme assessment shows that food remains the most urgent priority for many families in cyclone-affected areas.
Households lack food reserves or sufficient income to pay for food in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr, which swept through coastal Bangladesh late last year, killing more than 3,000 people.
An Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) of 12 affected districts conducted by WFP and 19 of its partner organizations found that food production losses associated with the floods and the cyclone could have a severe effect on food availability over the next few months before the harvest comes on the market in May.
Higher food prices of locally grown wheat and rice in districts where crops and food stocks were destroyed by the cyclone are threatening food security among the very poor and hardest hit families, including children suffering from high rates of malnutrition.
“Food insecurity, coupled with rising food prices and high malnutrition rates, all point to the need for a continuing and strong relief response,” said WFP Bangladesh Country Director Douglas Broderick. “
We need immediate funding from international donors to continue the emergency food assistance that the survivors of Cyclone Sidr depend on.”
More food needed
WFP urgently needs US$22 million to continue WFP’s emergency assistance up to mid-May for more than two million of the worst-affected people, the poorest and most vulnerable to food insecurity in the wake of Cyclone Sidr.
“More food is needed for the poorest among the survivors who are trying to rebuild their homes and replant their fields for the next harvest,” Broderick said.
The report noted that the prevalence of acute malnutrition appears to be very high and thus gives cause for concern regarding the malnutrition situation in the Cyclone-affected area.
The prevalence of moderate wasting was found to be 14.6 percent, while the prevalence of severe wasting was found to be 6.9 percent, providing an overall figure of 21.5 percent.
Broderick said the high malnutrition rates also indicated the need for longer emergency feeding, at least through May when the next harvest comes and can be expected to assist the poorest in regaining some of their livelihoods and improving access to food.
Ongoing relief assistance will help to secure the food needs of many of the worst affected and most food insecure families and as such can prevent suffering associated with hunger, malnutrition, and the further deterioration of livelihoods.
WFP is providing food rations consisting of rice, pulses, edible oil, blended food, salt and high energy biscuits. The assistance is delivered in collaboration with the Government and NGO partners.
Contributors to the WFP emergency operation in Bangladesh include the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (US$10 million – for CERF see: http://ochaonline.un.org), the United States (US$4.8 million), Australia (US$4.3 million), the Netherlands (US$3.7 million), the European Commission (US$2.9 million), Canada (US$2 million), Japan (US$1.5 million), Germany (US$900,000), Spain (US$700,000), Italy (US$600,000), New Zealand (US$400,000), Norway (US$400,000), Republic of Korea (US$300,000), Luxembourg (US$100,000), Iceland (US$50,000). A further US$140,000 was received in multilateral donations and US$430,000 from the private sector.