Six months after the tsunami, WFP shifts gear from emergency rescue to recovery

Published on 23 June 2005

Bangkok - Having launched one of the most complex emergency operations in its history, during which it delivered food, medicine and even helped evacuate the injured, WFP has shifted focus to long-term recovery.


BANGKOK - Having launched one of the most complex emergency operations in its history, during which it delivered food, medicine and even helped evacuate the injured, the UN World Food Programme has shifted focus to long-term recovery.

WFP continues to be the lead logistics agency for the UN in this emergency shipping and flying medical supplies, water purification systems, survival kits, even vehicles to the disaster zone on behalf of other agencies such as Unicef and WHO. While major airlift operations have substantially wrapped up, WFP is still operating helicopters, planes, landing craft and floating warehouses in Indonesia.

WFP has already provided 123,000 tons of food to over two million people in the six months since the 26 December tsunami, saving lives in the aftermath of the disaster and helping survivors to rebuild their lives and livelihoods. Its food and nutritional support continue to help hundreds of thousands of people transition from the devastating physical, emotional and economic havoc wreaked by the disaster.

"We have managed to prevent hunger and malnutrition by getting food on time to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people," said Mohamed Saleheen, WFP's Country Director in Indonesia. "Now we're helping families focus on rebuilding, without having to worry about whether they'll have enough to eat."

In Indonesia, WFP is providing food to 156,000 children in schools across ten tsunami-affected districts, to boost both nutrition levels and school attendance. Another 750,000 people in Indonesia are receiving food aid, mostly displaced people living in camps or with host families.

Given the continued seismic activity in the country and concern by experts of potential future tsunamis, WFP has been helping to lead early warning and disaster preparedness planning for the most vulnerable areas of the country. Earthquakes or aftershocks have been occurring almost daily since the major earthquake on March 28, which rocked the island of Nias in North Sumatra and claimed almost 1,000 lives. Much of the infrastructure was left in ruins.

In Sri Lanka, WFP is assisting close to one million people, including 260,000 pregnant mothers, new mothers and young children who are receiving supplemental food through WFP's Mother and Child Health programmes. Almost 150,000 schoolchildren in Sri Lanka are also receiving WFP rations at school.

By purchasing most of the food it distributes from the countries affected, WFP is indirectly supporting agricultural and economic recovery. In Indonesia, almost 80 percent of the 101,000 tons of food purchased to date has come from local sources, with much of the purchases made in the hard-hit province of Aceh. In Sri Lanka, WFP is buying 18,000 metric tons of rice from the government, most of which comes from farmers in tsunami-affected areas.

The continuing need for food aid has led WFP to extend its operations in the Maldives and Somalia through the end of the year. In the Maldives, WFP will continue to provide aid to vulnerable groups through the government's distribution channels. Work in Somalia will focus on aid to women, and to reconstruction projects. The limited relief programme in Myanmar, where damage was less extensive, will wrap up by 30 June.

Private sector donors gave with unprecedented generosity to WFP's operation in the early days, giving a record US $58 million -- 20 percent of the emergency appeal. Corporate partners like TNT, the global mail, express and logistics company, continue to provide expertise, transport and staff in major operational hubs in Indonesia and elsewhere.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 56 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People.

WFP Global School Feeding Campaign - For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school - a gift of hope for a brighter future.

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