WFP extends food aid operations in Nepal to cover continuing drought

Published on 02 September 2007

WFP will extend its food aid operations in Nepal to communities in three drought-affected districts of the Eastern Terai – an area seized with political violence over the last month – as well as continuing assistance until the end of June to drought victims in the Mid- and Far-Western Regions.

WFP will extend its food aid operations in Nepal to communities in three drought-affected districts of the Eastern Terai – an area seized with political violence over the last month – as well as continuing assistance until the end of June to drought victims in the Mid- and Far-Western Regions.

The mission’s estimates of the number of people facing immediate food shortages prompted us to request WFP to extend its emergency food aid operations

Nepalese Agriculture Secretary Ganesh Kumar KC

The extended operations will bring the numbers of WFP drought-affected beneficiaries to 400,000, double the number reached in the first phase of the operation.

The move follows a request for additional support from the Government on the basis of findings from a recently completed Government crop and food supply assessment mission, supported by WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Grain shortages

The report warns of food grain shortages totalling nearly 190,000 metric tonnes.

The aim of the joint assessment was to estimate overall crop production in the country and to better understand impacts on household security in areas most affected by adverse weather conditions.

The results are based upon the data gathered in 15 districts in the Eastern and Western Terai and the Mid- and Far-West Regions of Nepal in November of 2006.

Winter harvest uncertain

“The mission’s estimates of the number of people facing immediate food shortages prompted us to request WFP to extend its emergency food aid operations,” said Nepalese Agriculture Secretary Ganesh Kumar KC.

“Given the uncertainty of the winter crop harvest, we wanted to take immediate action to reduce the impact of food grain shortages on poor people in Nepal,” he said.

Since June of 2006, WFP has provided emergency aid to nearly 200,000 drought-affected people in eight districts in Mid- and Far-Western Nepal. This was the first emergency operation of its kind in WFP’s 40-year history of working in Nepal.

Helicopter operation

Because many of the recipients live in Nepal’s most remote areas, 30 percent of the food had to be delivered via helicopter, requiring over 200 flights to complete the operation.

“During the first phase of the operation, the pilots and our NGO partners did a heroic job overcoming major obstacles such as bad weather, transportation strikes and extremely remote and mountainous terrain to get the food out,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative in Nepal.

Difficult enviornment

“We learned a great deal about how to operate in such a difficult environment and are now much better prepared to start the second-phase of food aid relief for drought-affected families in the Mid- and Far-West at the end of the month,” Ragan added.

Through the extension, nearly 400,000 drought-affected people living in the Mid- and Far-Western Regions of Nepal, as well as communities in Saptari, Siraha, and Udayapur districts within the Terai will receive WFP food aid.