Children at a WFP food distribution in southern Lao PDR after Typhoon Ketsana hit the area in 2009. Communities still struggling with the aftereffects of the storm are amongst the ones hit hardest by the erratic weather conditions in 2010, leading to insufficient rice harvest for more than 111,000 people in Lao PDR.Photo Credit: WFP/Anthony Aisenberg
Thousands of families in central and southern Laos will need both immediate and medium term assistance before the next rice harvest in October 2011. People who are already vulnerable to food insecurity after Typhoon Ketsana hit the region in 2009 were struck hard by a 2010 drought lasting throughout June and localized flash floods.
A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) conducted after the last harvest found more than 111,000 people do not have enough resources to feed themselves until the main wet season rice harvest. The mission estimates that more than 4,000 metric tons of rice will be needed to assist vulnerable communities.
In 2010, large parts of Lao PDR experienced a prolonged dry period at the beginning of the 2010 main paddy cropping season. Many farmers had to re-sow their rice several times, and even then a large part of the rice was transplanted late, leading to lower yields. Later in the season, localized flooding meant many families lost their crop. The impact is particularly grave in the south, where communities are still struggling with the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana.
At 3 million tons, expected national paddy production for 2010/11 (wet season of 2010 and dry season of 2010/11) will be approximately 6 percent lower than 2009/10. Upland yields were also lower compared to the previous year. Rice import requirements in 2011 are estimated at 38,000 metric tons.
Both FAO and WFP expressed special concerns for the most vulnerable groups – people who on top of poor harvests are struggling with a low income – who are currently facing unusually high prices for rice and other basic foods. Rice prices on local markets peaked at a very high level in August and September last year, and have remained at higher levels than expected, even after the harvest.
WFP is currently raising funds to have food assistance in place during the peak of the lean from August to September. More than US$3 million are required urgently in order to procure and transport the food in time.