High energy biscuits being offloaded in Concepcion, Chile. Credit: WFP / Alejandro Chicheri
Struggling families in coastal Chile are now receiving rations of WFP fortified High Energy Biscuits (HEBs) following two weekend airlifts to Concepcion. A Chilean student organisation helped to distribute the biscuits to hungry people in the quake zones.
The plane carrying 35 metric tons of emergency food supplies from WFP’s hub in Quito touched down on Saturday at Concepcion, shortly before the arrival of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to view the earthquake damage for himself.
A total of 15 metric tons of High Energy Biscuits - enough to feed 7500 people for five days - were immediately distributed to some of the municipalities that had fared worst including Tome, Dichato, Lota, Talcahuano and Yumbel.
While some coastal towns and villages weathered the effects of the quake itself, they were badly damaged by the tsunami waves that followed.
The food was distributed with the help of the Chilean National Board of Student Aid and Scholarships (JUNAEB) working closely with the local authorities, the Chilean military and the fire services.
"The professionalism and efficiency of JUNAEB is remarkable. In less than 24 hours from arriving, the fortified biscuits are reaching the most affected families" said Francisco Espejo, a Chilean national and WFP staff member on the ground in Concepcion.
For the Vivero family, from El Manzano in Copiuleno, 45 minutes north of Concepcion, the biscuits brought a smile to the face of their five year old son, Bryan. The biscuits supplement the emergency rations provided by the Chilean government.
The cargo of a second WFP airlift of high energy biscuits is being distributed Monday and will reach a total of 25,000 victims of the quake and tsunami that struck Chile nine days ago.
Biscuits vital in disasters
High Energy Biscuits are an ideal form of food assistance in the immediate aftermath of any natural disaster as they can be eaten immediately by people who have lost access to kitchens or other cooking facilities. They are fortified with vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients and are especially critical to forestall malnutrition among children in critical situations.
WFP has prepositioned High Energy Biscuits in its emergency response depots in Ecuador and EL Salvador to respond to emergencies in the region.