WFP has announced it will provide assistance for the recovery of the most needy and vulnerable part of the population affected by the earthquake that hit Pakistan last October.
It is important that people know they will have some food in the mountains as they leave the camps and return to their villages
Michael Jones, WFP Country Director
Through a two-year operation, WFP plans to help some 670,000 people living or returning to the highland valleys through food-for-work projects to help rehabilitate communal infrastructures.
About 450,000 children will benefit from school feeding projects.
After the winter
The operation is aimed at people who lost their houses, livestock and agricultural land and lack remittance or family support.
It will be implemented in remote villages where food production, access to markets, employment and credit facilities will be limited until basic infrastructures and trade can be restored.
“People were able to make it through the winter but hundreds of thousands still badly need help as they lost their loved-ones, homes, fields and income sources in the earthquake,” said Michael Jones, WFP Country Director.
New vulnerable groups
The earthquake has exacerbated existing poverty and created new vulnerable groups, including thousands of orphans, disabled people and single parent households.
Over 1.1 million livelihoods have been affected.
Many households lost their purchasing power as crops, herds and food and seed stocks were destroyed by the earthquake. About a quarter of the livestock was destroyed.
A third of the standing crops were not harvested last October.
Between 50 percent and 100 percent of irrigation structures and water system were damaged or buried. Natural springs dried up as a result of seismic shifts.
Terraces and retaining walls require significant rehabilitation.
Few families can meet their entire food requirements from their own production. They need to rely on additional labour which will be initially difficult to find.
Economic activity will improve only gradually in remote areas. The earthquake destroyed many urban and rural markets. Traders lost stocks, access to credit, markets, and transport corridors.
The revitalisation of economic activities will be slowed down as further landslides are expected with the March snowmelt and the summer monsoon season.
The consequent damage to roads will affect the economy and require years to repair.
Ensuring food is provided
Through its Post Earthquake Relief and Recovery Operation, WFP will provide food packages to returnees and subsistence to about 180,000 homeless people, in particular the elderly, households headed by women, families lacking employment opportunities while they rebuild their homes and restore their livelihoods until the first crop in October.
“It is important that people know they will have some food in the mountains as they leave the camps and return to their villages. The food will also ensure that they do not use the government reconstruction compensation to buy food rather than rebuild their homes,” said Jones.
In 2006, about 82,000 people will also receive family rations for up to six people per family – a total of 490,000 beneficiaries - in exchange for their participation in repairing community infrastructure, particularly secondary and tertiary roads and stabilisation of mountain slopes to reactivate trade and facilitate access to markets.
This will help them until the next harvest in October.
In 2007, about 32,600 men and women will have the possibility to take part in projects to acquire marketable skills in composting, fruit and nut tree production, animal welfare and block making for the construction of schools and houses.
WFP plans to provide food support for training in establishing small scale and community nurseries.
The small scale one will produce fruits such as apricots, apples, plums, nuts and vegetables.
Larger greenhouses will propagate a variety of pine and fruit trees that will be sold to governmental and NGO partners involved in reforestation projects.
WFP will also provide dry biscuits and dates to 450,000 children in pre-primary and primary schools in 2006 and 525,000 children in 2007.
About 30,000 girls in middle schools will get take home rations as an incentive to enroll and regularly attend classes.
WFP will also assist the authorities to install micro-feeders in the eight largest roller mills in the North West frontier province and Pakistan Administrated Kashmir and provide training to fortify flour and add the necessary nutrients.
“Flour fortification is one of the most effective health and nutrition interventions that exists, and it will help address the pre-existing chronic and acute malnutrition,” says Michael Jones.
Since the earthquake hit Pakistan last October, killing 73,000 people, WFP has provided food assistance to one million people in the affected area.
WFP two-year recovery operations will start on April 1st and cost US$ 68 million.
WFP will work closely with the Ministry for Food and Agriculture, the Department of Forestry, the Ministry for education and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.