about the author
Martin Penner, a former journalist, has worked for WFP since 2008.
Pakistan, riven by political tensions in the last few days, has an ongoing need for food assistance which has deepened recently due to high food prices, conflict and natural disasters. In response, WFP is ramping up its programmes in 2009.
This year WFP aims to reach nine million beneficiaries in Pakistan, a country where 85 percent of the population live on an income of less than US$ 2 per day. Last year we reached 6.2 million.
As part of the scaling up of assistance, WFP last autumn launched an emergency operation to help 3.1 million people affected by high food prices.
"One of the coping mechanisms families use is to take their children out of school so they can work," said WFP's Pakistan Country Director Wolfgang Herbinger.
Encourage school attendance
"We're giving a 4-litre tin of edible oil to hundreds of thousands of boys and girls every month so as to encourage regular school attendance and a 50 kg bag of wheat flour to their parents every quarter.
This operation was boosted recently by the signing of a $22.3 million funding agreement between WFP and USAID (United States Agency for International Development). The USA, along with Saudi Arabia and Japan, had already given funds earlier to launch the project.
In addition, WFP is soon to launch another emergency operation for people who have been displaced by conflict.
Food assistance to IDPs
The ongoing fighting between the armed forces and militants in the Northwest Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has forced hundreds of thousands of people to migrate to safer places. Inter-tribal violence in the FATA has also resulted in large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Using funds from its Immediate response account, WFP has already been able to provide food assistance to 208,000 displaced people, 171,000 of them living in host communities and 37,000 were in IDP camps. The new emergency operation will create a firm structure for continued support.
Noor Muhammad, with a family of eight to feed, tells his story: "We came from Khawazakhella town. As the fighting increased, we had no other option but to leave our home. Life is so difficult my children are traumatized; my wife and mother are scared."
"We really don’t know who is fighting who and for what reasons," said Noor after receiving his ration at a WFP food distribution point in the Mardan district. "We have been here for the last month and have got by thanks to the monthly food ration from WFP. We are hoping that the fighting will soon end and we will go back to our homeland.”