VIENTIANE – Families in the south and central regions of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic who are still suffering from the effects of severe drought and flash floods in 2010 will receive vital food assistance, thanks to a donation of US$1.5 million from the United States of America to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
The contribution will be provided in the form of rice and vegetable oil to cover the basic nutritional needs of affected families in the run-up to the next harvest.
“On behalf of the people of the United States, we are pleased to be able to provide this assistance to help people in the affected areas provide food for their families during this difficult time,” said U.S. Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Karen B. Stewart.
The US contribution of 1,460 metric tons of rice and 100 metric tons of vegetable oil will enable WFP to assist more than 37,000 people in the provinces of Khammuane, Savannakhet, Saravane, Sekong and Attapeu with a three-month food ration.
The assistance package comes at a critical time, said WFP Country Representative in the Lao PDR, Ms Eri Kudo.
“The months before the wet season rice is harvested in November are known as the lean season because food stocks are at their lowest,” Kudo said. “On top of these seasonal shortages, farmers who suffered from erratic weather in 2010 had a reduced harvest and are now left with no food to feed their families. Thanks to the US contribution, WFP is able to assist these people with the food they need,” she said.
A 2010 Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission conducted jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP identified over 111,000 people in central and southern Lao in need of food assistance before the next harvest.
Families who were affected by Typhoon Ketsana in the end of 2009 were among the hardest hit by adverse weather conditions in 2010. The prolonged dry season, lasting throughout June, forced farmers to replant their fields several times, exhausting the already stretched resources of the poorest families. When the rains did arrive, some villages suffered from flash floods that washed out newly planted fields.
WFP will assist all affected communities in the five affected provinces. WFP works through the Government of Lao PDR and with the support of non-governmental organisations.