ISLAMABAD – At the conclusion of a two-day visit to Pakistan, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin urged a renewed effort to address the food and nutrition needs of people affected by displacement, natural disasters and poverty.
“Pakistan is a country of such rich potential, but development is shackled by the struggle of the most vulnerable to meet their daily food needs, and by the long-term impact of under-nutrition,” said Cousin. “Food security and good nutrition are the bedrock of progress. During my visit I have reaffirmed WFP’s commitment to work with the Government of Pakistan to achieve the goals of eliminating chronic malnutrition and food insecurity.”
The Government of Pakistan is now the second largest donor to WFP operations in the country. This follows a donation of 75,000 metric tons of wheat earlier this year, with the understanding that there may be further contributions to come.
During her visit, the WFP Executive Director met with counterparts in the Ministry of Food Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Economic Affairs Division, as well as at the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
On Sunday, Cousin visited WFP projects in Mingora and Kalam, both of which help to ensure proper nutrition and a healthy diet amongst those affected by displacement and natural disasters. She also met with the Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Peshawar.
WFP currently provides emergency food rations to about 1 million people temporarily displaced by unrest in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Other WFP operations include a nationwide nutrition programme targeting about one million mothers and young children with locally manufactured, specialised nutritious foods, food- and cash-based projects designed to improve community resilience to natural disasters benefitting nearly 800,000, and school feeding for about 200,000 children in FATA.
Highlighting the importance of tackling under-nutrition, Cousin indicated that WFP was ready to support the government in forming a national policy which would require all wheat flour sold commercially to be fortified with key micronutrients.
WFP also works closely with the NDMA, as well as provincial and district authorities, to improve emergency preparedness and response capacity. Significant progress has been made in improving the infrastructure available to enable a faster and more efficient response to crises, but strong donor support remains vital.
WFP currently requires a further US$40 million to fully implement its operations in Pakistan until the end of this year. A further US$9 million is needed to cover the transport and distribution costs up to October of the Pakistan-donated wheat.
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