Fight against hungerGovt and development partners should ensure enough food reaches deficient areas
There is a general perception that food insecurity in Nepal is limited to a small number of remote districts in the mid- and far-western regions. A new report by the Nepal Food Security Monitoring System, produced jointly by the Ministry of Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, reveals that there are indeed areas in those regions that lack adequate food. In particular, seven VDCs in Bajhang, nine in Bajura, 18 in Humla and seven in Kalikot have been classified as highly food insecure.
Overall, however, the report has found that the food security situation in many districts of the mid- and far-western regions has improved. This is due to bigger harvests of wheat, barley, maize and millet, as well as increased apple production. It is also noteworthy that no area in Nepal has been ranked as ‘severely food insecure’, the direst of four categories used in the report.
The most startling aspect of the report is that it places 31 VDCs in four districts of the western and central regions in the highly food insecure catagory, and states that an estimated 34,000 residents of these areas require humanitarian assistance. These include five VDCs in Dhading, 11 in Gorkha, nine in Nuwakot and six in Sindhupalchok. The reason why these VDCs, which lie in districts that normally do not have too great a problem with food availability, have now become food insecure is due to the 2015 earthquakes. The earthquake-affected districts have suffered winter crop losses and road and trail closures due to landslides. There has also been deterioration in sanitation and hygiene.
Overall, 31 VDCs across the country have been classified as highly food insecure, 175 VDCs as moderately food insecure, and 3,159 VDCs and municipalities as minimally food insecure. The government, along with international development partners, will have to ensure that adequate food supplies are provided to food-insecure areas. This includes areas classified not just as highly food insecure, but also as moderately food insecure (VDCs in Dolpa, Humla, Mugu, Bajura and Kalikot).
In addition, a special effort will have to be made to reach VDCs that have been affected by the earthquakes. The needs of people in earthquake-affected districts will likely be somewhat different from those in other districts. Other than food, they will require many other kinds of aid, including providing shelter and reinvigorating agriculture. As such, the supply of food to these districts should be integrated into a larger post-earthquake rehabilitation programme.
The National Reconstruction Authority should therefore establish proper procedures for food supplies as part of its reconstruction process. For example, food-for-work schemes for the rural population could help them gain food and, at the same time, work towards reconstruction.