July 8, 2008

Famine Looms Large in Far-Western Nepal

Famine looms large in far-western Nepal

KATHMANDU, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Famine looms large in many far- west districts of Nepal, local newspaper The Kathmandu Post reported on Monday.

"I have eaten nothing since I devoured two loaves of bread yesterday," said a pale looking Dhirendra Nepali, 13, of Kolti, Bajura district in Farwestern Development Region, some 420 km west of Nepali capital Kathmandu, while he was returning home empty handed from the Kolti food depot of the state-run Nepal Food Corporation (NFC).

The acute food crisis has been looming in at least 11 Village Development Committees (VDCs) in northeastern Bajura district, leaving thousands of villagers in a state of famine.

Thousands of locals gathered at Kolti food depot for foodgrains. However, some 600 tons foodgrain that the depot received had already been distributed.

Jagat Kunwar, an employee at the depot said that it needed 1, 000 tons of foodgrains if they were to distribute as per the people's needs.

"Ultimately we will have to die since there is no food in the depot and our meager production has already finished," said Rana BK, a local from Sapta village. Dhansure BK who reached the Kolti depot for food said, "I am not sure whether my children will be alive when I return home with food."

Some three weeks ago, hundreds of women had gathered at the District Development Committee (DDC) and threatened to commit suicide consuming poison en masse unless they were provided food at the earliest.

Similarly, the remote Kalikot district, some 400 km west of Kathmandu, has also witnessed food scarcity.

There is a shortage of foodgrain at Patala area in the northwest of the district. Locals said that the damage to crops from hailstone in April was the major cause of the looming food crisis in the area.

"We have spent up all the cash and valuables in order to purchase food," said a local Ganga Bahadur Budha, adding, "Nothing is left to fill our belly now." The NFC had decided to transport 150 tons of foodgrain for the locals of Patala area by helicopter. However, the food has not yet reached the area due to the rain.

Stating that the food price has skyrocketed in the recent days, the contractors appointed to supply food to the security agencies in midwestern and farwestern regions of the country have demanded subsidy from the government.

They claimed that they could not supply food at the rate agreed to in the past because of the steep price rises in recent days. " The government should help us over the matter as the food prices have increased by up to 80 percent after we inked the contract," said one food supplier to Nepali government.

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