August 6, 2008

UN Report Says 2.5m Nepalese in Immediate Need of Food Aid

Excerpt of report headlined "Food crisis at its worst" published by Nepalese newspaper Rajdhani on 6 August

Kathmandu, 5 August: An international report says hundreds of thousands of people in Nepal are suffering from food crisis.

As reports about food shortage come in from the Karnali region [in midwestern and farwestern Nepal], a report prepared jointly by the UN World Food Programme [WFP] and Nepal Development Research Institute says that at least 2.5m people in rural parts of the country are in immediate need of food aid.

The report on "Market and Impact of Price" [transliterated] says rocketing prices have seriously affected the people in the rural areas. The stocks of food are extremely low, the report says.

The soaring food prices have put another 3.9m people in the rural areas at risk, the report says.

Also, about 525,000 people in urban areas in the country are facing food shortage, according to the report. A total of 67,000 Nepalese need emergency food aid, according to the report.

"They should be directly provided subsidized food for some time or provided with non-food assistance," the WFP report says.

The WFP has stressed the need for careful observation to protect the remaining 458,000 people from the wide-ranging effects of the food price hike.

Fuel shortage, protests and general shutdowns, and bad weather in the shortage-hit areas have hampered food supply, according to the report.

The report says the rate of price hike is higher than the economic growth rate in Nepal, unemployment rate is high and increasing price hike poses major challenge. It says "If all the stakeholders do not take the price hike and food crisis seriously these could pose a serious challenge to the peace process".

The report says price hike and food crisis remain major challenge for the new government and that the Nepalese political parties are focussed only on politics while people's basic needs go ignored.

The report says Nepal's food stocks were already critical even before the global food crisis began.

The report says food prices increased by 20 to 30 per cent over the past six months, cooking oil by 26 per cent, coarse rice by 19 per cent and kerosene by 13 per cent. [passage omitted: the report says retailers in rural areas raise prices to cover overhead costs]

Originally published by Rajdhani, Kathmandu, in Nepali, 6 Aug08, p1.

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