Food aid accelerated to Pakistan flood victims

by Bryan Salvage
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ROME – Urgent food security challenges are being addressed in Pakistan by the Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O.), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (I.F.A.D.) and the World Food Programme (W.F.P.), following the recent flood disaster which destroyed food stocks and approximately 10% of the country's standing crops, leaving an estimated 10 million people vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition.

The devastating floods in Pakistan have affected more than 20 million people overall. Pakistan is a country already prone to food insecurity. Pakistanis generally consume three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. A typical Pakistani lunch consists of meat curries or lentils along with bread or rice. Another popular lunch dish is potatoes with meat. Other curries such as meat combined with cabbage or biryani is also popular. For dinner, food which requires more preparation and which is more savory (such as haleem, pulao, kofte, kebabs) are prepared.

Cooperation between F.A.O., I.F.A.D. and W.F.P. is a fundamental part of the recovery effort. They are working quickly to mobilize resources, logistics and capacity on the ground to address immediate and longer-term food needs. The agencies are ramping up complementary programs such as emergency food and nutritional assistance, distribution of agricultural inputs such as seeds, animal feed and veterinary supplies, rehabilitation of damaged land and agricultural infrastructure and microfinance activities.

W.F.P. reached 3 million flood affected people with food rations during August and is scaling up to reach 6 million this month, particularly through an expansion of operations in Punjab and in Sindh, which remains largely under water. Monthly family food rations include nutritious ready-to-use food supplements for children, who are at particular risk of malnutrition.

With 80% of the flood affected population dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, loss of stored seeds, grains and animals has rendered farming families extremely vulnerable. Although water still stands in many of the affected areas, planting of the critical annual wheat crop, to be harvested next year, can take place where the water has receded.

F.A.O. is currently reaching 1.6 million people in these areas with distributions of wheat seed, fertilizer and vegetable seed kits, as well as animal feed and veterinary supplies for livestock. With increased donor support, the agency could double the number of families it reaches with immediate assistance in the coming months.
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