Food availability for flood victims a challenge

Published: September 10, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The immediate availability of food for flood victims has become a challenge in the wake of a 15 to 20 per cent price hike, the World Food Programme’s country head in Wolfgang Herbinger said here.

Addressing a seminar  on the post-flood security in Pakistan, the World Food Programme official highlighted issues pertaining to the supply of food, water, shelter and medicines in the flood-ravaged areas. The seminar was jointly organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), WFP and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Former WFP deputy executive director John Powell conducted the proceedings while SDC’s head Ernesto Morosin gave the opening remarks.

Highlighting the findings of a recently launched report – Food Insecurity Report 2009 – jointly published by WFP, SDPI and SDC, SDPI’s executive director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that food insecurity at the level of households, districts and provinces has become severe when compared to 2003. Suleri added that that 80 of 131 districts (61 per cent) in Pakistan are food-insecure. He said that 48.6 per cent of the country’s population is food insecure.

Economist at WFP Henri Josserand cautioned the participants of the seminar that there would be long-term social implications of the floods and that it was important to use the current situation as an opportunity to address structural social and environmental issues.

Speaking on the occasion, the food and agriculture secretary,  Junaid Iqbal Chaudhry, said, “The government’s focus is on the resettlement of the displaced persons, commencement of economic activities, food security and provision of targeted subsidy.” Chaudhry also gave a detailed presentation on  the extent of the damage.

Zubair Murshed of the National Disaster Managment Authority said that a ‘post-flood food, livestock and agriculture committee’ has been formed to devise a plan to address issues faced by flood victims.

The participants called for a collective but immediate efforts in dealing with the losses incurred during floods.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2010.

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