HYDERABAD: Our stocks are limited, for supplies to continue through to December we need help from donors, said World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director Dominique Frankforte on Friday.
The WFP has so far supplied food to 0.5 million people in Sindh and plans to increase the number of beneficiaries to 2.2 million.
Frankforte added that increasing the numbers depended on the response of the donors. At the moment, the WFP is working in six districts, including Badin, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar and Umarkot. They have set up six warehouses and plan to double the number in the next few days. As people in thousands of flooded villages are waiting to receive relief assistance at their doorsteps, humanitarian agencies say that they will have to be met halfway. At a press conference on Friday, WFP deputy executive director Ramiro Lopes Da Silva said that they could not go beyond their means and that there was no support system to ferry the rations either.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the rains and floods affected 41,335 villages in Sindh. Thousands of them are cut of from road networks. In Sanghar district around 100,000 people cannot be reached through roads, said Lieutenant Rao Aijaz in a meeting with the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
This year the main challenge is getting through to these isolated areas. “I would not say it is more difficult but it is very different though,” said WFP Sindh Head Marit Fikke.
Fikke, who was in the province during last year’s floods, said that last year they had a centralised distribution system. He added that thousands of people would gather at one particular place for aid. “This year we have had to deal with a scattered population,” he said. With a visible barrier between the aid providers and flood survivors, innovative ways like using boats are not an option. According to Da Silva, it would only delay the distribution of relief goods. He added that the UN’s help had been sought a month too late and any further delay would only aggravate the food crisis.
While discussing why the WFP could not use fishermen’s boats, Da Silva said that people were not subjects but individuals who understand their own good.
He emphasised creating awareness among people and said that they faced a similar situation in Somalia. “There is a marked difference. People there understand that our logistics and staff have limited access, so they flock to the distribution points and get the aid in an organised way,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2011.
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