Nepal: Food security bulletin 23 - May 2009 (2009)

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Due to severe winter drought, 700,000 people in the Mid- and Far-Western Hills and Mountains are in need of immediate food assistance in addition to nearly one million people who are currently supported by WFP. The drought resulted in decreased national crop production for wheat and barley of 14.5% and 17.3% respectively; however, crop losses in many Hill and Mountain districts of the Mid- and the Far-West regions were more than 50%.

The ongoing WFP food assistance has helped to reduce the severity of household food insecurity in drought-affected communities. Due to the winter drought, however, continuous food assistance will be needed until the next harvest to support the poorest, drought-affected communities in the Mid- and the Far-West regions.

Nepal experienced one of its driest winters in 2008/09 resulting in significantly reduced winter crop yields, mainly wheat and barley. The crop losses ranged from about 10% in the Terai to more than 50% in some Mountain districts of the Mid- and Far-West. Such heavy crop losses have caused severe food insecurity in many communities in the Hill and Mountain districts, particularly in areas where wheat and barley play an important role in household food security. More than a year of sustained high food prices has already stretched household resources to the breaking point. Limited income generating opportunities and lack of access to food due to frequent supply constraints in the market leave many drought-affected households with few coping strategies to respond to this shock.

In early April 2009, WFP issued an Emergency Alert (see Emergency Alert-5), based upon its field surveillance system, warning that some 2 million people might be pushed towards food insecurity because of drought. This was followed by a Crop and Food Security Assessment jointly carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC), WFP and FAO which estimated that in addition to current WFP programming, an extra 700,000 people are in urgent need of immediate assistance.

Although crop production across the country was affected by the drought, the magnitude of crop losses and the resulting impact on food security vary greatly between different geographic regions of the country.

The most affected areas are where wheat and barley play an important role in household food security – essentially in the hills and mountains of the Mid- and Far-Western Development regions. Severe winter crop losses are exacerbating an already precarious food security situation caused by several years of poor crop harvests, poverty and sustained high food prices, and frequent market supply shortages. Ongoing WFP food assistance in many of these communities under the PRRO (Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations) has provided some relief, but continuous humanitarian assistance will be vital to people struggling to survive until the next harvest. This bulletin provides an update on the food security situation in the 39 districts that are covered by the field surveillance system of the Nepal Food Security Monitoring System (NeKSAP)
Language: English
Imprint: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Nepal Food Security Monitoring System FS Bulletin 23, May 2009:$File/full_report.pdf 2009
Series: Bulletin,