September 11, 2012
VIENTIANE – More than 39,000 people in Khammuane struggling from the long-term impact of tropical storms are now able to bridge the food gap until the next harvest, thanks to a donation of €404,000 (US$502,488) by the European Union's Humanitarian Aid AND Civil Protection department (ECHO) through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in support of a government-led relief effort.
In close cooperation with the Lao Government and with the support of World Vision International, WFP provides nutritious food and nutrition training to families who lost their harvest in flooding caused by storms and unusually heavy rainfall in 2011.
“ECHO’s contribution comes at the right time”, says Paul Howe, WFP Officer in Charge. “It is now, during the peak of the lean season, when food stocks are at their lowest, that affected families – especially small children – need nutritious food the most. With those pressing needs taken care of, the knowledge they acquire in nutrition trainings will serve them for a lifetime.”
Across Khammuane, the province worst hit by last year’s storms, 37,000 hectares of paddy fields – equivalent to 63 percent of the overall paddy area – were damaged or completely destroyed. This crop damage was accompanied by a widespread loss of productive assets including farm implements, livestock and seeds. In the aftermath of the storms, WFP assisted close to 60,000 people in Khammuane with emergency food rations to cover their immediate needs, and closely monitored the affected population to see if they needed further assistance during the lean season.
"We recognise that flood victims need continued humanitarian support for some time after a natural disaster and this financial assistance is to provide affected communities with further food assistance until the next rice harvest in order to help them bridge the gap," said the EU Chargé d'Affaires Michel Goffin.
The WFP rations of rice and oil help families meet their food and nutrition needs during this critical time. Children under the age of five, who are especially vulnerable to malnutrition, also receive specialized nutritious foods to help ensure they get additional energy, vitamins and minerals they need to stay strong and healthy. Food is only part of the WFP assistance that will reach communities in need. WFP has trained partners in the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Health Centre staff and WVI staff to deliver basic nutrition information with each food distribution. Communities learn about the short and long term impact of malnutrition, and the steps they can take to prevent it.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries. In 2011, WFP Lao PDR provided 8,800 tons of food to more than 610,000 people throughout the country.