In flood-ravaged Pakistan, “women and children are facing a dangerous downwards spiral of hunger and malnutrition,” says Josette Sheeran, the director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Sheeran warns, “We need to scale-up now and we need to scale-up quickly.”
The World Food Programme is calling upon the international community to support a 600 million dollar food aid operation for Pakistan. WFP says the funds are needed to provide aid through July 2011 to an average of 6 million Pakistanis per month. So far, WFP has collected 103 million from donors.
WFP will also begin implementing Food for Work projects to speed recovery of the agricultural sector which took such a massive hit during the floods. At least 17 million acres of farmland were submerged.
Emergency school feeding will also be provided to nourish children and help them resume their education, and some sense of normalcy in a period of massive turbulence. Infant feeding is an especially crucial aspect of the operation to prevent damaging malnutrition from taking hold in the most vulnerable segment of the population.
Food for Pakistani children is especially critical to prevent dangerous malnutrition from taking hold (World Food Programme photo)
It’s important to keep in mind that prior to the flood, WFP was already helping Pakistanis displaced by the fighting between the government and the Taliban. The flooding is another disaster piled on top of another in the impoverished country.
Sheeran adds, “The road to recovery will be long and arduous and Pakistan will need all the help it can get to build back from this disaster.” Food will be the basis of this recovery.
The Pakistan emergency sounds the loudest call to date for President Obama to appoint a food ambassador, as called for in numerous bills pending in Congress. The number of hungry people worldwide is nearly 1 billion.
The threat of hunger to international stability requires the full, undivided attention of the top leadership. Food supplies worldwide need to be coordinated to meet the gigantic relief operation in Pakistan and other countries.