Food Security Atlas for Nepal
“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, and to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.
World Food Summit Plan of Action (Rome Italy 13 November 1996).
Nepal, with a population of approximately 27 million people, is a food-deficit country struggling through a complicated peace process after the end of an 11-year civil war. It ranks 145 out of 179 countries in the Human Development Index 2007/2008.
The end of the civil war in November 2006 followed by the institution of a new government in May 2008 left Nepal’s citizens hoping for changes that would improve their lives; however, many people continue to live in near crisis conditions – with growing civil unrest, limited access to food, livelihood opportunities, or basic social services.
Food insecurity is pervasive with 41 percent of the population undernourished according to an FAO and WFP Food Security Assessment Mission to Nepal. Most families survive as subsistence farmers with 24 percent of the population living on less than US$1 per day. Women and children are particularly affected. In some communities, malnutrition rates for children under 5 are above emergency levels. In some of the most food insecure areas, acute malnutrition rates are 26 percent and chronic malnutrition rates are as high as 80 percent.
Sustained high food prices have put Nepal’s poor, nearly 7 million people who spend almost 80 percent of their income on food, on the edge of hunger. Many of these same people were highly affected by the conflict and a series of natural disasters leaving them with few coping mechanisms to deal with high food prices.
During 2008-2009, WFP will provide food assistance to 3.5 million food-insecure people struggling with the impacts of the conflict, high food prices and natural disasters.
WFP has worked to protect lives and improve food security for over forty years. Food and cash assistance is provided to vulnerable populations to improve their immediate food security and to enable families to invest in creating assets to rebuild their livelihoods. Women and their young children are provided with nutritional support through monthly take home rations of fortified food. Hundreds of thousands of school aged children are supported through school feeding. Incentive programmes provide take home rations of cooking oil to girls with high attendance rates.
Since 1992, WFP has been providing food assistance to Bhutanese refugees living in seven camps in Nepal. Third country resettlement has provided a durable solution for many refugees, but not all. Humanitarian assistance at near-current levels will be needed for years to come.
Nepal is highly prone to natural disasters. Since 2006, WFP has provided emergency food assistance to nearly one million Nepalese whose lives have been devastated by drought, floods and landslides.
Food Assistance for Populations Affected by High Food Prices, Conflict and Natural Disasters
WFP is providing food assistance to 2.7 million people struggling with high food prices and the impacts of conflict and natural disasters to safeguard lives and rebuild livelihoods. In exchange for work to repair or build critical infrastructure, community members receive food or a combination of food and cash. Food assistance helps meet immediate needs while enabling people to create assets like trails, roads, irrigation systems and cash crop nurseries that will improve their longer-term food security. Reduced hunger and new assets and economic opportunities mean that communities are more resilient to shocks and less likely to return to conflict. Internally displaced people (IDPs) and children formerly associated with armed groups and armed forces are receiving food assistance to ease reintegration into their communities.
Food Assistance to Bhutanese Refugees
Since 1992, WFP has been providing food rations to Bhutanese refugees living in seven camps in Nepal who are completely depended upon humanitarian aid for meeting their basic needs. Fortified rations are provided to vulnerable groups such as young children, nursing mothers, and the sick. WFP also supports supplementary activities such as loan schemes, vocational training and gardening activities for the most vulnerable refugees. Although thousands of refugees have applied for third country resettlement (the only durable solution currently available to the refugees), it will take years to resolve the issue and continued humanitarian support will be needed.
WFP food assistance provided under the Country Programme aims to improve the nutritional status of women and children and to encourage children to go to school so that they can break-out of the cycle of poverty and hunger. Fortified food distributed to these vulnerable populations during critical development periods helps create the nutritional foundation for children to grow into healthy, productive adults.
Activity 1: Food for Education
By providing a midday meal and deworming medication, the project improves attendance rates and the nutritional health of school-going children in food insecure areas. Where large disparities exist in attendance rates between girls and boys, a monthly ration of cooking oil is given to the mothers to encourage families to send their daughters to school.
Activity 2: Mother and Child Health Care
With nearly every other pregnant woman and child under 5 anaemic in Nepal, this programme addresses micro-nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition through monthly distributions of take home rations of fortified food. As a part of the programme, women receive pre- and postnatal health care and children’s growth is monitored. Information on nutrition and good healthcare practices are also shared with the mothers.
Download Nepal Country Sheet here