Silent Emergency: Nepal

Nepal has been suffering silently from a food crisis, with poor harvests, political unrest and high food prices contributing to the problem. After a civil war that lasted over a decade ended in 2006, the devastated economy has struggles to support its citizens. People are forced to sell off possessions or borrow money just to afford to buy enough for their daily meal. Even then, access to markets is often compromised by regular strikes by Maoist rebels which block roads and prevent supplies reaching remote areas.

Over the last few decades Nepal has been unable to increase crop yields to keep up with the growing population and has become increasingly dependent on food imports, leading to a sharp rise in prices. Any fluctuation in the world food prices thus has a direct impact on the affordability of basic staple foods in Nepal. This has the greatest impact on the eight million poor who live in Nepal and spend over 80% of their income on food. The government has failed to put in place as yet contingency plans to deal with the food shortages across the country. Until recently the World Food Programme has been bringing essential supplies to remote areas, but even they have had to pull out of several projects due to lack of funding.

Enough food is produced globally to feed the planet but even so more than one billion people go to bed hungry every night. Hunger is a leading cause of death, killing more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. (Reuters Alertnet)

The silent emergency in Nepal will continue unless something is done now. The Guardian’s Ed Douglas points out that whilst there was immense support advocating for the rights of Gurkhas who served in the British army, there has been little attention drawn to the plight of millions of Nepalese who are going hungry every day. The long-term impacts of malnutrition will affect children and their health and education, threatening an even greater crisis in the years to come.

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Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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