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Nepal Humanitarian Transition Appeal 2010
Nepal suffers from chronic food insecurity, severe and recurrent natural disasters, poor health and sanitation infrastructure, and water and energy scarcity. These factors combined with political instability and civil unrest result in a dire humanitarian situation for Nepal’s already vulnerable population.
The country’s long-running civil conflict (1996-2006) severely outstretched the coping mechanisms of affected families. Further external shocks, such as floods, droughts, pandemics or rising food prices, could have catastrophic consequences for Nepal if support mechanisms are not provided. Currently, 3.4 million people in the country are highly to severely food insecure. Each year, approximately 28 000 children under the age of five die from easily preventable illnesses. More than 50 percent of districts are food-deficit and nearly one-quarter of the population lives on less than USD 1 per day.
The cost of staple food items in Nepal today is as high or higher than at the peak of the international food crisis in August 2008. Further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis, political instability has disrupted governmental proceedings and limited investment, job creation and exports, while continued strikes have impacted the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The Nepal Humanitarian Transition Appeal 2010 seeks USD 123.5 million to assist over 3.4 million people countrywide through priority interventions related to food security, refugees, disaster preparedness and coordination.
Challenges facing food security and agriculture
Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for over three-quarters of the population. Nepal’s decade-long conflict caused the collapse of the sector as it destroyed rural infrastructure, disrupted storage, transportation and market access, depleted food and seed stocks, and affected livestock production and animal health services. Over the past three years, a further five million people have fallen below the poverty line due to high food prices and low crop yields. In rural areas, over 70 percent of income is spent on food. Farmers have difficulty in accessing basic agricultural inputs due to their high costs, limited local seed production capacity and poor road networks.
The lack of quality seeds, fertilizers and agricultural machinery results in an average per hectare yield of rice, wheat, maize and pulses – Nepal’s staple crops – that is notably lower than that of neighbouring countries. An increased frequency of floods, droughts and hail storms has further impacted crop production. The 2008/09 winter drought resulted in a 14.5 and 17.3 percent decrease in barley and wheat production, respectively, as compared with the previous year. Lack of fodder and access to veterinary services, combined with animal disease outbreaks, continually threaten the food security of families reliant on livestock, a vital livelihood asset for rural communities, especially the landless.
Within the framework of the Nepal Humanitarian Transition Appeal 2010, original funding requirements for the assistance proposed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) amounted to USD 10.9 million. However, current funding needs total USD 5.4 million. This time-critical support will enable vulnerable, agriculture-dependent families to improve their food security, nutrition practices and resilience to future shocks. FAO’sproposed activitiesaim to:
- Improve the nutrition knowledge and food practices of food insecure families through training, establishing home and school gardens, and promotion of small livestock rearing.
- Increase the resilience of vulnerable farming households to drought by providing agricultural inputs and building local capacity in drought preparedness, response and mitigation.
- Assist conflict-affected households to resume agricultural livelihoods through the distribution of crop- and livestock-related inputs and rehabilitation of small irrigation systems.
- Mitigate the impact of soaring food costs by providing agricultural inputs, disseminating improved agricultural practices and facilitating the development of a national food security and nutrition information and monitoring system.