This operation has been modified and extended in time until 31 July 2010 as per Budget revision 905 (see below).
The dramatic rise in food prices during the last 12-18 months and recent natural disasters, including cyclone Sidr in the southern coastal districts, the rodent plague in south east of the country and recurrent monsoon floods, pose a serious threat to Bangladesh’s national food and nutrition security.
Although Bangladesh has made significant progress in human development indicators in the last decade, past progress made on Millennium Development Goals on poverty and hunger has already been compromised.
The country is at risk of not meeting its Millennium Development Goal targets on poverty, hunger and the reduction of under-5 child mortality.
The increase in prices of basic food commodities and fuel has exposed the poorest segments of society to severe pressure with concerns of a worsening food security in regions with higher concentrations of chronic poverty and food insecurity prior to the shock.
According to the recent FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, an additional 7.5 million people have joined the ranks of the hungry because of high food prices, bringing the number of people who consume less than 2,122 kcals/person/day to 65.3 million.A staggering 34.7 million people now consume less than 1,805 kcals/person/day, up from 27.9 million prior to the food price shock.
The depth of food insecurity has also worsened and this is happening at a time when the country is in a political transition. Food expenditures are increasingly dominating household budgets after the price shock and food consumption patterns have changed.Indebtedness is on the rise and education is already being impacted.
The poorest of the population are severely food insecure and are spending on average 86 percent of their household income on food.
The impact of high food prices will be particularly acute in lean seasons occurring in September- November (such as the Monga period in the Northwest of the country) and in March-April, due to chronic lack of employment opportunities for an ultra-poor population whose main livelihood is agricultural or day labour.
The Government of Bangladesh maintains a variety of social safety net programmes designed to address mainly transient food insecurity stemming from shocks. These safety nets are being significantly scaled up with plans to reach up to 68 million people affected by high prices.
Some of the most prominent Government of Bangladesh safety net programmes include Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF), Open Market Sales (OMS), Cash for Work (CFW), Food for Work (FFW) Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) and Gratuitous Relief (GR).
WFP estimates that approximately 56 million of the 65.3 million food insecure population is likely to receive assistance through Government or non-government programmes. This implies that approximately 9.3 million food insecure people are currently without assistance. WFP plans to assist approximately 5 million or 54 percent of this un-covered population through this Emergency Operation (EMOP) including in areas affected by cyclone Sidr, the rodent plague and monsoon floods.
The overall goal of this Emergency Operation is to complement the Government of Bangladesh safety net programmes to alleviate the impact of high food prices and natural disasters through targeted relief assistance; nutrition intervention; school feeding; employment generation and technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of government to design and manage effective safety nets.
Targeted relief assistance is designed to meet the immediate food needs of vulnerable groups in high food insecure urban and rural areas. The nutrition intervention is designed to reduce and/or stabilize acute malnutrition among targeted beneficiaries. School feeding assistance is designed to improve enrolment, attendance and learning by reducing short term hunger in primary schools in remote high food insecure rural areas and in urban slum catchments. Employment generation activities are designed to improve access to food through income transfers using both food-for-work and cash-for-work.
A concept note was submitted to the GoB indicating the caseload to be assisted with details on the activities to be undertaken. All EMOP activities will complement GoB efforts to alleviate the impact of high food prices and natural disasters. The GoB has expressed its strong support for this Emergency Operation and their strong willingness to actively collaborate in its implementation.
The Emergency Operation will be targeted to the most food insecure sub-districts in the country. WFP assistance will be closely coordinated with Government and non-governmental programmes to avoid duplication of assistance. A joint Steering Committee will be established at the central level to coordinate this Emergency Operation.
WFP will work with UNICEF and FAO to implement the nutrition intervention activities through a coordinated UN approach.
The Emergency Operation is in line with the recommendations of the Secretary General’s High Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis and the United Nations Comprehensive Framework for Action to assist governments to address the impact of high food prices. It is also in line with WFP Strategic Objectives 1: Saves lives and protect livelihood in emergencies; Strategic objective 2: Prevent acute hunger and invest in disaster preparedness and mitigation measures; Strategic Objective 4: Reduce chronic hunger and under-nutrition; and Strategic Objective 5: Strengthen the capacities of countries to reduce hunger, including through handover strategies and local purchase.
This EMOP will also contribute to the Government of Bangladesh effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.