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Food for Myanmar's cyclone victims still top priority

Twelve weeks after Cyclone Nargis devastated the Ayeyarwady Delta region of Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of families still have a lengthy storm to weather, WFP said.


The situation in Myanmar remains dire.
Chris Kaye, WFP’s Country Director for Myanmar
“The situation in Myanmar remains dire,” said Chris Kaye, WFP’s Country Director for Myanmar. “The vast majority of families simply don’t have enough to eat.”


ASEAN report

The findings of a joint Government, ASEAN and UN report, released earlier this week, substantiate WFP’s concerns and earlier fears of a drastic reduction in household food stocks after the cyclone struck Myanmar’s southern coast on 2 May 2008.

The comprehensive assessment confirmed that more than 40 percent of households lost all food stocks during the storm, which washed away entire villages and inundated farmlands with seawater.

Additional key findings reveal that 34 percent of households reported having no food stocks on the day of the survey, and a further 45 percent reported having enough to last only 1-7 days. In addition, 89 percent of households reported that food was their highest priority expenditure.

Hunger is a real threat

“Hunger remains a very real threat, and if people are hungry, they can’t focus on rebuilding their livelihoods,” said Kaye. In response to the assessment’s results, WFP recently scaled up its emergency feeding programmes for 924,000 beneficiaries, which will last until next April. The US$112 million operation is facing a 52 percent shortfall, although Kaye welcomed recent contributions from the United Kingdom and Australia which will help to ensure that food supplies continue to reach the hungry.

Logistical challenges

Significant logistical challenges of moving sufficient food and relief supplies into and around the Delta remain, especially given recent heavy monsoon rains. The extent of destruction caused by the country’s most devastating natural disaster is on a similar scale to that of the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004.

WFP has now provided 733,490 victims of the cyclone with emergency food assistance, and has continued to provide crucial logistics services to the entire humanitarian community.