WFP MOVES INTO RECONSTRUCTION PHASE OF THE TSUNAMI DISASTER
BANGKOK - With the tsunami-struck countries in Asia moving into the reconstruction phase, the United Nations World Food Programme is launching a series of post-emergency humanitarian activities that will help hundreds of thousands of survivors return to a stable, productive and independent way of life.
Just over two months after the 26 December 2004 disaster, WFP is starting food-for-work projects in Myanmar to help people rebuild their communities. In both Sri Lanka and Indonesia, WFP has mapped out a strategy for providing nutritious food to the most vulnerable members of the population - orphans, widows, mothers who are the heads of their households, the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and schoolchildren.
"This is where the real work begins," said Kenro Oshidari, WFP Deputy Regional Director for Asia. "Just because this story has disappeared from television screens, it doesn't mean that the problem has gone away. In reality, it won't take weeks or even months, but years for many of these communities to recover."
"The challenges of rebuilding are monumental, but WFP stands ready to play its role for however long it takes," Oshidari continued, noting that WFP would continue to monitor "shifting patterns of vulnerability" among the populations where emergency aid could still be required.
This weekend, the focus will be on "Rebuilding After the Tsunami"at a fundraising rugby match to be held at the home of English rugby in Twickenham. The match was arranged by WFP's partner, the International Rugby Board, and will pit star players from the northern hemisphere against their southern foes. It will be broadcast live to millions of people in more than a dozen countries. Proceeds from the "Rugby Aid" match will fund long-term reconstruction in areas worst affected by the tsunami.
In January WFP launched a six-month US$256 million emergency operation for two million people affected by the tsunami. Reconstruction activities incorporated into the emergency are already underway:
• Some 7,000 people in Myanmar's Irrawaddy Division are constructing 20 water ponds for crop irrigation, six kilometers of village roads and two wooden bridges destroyed by the tsunami. In return, they are getting four months' supply of rice, cooking oil and beans. In the southern Kawthaung district, near the Thai border, WFP is giving the same ration to 1,000 people who are rebuilding access roads and rehabilitating sea dykes damaged by the waves.
• In Sri Lanka this month, WFP is starting a school feeding programme for 120,000 children, who will get a nutritious snack in school. This is in addition to the 165,000 children who were already enrolled in school feeding before the tsunami. And in order to prevent malnutrition, WFP will begin distributing corn-soya blended food to 200,000 "vulnerable group" members and to 112,000 mothers and infants. In May or June, WFP will assist 277,000 people to rebuild roads and other local infrastructure in the affected areas.
• Also in Sri Lanka, WFP will work in partnership with other groups like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help people clear debris from their land, rebuild their houses and resume their fishing activities by providing boats and nets. WFP and the International Labour Organization (ILO) carried out a joint livelihoods and food security assessment in January which indicated that before the disaster, some 37 percent of households in the area relied on fishing for a living. Now that figure is only one percent.
• General food distribution in Indonesia is gradually giving way to assistance targeted to 350,000 primary school children, 55,000 pregnant/lactating mothers, 130,000 children under five, 8,000 orphans and children in daycare. WFP will contribute to the restoration of livelihoods for the population affected through food-for-work, and is talking with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and other agencies on possible partnerships.
A recent report by WFP found that damage to houses, roads, irrigation and drainage systems in Indonesia constitutes 50 percent of the total tsunami damage. The reconstruction of this infrastructure is "critical to the restoration of livelihoods for the population in the affected areas," the report says.
The WFP report also said that rural poverty in Indonesia had been exacerbated by the tsunami. Oshidari said that if the high levels of financial support for the disaster continue, WFP and other agencies can use this opportunity "not only to rebuild what was destroyed but to improve people's lives by addressing the root causes of rural poverty in all the tsunami-affected countries."
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency; each year, WFP provides food aid to an average of 90 million people, including 56 million hungry children, in more than 80 countries.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign -- As the largest provider of nutritious meals to poor school children, WFP has launched a global campaign aimed at ensuring the world's 300 million undernourished children are educated.
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