KATHMANDU: While the issue of substandard food being distributed has mired the World Food Programme (WFP) in controversy, the United Nations agency, t, revealed its plan to transfer cash to the earthquake victims of all worst-affected districts except the three districts of Kathmandu Valley. This facility will cover all the affected areas that have market access. It will be launched from the second week of July.
However, talking to The Himalayan Times, Richard Ragan, emergency coordinator of the WFP, informed that food and nutrition supplements enough for 40 days will be sent to remote villages where there is no accessibility to market. WFP has expected to respond to the needs of 800,000 people of 11 districts — Gorkha, Dhading, Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Kavre, Sindhuli, Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga and Solukhumbu. “WFP will transfer Rs 8,000 to individual affected families where there is market access,” said Ragan, adding, “WFP will distribute food and nutrition supplements that are enough for 40 days to families who want food instead of cash.”
Government monitoring agencies have alleged WFP of distributing substandard food in Laprak of Gorkha district. The case is under investigation. Ragan informed that WFP itself is also looking into the issue. As per him, rice sacks distributed by WFP were white in colour but the rice sacks that were found with inedible rice are in yellow sacks.
Ragan clarified that the rice procured by WFP had been inspected in three stages — first at the source, then while it was being unloaded at the warehouse and finally while the goods were being dispatched to the destination — and there is no chance that the rice could have got spoilt within a month. He further said that the WFP’s Centre for Quality Surveillance is responsible for quality issues and that it takes food quality and safety extremely seriously. “Our food standards are in line with government laws.”
WFP has completed two phases of relief distribution so far. Immediately after earthquake it sent food to seven worst-affected districts that was enough for 10 days. As per the government’s request, WFP’s second phase programme — distribution of food with nutrition supplements enough for 20 days — covered 11 districts.
A version of this article appears in print on June 29, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.