Prolonged drought causes food crisis in three districts

Bajura, November 11

People from three mountainous districts of Bajura, Humla and Mugu have been facing food crisis for the past three years due to prolonged drought.

Farmers said they did not have wheat seeds to sow this year after the protracted drought badly affected last season’s crops. “Wheat crops did not bear a single grain last year. This year, we are short of wheat seeds,” said Ramesh Rokaya of Sappata VDC-3, Bajura. “I have left my field with access to irrigation facility barren for want of seeds,” Rokaya said.

Farmers from Bajura’s 11 VDCs, Humla’s five VDCs, including Maila and Madena, and Mugu’s seven VDCs complained that they did not have wheat seeds to sow. They said the respective District Agriculture Offices had turned a deaf ear to their repeated requests to make the seeds available in the region.

Earlier, as much as 10,000 kg of wheat seeds was distributed to 13 drought-hit VDCs. “The government distributed one kg wheat seeds to each family. But each family requires more than 10 kg seeds,” Dhowj Bhandari of Rugin said.

Dr Ramkrishna Shrestha, chief of District Agriculture Office, Bajura, said his office had distributed 10,000 kg of wheat seeds to the drought victims of 13 VDCs in the district for free.

Nepal Climate Support Programme Bajura Coordinator Ganesh Joshi said districts in the mid and far west region had witnessed protracted drought due to climate change.

Joshi also attributed food crisis resulting from the prolonged drought for the rising rate of malnutrition in the district.

Around 50 per cent children in Bajura malnourished

A recent study showed that a large number of children in Bajura district are malnourished.

Dr Udaya Prakash, programme coordinator of Integrated Rural Health Development Training Centre, said many children in the district were found to be malnourished during a health camp organised by the UNICEF and IRHDTC under the Health Ministry in district headquarters Martadi; and Tante, Dogadhi, Kolti, Rugin and Gotri VDCs.

Nutrition officer at IRHDTC Puja Manandhar said, “Difficult geographical locations, poverty, and lack of health facilities are the main reasons behind malnutrition among children.”

She added that almost all children were underweight. Manandhar further informed that many pregnant women lacked access to nutritious food, which affected the infants’ health.

Information Officer at District Health Office, Bajura, Ram Chandra Yadav said around 50 per cent of the children in the district were malnourished. He said children from Sappata, Rugin, Pandusain, Kolti, Aantichaur, Jayabageshwori and other VDCs in the district were most malnourished.

Around 80 per cent of the children in Sappata VDC were reportedly malnourished, the highest percentage in the district.

A multi-regional nutrition programme in coordination with the District Health Office, District Development Committee, Agriculture Development Office, and Livestock Service Office has been launched to minimise malnutrition.