The United Nations World Food Programme has welcomed today an additional contribution of £788,000 (Rs 130 million) from the Government of the United Kingdom towards its nutrition support for vulnerable families in Nepal.

The UK-aid contribution, through the British Embassy Kathmandu, comes at a time when monsoon floods, on top of the socio-economic impact of the COV- ID-19 pandemic, are disrupting livelihoods and exacerbating food insecurity and malnutrition for many Nepalis.

This funding is in addition to the £4.49 million (Rs 678 million) WFP received from the UK Government in December 2020 towards the agency's response to COVID-19.

"Natural hazards affect marginalised communities disproportionately, including women and children. Protecting the health of the Nepali people is a top UK priority.

The UK is glad to be supporting WFP's efforts to make sure vulnerable Nepalis, especially mothers and children, receive proper food and nutrition," said Nathanael Bevan, Development Director, British Embassy Kathmandu.

This support will mean more than 100,000 mothers and children in eight districts in Province 2, Sunsari in Province 1, Jajarkot in Karnali Province, Kailali, and Kanchanpur in Sudurpaschim Province will receive Super Cereal, a specialised nutritional product that helps prevent malnutrition, for two months. Mothers will also receive information and counselling on nutrition and COVID-19.

Part of the contribution will help WFP conduct a new round of cross-country household food security surveys.

Nepal is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

Each year, tens of thousands of people are affected by floods, landslides and other forms of natural hazards linked to climate change. Already over 15 per cent of households in Nepal are food-insecure, while around 39 per cent of children between 6 to 23 months do not meet minimum dietary requirements. This monsoon season, women and children's access to adequate and nutritious food is further threatened by COVID-19.

"The pandemic and its socio-economic impact have put unrelenting pressure on Nepali families' food security. Between December 2020 and June 2021, the number of households experiencing income loss has doubled from 21 to 45 per cent, making food increasingly out of reach for many.

We are thankful for this timely contribution from the UK Government.

It will enable us to reach the most vulnerable mothers and children whose lives have been made harder by COVID, and now the monsoon, in support of the Government of Nepal's emergency preparedness and response," said Jane Pearce, WFP Nepal Country Director.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 21 2021, of The Himalayan Times.