WFP stops food distribution in Jajarkot

SURKHET: Following the allegation of substandard quality of the food distributed under the UN World Food Program (WFP), the latter has stopped distributing rice to Jajarkot residents for a week now.

Some organisations even claimed that the deadly diarrhoea was spread in the district due to the decayed rice distributed by the WFP. INSEC, a leading human rights organisation, also blamed the causes of diarrhoea being the low quality rice and pulse distributed by the UN body.

DEPROSC, an organisation that has got responsibilities for distributing the rice of WFP in Jajarkot, has stopped it from the second week of August.

"The distribution of rice and pulse has been stopped after the questions were raised over the qualities of the foodstuff," said chief of DEPROSC Jajarkot, Kusum Kishor Bhatta.

He added that the distribution of food would not be continued until the debate over it would not be ended.

The INSEC in its formal programme had accused that the rice distributed by WFP in the district was not comestible.

Not only this, the Central Food Investigation Technology also confirmed that the food distributed in Jajarkot was not edible.

As per its program, the WFP has been distributing food in 18 VDCs of the district. This year, it has targeted to distribute 4, 000 quintals of rice in the VDCs. Out of this, 2,500 quintals of rice has been distributed and the rest of the rice was planned to be distributed within the four months beginning August.

Following the halt in the distribution of rice, thousands of residents of 18 VDCs of Jajarkot district have been hit by double sufferings. Starvation has loomed large in the district.

To reduce the starvation in Jajarkot, the WFP had been playing a pivotal role.

There are four depots of Nepal Food Corporation in Jajarkot district. However, the depots have been displaced since 2000 due to the Maoist insurgency.

The depots each located at Ragda's Chaukha and Nayakbada, Pajaru's Ghogi and Dasera used to distribute 500 quintals of rice, far less than demand, each year.

"Despite the lack of depots, contractors have been distributing food but the starvation problem has not been solved," Nepal Food Corporation Jajarkot chief Lekharaj KC said.

Reiterating that their food met the quality standards required by the government, WFP on August 21 had warned of willing to suspend its operations if the Nepali authorities concluded that their food weren't lived up to the quality requirements.

"Protecting the lives of Nepal's most vulnerable is at the heart of WFP's interest. In relation to the reports in the media about samples INSEC sent to the Food Technology and Quality Control Lab, WFP has no confidence that the food samples supplied by INSEC were drawn using the appropriate sampling methodologies or procedures," read the statement adding that the food was delivered to beneficiaries only after tests confirmed that they were safe for human consumption.