Hungry, one too many

The World Food Programme Nepal’s (WFPN) disclosure that 47 per cent of the Nepalis are chronically hungry is indeed a matter of huge shame. WFPN, in its report titled ‘Food for Development’ blames Nepal’s stagnant economy, lack of employment opportunities, weak governance, insufficient infrastructure and the Maoist insurgency for trapping 12 million Nepalis in the vicious cycle of hunger and grinding poverty from which little respite seems probable. In this connection, ‘Fight Hunger: Walk the World’ walkathon is slated for May 21 in Kathmandu with the main objective of raising awareness on hunger, the role of education and generating funds to provide food security to the denied. The walkathon aims to raise $5 million worldwide for WFP’s global school feeding programme. This programme, at present, is benefiting two lakh, 92 thousand pupils in 2,700 schools located in 16 food deficit districts of the mid-western and far-western regions.

Undoubtedly, the WFPN’s campaign in Nepal deserves accolades as it kills two birds simultaneously — feed the hungry kids and entice them to schools. But what about the government’s commitment? Aren’t the reports of starvation deaths a disgrace? Doesn’t it warrant a prompt intervention? The food shortage in Humla, Jumla, Bajura, Doti and Mugu, and exodus to the neighbouring countries is a recurring phenomenon that is never dealt with effectively. When people are compelled to survive on water alone for days on end, an able-bodied and confident workforce is downright unthinkable. Food security is the least the government can guarantee to those plagued by poverty and crippled by all kinds of diseases. Unless corrective steps are taken, the UN’s millennium development goal of banishing extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 will remain a far cry.