From Francesco Strippoli, Senior Humanitarian Adviser; available on the Internet on the WFP Home Page (www.wfp.org), or by e-mail from Zlatan.Milisic@wfp.org. For information on resources, donors are requested to contact Valerie.Sequeira@wfp.org at WFP Rome, telephone 39 06 6513 2009. Media queries should be directed to Trevor.Rowe@wfp.org, telephone 39 06 6513 2602. The address of WFP is Via Cesare Giulio Viola 68, Parco dei Medici, 00148 Rome, Italy.
(A) West and Central Asia
a) 30,000 tons of US donated wheat arrived at the Pakistani port of Karachi this week. US Ambassador attended the ceremony to hand over the wheat to WFP. This shipment comes at a crucial time for WFP, as its resources are limited and a gap in the pipeline was anticipated in April.
b) A joint UN-NGO mission, with participation of WFP, is currently visiting the three districts of Ragh, Sharibuzurg and Yaftal in Badakshan Province. The objective of the mission is to assess the overall food situation and nutritional status, following the Allied Opposition's report of widespread deaths due to famine. WFP had provided these districts with at least 900 tons of wheat during the period between October and December last year. The area has thereafter been inaccessible due to poor weather. The distribution is expected to resume in the next two-three weeks.
c) In Herat, WFP has completed a second round of free wheat distribution while a third round has started as of late February. In addition, high-energy biscuits and oil are distributed in most camps. A nutritious CSB porridge is served daily to all children living in the camps. WFP is now trying to expand the wet feeding programme to include pregnant women and nursing mothers in the camps as well.
d) During the reporting period, WFP visited the districts of Qala-I-Nau and Qadis of Badghis province. After field observations and discussions with NGOs, villagers and Taliban officials, it was concluded that many families do not have the assets to continue living in their villages for more than a few weeks. They have exhausted their food supplies and their livestock herds. The numbers of such people are so large that traditional coping strategies of sharing and richer members of the community giving to poorer are no longer viable. People are on the move to urban centres such as Herat and Qala-I-Nau where they hope to get assistance.
e) Unless there is a major injection of wheat by WFP into Badghis within the next few weeks, there is a significant prospect of a large proportion of the 400,000 population of the province moving to the Herat camps. Preliminary rough calculations suggested that Badghis Province alone would need about 2,500 tons of wheat per month.
f) WFP's assistance will have to be sustained through at least July 2002. Unusually, it will not be desirable to ease off food aid in the post-harvest period. Priority for the expected small wheat harvest should go to laying down stocks of seed for planting in February 2002. People should eat WFP wheat and save the wheat they harvest for seed, with any surplus being exchanged for WFP wheat and redistributed.
g) Since beginning of March, WFP has approved 10,500 tons of food for 31 projects under its various life saving activities in Afghanistan.
a) Due to inadequate rainfall and winter rains, the effects of drought are re-appearing once again in Pakistan. Wheat crop is reported to have suffered a set-back and its production is estimated to be 10 percent less than the 18.5 million tons produced in 1999. Because of drought situation, the government has revised the GDP growth rate from 4.5 percent to 3.8 percent.
b) In the past winter up to 15 March, drought-affected areas in Baluchistan received only 37 percent of normal precipitation, and drought conditions persist. Snowfall, which is an important source of moisture, was only 7 percent of the expected amount. This is not enough to improve the water tables and agriculture production, but has permitted some fodder production.
c) The drought situation is persisting in Sindh for the past four years, adversely affecting the crop and livestock production. The Government of Sindh has declared 186 villages in the districts of Tharparkar, Sanghar and Mirpurkhas, as the calamity-hit areas for this year too.
d) WFP has contributed 231 tons oil for 60,000 drought-affected families in 2,000 villages in Tharparker, which is being distributed through a network of NGOs. Priority has been given to those families also affected by the earthquake.
e) In view of the drought situation, the UN Disaster Management Team has proposed to the Government to undertake an assessment of the food and non-food situation in the drought-affected areas in Sindh and Balochistan. Food and crop assessment mission will be undertaken jointly by FAO and WFP while non-food mission will be undertaken jointly by UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA and UNDP. These missions are proposed to take place in second half of April.
(B) Great Lakes
a) WFP has begun food distributions in Ngozi and Kayanza provinces, where malnutrition rates have increased considerable in the past months. More than 730 tons of 30-day rations were distributed to approximately 45,000 people in Ngozi province. In Karuzi over 56,000 people received 15-day rations (464 tons). Such distributions will be carried out in other provinces with food deficits ahead of the next harvest, expected between late May and early July. During the coming months WFP plans to assist 1.3 million people countrywide, including 100,000 persons in nutritional programmes.
b) WFP continues to provide Seed Protection Rations (SPR) countrywide. In the past two weeks, 1,350 tons of food were distributed to more than 210,000 people in the provinces of Muramvya, Mwaro, Muyinga and Kayanza. In Bujumbura Rural and Makamba all planned distributions were cancelled due to insecurity.
c) Through the last week, WFP continued to supply family rations to address nutritional situation in Burundi. In Bujumbura Rural province, 37,455 people living in four accessible communes were provided with 178 tons of food for a period of ten days.
d) Earlier this month, 62,000 people were displaced in Bujumbura and the surrounding areas due to hostilities caused by rebels and government troops. Following the displacement, Household Food Economy Analysis teams conducted assessments at the different IDPs sites. It was reported that the people were unable to feed themselves due to inaccessibility to their usual resources. WFP has provided some food to these IDPs, but insecurity has hampered access to several sites.
a) Last week, WFP appealed to donors for the protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO), which was launched in April last year and remains almost 60 percent underfunded. The operation had originally planned to feed 411,500 people, but intensified rebel activity last year sent tens of thousands more people fleeing from their homes in search of food and shelter. Coupled with increasing influxes of new refugees from Sudan, the number of people receiving WFP food has increased to some 673,000 IDPs and refugees in northern and western parts, along the borders with Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo respectively.
b) A wave of new arrivals of refugees from Sudan was reported in the West Nile region, fleeing widespread famine reported in the area. Over 2,000 refugees have so far been registered by UNHCR. The 1,017 refugees hosted in Rhino camp are currently pending resettlement. In addition, another 726 new arrivals still await registration at Yumbe district headquarters. WFP anticipate to provide food to those screened and registered by UNHCR.
a) To come back in line with the two week distribution cycle after distributing a three week ration in the beginning of February, a one week's food distribution was effected in all camps during the reporting period. The cycle comprised an 80 percent ration for all items. However, a full ration of the food basket was distributed to vulnerable individuals in Lugufu, Kibondo, Ngara and Kasulu.
b) Ngara and Kasulu are in the process of reviewing their criteria for targeting vulnerable individuals in an effort to systematise the targeting in the refugee operation. Kibondo and Lugufu are using the Household Food Economy methodology criteria, which address household vulnerability rather than individual vulnerability. Vulnerable households are therefore defined as those households found to have very limited options of expanding on other sources of food or cash income.
c) During the reporting period, refugees in Lugufu I camp went on strike for three days due to discontent regarding the reduced rations provided in the camp. Several meetings were held between heads of agencies, NGOs, refugees zone leaders, village leaders and food group leaders in which grievances were highlighted. During the meetings WFP and UNHCR explained that distribution depends on donor contributions and the available food stocks were only sufficient to cover 80 percent of the normal full ration to all refugees in the country. Following the meeting, refugees ended their strike and turned up at the distribution site to receive their food ration. Despite the three day refugee strike and movement in Lugufu camp, the security situation remained calm for both UN Agency personnel and WFP warehouses.
d) WFP signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding with TANROADS Regional Manager and Assist Roads Foundation (AROF) to do road repair works along the road between Mugombe and Nyarugusu in Kasulu. AROF will be carrying out the emergency repair of the road using UNHCR heavy plant unit, while WFP will meet all the fuel needs as well as cover arising incidental costs.
e) During the reporting period, low stocks in all commodities were observed at the Extended Delivery Point in Lugufu. In Ngara, cereals, pulses and biscuits stocks are currently very low while Kibondo and Kasulu reports indicate low stocks of cereals and pulses. Urgent stock replenishment is needed to meet the requirements for the forthcoming distribution cycles.
(C) West Africa Coastal
a) Following the attack on the town of Nongoa and the village of Wedjiba, where 36 persons were killed, the local population burnt the six camps located in the area and compelled the refugees to flee towards the camps of Katkama, Yendé and Massakoundou. WFP has reported that 187 tons of food commodities in Nongoa, stored by Premier Urgence, were looted by the local population and the army in the beginning of the week.
b) The NGOs have limited their intervention in the Parrot Beak at the camp of Mongo, located about 10-km away from Gueckedou, as the local authorities have banned the accessibility to the region. The refugees of the camp of Kolomba, Fangamadou and Mange are trapped and cannot be reached by the humanitarian organisations for security reasons.
c) WFP has provided commodities to ICRC in order to assist 7,700 IDPs in Beyla.
d) Nutritional and household surveys will start in Kankan within two weeks with two implementing partners. WFP anticipate to assist them for a smooth transition and will maintain its presence with the opening of one office and the reinforcement of the storage capacities.
e) WFP plans to provide Premier Urgence with 10-day rations for 6,000 refugees in the camp of Katkama, while waiting for their transfer to the camp of Albadaria (Kountaya and Boreya). The number of the refugees transferred to Kountaya is by now 21 000 people.
f) The distribution of WFP provided food in the camp of Kouankan will be managed by implementing partners for an estimated number of 13,000 refugees next week. Across verification will be done simultaneously. In Forecariah, the food distribution has started in the beginning of the week on the basis of 12,000 persons.
g) A logistic assessment mission was organized in Dabola in order to visit the two proposed sites of Simba Kounya and Koubeta where 60 000 refugees will be transferred.
(2) Sierra Leone
a) During the reporting period, WFP distributed a total of 579 tons of assorted food commodities to 63,699 beneficiaries.
b) Hundreds of Sierra Leonean refugees are returning from the Parrots Beak region of Guinea to the eastern parts of Sierra Leone, across rebel-held territory. Up to 900 refugees returned by foot to the town of Daru, in Kailahun district over the weekend. In anticipation of the arrival of more returnees, especially women and children, WFP pre-positioned 3-day rations for up to 10,000 people in Daru on the 20 March.
c) In the Western Area, WFP completed the last distribution of Vulnerable Group Feeding (VGF) rations to IDPs from safe areas in Mandela, Trade Center and Parade Ground. The resettlement process for the IDPs from safe areas, currently estimated at 65 percent, will begin in the next week. Two-month VGF rations will be provided to the resettled IDPs in their home of origin.
d) In Mile 91, some 31,412 IDPs in 28 villages were assisted with a total of 442 tons of food commodities. Some 28,800 IDPs from Kambia district, currently seeking refuge in 16 villages in Lokomasama district, are planned to be assisted this week with a one-off VGF ration, amounting to a total of 390 tons. Moreover, WFP completed the distribution of 270 tons of food aid to 20,000 IDPs in Port Loko camp.
e) Under the Emergency School Feeding Program 2,836 school children in 28 schools in Bo north/east have been assisted with 14 tons of assorted food items during the reporting period.
f) In Freetown a total of 22 tons of assorted food commodities was distributed, under the food-for-work (FFW) operation, to 2,538 beneficiaries in Upper Koya district for the rehabilitation of roads in that area.
a) Food distribution to the Sierra Leonean refugees in Montserado camps began during the week. A total of 18,450 persons were targeted with 158 tons of assorted food commodities. The total food distribution from 15 to 19 March throughout the country amounted to 649 tons of assorted items.
b) Distribution to schools was completed in Nimba, Bong, Bomi and Lower Lofa counties during the week under review, including food assistance to other project activities.
c) Liberia closed its border with Sierra Leone with effect from 19 March and ordered the security organs to enforce the closure. According to Government sources, serious security incidents have taken place over the past months along its border with Sierra Leone. It is not yet clear what security implications this move will have on the humanitarian efforts.
(D) Greater Horn of Africa
a) To date, there has been no donor response to the UN Inter-Agency/Government appeal for drought in Kenya, launched on 15 February. More than three million people are still in urgent need of food aid. For WFP, the key concern remains the precarious food pipeline situation. Only around 50,000 tons cereals are available until the end of June, meaning that forecast needs estimates may have to be further reduced due to a lack of supply. Further pledges to the emergency operation (EMOP) are urgently required.
b) Dispatch of food to targeted schools is complete in the twelve districts selected for the Emergency School Feeding Programme (EFSP). Field monitoring by WFP and MOEST officials was carried out in Laikipia, Tharaka and Mbeere districts during the reporting period. Indicators continue to show that ESFP has played a major role in stabilising school enrolment and ensuring that school attendance has been maintained during the drought.
c) A reduction in ration sizes has been agreed as a result of the findings of the January multi-agency food security assessments. Six districts in Rift Valley Province, for which good harvests are forecast, will not receive general distribution rations for March. The decision to halt free food distribution in six districts will allow the limited food commodities available to be sent to the areas of highest need. However, pockets of highly vulnerable populations remain, particularly in Kitui, Mwingi and Tharaka Districts, which will be monitored closely in order to determine whether general distributions will be restored in May.
d) Supplementary rations are being distributed simultaneously with general distribution rations in the ten districts of Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Samburu, Marsabit, West Pokot, Garissa, Tana River, Isiolo and Moyale, to beneficiaries who meet specific criteria for supplementary food.
e) Financial and logistical arrangements are still being developed for the FFW implementation. These issues were discussed during a multi-agency workshop in March, which focused on the practical possibilities for implementing FFW in EMOP districts. The plan is that during April, NGOs, in collaboration with the community-based relief committees, will identify the general activities that are feasible for FFW and put forward proposals to WFP, in an agreed format. WFP anticipate to maintain sub offices and field monitors in the districts, to assist with the identification of suitable projects and to wind up general distribution related operations.
e) In Moyale District, areas cut off by insecurity are facing the worst nutritional status. These divisions are receiving a full ration of supplementary food while other areas received a half ration.
In Baringo District, World Vision reported that discussions with local leaders resulted in an increase in attendance in the Therapeutic Feeding Centres (TFC). WFP agreed that general rations can be used to feed the mothers who take care of their children in the TFC.
f) A multi-agency nutritional survey was completed in five areas of Turkana. The findings are that the situation in Turkana appears to have improved, as a result of the large-scale WFP general distribution programme and accelerated health interventions.
g) Insecurity continued to be a problem in the arid areas of Kenya, particularly in North Eastern and Eastern province, where a spate of shooting incidents and banditry attacks caused disturbances in EMOP areas.
a) The much-anticipated Belg rains began in central parts of Ethiopia toward the end of February and early March. These rains have failed for several years in a row. While rains that started in early February were poorly distributed, national climate forecasters predict that the rainfall regime will strengthen in March and continue through April. As per WFP findings, although the rain started too late and is not sufficient for planting of Belg crops, long cycle crops like sorghum will benefit from this rain. The Belg prospects will depend greatly on the continuity of the current improved rainfall situation until May. A mid-Belg situation assessment is being planned to take place in early April in Belg producing zones of Amhara Regional State.
b) A recent nutritional survey in which WFP participated reported a high level of malnutrition in Ginnir and Beltu in Oromiya Region. These areas, mainly pastoral, had poor rains during the last three years and experienced interruptions in the distribution of relief food between November and March. Supplementary WFP food has already been moved to Beltu and is being moved to Ginnir this week.
c) A discussion session was organised by Save the Children-UK in collaboration with WFP in the Somali Regional in March. The objective of the session was to identify primary Food Economy Zones in the Region. It was attended by about 50 participants from the government, local/international NGOs and UN agencies working in the Region. This was the first step in identifying areas with relative homogeneity, which would be the basis for an in-depth baseline study during the second half of the year. The exercise is intended to derive a sustainable and effective food security monitoring system in the Somali Region.
d) Food distribution to Ethiopian returnees from Eritrea is ongoing in areas of Tigray Region. With an original caseload of approximately 17,000, the number has now risen to 20,000. While distributions are taking place in the Eastern, Central and Western zones, some 50 percent of the total caseload is based in the Eastern zone. The numbers are expected to increase to 30,000 over the coming months.
e) Also in Tigray Region, in its continuing efforts to ensure that distribution sites are located in areas which reflect the movements of IDPs towards their areas of origin, WFP has opened a distribution site in Rama, Central Zone. This has replaced the former site of Abak. Assistance is being provided to over 14,000 IDPs and 600 returnees. Such a move was not possible in the past, primarily due to security reasons.
f) The lack of bilateral pledges for WFP is still a great concern. Although the overall global pipeline looks reasonable many of the pledges received to date have been channeled through NGOs. However, areas in which NGOs operate account for less than 45 percent of total requirements. Consequently, there is immediate concern about sufficient food to meet the needs of beneficiaries in areas where NGOs do not have food distribution programmes, including Somali Region, North and South Omo in SNNPR, and parts of Belg dependent North and South Wollo and Wag Hamra in Amhara Region.
a) WFP distributed 1,727 tons of food commodities to 100,078 war-affected persons in Debub and Gash Barka Regions, during the last two weeks.
b) Following an agreement between WFP and ICRC, a total of 490 tons of wheat was collected from Decamhare warehouse for distribution to beneficiaries in Sub-Region Senafe in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). ICRC is supporting some 45,000 beneficiaries in absence of the Government and WFP. As the UN Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has not been able to carry out the verification of the area, neither WFP nor the Government has been granted access. There is, however, no significant food crisis in the area, but provision of water for returning populations is the most urgent need.
(E) DPR Korea
a) After a particularly harsh winter, the country has just entered the lean season, the period prior to the availability of spring vegetables when the Public Distribution System rations are low. WFP tries to compensate for this by increasing rations.
b) The incoming cereals pipeline remains steady with 30,000 tons of Japanese rice arriving in February. A donation of 100,000 tons of maize from South Korea is now scheduled to arrive between March and May. This donation, coupled with accelerating arrivals of rice from Japan, will imply that WFP, beginning in March-April, will be able to increase cereal distributions to respond to acute lean season needs. However, additional pledges of cereals are needed so that food can be provided to larger numbers of people and to sustain the pipeline after the delivery of the Japanese rice.
c) Stocks of food commodities to support the local production of blended food, biscuits and noodles are being maintained. Locally produced food commodities are distributed to children and pregnant and nursing mothers. These people also need other inputs into their limited diets, particularly protein and edible oil. Pulses and edible oil are seriously lacking in the diet of the beneficiaries, and are much needed in the food pipeline. WFP is also seeking contributions of Corn soya blend (CSB) for supply to children, and of sugar to increase the palatability of foods provided to children under four years of age.
d) In the month of February, production began in four new local production facilities. Two cereal milk factories (CMB) were established in Pyongyang and Hamhung and two CSB facilities in Hamhung and Chongjin. The production during the month was 525 tons.
f) On 20 February WFP held a FFW workshop in Chagang. These workshops are designed to familiarise counterparts and provincial officials on how to design projects to meet the requirements of the Project Review Committee and what will be expected of them in terms of reporting. FFW workshops have now been held in each province of the DPRK.
(F) El Salvador
a) It was agreed between WFP and the Government, last week that the new EMOP should provide support for the most vulnerable groups, coupled with FFW activities, in the 10 most affected departments of the country. This is to be achieved through partnerships with international and nation NGOs.
b) WFP has also signed Letters of Understanding with four NGOs over the past week. These will serve as logistical umbrellas for activities carried out by partners' organisations in the 45 municipalities in most need of food assistance. The NGOs are panning to commence distribution next week by providing 1,750 tons of food commodities to 40,000 families. A joint WFP/Government committee will co-ordinate the operation.
a) During the last three weeks, the preparations for the second phase of the EMOP, assisting flood-affected people in central and southern Laos, have been finalised. In accordance to vulnerability and flood damages, two different food aid modalities are being implemented.
b) Under the modality Food for Rehabilitation Activities a total of 1,250 tons is being distributed to 50,000 people. This will bridge the serious shortages of the lean season and covers the food needs for two months.
c) Another 1,250 tons is being distributed to villages that have already been targeted in the first phase of the EMOP. Villages have been selected to participate in FFW activities, if they have a rice shortage of more than eight months and do not have access to dry season cropping. This week, a WFP FFW training is being conducted with 50 government officials of the flood affected areas in Champassak Province. District officers together with the villagers are planning detailed scheme proposals for small-scale irrigation, road upgrading and construction, fish pond schemes, and implementation is underway.
d) Of the approved 8,680 tons, a total of 4,125 tons has already been purchased and another 642 have been committed.
a) With the slow economic recovery and continued social conflicts, food insecurity for the urban poor and the IDPs continued to be of serious concern. WFP assistance has been extended for this year under a PRRO operation. The operation is supporting the vulnerable groups with the continuation of Special Market Operation (OPSM), Nutrition Programme and assistance to IDPs in Maluku, North Maluku, North and Central Sulawesi provinces and refugees in West Timor.
b) WFP is currently assisting 3.3 million people under various operations. OPSM beneficiaries have access to purchase 20-kg rice monthly at a 50 percent subsidised price. During January, 445,000 households were assisted (approximately 2.22 million people) in Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang and Bandung. Twenty local NGOs, who identify the most food-insecure people using pre-determined criteria, have been carrying out distribution. WFP has been putting major effort in the training of these NGOs.
c) In the context of the Nutrition Programme, WFP has signed partnership agreements with 19 local NGOs for the distribution of locally produced fortified food to malnourished children and to provide Nutrition Education to mothers in addressing the concern related to malnutrition. During January, 73,200 children and same numbers of mothers were covered under this assistance.
d) Take home rations are being distributed under the EMOP to selected primary school students, as family rations, in an effort to promote attendance at schools. Students are given 10-kg rice per month.
e) Regional instability continues to result in the displacement of a large numbers of people, forcing them to depend on external food assistance. The number of IDPs fluctuates daily, with a current estimation on 850,000 across Indonesia. WFP Food assistance is currently being provided to 150,000 in Maluku and 180,000 in Northern Maluku provinces. However, WFP's assistance to refugees in West Timor is still suspended.
f) WFP continues to co-ordinate with the food aid donors and the NGOs for the provisions of food aid for humanitarian purpose through a Food Aid Committee. It will also continue to work with the Government of Indonesia, World Bank, FAO, and key food aid donors to support development of a food security policy.
(I) UN Rapid Response Base
a) WFP and the Government of Italy officially opened the UN's first-ever comprehensive humanitarian rapid response base in Brindisi (southern Italy), last week.
b) The UN Humanitarian Response Depot, UNHRD, will serve as an emergency logistics base and storage site that allows the UN to respond to crises at a moment's notice.
c) Funded by the Government of Italy at a cost of USD 3.5 million, the UNHRD contains stocks of emergency food aid and mobile cooking facilities, medicine, shelter materials, e