Peru

WFP steps up aid for thousands in front affected areas of Peru

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LIMA - Following an intense frost that has wreaked havoc in the highlands of southern Peru, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has approved a new emergency operation to assist 64,000 people at a total cost of US$1.7 million.

Last spring an intense and severe frost struck the high-altitude provinces of Puno and Apurímac in southern Peru, destroying 50 to 80 percent of crops just before the harvest, and 50 percent of the grazing lands used to feed farm animals. As a result, farmers have lost almost all their livestock destined for the market.

"Over the last three months, WFP has distributed food aid to assist affected people but their situation remains dire and they will require further assistance for the next six months," said WFP Country Representative, Dorte Ellehammer.

"Currently, vulnerable families are getting less than 50 percent of their recommended minimum food requirements, and food aid is badly needed to prevent further problems related to lack of proper nutrition, especially among children," she added.

The operation - which will rely on cash contributions to locally purchase food - will provide special rations to 46,000 pregnant and lactating mothers, children under the age of five, and female heads of households.

At the same time, the operation will assist an additional 16,300 people through food-for-training, and food-for-work projects. Both projects are aimed to help the highlanders rebuild their lost livelihoods while preventing a further deterioration in their living conditions, including health related issues stemming from inadequate caloric intake.

WFP's announcement of the emergency operation coincides with the visit of Peru's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Manuel Rodriguez Cuadros, to WFP's headquarters in Rome for the agency's Executive Board meeting.

"The government of Peru has already declared an emergency in five provinces. We want to thank WFP for providing additional assistance in two of the provinces, Puno and Apurimac, the most severely affected by these extreme weather conditions," Cuadros said from Rome.

Cuadros explained that Puno and Apurimac, the two provinces most severely affected by the extreme weather conditions in southern Peru, are areas of special concern to Peru's government, because they are already affected by high levels of poverty and malnutrition.

"As the assistance is going to target the most vulnerable groups, this will prevent child malnutrition levels to rise even higher. Regrettably, it is the children that are suffering the most," Cuadros added.

Before launching the emergency operation, WFP conducted an assessment mission in the affected areas of Puno and Apurimac to identify the most vulnerable segments of the population and their food needs.

In addition to this emergency intervention, WFP is initiating development projects in Peru to assist vulnerable populations in Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Apurímac, in collaboration with the Peruvian government and partner NGOs, including Solas Unidas and Alternativa.

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children.
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For more information please contact:

Brenda Barton, Deputy Director Communications, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39-06-65132602,
Mob. +39-3472582217, e-mail: Brenda.Barton@wfp.org
Selma Kalousek , WFP/Rome for the Americas, Tel. +39-06-65133615
Alejandro Chicheri, WFP/América Latina y el Caribe, Tel: +507 3173900, Cell +507 6750617
Jose Carlos Requena (PMA-Peru, 440 4000, 9813 5482, jose-carlos.requena@wfp.org)