1 in 5 Nepal families lack food

Results of a new survey shows that although most Nepali families have more food than at the beginning of the lockdown, one in every five households still does not have enough food.

The survey among 5,000 respondents in all seven provinces in August by Nepal’s Ministry of Agriculture and the World Food Programme (WFP) found that nearly 7% of respondent families did not have enough stock of food to meet their needs.

‘The socio-economic effects of the pandemic, particularly loss of livelihoods and incomes, are reducing communities’ ability to withstand potential shocks such as natural disasters,” WFP reports. ‘Floods and landslides have further exacerbated food insecurity in parts of the country.’

Rautahat. Photo: WFP

The survey found that the Covid-19 crisis has continued to negatively impact livelihoods of households, with 11% of families reporting job loss, and one-third of them suffering a reduction income – more than in the April survey.

Loss of income was found to be more common for certain types of livelihoods like daily wage labourers, migrant workers and small business and trade. Job loss and income reduction caused by the Covid-19 crisis affected household food security: inadequate food consumption and food insufficiency were more common among households that reported job loss and income reduction, compared to households that did not experience job loss and income reduction.

Households with low education levels, with a disabled household member, and female-headed households, daily wage labourers and migrants workers were found to be more food insecure than five months ago.

“Efficient and effective food supply chains are essential to lowering the risks of food insecurity, malnutrition, food price fluctuations and can simultaneously create jobs,” said WFP Representative for Nepal Pippa Bradford. “By empowering producers and retailers in the food systems economy, we help build supply chains that are resilient to shocks, environmentally sustainable and that can ensure nutrition for all.”

The WFP was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week, and has joined two other Rome-based agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to renew their call for sustainable investment in food systems to achieve healthy diets for all.

The need for concerted action to improve agricultural production while enhancing global supply chains is captured in this year’s World Food Day theme: ‘Grow, Nourish, Sustain, Together’. The Without massive improvements in the food supply chain, Nepal is set to become increasingly vulnerable to financial volatility and climate shocks.

In countries like Nepal, food insecurity has deteriorated due to the Covid-19 crisis, reducing economic, physical and social access to nutritious and affordable food. In these tumultuous times, smallholder farmers in Nepal need support to sustainably grow, store, and transport produce to markets to improve their livelihoods.

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