Floods Made Hunger Worse, Agency Warns

A half-million Cambodians still suffer malnutrition and could face having to sell their land or animals to survive because of last year’s record floods, the World Food Program warned in a new study of flood-damaged areas.

Rains that started in July and became worse by September washed away 20 percent of the nation’s rice paddies—some 400,000 hectares—and displaced whole villages by the time waters receded in October.

Food shortages, already an annual problem in Cambodia, were made worse by the floods, the WFP said.

“It is expected that the food short­age will be higher than us­ual due to the direct effects of the floods,” said Praveen Agra­wal, WFP deputy country director. “The land was actually de­stroy­ed.”

People will eat “much, much less” this year without outside help, he said.

A town-by-town analysis of the flood damage has identified 81 com­munes in provinces in low- lying areas stretching across the country that will require the most help.

Based on early estimates, 500,000 people in these areas will face, on average, a four-month gap between the time their food runs out and the  next harvest.

Agrawal said he is afraid that un­less people get outside help to face the shortage, they will sell their land or farm animals to survive, only making it harder for them to remain self-sufficient.

The WFP plans to send 16,000 tons of food to the worst-hit areas over the next three months, guaranteeing at least a minimum of 2,100 calories a day for the people believed to be most at risk during the shortage.

The aid is in addition to an emergency plan the WFP implemented in the first months after last year’s flooding in which 7,000 tons of rice, canned fish and iodized salt were delivered to 737,000 people.

The food shortages caused by the flooding should be eliminated by December, when the new rice crop is harvested, WFP officials said.

 

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