The United Nations World Food Program announced on Wednesday a shift from emergency response efforts to long-term recovery efforts in Nepal.
The announcement signaled an end to nearly two months of emergency response efforts conducted by both Nepal’s government and multiple allies from across the globe after a large portion of the country was devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25.
Serving as the largest humanitarian aid agency in the world, the WFP works to assist nearly 100 million people in 75 countries each year and participates in fighting extreme poverty, providing emergency assistance and improving infrastructure and health systems within developing communities.
Richard Ragan, Emergency Coordinator for the WFP’s response in Nepal, stated in an interview this week, “We have started the difficult transition from the emergency period to the early recovery phase – providing cash, employment and rebuilding opportunities for people heavily impacted by the disaster.” Ragan noted that the WFP has successfully provided meals to nearly 2 million displaced citizens since the disaster.
The WFP has implemented a highly effective cash-for-work program in severely affected areas, which pays citizens to build transitional housing and repair agricultural centers and, in turn, revitalizes local markets and economies. The United Nations estimates that 20,000 porters who became displaced and unemployed by the earthquake are now receiving income to repair essential road and trail networks damaged by the disaster, as well as provide vital supplies to isolated communities.
Despite the positive figures offered by this UN program, the WFP warned this week that the operations currently being conducted within Nepal are only 38 percent funded and that they require an additional $74 million in order to continue providing operational assistance until 2016.
In response to questions about the lack of funding, Ragan stated, “To maintain and expand an operation of this scope and logistical complexity, sustained financial support is required.”
– James Thornton