Mid-Year Review of the Humanitarian Transition Appeal for Nepal 2010
The peace process in Nepal continues to face challenges, more than three years after the signing of the peace agreement resulting in an unresolved political stalemate among the three main political parties. Tensions mounted as the May 28 deadline for drafting the new constitution approached. A week-long general strike called by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) at the beginning of May asking for the Prime Minister’s resignation and the creation of a consensus government brought government and humanitarian services to a standstill. Although immediate political crisis was averted when the political parties reached a last-minute three-point deal on May 28, disagreement over the formation of power-sharing and integration and rehabilitation of former Maoist army personnel have continued. Criminal activity has flourished in this climate of political instability and weak law and order, in particular in Terai districts. Political uncertainty combined with frequent droughts and floods and sustained high food price inflation have contributed to increased food insecurity. Paddy production, for example, fell by 11% from last year, and a 400,000 metric tons (MTs) grain deficit is expected in 2010. In addition, malnutrition rates are the worst in Asia: acute malnutrition is estimated at 13%.
Hunger and malnutrition have emerged as a ‘silent crisis’ in Nepal. Three and a half million people in Nepal today are considered moderately to severely food-insecure. Ongoing political deadlock and instability combined with frequent droughts and floods and sustained high food price inflation have compounded endemic factors, leading to increased vulnerability to food insecurity in the country. With the inflation rate at 18% as of May 2010, food prices have surpassed those at the height of the 2008 international food crisis, placing those already vulnerable to food insecurity at an even greater risk.
As a response to these humanitarian needs, since the beginning of the year, 770,000 beneficiaries have received food or cash-for-assets; 85,000 children aged 6-59 months received micronutrient supplements and 3.6 million received vitamin A and de-worming medicine. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) distributed 21,140 MTs of food in food-insecure districts; and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) provided 103,111 farming households with essential seeds and fertilizers for the summer crop season. The Emergency Response Fund supported water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities in five diarrhoea and flood-prone districts. An additional 190,000 households in 18 disaster-prone districts have been identified for WASH campaigns.
The humanitarian strategy was designed to respond to current and predictable humanitarian needs, while improving preparedness to reduce future caseloads. This strategy remains valid, and includes a focus on partnerships and capacity-building.
A lack of funding across all sectors is a major constraint. The Appeal only includes projects in Food Security, Refugees, Disaster Preparedness and Coordination. (Following consultations with the government, the projects of certain clusters had been excluded from the appeal.) The priorities and response strategy for the clusters remain valid. The appeal amount has increased by US$1.5 million, mainly due to increased needs to meet food security challenges. The 2010 Nepal Humanitarian Transition Appeal has received $54 million as of the mid-year review (MYR). An additional $71 million out of $125 million total requirements are urgently needed to reach more than 3.5 million vulnerable people.