ISLAMABAD: The Minis­try of National Food Security and Research (MNFSR) has infor­med the National Flood Response Coordination Centre (NFRCC) that sufficient stock of wheat and other food items are available for consumption for the next six months, and there is no threat of any food shortage in the country.

“The existing stock is more than the quantity available in the previous years,” MNFSR Secretary Zafar Hasan informed the NFRCC meeting at a special briefing.

The NFRCC was further informed that certain cartels were creating fake impression of shortage of wheat for their vested interests only.

“The fact of the matter is that 153 days’ wheat stock is available and procurement plans are in place to meet the annual national demand of 30.5 million tonnes of wheat,” the centre was informed.

Australia announces $3m aid for flood-hit people

The centre asked all stakeholders also to ensure availability of other critical food items especially the infant food and dietary supplements for women affected by unprecedented floods in Sindh, Balochistan and other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the US State Department’s Humani­ta­r­ian Information Unit has claimed that acute food insecurity continues in 2022 with at least 244m people food insecure in 55 countries.

“The top 15 countries include Pakistan where 4.7 million people are facing acute food insecurity,” the declassified report said.

The report further said that global food insecurity would remain severe into 2023 and continue to impact livelihood of the people and contribute to displacement, especially impacting populations in low-to-middle income countries.

“The war in Ukraine has increased global food, fuel and fertiliser prices, which might decrease crop yields in coming years and exacerbate food insecurity,” the report warned.

Australian aid

Meanwhile, Australia announced on Monday it would provide a further $3m in immediate humanitarian assistance in response to the devastating floods in Pakistan. The fresh aid will bring Australia’s total humanitarian aid to flood-hit people in Pakistan to $5 million.

Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy announced that the new assistance would be delivered through the World Food Programme (WFP) to address emergency food and livelihood needs of women and children who remained disproportionately affected by floods.

“The water, now covering one-third of the country, is expected to take months to recede, and this is having enormous and ongoing impact on crops, food security and livelihood,” the Australian minister said.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR said it was distributing emergency shelter, hygiene items, mosquito nets, solar lanterns and blankets among flood-hit people in Sindh.

Death toll goes up

The total death toll due to floods in the country has climbed up to 1,545 while 12,860 individuals have been injured since the onset of the rainy season, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said in a report issued on Monday.

The floods, triggered by massive rains, caused damages to 14,384 houses and 15,910 animals perished in flood-hit areas, the report said.

The authority said that 81 districts in the country had been notified as calamity hit with some 33,046,329 people affected, 179,281 individuals rescued in various rescue operations and 546,288 people accommodated in camps.

Floodwater receding

Meanwhile, Floodwater in Manchhar Lake and Main Nara Valley Drain (MVND) in Dadu district was receding, the official in charge of irrigation cell at Manchhar Lake, Sher Mohammad Mallah, told the media on Monday.

He said that floodwater in Johi, Mehar and Bhan Syedabad towns and surrounding areas was rapidly going down.

He said the water level in Manchhar Lake was recorded at 120.55RL on Monday after it had crossed the dangerous level of above 122RL a few days ago.

Another irrigation official, Vijay Kumar, posted in Bhan Syedabad said the situation would hopefully become normal anytime this week when the water level in the lake drops to 114RL.

Qurban Ali Khushik in Dadu also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2022

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