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UN Prepares Food-Aid Ahead Of Afghan Winter

Ahead Of Afghan Winter, UN Agency Already Pre-Positions Food Aid

Stealing a march on winter, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today it had already started pre-positioning food supplies for nearly half a million impoverished Afghans who will be cut off from markets once the cold weather sets in.

“Winter is a brutal time for poor and needy Afghans,” WFP country representative Charles Vincent said in Kabul, the capital. “There are literally tens of thousands of people trapped by heavy snowfalls and freezing winds, and they have absolutely no way of getting food.

“These are the people that WFP is determined to assist. Winterization is WFP’s largest annual operation in Afghanistan and requires enormous planning. Food must be trucked to some of the remotest and desolate parts of the country, and then distributed to the needy before the cold weather hits,” he added.

WFP uses creative food aid schemes to support development, including food for the construction of roads, wells and other community assets, food for people attending training and food for school children. Poor people who are unable to join these projects receive special rations.

Deliveries have already commenced in Badakhshan, in northeastern Afghanistan, where winter normally begins as early as September. Around 5,900 tons of various food commodities have been allocated to remote and mountainous districts.

Some WFP operations there have been hampered by the poor state of roads and bridges that were destroyed by heavy snowfalls and devastating floods in recent months. To alleviate blockages, WFP will provide food to workers fixing the road between Hawzi Shah and Koofab districts. The new road will provide immense benefits to surrounding communities and enable WFP to truck food aid to the needy.

Similarly, WFP food convoys to communities in the Pamir Mountains have been affected by the loss of a bridge in Baharak, which was washed away by floods last week. Efforts by the local government and non-government organizations are underway to divert the road so that WFP can dispatch food to remote and high altitude areas before the weather turns cold.

In inaccessible areas of northern Baghlan province, where many roads are in bad condition or do not exist, WFP has provided biscuits and other food to the poor. A total of 2,400 tons of biscuits will be dispatched to an estimated 85,500 people in the province.

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