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WFP food distribution in diarrhea-hit Nepali district halted
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14:07, August 24, 2009

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Following the allegation of substandard quality of the food distributed under the UN World Food Program (WFP), the WFP has stopped distributing rice to the diarrhea-hit Jajarkot residents for a week, local newspaper The Himalayan Times reported on Monday.

"DEPROSC, an organization that has got responsibilities for distributing the rice of WFP in Jajarkot, has stopped it from the second week of August," said the report.

"The distribution of rice and pulse has been stopped after the questions were raised over the qualities of the foodstuff," said chief of DEPROSC Jajarkot, Kusum Kishor Bhatta.

He added that the distribution of food would not be continued until the debate over it would not be ended.

Some Nepali non-governmental organizations claimed that the deadly diarrhea spread in the district, some 325 km west of Nepali capital Kathmandu where 154 died of the epidemic as of Sunday, was due to the decayed rice distributed by the WFP.

INSEC, a leading human rights organization of Nepal, blamed the causes of diarrhea being the low quality rice and pulse distributed by the UN body.

The INSEC in its formal program had accused that the rice distributed by WFP in the district was not comestible.

"Not only this, the Central Food Investigation Technology also confirmed that the food distributed in Jajarkot was not edible," the report said.

The WFP has been distributing food in 18 Village Development Committees (VDCs) of the district.

Following the halt in the distribution of rice, thousands of residents of 18 VDCs of Jajarkot district have been hit by double sufferings. Starvation has loomed large in the district.

To reduce the starvation in Jajarkot, the WFP had been playing a pivotal role.

There are four depots of state-run Nepal Food Corporation in Jajarkot district. "Despite the lack of depots, contractors have been distributing food but the starvation problem has not been solved," Nepal Food Corporation Jajarkot chief Lekharaj KC said.

Reiterating that their food met the quality standards required by the government, WFP on Aug. 21 said in a statement, "Protecting the lives of Nepal's most vulnerable is at the heart of WFP's interest. In relation to the reports in the media about samples INSEC sent to the Food Technology and Quality Control Lab, WFP has no confidence that the food samples supplied by INSEC were drawn using the appropriate sampling methodologies or procedures."

The WFP statement said that the food was delivered to beneficiaries only after tests confirmed that they were safe for human consumption.

Source: Xinhua

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