The United Nations food agency in Nepal will extend its aid operations to three drought-affected districts of the eastern Terai – an area seized with political violence over the last month – while continuing assistance until the end of June to drought victims in the mid- and far-western regions, efforts that will directly benefit around 400,000 people. The move follows a request for additional support from the Government based on findings from a recently completed crop and food supply assessment mission, supported by the UN World Food Progame (WFP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These extended operations will double the number of people reached in the first phase of assistance, as the report warns of nearly 190,000 metric tonnes of food grain shortages. Since June last year, WFP has provided emergency aid to nearly 200,000 drought-affected people in eight districts in mid- and far-western Nepal, the first emergency operation of its kind in the agency’s 40-year history of working in the Himalayan country. Many of these recipients lived in extremely isolated and remote areas. “During the first phase of the operation, the pilots and our NGO (non-governmental organization) partners did a heroic job overcoming major obstacles such as bad weather, transportation strikes and extremely remote and mountainous terrain to get the food out,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative in Nepal. “We learned a great deal about how to operate in such a difficult environment and are now much better prepared to start the second-phase of food aid relief for drought-affected families in the mid- and far-west at the end of the month.” Communities in Saptari, Siraha, and Udayapur districts within the Terai will also receive WFP food aid. Last month, WFP appealed to all parties in the Terai region to allow safe passage for food convoys, warning that transport strikes and violence have severely disrupted aid deliveries and threaten the health of hundreds of thousands of people, including children. In Nepal, nearly 1.5 million people receive WFP food assistance to support their basic food needs. The agency’s programmes include supplemental nutritional support to 64,000 breastfeeding women and their young children, hot mid-day meals to 450,000 school going children, vegetable ghee rations for girls’ families, daily rations to over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees, and supplemental rice rations through food-for-work programmes to over 800,000 people facing food shortages. 9 February 2007The United Nations food agency in Nepal will extend its aid operations to three drought-affected districts of the eastern Terai – an area seized with political violence over the last month – while continuing assistance until the end of June to drought victims in the mid- and far-western regions, efforts that will directly benefit around 400,000 people.