Blog Action Day 2011: Food Security and Nepal

Yes, I am 2 days late. Blog Action Day was on Sunday October 16th, and this year the focus was on food. Skip the excuses for the tardiness, lets get to the point. In my previous post on Blog Action Day, I mentioned how the twitterverse discussed the event. Conversation on issues like food security, sustainable farming, eating local-certainly a welcome addition to Twitter sphere.

This post is focused on food security in Nepali and South Asian context.

In Nepal, the World Food Programme (WFP) argues that about 3.7 million people are at risk of food insecurity. Rising food prices have triggered a wave of protests across the globe and forced countries such as India, Russia and Vietnam, among other countries, to impose food grains embargo. These events directly or indirectly affect food prices and food availability in Nepal. Already, domestic food prices have reached second highest level since 1990.

Chandan Sapkota, Republica, 2011-02-22

According to the preliminary Nepal Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) released in August, 29 percent of children under five are malnourished, and the problem is chronic in remote parts of the Mid-Western Region. The most recent regional figures (in the NDHS 2006report) show more than half of the children are chronically malnourished.

“Girls are neglected because they are thought not to need strength,” Indra Raj Panta, programme officer for Decentralized Action for Children and Women in Jumla, told IRIN.

IRIN, 2011-09-22

Poverty, poor management, gender bias and lack of political and social will contribute to Nepal’s food insecurity and malnutrition problem. In some areas, though, traditional practices and unscientific approach to fruits and vegetables push malnutrition rather than actual lack of food.

For instance many families, even in urban areas, believe that:

#bananas are “cold” and cause sore throat

#yogurt after daylight hours should be avoided

#oranges are “cold” too

#there are actually food items that people consider unfit to consume based on caste, without the regard for nutrition

Fight against hunger in Nepal has many dimensions and focusing just on the glaring obvious would be short sighted.

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