Malnutrition, food aid and corruption

Photo credit: IPS

Children Starving to Death in Pakistan’s Drought-Struck Tharparkar District

By Irfan Ahmed

EXCERPT

Recurring drought meets bad management

The tragedy did not unfold overnight. According to Amar Guriro, a Sindh-based journalist who has reported extensively on the region, inhabitants of this district that borders the Indian states of Rajastan and Gujarat are facing a drought for the third consecutive year.

Despite ample evidence that additional food stocks are needed between the months of July and September, typically the monsoon season, in the event of inadequate rainfall, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led Sindh government failed to develop and execute contingency plans for the vulnerable residents.

“The poor government response multiplied the intensity of the disaster. Underfed children are dying in large numbers, and so are the cattle, due to unavailability of fodder,” Amar told IPS.

Anything below 200-300 mm of rainfall during the monsoon months signals a “bad year”, locals here told IPS. In such cases, the government is tasked with providing 50-kg bags of wheat to the 250,000 households who are not able to feed themselves without assistance.

But poor management of food aid, together with corruption along the supply chain and hoarding by contractors has disrupted the entire system. Amar alleged that a large number of wheat bags were in fact filled with sand. It is only one such anomaly that is plaguing the entire population of some 1.5 million people.

Read the full article: IPS

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.