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WFP does it again, distributes rotten rice in Gorkha

The UN food agency does it again, this time in earthquake-worst hit district of Gorkha. It has distributed rotten rice to the locals putting their health at risk.
The rice distributed to earthquake survivors by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Laprak village development committee of Gorkha – yesterday and today – has been found to be rotten, the villagers said, adding that some 40 sacks of rice transported on two tractors were found to be mouldy.
The WFP has also accepted that some of its consignment sent to Larpak this week was damaged. It claimed that the consignment is damaged due to rain during transportation. However, locals said there was no rain in the past two days. They said the rice was old and had decayed in the sacks for long. “When we opened the sacks, we found spoilt black rice,” villagers said, adding that they have asked the distributor to take back the spoilt rice.
A local Shree Bahadur Gurung shared the images of WFP distributed substandard rice on his Facebook page yesterday. The images became viral raising the question on WFP – not for the first time – on its repeated carelessness.
Some of the villagers have returned the rotten rice that the WFP distributed to them as relief. They claimed that some 100 sacks out of the 905 sacks of rice stored for Barpak, Laprak and Gumda VDCs were unfit for consumption.
WFP – that has been in news repeatedly in Nepal for not good reasons – said that it had investigated the consignment delivered to the earthquake-affected communities in Laprak. “As soon as the problem was identified, WFP’s distribution partner, Nepal Red Cross Society, inspected the bags, separated the affected ones from the rest and continued with distribution,” WFP communication officer Iolanda Jaquemet said – in the statement – adding that the UN agency is going to replace 120 bags of the damaged rice and take up the matter with the transporter. But locals are scared to eat the rice of the same batch, even if it looked alright, as the sacks bear the WFP logo.
Likewise, chief district officer of Gorkha district Uddhav Timilsina said that the administration had enquired the agency after the locals complained of poor quality.
Though, this is not the first time that the WFP has been linked to substandard food supplies, the government’s silence is suspicious. The concerned ministry has not yet taken action against the UN humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, neither has it sought clarification from the ‘controversy-loving’ UN food body for risking people’s lives despite National Human Rights Commission recommendation.
Since the April 25 earthquake, locals from Kavre, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk districts have complained about the substandard food distributed by the WFP. The locals in Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk had complained District Disaster Relief Committees of poor quality of rice distributed by the WFP but no tests were carried out.
But Department of Food Technology and Quality Control had on May 23, found WFP distributed rice in Kavre district substandard. After the department’s investigation, the WFP had recalled some 3,625 tonnes of rice immediately.
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) – after conducting a field vist to Kavre district last month – has also recommended the government to take legal action against the WFP and Red Cross for putting public health at risk by distributing inedible rice to the quake-hit people. Despite repeated complaints, the government has not taken any action against WFP till date.
In the wake of repeatedly complaints of substandard relief food items that made people sick, Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday directed government officials to distribute food received from various countries and institutions only after conducting proper laboratory tests.
Earlier in 2009 too, food distributed by the WFP in Jajarkot district was found substandard.