Probe ponel reveals WFP supplied damaged rice
A parliamentary investigation concluded that rice supplied by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) – to earthquake victims in Larpak of Gorkha district – was substandard.
The WFP officials had distributed substandard rice to the earthquake victims in Gorkha even after the local politicians and officials from Agriculture Ministry notified them of the low quality of the rice," the parliamentary sub-commitee of National Disaster Management Monitoring and Directive Committee reported today.
The report released by the sub-committee – led by CPN-UML lawmaker Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal – claimed that the WFP officials – ignoring the district authority's request not to distribute substandard rice – distributed rotten rice in Majuwa Deurali village, telling the earthquake victims that the rice was 'good enough' for consumption. "The rice was rotten before it was dispatched to the district," the report concluded.
However, WFP communication officer Iolanda Jaquemet claimed that the monitoring team had told them that the rice was of ‘standard’ quality, though not of 'higher' quality. "The quality of rice satisfied the requirements of the government," she said, adding, "at no point did they state that ‘it is good enough for Gorkha’.
This is not the first time, the UN food agency has been in news – not for the good reason – as it has been repeatedly been found supplying substandard rice in various districts including Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot, Dhading, apart from Gorkha districts. Around six years ago also, the WFP had supplied substandard rice in ….district.
The probe panel that has Usha Gurung and Daljit BK Shripali as members in its 23-point recommendations and findings, also revealed that 457 sacks of rice were edible while 120 sacks of rice were found of 'inferior quality' with foul smell. The panel has said that there was no presence of government bodies to monitor effectively that has put people’s health at risk. "Some 120 out of 457 sacks of rice stored in a temporary shelter in Laprak VDC in Gorkha were spoilt."
The WFP, issuing a statement on Wednesday, had also confirmed that 120 sacks of rice delivered to Laprak had gone bad, but none of the rejected rice was distributed.
The UN agency passed the buck on local implementation partners like Nepal Red Cross Society and Save the Children, for the damages, the probe panel said, recommending that government to strictly monitor relief operations carried out by national and international non-government organisations (INGOs) to ensure that no inedible food reaches disaster victims.
The report also revealed that Lactogen packets distributed for six-to 23-month-old children were expired. The panel has recommended the government to distribute relief materials only after necessary inspection from the authorised bodies. After conducting tests of the samples of the WFP rice in question, Department of Food Technology and Quality Control had proved the foodstuff to be inedible as it had moulds.
Likewise, another parliamentary sub-committee under Nepali Congress lawmaker Sanjaya Gautam has also revealed that 541 metric tonnes of pulses kept at the WFP warehouse at Khajura in Banke district were found to be unfit for consumption. The sub-commitee has submitted its report to Constituent Assembly (CA) chairman Subas Nembang, demanding strong action against the individuals involved in distribution of substandard food to the earthquake victims.
However, the WFP representatives claimed that the rejected pulses were kept in the warehouse in Banke and they have no intention to distribute them,
Likewsie, the parliamentary panel has also suggested the government to store some 4,100 metric tonnes of rice for Gorkha before monsoon and MI-17 helicopters to ferry relief materials to nine VDCs of Gorkha including Lyoho, Prok, Bihi, Chunchet, Samagaon, Chhekampar, Sirdibas, Ueeya and Kerouja because these places are not yet linked by roads.