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One-ninth of Nepal faces starvation: UN

world Updated: Mar 10, 2010 17:04 IST

IANS
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One-ninth of Nepal's nearly 27 million population face starvation, the UN said on Wednesday.

Nearly half of Nepal's 75 districts, mainly in the west and mountain regions, are grappling with food shortages. An additional USD 123.5 million is urgently needed to assist more than 3.4 million vulnerable people in Nepal, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

Besides acute food shortage, Nepal is also highly vulnerable to natural disasters including floods, landslides and earthquakes.

In 2009, nearly 152,000 people were affected by monsoon floods and landslides. OCHA said water, sanitation and hygiene measures were needed following a severe diarrhoea outbreak in western Nepal last year.

"As a country emerging from conflict, Nepal needs sustained international humanitarian support to see it through this fragile period of transition," said John Holmes, UN under secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

"An estimated 28,000 children die every year from preventable diseases, some of them the consequences of severe malnutrition. Most of these problems can be solved with adequate donor support."

Rural households in Nepal are particularly vulnerable as their dependence on subsistence agriculture remains high.

Inadequate funding for agriculture in 2009 compounded the effects of a severe winter drought.

Appealing for funds, OCHA said it will be used to improve food security, fund nutrition projects, strengthen disaster preparedness and assist refugees.

Currently, Nepal hosts about 89,000 refugees from neighbouring Bhutan.