UN World Food Programme seeks 26 million for droughtstricken northern Burundi

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that a combination of poor rains, a disease that halved the harvest and extreme poverty has left 2.2 million Burundians in the country’s former breadbasket in the north in need of some $26 million worth of food aid.A total of 72,000 tons of food is needed for distribution between now and July, when the next crop comes in, WFP said.“Poor rains and the mosaic plant disease are taking their toll on crops. As a result, it is estimated that, in some areas, the harvest will be just 50 per cent of last year’s, and will not cover people’s basic food needs until the next harvest in June,” Gerard Van Dijk, WFP Country Director in Burundi, said.The amount of money Burundi’s families spend on food has risen 20 per cent from last year, while incomes have declined by 35 per cent, WFP said.“At a time when very welcome steps have been taken on the long road to peace, it is a bitter disappointment that something as simple as the weather still makes the daily life of the average Burundian a constant challenge,” Mr. Van Dijk added.WFP will provide some 6,000 tons of food aid for more than 870,000 people in the worst affected areas of the country this month, in coordination with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which will be distributing seeds in an effort to ensure a better harvest in June.“By providing emergency food aid with seeds, our aim is to make sure that seeds are used for planting and are not eaten,” Mr. Van Dijk said.

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