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Page last updated at 04:10 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 05:10 UK

Food shortages warning for Nepal

Family in the village of Sokat
There are many mouths to feed and not enough food to go round

The government of Nepal and the UN have warned that hundreds of thousands of people in the country are facing severe food shortages.

A new report says that efforts to get food to the most vulnerable people are being hampered by fuel shortages, strikes, and bad weather.

The price of rice has risen by up to 50% in a year, and the price of cooking oil has gone up 30% in six months.

Rising prices for food have hit poorer people in South Asia badly.

The new report by the government in Nepal and the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) confirms that rising food prices and destroyed harvests are hitting Nepal very hard.

The WFP believes two and a half million Nepalis around the country need immediate food assistance.

In certain villages it runs some feeding programmes, including monthly ones to mothers and young babies, extended in conjunction with medical check-ups by doctors.

The BBC's Charles Haviland, who visited a badly affected village in Nepal in the western district of Achham, says many families are coping by eating less, selling their meagre possessions or sending their men folk to neighbouring India to find work.

In May, Nepal banned the export of rice and other grains to try to control food costs and prevent shortages.

Nepal is not a major producer of food items but it exports some wheat and Basmati rice to China and Bangladesh.


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