Dailekhis grabbing the rotten rice is a crude irony to our society just like, umm…. let’s say, the hi-fi UN vehicles running on the streets of Kathmandu. Wish the rice had gone to the needy hands on time.
Moonshiners in Dailekh district headquarters scavenge rotten rice before it could be disposed of, Thursday (28 June). The rice was supplied under the UN’s World Food Program decomposed after being stored for four years. All pics by Harihar Singh Rathaur via Kantipur
The story: Four years ago, the World Food Program dispatched over 366 quintals of rice to Jumla district under the “food for work” program. As there was no motorable road up to Jumla, the rice got stuck at Dailekh, waiting for the Consumers and District Development Committees to carry it farther. The Jumlis did not trek down to Dailekh to carry the rice because carrying a sack of rice would have taken too much time and money. Obviously, for the Jumlis, there was no point in fetching the WFP rice from Dailekh.
Ch..Ch..Ch Concluding that the stored rice had become highly toxic, the local administration had prepared to bury the rice. They even refused to dump the toxic rice into a river as it could have contaminated the river and destroyed the ecosystem. As officials were about to bury the food, there came the poor people who wanted to eat the rice. They came and, as you can see in the accompanying photos, grabbed the rice. “Well, its sweet and good,” a woman was quoted as saying by Kantipur (28 June) after she cooked and ate the rice. She expressed her dissatisfaction over official decision to dump the rice even as people are hungry.
WFP Nepal office should have known this well in advance instead of storing 366 quintals of rice in Dailekh only to let the food-grains be rotten. Secondly, Jumla DDC must have communicated with the WFP office of its inability to carry the rice farther up. If not, then who was at fault – WFP or DDC Jumla? The government cannot brush aside the rice incident citing it as WFP’s business. The locals have carried away the sacks of inedible rice which may claim human lives.
To be poor is not a crime It is an indelible blot on the efficiency of government authorities, sheer negligence and, of course, an inhumane act. That a horde of local people in Dailekh scampered to grab discarded rice is an ugly evidence of how responsible our local administration offices are. The way the locals took away the “inedible” rice also points at the abject poverty, especially in the hills. This also speaks volumes about the functioning of administrative offices meant for delivering services to the people. How have the local administrative offices been delivering services to the people is a serious question. In fact, poverty and hunger are caused not by inadequate food-grains, but by the manner in which the authorities concerned have been distributing food-grains to the needy. This has forced the poor either to eat poisonous roots or starve to death.
Problem: Besides, there are several such incidents under the “food for education” program. Schools are provided flour, sugar and butter but no firewood and utensil to cook. In fact, the food for education program is running down into the drain. The poor, who are entitled to get food-grains, are denied it due to poor distribution networks. So, the government must probe this incident thoroughly and subsequently initiate action against the culprits. (based on the Kathmandu Post editorial)