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New York - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide delivers food assistance in emergencies to some 80 million people in around 80 countries each year. 

The agency has now been forced to reduce food rations for 320,000 refugees in Mtendeli, Nduta and Nyarugusu Camps in Northwest Tanzania. 

This comes as a result of funding shortfalls, which leads to the WFP urgently requiring US$23.6 million from now to December 2017 to be able to continue meeting the needs of refugees in Tanzania.

The WFP primarily provides refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with five food commodities, which are maize meal, pulses, super cereal, vegetable oil and salt.

However, due to these funding shortages, all of the five food commodities has been reduced for the August distribution and is now only reaching 62% of the 2,100 required kilo-calories which is the recommended daily calorie intake.

WFP Tanzania Country Representative, Michael Dunford said: " Without an immediate response from donors, further ration cuts will be necessary as food stocks are simply running out."

"While WFP appreciates the support received so far, we are urgently appealing to donors to quickly come to the aid of the refugees and provide additional funding so that we can return to full rations and avoid any prolonged negative impacts," he added.

The WFP in their statement said the reducing of rations results in extensive and potentially life-altering consequences for refugees and that the cutting of the kilo-calorie intake can lead to acute malnutrition that increases vulnerability to disease.

The humanitarian agency does not just provide the five food items but also hot meals for refugees upon arrival, supplemental rations for pregnant and nursing women as well as food assistance to hospital in-patients and people living with HIV/AIDS. 

"Hot meals for refugees entering the country and supplementary feeding programmes remain unaffected by the current ration reductions," WFP said.

-BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE