Food warehouses hit by floods

Bags of wheat flour, boxes with sachets of peanut and milk-based paste for children, high-energy biscuits destined for people in northwestern Pakistan and Afghanistan - these are some of the items the World Food Programme (WFP) is trying to salvage from warehouses in Pakistan, soaked by the worst floods "in living memory".

"We are still trying to assess the amount we have lost," Amjad Jamal, WFP spokesperson for Pakistan, told IRIN. "I think we have stocks that will last up to three or four weeks."

WFP is providing food aid in the water-logged areas of Pakistan's Mardan, Charsadda and Nowshera districts, which border Afghanistan. In 2009 the agency fed around nine million people in Afghanistan.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted that the country had good stocks of wheat, the major staple, despite poor rainfall earlier in the year, and although food prices were still high they were stable, and lower than the record levels of 2008.

Floods have driven up prices in some areas and the Muslim fasting period during the month of Ramadan starts next week, when food prices usually rise. "We are concerned about its impact on the people," Jamal said.