Getting food across in the nick of time

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 19 Dec 2015

Good Samaritan: Siti in the thick of action delivering food to the orang asli communities during the floods in Kelantan last year.

PETALING JAYA: The orang asli community in Gua Musang, Kelantan, will receive basic food supplies in advance to help them stave off hunger if floods occur in the coming weeks.

Orang asli activist Siti Zabedah Kasim said basic food would be transported to designated villages using four-wheel drive vehicles under a programme organised by Allianz Malaysia Berhad, called “food dumping”.

She said the project focused on Gua Musang as the area was the worst hit during last year’s floods, and many orang asli villages had been effectively cut off from the outside world.

“The food dumping idea came from Allianz. Instead of using funds to rent helicopters to supply food, we thought why not use it to buy food,” she said at the Dec 16 ceremony where she was given the Star Golden Hearts award.

“Nobody has done food dumping in advance before. Each area will have a committee, comprising the orang asli folk, who will monitor the distribution of food.”

The food supplies will include rice, cooking oil, sugar, salt, sardines and ikan bilis for some 200 orang asli villages that will last for up to four days.

Siti said they planned to distribute the food as fast as possible, as weather forecasts suggested that the rain could get heavier in the east coast from Dec 18.

“We are meeting up this Sunday in Kampung Parit, which will serve as our base camp. From there, we will start sending out the food, starting with villages located in the interiors,” she said.

The activist said that cost was a factor, and the team could not afford to provide a larger stockpile of food to the villages.

“Initially, we wanted to provide supplies for seven days but the cost would be too high. We need to feed 100 heads in each village.

“We will brief the orang asli committees not to touch the supply until the monsoon is over. If it does not flood, then they will disburse them,” she added.

There are at least 2,000 orang asli living in Gua Musang. They are usually trapped during the floods which cause landslides and destroy roads and bridges leading to the villages.

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