Funds urgently needed for assistance programmes in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia

Returning refugees get back to work in their fields
FAO photos/C.Ferrand

Throughout the conflict in Kosovo, FAO has been closely monitoring the food security needs in the Province as well as in Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Organization has launched special appeals for funding of emergency programmes to assist Albanian and Macedonian families who hosted refugees during the crisis and Kosovar farmers who are now returning to their fields.

"So far, FAO has received a modest response to its appeal," said Anne Bauer, Chief of the Special Relief Operations Service (TCOR).

The appeal has recently been scaled back in light of the return of most of the Kosovar refugees to their homes. FAO is now appealing for US$3 million and $1.5 million for host families in Albania and Macedonia, respectively. Hosting Kosovar refugees has put a severe burden on the already food-insecure families in northeastern Albania and western Macedonia. Funds from the emergency assistance programme will be used to provide them with agricultural inputs for the autumn planting.

FAO emergency programmes in the region will also concentrate on assisting returning Kosovar farm families resume agricultural production. The Organization has made an appeal for US$22 million to cover agricultural assistance for the period July to December 1999. Some 70 500 families (700 000 people) are expected to benefit from the proposed emergency programme. Beneficiaries have been selected based on their access to land and the degree of destruction their houses and farms suffered during the conflict.

Efforts will focus on helping Kosovar farmers plant winter wheat. Each municipality in the province will receive wheat seed and fertilizer based on 1998 planted/harvested areas. These inputs are expected to yield up to 190 000 tonnes of grain in June 2000. The requirements for wheat seed have been met, but only about 17 percent of the 8 850 tonnes of fertilizer needed has been pledged so far.

Other proposed activities in the emergency assistance programme have yet to receive any funding. Funds are needed for an immediate project to distribute spinach and cabbage seeds for autumn planting in Kosovo's mediterranean climatic zones. A laboratory to control seed selection and quality would also be set up as an essential facility for the Province. Also, funds are urgently needed to get tractors and other farm equipment, which are in extremely poor condition throughout Kosovo, up and running again in time for the spring planting season.

The creation of an Emergency Coordinating Unit to coordinate agricultural relief operations throughout the entire province is an essential component of the assistance programme. The Unit, based in Pristina, will be made up of a multidisciplinary team of international experts in agronomy, animal production and farm mechanization. A centralized agricultural information system is being established to guarantee the best use of available resources and provide guidance to non-governmental organizations involved in agricultural relief efforts in Kosovo. This component of the Kosovo assistance programme is also facing a funding shortfall, as current pledges amount to only $80 000, just over 10 percent of the required $766 000 required to maintain the Emergency Coordinating Unit's operations through to the autumn 2000 growing season.

Funds for relief operations in Kosovo are needed immediately if farmers are to be able to plant crops in the autumn and reap a harvest next year. "The proposed agricultural assistance will not only help to decrease the food aid requirements for the year 2000," said Bauer, "but it will also help to restore to the war-affected population the basic human right to produce their own food and feed themselves."


GIEWS report highlights "grim" prospects for Kosovo crops this year

More than 90 percent of the total number of Kosovar refugees reported at the height of the crisis in early June 1999 were back home by late July, according to a GIEWS Special Report on food security and agriculture in the Province.

"Massive international assistance" is essential in the short term, says the report, as over 700 000 refugees return en masse to severely damaged homes and farms. Over one million internally displaced persons who stayed behind in the Province throughout the conflict also are in need of international aid.

The latest information gathered by assessment missions to the Province "largely confirms the grim picture already expected", says the report. Overall wheat production is down between 40 and 60 percent - more than 60 percent in the worst-affected areas, such as the Drenica triangle. Only 20 percent of the normal maize areas has been planted, and vegetable production is "almost non-existent" in many areas and very limited in others.

"The movement of food into the Province must be rapid in the coming weeks," warns the report, as domestic food production falls far short of consumption requirements and any food stocks dating from before the conflict are almost completely exhausted throughout Kosovo.

In the areas where food production was most severely reduced, according to the report, food aid will be required to cover the bulk of food needs until spring 2000, if not beyond.

Go to Special Report



30 July 1999

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