Somalia food shortages


Serious food shortages emerging in southern Somalia

Emergency food assistance is urgently needed in Somalia, according to a recent Special Alert issued by FAO. Persistent civil conflict has seriously disrupted the economy and drought-reduced harvests have worsened an already precarious food security situation, particularly in the most affected southern areas. Food and water shortages have had drastic effects on the food and health status of the people, with cases of malnutrition reported to be on the increase.

The failure of the rains in most parts of the country, coupled with pest infestations and continuing civil insecurity in several growing areas, resulted in a poor 1997 Der season (October to January) harvest, down as much as 60 percent from the previous year's output. And although the cereal production of the 1996 main Gu season (April to August) improved somewhat over 1995's reduced volume, it remained well below the pre-civil strife level. Total 1996/97 cereal output, at nearly 300 000 tonnes, is up 10 percent from the year before, but still amounts to only half the level achieved before the civil conflict.

The two consecutive reduced cereal harvests have almost entirely depleted farmers' cereal stocks, and soaring prices - the price of sorghum has quadrupled since September - have pushed the staple grains well beyond the purchasing power of most of the population, impoverished by the ongoing civil conflict.

Significant numbers of Somalis continue moving towards the Juba Valley, Mogadishu and the Kenyan border in search of food and work. And the nutritional situation is reported to be alarming in recently established settlements for the displaced in Baidoa. Malnutrition is also reportedly increasing in the cities of Mogadishu and Kisimayo.

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