Around 30 000 pastoralists could face famine in drought-stricken Djibouti
FAO appeals for $4 million for emergency livestock feeding and veterinary care
29 April 2005, Rome -- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched an urgent appeal for nearly $4 million to provide veterinary services, food and water for livestock in Djibouti, where worsening drought conditions following three consecutive failed rainy seasons are threatening around 30 000 pastoralists with famine.
The FAO appeal is part of a consolidated UN appeal for $7.5 million to combat the severe food crisis threatening the country.
Delayed rains and erratic rainfall patterns have been insufficient to replenish water catchments or regenerate pastures. And pastoralists from Djibouti and the neighbouring drought-affected countries of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia have been forced to continue seasonal grazing in Djibouti's coastal areas, beyond the restorative capacities of the land. All water catchments in the northwest and southeast are practically dry.
Livestock deaths threaten food security and livelihoods
Overburdened pastures and water sources have contributed to widespread livestock deaths and a significant decline in milk production. The remaining animals are in poor condition mainly due to opportunistic parasites and diseases such as pneumonia.
"These pastoralist families are dependent on their livestock for food and income," said Fernanda Guerrieri, Chief of FAO's Emergency Operations Service. "Many have lost their entire herds, leaving them with nothing to eat or trade."
Animal feed, water and emergency veterinary care for 50 000 head of livestock are urgently needed, she said.
"The provision of food supplements and treatment of parasites and communicable diseases will help livestock recover quickly and increase their commercial value," said Guerrieri, adding that emergency feed in the form of easily transportable concentrated feed pellets and the emergency trucking of water for livestock are required immediately.
Thousands have already fled to urban areas in search of assistance and those families remaining need rapid support, she said.
"The distribution of feed pellets and basic veterinary drugs will provide a valuable arena to exchange information with pastoralists on overgrazing and to prioritize problems so that they can be quickly addressed," said Guerrieri.
She added that while the provision of food and veterinary care will bring immediate relief, operations to expand the reseeding of overgrazed pasture lands should be launched immediately, as the essential first step in a future rehabilitation programme. Food-for-work programmes could be used to support such operations, she said.
Information Officer, FAO
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