Drought-affected farmers and pastoralists in Ethiopia face severe food crisis
FAO appeals for $18.5 million for livestock and agricultural assistance throughout country
15 February 2006, Rome -- Farmers and herders in drought-stricken regions of Ethiopia are facing severe food shortages, with pre-famine conditions, including widespread human and livestock migrations, deteriorating livestock health and cases of livestock deaths, being reported in some areas, FAO said today.
The UN agency is asking for $18.5 million for agricultural relief and rehabilitation activities throughout the country, as part of the UN and partners 2006 Humanitarian Appeal for Ethiopia, which is the outcome of a joint effort by the Government of Ethiopia and the humanitarian community.
FAO’s proposed activities include efforts to help mitigate the effects of the drought and save pastoral livelihoods, particularly in the hard-hit Somali and Oromiya regions, where the situation brought on by the failed autumn rainy season has been exacerbated by the influx of large numbers of livestock from drought-affected areas of northeastern Kenya and southwestern Somalia.
Initial estimates indicate more than one million people in Somali Region alone require immediate assistance to stave off starvation, and the onset of the dry season from January to March is expected to worsen the situation, according to FAO.
“Successive seasons of drought in the worst-affected areas have now eroded many households’ assets to the point of destitution,” said Anne M. Bauer, Director, FAO Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division. “A range of appropriate emergency interventions need to be put in place as quickly as possible before the already alarming conditions become much worse.”
FAO is seeking funding to support emergency animal health interventions to save the livestock assets of families in affected areas. Proposed activities include the supply of vaccines, drugs and equipment and technical and financial support to vaccination and treatment campaigns.
Other livestock activities include provision of emergency animal feed to save the lives of breeding stock, a key household asset for post-drought recovery. FAO will also provide assistance in conducting animal surveys and monitoring markets and in the destocking of targeted animals and the provision of meat and animal products to vulnerable households.
Seed provision and irrigation support
To address the need for locally available seed by destitute farmers, FAO’s appeal calls for the provision of more than 14 000 tonnes of crop seeds to nearly 700 000 families in the coming year. Around 6000 tonnes of seeds are urgently needed for the planting season just under way. Multiplication of drought- and pest-resistant varieties will also be supported to reduce farmers’ vulnerability to climate-related disasters and other shocks and improve food security.
Water availability is key to vegetable production, and yet many of the small-scale irrigation systems are performing poorly, often with adverse environmental consequences due to both structural damage and poor water management practices. FAO will support the maintenance of canals and related structures in selected irrigation schemes and will work with affected farmers and local authorities to improve water management skills.
Stopping avian influenza
According to FAO, the threat of highly pathogenic avian influenza reaching Ethiopia’s borders is another serious concern requiring preparedness at all levels in order to rapidly detect the virus’s introduction into the country and minimize its spread should it occur.
FAO will work with the Government to strengthen its disease surveillance and monitoring capacity and will support training of field and laboratory personnel in diagnosing the disease.
Preventing a regional crisis
The drought situation is also affecting parts of Kenya and Somalia. FAO is working on a regional response simultaneously addressing the needs of pastoral and agricultural livelihoods in affected areas in all three countries in order to prevent possible aggravation of the crisis due to population displacements potentially generated by unbalanced humanitarian assistance.
Information Officer, FAO
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