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Georgia: Revised Crisis Flash Appeal 2008
The escalation of conflict between Russian and Georgian forces in August 2008 led to the displacement of 127 499 people in Georgia. The majority of families living in the conflict zone depended on agriculture for their livelihoods. This population has suffered significant losses resulting from displacement, looting and destruction.
The outbreak of conflict coincided with the summer harvest, which resulted in many farming families losing almost their entire summer crop as they fled to safety. Many of the displaced rural families have not yet returned to their homes, owing to the fear of hostilities, harassment and general insecurity. The recent arrival of European Union monitors and withdrawal of Russian troops from conflict-adjacent areas is facilitating a partial return of affected rural populations to their farms.
Challenges facing food security and agriculture
Some 53 percent of Georgia’s population depend on agriculture-related activities for their livelihood and, for many, as a means to feed their families. The outbreak of military confrontation in the region led to the widespread destruction and theft of the productive assets of farmers, which, when compounded with their high debt levels, has left them without sufficient resources to resume agricultural activities.
Assessments led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have highlighted the immediate and long-term negative impacts of the recent conflict on the agriculture sector. Small-scale farmers who were unable to harvest their summer crops are not likely to succeed in planting their winter crops because of time restraints and insecurity caused by the presence of unexploded ordnance. Farmers who did manage to harvest part of their crops have been unable to sell their produce because of poor quality and market disruption. Furthermore, as vital water supply channels originating in South Ossetia have been cut off, this has disrupted irrigation water supplies, which has already caused losses to the wheat and maize harvests, as well as damage to fruit and vegetable production.
This situation has drastically affected the local population’s access to food and income, as well as the farmers’ ability to feed and maintain healthy livestock during the winter. Because of their debilitated state, livestock are presently particularly susceptible to animal diseases and are in need of improved bio-security measures and veterinary assistance.
In response to the Georgia Crisis Flash Appeal launched in August, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) contributed USD 112 714 to fund an FAO multidisciplinary agriculture sector assessment mission. Based on the findings of this mission and other ongoing assessments, including the Joint Needs Assessment led by the World Bank, FAO prepared the agriculture component of the Revised Georgia Crisis Flash Appeal, which was launched in October.
In this appeal FAO is immediately seeking USD 10.6 million to support the people of Georgia and government efforts to rapidly restore agriculture-based livelihoods, crop production and self-reliance through to March 2009. Over the following two to three years, FAO assessments have identified additional complementary funding requirements of at least USD 18.5 million to rehabilitate the agriculture sector. Furthermore, as part of the in-country humanitarian coordination agreements to strengthen the humanitarian response, FAO is co-chairing the Food Security Cluster in Georgia together with the World Food Programme (WFP). FAO’s proposed emergency activities include:
- providing animal feed to vulnerable and food insecure livestock-owning farmers to ensure the survival of their stock through the winter;
- providing rain-fed seed varieties and related inputs to conflict-affected farmers to mitigate the negative effects of the disruption of irrigated water supplies and restore agricultural production for the spring planting season;
- supporting livestock owners with veterinary services to prevent the outbreak and spread of disease; and
- providing technical assistance and coordination support to the Food Security Cluster to maximize efforts and avoid operational gaps.