Syria - Top five priorities
To provide urgent support to Syria, FAO seeks USD 41.7 million within the Revised 2013 Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP).
Top five priorities for Syria:
- Support to 2013 wheat planting – a turning point for food security
The crisis is profoundly transforming the Syrian agriculture sector – from a heavily subsidized and centralized system to one now dependent on small-scale private and family level production. Small-scale farmers are in an extremely vulnerable position: their income has reduced dramatically, prices for farming inputs are high and they are difficult to access. The 2013 wheat harvest is estimated at 2.4 million tonnes – down 15 percent from 2012 and 40 percent below the ten-year average prior to the crisis (CFSAM). Another year of low staple food production would be catastrophic, increasing food requirements beyond humanitarian capacity to respond. Funding must be secured by August in order for FAO to provide crisis-affected farmers with fertilizer and seeds to plant by October. Without this support, many will be unable to harvest wheat again until mid 2015.
- Prevent the further loss of livestock and safeguard animal health
Livestock provide a continuous source of nutrient-rich foods such as meat, milk and eggs, and a steady income to poor rural families. The crisis has reduced access to feed sources for animals (fodder, crop residues, concentrate feed), while the cost of livestock feed has doubled in many areas. Animals are starving, more vulnerable to disease and being sold at a fraction of their value through distress sales. Lack of access to veterinary services is increasing threats to animal and human health within and beyond Syria’s borders. Funding is urgently needed for FAO to reach more families with animal feed and veterinary supplies, and to support regional transboundary disease control programmes.
- Accelerate food availability and access through backyard food production
In a context of market disruption, soaring food costs, income loss and massive population movement, communities urgently need more means to secure food. Throughout the year gardens and poultry rapidly produce foods high in micronutrients and protein – within weeks for vegetables and days in terms of egg supply – as well as income. These essential food items are in short supply and being sold at inflated cost due to disrupted production and supply chains, and the destruction of many poultry farms. FAO will focus these activities in areas with high inflows of displaced populations with a particular emphasis on women.
- Restore vital rural infrastructure while creating employment
FAO proposes a twin-track approach for the urgent rehabilitation of productive infrastructure. Cash-for-work provides: (i) much needed income to affected families and gives them choice, while (ii) rebuilding community-based assets, such as irrigation canals, water troughs and market roads. Where security allows, these programmes are critical to restore and expand food production. They also prevent additional migration by providing employment to those most at risk of displacement, helping to meet their families’ immediate needs.
- Strengthen coordination and information collection and analysis
The size and scale of the humanitarian situation in Syria – combined with the severe challenges posed by a complex operational environment – call for a strong system to collect, analyse and share information on food security and nutrition. This evidence base is the foundation for an effective, rapid and coordinated response. Funding is needed to continue such work. Recent efforts include two Joint Rapid Food Security Needs Assessment in June and December 2012, and a Crop and Food Security Needs Assessment in May/June 2013 – conducted with WFP and local counterparts.