Germany and FAO work together to fight hunger in northeastern Nigeria and Somalia

Germany and FAO work together to fight hunger in northeastern Nigeria and Somalia


With the main farming season coming to a close in northeastern Nigeria, over 66 000 people affected by conflict are harvesting food – many for the first time in three years – thanks to a €4 million from Germany’s Federal Foreign Office. In many of the targeted districts, FAO provided the sorghum and cowpea seeds with fertilizers alongside food and cash assistance from the World Food Programme, meaning hungry families had an immediate source of food while they planted their crops.

As the rainy season ends, FAO is starting to distribute small ruminants, bulls and animal feed mainly to women as a means of earning an income and rebuilding livelihoods. A vaccination campaign will also be initiated to protect crucial livestock assets.

“Germany’s support meant that almost 10 000 families will be able to meet their food needs for up to six months,” said FAO Representative to Nigeria, Mr Suffyan Koroma. “The timeliness of the support was critical in enabling FAO to reach displaced and hosting families in time for the planting season. Thanks to the German funding, 20 000 families will also receive assistance for the upcoming dry season.”

Ambassador Thoelken, Germany’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations agencies in Rome, was in northeastern Nigeria earlier this year, where he witnessed the harsh reality facing millions of displaced and hosting families. ”For the first time, families diplaced by the conflict in Lake Chad Basin could build their own livelihoods with periurban farming in the Maiduguri region. FAO’s approach offers critical help to the benefeciaries and gives them a new perspective.”

A recently conducted post-distribution monitoring of FAO’s overall 2017 main season support in the three affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe showed that FAO reached over 940 000 people – about 98 percent of the planned beneficiaries – insecurity and further displacement being the main reason that a few families could not be assisted. Some 41 percent of those reached were returnees, 38 percent were host community members and 21 percent were internally displaced. The programme was successful, with 87 percent of those reached expressing satisfaction with the timeliness and quality of the seeds and fertilizers provided. In November, FAO is beginning a post-harvest assessment to determine actual production levels among beneficiaries.

Overall, FAO has reached 138 801 families (943 847 people, almost half of whom were women) during the 2017 rainy season in the three northeastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. Over one-third of those families were from host communities, 41 percent were returnees and 21 percent were internally displaced.

In Somalia, where ongoing drought has devastated livelihoods and left an estimated 3.1 million people facing severe hunger, German funds have been used to provide crucial cash and agricultural support to almost 30 000 people in time for the ongoing 2017 deyr season. Under the cash+ programme, families receive cash along with sorghum and cowpea seeds to enable them to buy food or meet other crucial expenses while they await the harvest. This support is particularly critical in light of the poor 2017 gu season production.

Together with the agricultural inputs, the participating families are being trained in good agronomic practices. FAO is also providing 133 500 hermetic storage bags to reduce post-harvest losses, which could add a further three to five months of cereals to households’ food stocks.

“Livelihoods are people’s best defence against famine in rural areas. With Germany’s contribution of €3 million, FAO is helping the most food insecure rural families meet their immediate food needs, while giving them the means to continue farming their land and producing the food they need to survive this crisis”, said FAO’s Representative, ad interim, in Somalia, Mr Daniele Donati.

In 2017, FAO’s cash-for-work and unconditional cash transfers have enabled about 300 000 people to rapidly access food, while restoring productive infrastructure that supports livelihood recovery, like water catchments and irrigation canals. For Cawil Warsame Yey, a married father of three in Ceynabo, Somaliland, the cash-for-work programme “has helped improve all aspects of my life … through it I was able to pay my debts, buy food for the family as well as savings”. A further 230 000 people have benefited from FAO’s cash+ programme, which provides families with a mixture of cash and agricultural inputs.

With famine risks remaining high in parts of both northeastern Nigeria and Somalia and levels of food insecurity continuing to rise in 2017, continued support in the form of immediate assistance to protect livelihoods and facilitate rapid local food production alongside interventions aimed at building more resilient agricultural livelihoods remains critical to address hunger today and in the longer term.