Somalia Famine Appeal 2011

Somalia Famine Appeal 2011


On 20 July, the United Nations declared a state of famine in parts of southern Somalia, which has killed tens of thousands of people in recent months and could grow even worse unless urgent action is taken. The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU), a project of FAO, officially declared a state of famine in two regions of southern Somalia: Bakool and Lower Shabelle. According to the findings, in the next one or two months, famine will become widespread throughout southern Somalia.

Together with ongoing crises in the rest of the country, the number of Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance has increased from 2.4 million to 3.7 million in the last six months. The current crisis in southern Somalia is driven by a combination of factors:

  • The total failure of the October–December 2010 Deyr rains (secondary season) and the poor performance of the April–June 2011 Gu rains (primary season) have resulted in crop failure, reduced labour demand, poor livestock body conditions, and excessive animal mortality.
  • Local cereal prices across the south are far above average, more than two to three times 2010 prices in some areas, and continue to rise. As a result, both livestock to cereal and wage to cereal terms of trade have deteriorated substantially. Across all livelihoods, poor households (30 percent of the population) are unable to meet basic food needs and have limited ability to cope with these food deficits.

During July 2011, FSNAU conducted 17 representative nutrition and mortality surveys across southern Somalia. Results are available for 11 surveys. The prevalence of acute malnutrition exceeds 20 percent in all areas and is higher than 38 percent (with severe acute malnutrition higher than 14 percent) in 9 of the 11 survey areas. The highest recorded levels of acute malnutrition are in Bay, Bakool, and Gedo (agropastoral) where the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence exceeds 50 percent.

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has verified these findings. Population‐wide death rates are above the famine threshold (2/10 000/day) in two areas (Bakool agropastoral, and Lower Shabelle) and are elevated across the south. Under‐five death rates are higher than 4/10 000/day in all areas of the south where data is available, peaking at 13‐20/10 000/day in riverine and agropastoral areas of Lower Shabelle. Tens of thousands of people have died in the past three months.

However, Agricultural emergency relief may be very relevant in the months to come, considering that the outlook for the next rainy season is normal. Therefore, interventions by FAO to support agricultural production could be particularly effective in increasing cereal availability and reducing food prices. Further, food access can be increased in the short term and assets protected in the long term through large-scale animal feed and veterinary services to poor pastoralist communities, thus reducing the risk of population movement and preventing permanent destitution. However, the funds need to be in place quickly – within the next month – for inputs to be purchased and delivered in time to benefit from the upcoming rains in October 2011.

Given the current scale of crisis, the needs exceed FAO’s resources and require the support of the international community. FAO Somalia is calling for USD 70 million to address the immediate needsof 900 000 drought-affected people over a six-month timeframe in southern Somalia and to increase food availability and access in the medium term. The people targeted by FAO are farmers and herders who have lost crops and animals to the drought. These assets constitute the sole source of income and primary basis for household food security for these families. Inaction will lead to increased large-scale population movement and human suffering, even starvation.

FAO’s Appeal for Emergency Response for Somalia

FAO is appealing for USD 70 million to support Somalia’s most vulnerable population to restore food production and safeguard livelihoods. Protecting the asset base of herders and assisting farmers to resume planting in time for the upcoming season will be paramount to recover the food security and nutritional status of the most drought-affected families.

FAO's proposed activities aim to:

  • restore the crop production of farmers through the distribution of appropriate agricultural inputs for the upcoming planting season (October to Mid-November 2011) – USD 10 million to the benefit of 750 000 people.
  • safeguard the livelihoods and remaining assets of vulnerable small-scale herders through the timely provision of animal feed (fodder) to avert the starvation and sale of livestock; emergency treatment and vaccination of 42 million animals to avert drought-related diseases – USD 35 million to the benefit of 42 million animals.
  • put cash at the disposal of vulnerable people to purchase food through cash-for-work activities that create a temporary source of much needed income, and at the same time contribute to increased resilience by rehabilitating productive infrastructure – USD 25 million to the benefit of 870 000 people.

All the above activities will be implemented using the FAO existing network of implementing partners (both international and national Non-governmental Organizations [NGOs]), ensuring a full country coverage. FAO will retain the exclusivity of the procurement of inputs, thus ensuring the quality and appropriateness, as well as the timely delivery to distribution points. Moreover, FAO has the exclusive comparative advantage of working country wide, allocating funds and resources according to the most emerging needs.

FAO, as technical agency of the United Nations, plays a recognized role in providing technical advice and guidelines for the implementation of emergency/recovery/development interventions in agriculture (crop, livestock, fisheries and environment). FAO is chairing the agriculture and livelihood cluster (HCT), as well as the thematic working groups (former SSS) in Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. This places the Organization in an exclusive position to ensure that efforts are coordinated and implemented in a homogenous manner.