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Thanks to a decent harvest and a strong response from the international humanitarian community, the United Nations declared an end to famine in southern Somalia in early 2012. More than two million people are currently food insecure, down by about 17 percent from early 2012 estimates.
But conditions are still touch-and-go in this arid, conflict-torn country – one of the poorest in the world. If people cannot produce and sell their own food and have the wherewithal to withstand shocks, gains made in improving their food and nutrition security could slip away with the next disaster.
Getting people back on their feet
Most people in Somalia rely on farming and livestock for their food and income, but drought, conflict, displacement, disease and environmental degradation have wiped out many Somalis’ ability to earn a living. One missed planting season or the loss of livestock will push most families deeper into poverty and hunger. That is why FAO Somalia is using cash transfer initiatives in the country’s most vulnerable communities while working to help Somali farmers prepare and sow their fields ahead of the rains, providing them with improved seeds, fertilizers and technical support to boost yields. Likewise, FAO Somalia is vaccinating livestock and ramping up animal health services and disease surveillance and monitoring.
The combination of high food prices and reduced incomes has hit Somali families hard, but FAO Somalia is working to restore incomes and build stronger local economies. One way is through cash-for-work schemes, which provide vulnerable families with daily wages in exchange for work on community infrastructure – from building feeder roads for easier market access to digging catchments for drinking water and canals for crop irrigation.
Timely information key
Having access to accurate and timely information before, during and after a disaster is essential for quick decision-making. FAO manages the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit, which provides evidence-based analysis of Somali food, nutrition and livelihood security. This analysis helps inform emergency responses but also longer-term planning aimed at making Somali communities more resilient to drought and other shocks.