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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: Somalia

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2011: Somalia
Nov 2010

The humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia continues and is as urgent as ever.

The 2011 CAP marks 20 years of civil unrest that has left more than 2 million people in crisis. Natural disasters and conflict frequently disrupt the food security and coping strategies of households. While two wet seasons in 2010 have reduced the number of vulnerable people in crisis by 25 percent, the forecast of a La Niña weather pattern, meaning drier than normal conditions in 2011, could reverse recovery efforts.

Despite the fragile food security improvement, the population dependent on humanitarian assistance remains large. The displaced population is still relatively constant at 1.46 million people, making it one of the largest IDP populations in the world, living in some of the worst conditions in the country.

Somalia continues to be a very challenging operating environment for humanitarian organizations. Many face severe constraints including regular interference in their operations by armed groups. In 2010, this interference escalated in south-central Somalia to the outright banning of eight humanitarian organizations. The humanitarian community will focus on maintaining current access in 2011 and meeting the most urgent needs of Somalis in crisis.

Challenges facing food security

The protracted years of conflict in Somalia have created a complex emergency situation that has eroded livelihoods and led to increased vulnerability to nutrition, food and livelihood insecurity. This, coupled with limited access to basic services, resulted in high levels of both acute and chronic malnutrition and mortality.

Recurring floods and droughts also continue to affect the population, leading to displacement and increased vulnerability to shocks. The outlook for the first quarter of 2011 is even less promising, with a La Niña atmospheric phenomenon predicted. This could result in below-average rainfall, thus negating the favourable impact of the 2010 rains on the agriculture sector in general. Poor rains will weaken any prospect of sustained recovery in the livestock sector, and will require several seasons of average to above-average rainfall levels to recover from the devastating effects of the previous drought.

In spite of the recent 2010 ‘bumper harvest’ in south Somalia, only 40-50 percent of the per capita cereal needs are met locally and approximately 500 000 tonnes of grains must be commercially imported to support the population. For the highly vulnerable riverine communities, poor crop production owing to moisture stress, flooding, or to pests and diseases has restricted food access. Furthermore, a disproportionate access to farming inputs between men and women has resulted in distinct coping mechanisms and subsequently higher vulnerability among female‑headed households.

FAO response

In 2011, FAO will continue focusing on the immediate food access needs of populations in humanitarian emergency and acute food and livelihood crisis, while also working towards maintaining and improving livelihood assets.

With donor funding, FAO aims to distribute agricultural inputs including farming tools, high-yielding seeds, seed storage facilities, and irrigation equipment that will ensure that both female and male‑headed households directly benefit. FAO will also work with its partners to protect livestock assets; increase the water storage capacity for livestock; improve access to high-protein food for children less than five years of age; and create income-generating opportunities for pastoral households through cash-for-work schemes.

In order to combat the effects of flooding for riverine pastoral and agropastoralist populations, FAO and its partners will also work to improve disaster awareness and preparedness by establishing early warning systems and disseminating information to communities using local language.

As the lead agency in the Agriculture and Livelihoods Cluster, FAO is collaborating with local partners on how to effectively address gaps on gender issues and implement appropriate gender interventions in food security. Focus will also lie in strengthening the remote partnership approach that assists agencies who have limited access to insecure locations in Somalia. The approach is anchored in the ability of local partners to design, implement and deliver quality programmes for both men and women.