The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Somalia

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2012: Somalia
Dec 2011

An unprecedented food emergency has left 4 million Somalis – about half of the country’s population – in crisis.

A devastating drought, exacerbated by ongoing conflict, caused the humanitarian situation to deteriorate throughout 2011, leading to a famine in parts of southern Somalia.

Years of violence, natural disasters (drought and floods) and consequent displacement have contributed to extreme levels of hunger and poverty. As a result, nearly 1.5 million people are displaced within Somalia and a further 930 000 have fled.

Challenges facing livelihoods and food security

Farmers and herders in southern Somalia have been hit hardest by the crisis. The near failure of two rainy seasons – the 2010 Deyr rains (second season) and 2011 Gu rains (main season) – led to a deepening drought crisis and the worst crop harvests in 17 years. The decline in staple crops (maize and sorghum) caused a 200 percent hike in local cereal prices and seriously eroded families’ purchasing power. The poor rains also increased the already high rate of livestock deaths and reduced the market value of surviving livestock.

Many Somalis were unable to cope with these shocks. A famine was declared in July 2011 and by early September had spread to six areas of southern Somalia. Continued fighting and restrictions on humanitarian access hampered efforts to reach those most in need and forced over 500 000 people to flee their homes in search of food. By mid-November, largely due to substantial humanitarian assistance, three of the six areas had been downgraded from famine to emergency status, and the number of people facing imminent starvation fell from 750 000 to 250 000. However, these improvements will only be sustained if the current level of assistance continues.

Long-lasting conflict and recurrent natural disasters have weakened the population’s ability to cope with new shocks. Even with average crop harvests in January 2012, cereal prices are likely to remain high, as local production continues to be insufficient.Farmers need support, such as drought-tolerant seeds and fertilizers, to restore and significantly improve production. Pastoralists, who lost a large number of their most valuable assets – their animals – need feed, water and veterinary care to protect their remaining livestock, and to help rebuild their herds.

With expected good rains in 2012, the return of drought-affected IDPs and refugees is likely. They will need production inputs, such as animals, seeds and tools, to reintegrate into their communities and rebuild their livelihoods. Women and children are disproportionately affected by shocks and are less able to recover. A sustained effort is therefore needed to ensure a gender-appropriate response to crises in Somalia.

FAO response

With the impact of the drought and severe food emergency likely to extend well into 2012, FAO is aiming to provide immediate life-saving support to the most vulnerable people. FAO’s drought response activities in Somalia during 2012 will be implemented through an integrated programme that covers all sectors and areas of intervention throughout the affected regions.

Through a comprehensive cash-for-work programme, families’ purchasing power will be increased and vital agricultural infrastructure (e.g. feeder roads, canals and water catchments) will be rehabilitated.

Efforts to rebuild rural livelihoods will include providing improved cereal seeds, tools and fertilizers to farmers, along with training on conservation agriculture. Women will be the main recipients of vegetable seeds (e.g. tomato, onion and watermelon) and training on improved nutrition, honey production and food processing. For fisher households, FAO’s programme will provide fishing gear and processing equipment, together with training on fish handling, processing and marketing. Livestock owners will benefit from animal health campaigns, including vaccination and treatment, as well as improved local disease surveillance, reporting and control capacities. Water vouchers will be provided to increase access to water for human and livestock populations, and herd sizes will be rebuilt through animal restocking.

FAO seeks to maintain and further improve food security analysis and monitoring activities through the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU). Without the crucial data generated by the FSNAU, humanitarian partners would lack the evidence needed to design and implement effective interventions. Through continued support to the Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM), FAO aims to increase access to drought and flood information and improve early warning systems.