The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2009: Somalia

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2009: Somalia
Nov 2008

The humanitarian crisis in Somalia continues to escalate at an alarming rate, as confirmed by the Food Security Analysis Unit’s survey completed in August 2008. Increasing civil insecurity has intensified human suffering in terms of killings, violence, human rights abuses and population displacement. The number of Somalis currently in need of humanitarian assistance exceeds 3.2 million, representing approximately 43 percent of the population and a 77 percent increase since January 2008.

The country’s dependence on imported commodities, combined with the high devaluation of the Somali Shilling and increasing food and fuel prices, have created an economic crisis with widening effects on the broader population, with particularly strong impacts in urban areas. The country also continues to suffer from recurrent drought and floods. Several regions throughout Somalia have been affected by below-average rainfall for four consecutive seasons. Further humanitarian interventions are needed to sustain existing natural resource-based livelihoods, as well as to assist families to regain productive assets and return progressively to sustainable livelihoods.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

In 2008, humanitarian workers have been confronted with increasing threats to their security and safety, particularly in central and southern Somalia, as well as in Puntland. Between January and September, 129 security incidents were reported involving humanitarian workers and assets, which were often direct targets of the aggression. Furthermore, piracy has affected critical supply routes to central and southern Somalia. The naval escorts recently provided by the Governments of France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Canada have facilitated secure passage for humanitarian aid.

Approximately 80 percent of the Somali population depends on agricultural or pastoral livelihoods. Rural households are unable to produce food to cover their requirements and rely heavily on commercial or food-aid imports. Decreasing household production and purchasing power have deepened the prolonged crisis. Rates of malnutrition in most of southern and central Somalia have surpassed emergency thresholds of 15 percent, exceeding 20 percent in some areas.

The major grain production regions of Middle and Lower Shabeelle produced approximately half of the long-term cereal production average owing to drought during the recent Gu (April–June) season. Production shortfalls in Middle and Lower Shabeelle consequently affect other regions which normally depend on this area’s cereal surplus. In the north, where malnutrition rates are normally low and stable, there is an emerging crisis as pastoralists struggle to cope with decreased rainfall, deteriorated water and pasture conditions and increases in commodity costs. Immediate efforts are needed to reduce crop failure and restore production capacity in response to urgent humanitarian needs.

FAO response

The Agriculture and Livelihoods Cluster recognizes and stresses the need for humanitarian interventions which facilitate long-term recovery. The strategy aims to prevent further deterioration of livelihoods by assisting vulnerable families in resuming agricultural and pastoral activities, regaining productive assets and returning progressively to sustainable livelihoods. Overall, the Cluster is determined to reach at least 50 percent of the 3.2 million people in need of assistance, with a particular emphasis on marginalized populations, women and female-headed households.

In 2009, FAO aims to mitigate the negative effects of soaring food prices through the provision of assistance to increase crop, livestock and fisheries production. Interventions also aim to improve techniques for harvesting and processing of local produce. Project activities will also include the improvement of storage systems and the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure. Pastoral communities will benefit from an integrated approach that combines protection of livestock assets, improvement of animal health and enhancement of capacities to cope with shocks. Assistance to fishing communities will include the provision of assets and small-scale infrastructure, as well as training in improved processing techniques.