The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2010: Somalia

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2010: Somalia
Nov 2009

Somalia remains one of the most challenging and worrying humanitarian crises in the world. Human suffering has soared despite the progress of recovery efforts and the resilience of conflict- and climate-affected populations.

According to the latest assessment of the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased by 13 percent, from 3.17 million to 3.64 million since January 2009. Fierce fighting in Mogadishu from May 2009 onwards forced more than 210 000 people to flee their homes, which marked the biggest exodus since the Ethiopian intervention in 2007. Reports indicate that approximately 1.55 million individuals are currently internally displaced.

The lack of central governance over the past 18 years has fuelled chronic vulnerability and malnutrition levels, leaving the country without the necessary resources to deliver basic social services. High food prices and a 25 percent decline in remittances from the Somali diaspora have severely reduced the purchasing power and depleted the coping mechanisms of local populations. Increasing access to food, means of production and livelihood options is paramount to strengthening self-reliance among vulnerable populations.

Challenges facing food security

Persisting insecurity, natural disasters and widespread displacements have devastated the income sources of millions across Somalia. While the livelihoods of 80 percent of the population depend on agriculture and livestock, rural households are unable to produce sufficient food to cover their daily food requirements and must rely heavily on commercial or food aid imports. Malnutrition rates in southern and central Somalia are among the highest in the world, with one in six children acutely malnourished.

For the past five years, Somalia has endured prolonged droughts and poor rainfall, the consequences of which are compounded by civil unrest and fierce competition over scarce natural resources. In many parts of the country, severe water shortages are decimating livestock herds and destitute pastoralists are gathering in villages and towns in search of assistance. The seasonal rains are expected to intensify at the end of 2009, paving the way for improved crop and livestock production. However, increased precipitation poses risks including flooding and associated increases in malaria and other waterborne diseases such as the re-emergence of Rift Valley fever (RVF).

Violence directed at humanitarian personnel continued, with 69 security incidents reported since January 2009. Increased volatility resulted in humanitarian organizations withdrawing their staff, while others temporarily suspended their programmes in certain areas. Furthermore, rampant piracy has disrupted critical supply routes to central and southern Somalia, impeding the delivery of relief assistance in rural areas.

FAO response

In 2010, FAO seeks to continue empowering households to resume agricultural and livestock production while addressing the root causes of food insecurity. With donor funding, FAO aims to distribute agricultural tools, fertilizers and high‑yielding seed varieties based on region-specific needs, supplemented by the delivery of training components on sound farming practices, improved nutrition and hygiene.

Proposed interventions to enhance pastoral livelihoods include the distribution of livestock, the vaccination and treatment of animals against the most prevalent diseases, increasing the capacities of animal disease surveillance, ensuring the rehabilitation of key irrigation infrastructure through cash-for-work schemes, and support to enhancing food preservation techniques and storage systems.

In line with the Agriculture and Livelihoods Cluster, FAO intends to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities to cope with ongoing and future shocks. To this end, key activities consist of establishing country-wide cluster support offices, which in turn, will strengthen coordination among actors in the sector through improved information sharing and consensus-building on emergency response options. Through the FSNAU, FAO aims to continue to provide evidence-based analysis of food nutrition and livelihood security, enabling humanitarian stakeholders to address the needs of affected communities in a timely manner.