FAO appeals for urgent Horn of Africa funds

Funding needed to build strength against crisis

23 March 2012, Rome - FAO today urgently appealed for $50 million to cover the funding gap for priority agricultural and pastoral activities that must be carried out in the Horn of Africa before and during the next planting season, which coincides with the rainy season from April to June.

The funding is needed to implement a 90-day plan to give farmers and pastoralists the means to improve their livelihoods and build resilience to any future shocks. Some activities are already ongoing and need scaling up. They include crop and livestock production and cash- for-work programmes to restore vital agricultural infrastructure.

"The international community needs to continue to support the most vulnerable households in Somalia and other arid and semi-arid lands in the Horn of Africa to cope with another possible dry spell," said Castro Camarada, FAO's Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa.

The regional climate outlook for the coming rainfall season indicates increased likelihood of below to near normal rainfall over much of the  Horn of Africa region.

According to FAO, although the situation in the drought-affected areas of the Horn of Africa has improved significantly in recent months it is estimated 8.1 million people there are still in need of assistance (Ethiopia: 3.2 million; Kenya: 2.2 million; Somalia: 2.5 million; Djibouti 180 000).

Urgent activities

Urgent activities planned in the region include distributing crop and vegetable seeds, helping implement small-scale irrigation schemes and running cash-for-work activities to restore vital agricultural infrastructure. Livestock-oriented activities include supporting fodder production and initiating or stepping up vaccination campaigns.

In Somalia, starting in April, FAO is planning a massive distribution of improved maize, sorghum and sesame seeds as well as fertilizers to ensure that Somali farmers are able to take full advantage of the next cropping season. Thanks to long-term FAO support to seed multiplication in Somalia, seeds are available locally and will be purchased in-country as far as possible.

The end of famine conditions in Somalia was declared more than a month ago. Yet nearly a third of the population — over 2.5 million — remain in crisis, unable to fully meet essential food and non-food needs. The majority reside in the southern regions, where humanitarian access remains very limited.

Since the start of the crisis in 2011, nearly 200 000 families across the Horn of Africa have participated in cash- or voucher-for-work programmes organized by FAO, receiving the money they desperately needed to buy food, while restoring roads, water reservoirs and irrigation systems. FAO has vaccinated and treated millions of animals against diseases and is planning on expanding this support in coming months. At the same time, almost 160 000 farmers in Somalia alone received seeds, tools and agricultural training.

Building resilience

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, who visited Somalia last month, pledged that the Organization will further increase its efforts in the Horn of Africa and stressed the importance of continued, coordinated actions that build up the resilience of local populations and link relief with development.

"We can't avoid droughts, but we can put measures in place to try to prevent them from becoming a famine," he said.

FAO's  total appeal for 2012 amounts to  $293.7 million for a strategic blend of emergency and longer term development operations in the Horn of Africa. Of this, $101.7 million — less than half — has been received, leaving a funding gap of $193.9 million, of which $50 million are urgently needed in the next 90 days. 

Photo: ©FAO/Frank Nyakairu
Livestock market in Somalia