Due to drought and lack of livelihoods, people living in eight areas of the country may experience famine by September. We cannot wait for famine to be declared; we must act now to protect livelihoods and livesRein Paulsen, Director of FAO The Office of Emergencies and Resistance said, after a recent visit to the country.
More than three million animals essential to Somalia’s pastoral communities have died so far and crop production has plummeted due to unprecedentedly poor rainfall and intense dry conditions.
The continued death of livestock, further rising prices of key commodities and humanitarian aid failing to reach the most vulnerable have forced many people living mainly in rural areas to move into IDP camps.
Urgent funding problems
To assist 882,000 people in 55 districts with immediate life-saving and livelihood support, FAO Somalia is urgently seeking $131.4 million. But efforts to prevent famine in Somalia are only 46 percent funded, and Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan 2022it is only 43 percent funded, as of August 4.
The latter is part of the wider FAO Horn of Africa Drought Response Plan, which also covers Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. We have urgent problems with financing, Mr. Paulsen said.
FAO has been the revival of the alarm bell since April last year and the failure of consecutive rainfall, but a response has not occurred at the required levels. This has forced vulnerable farmers to move as livestock die and crops fail. Now everyone must mobilize quickly and at scale, he added.
Impact of drought
We are deeply concerned about the drought situation and how vulnerable families are being affected, said Mr. Paulsen, describing how a family of seven traveled over 100 kilometers to reach the displaced persons camp seven months ago.
They came here because their livestock had died. They came here because they had no means to survive in rural areashe explained.
Intervention in agriculture
Agriculture accounts for up to 60 percent of Somalia’s gross domestic product, 80 percent of its employment and 90 percent of its exports.
Mr. Paulsen underlined that it was very important to understand that agriculture is a frontline humanitarian response. It not only meets needs, but effectively reduces the drivers of those needs. Agriculture needs more attention and more funding to enable timely action in response to agricultural seasonshe said.
Increase the response
According to Mr. Paulsen, the response in rural areas should be scaled up to help vulnerable people where they are as this is most effective. [and] more humane.
He called for a multi-sectoral response to support livelihoods, but warned that more funding was needed from donors. The focus is on livelihood supportexplained Mr. Paulsen.
This includes providing money to allow people to buy food and keep their animals alive with emergency food, veterinary treatments and water supplies. Farmers must be able to plant, especially in riverine areas where irrigation is possible.
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