Somalia: “We cannot wait for a famine to be declared; we must act now’ |

Due to drought and lack of livelihood, people living in eight districts of the country may face famine by September. “We cannot wait for a famine to be declared; we must act now to protect livelihoods and livesRein Paulsen, Director of FAO’s Office of Emergencies and Resilience, said after a recent country visit.

So far, more than three million animals essential to Somalia’s grazing communities have died, and crop yields have declined significantly due to unprecedented low rainfall and severe drought.

Continued loss of livestock, further rising prices for basic commodities and the inability to receive humanitarian assistance from the most vulnerable segments of the population are forcing many people, mostly in rural areas, to move to displaced persons camps.

Urgent funding problems

To help 882,000 people in 55 districts immediately save lives and livelihoods, FAO in Somalia urgently needs $131.4 million. But famine prevention efforts in Somalia are only 46 percent funded, and Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan 2022 as of August 4, only 43 percent funded.

The latter is part of a wider Horn of Africa Drought Response Plan, which also covers Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti. “We have acute funding problems,” Mr. Paulsen said.

FAO was “alarm bell” since last April and lack of consecutive rains, but the reaction “did not occur at the required level”. This has resulted in vulnerable farmers being “forced to move due to loss of livestock and poor harvests. Now everyone must mobilize quickly and on a large scale,” he added.

Drought impact

“We are deeply concerned about the drought and how vulnerable households have been affected,” Mr. Paulsen said, describing how one family of seven traveled more than 100 kilometers seven months ago to reach a displaced persons camp.

“They came here because their livestock died. They came here because they did not have the means to survive in the countryside.,” he explained.

Agricultural intervention

Agriculture accounts for up to 60 percent of Somalia’s gross domestic product, 80 percent of jobs, and 90 percent of exports.

Mr. Paulsen underscored the importance of understanding that agriculture is a priority for humanitarian assistance. “It not only satisfies needs, but effectively reduces the drivers of those needs. Agriculture needs more attention and more funding to ensure timely action in response to the growing seasons,” he said.

Zoom in response

The rural response needs to be scaled up to help vulnerable people “where they are” as it is “more effective,” Mr. Paulsen said. [and] more humane.”

He called for a “multi-sectoral response” to support livelihoods, but warned that “more funding from donors” is needed. The focus is on supporting livelihoodsMr. Paulsen explained.

This includes providing cash so that people can buy food and keep their animals alive through emergency feeding, veterinary care and water supplies. Farmers should be able to plant, especially in coastal areas where crop production is possible with irrigation.

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