Call for aid scale-up following poor rains

Humanitarian aid to Somalia, where 3.4 million people are expected to continue to need food and non-food support for the next six months, should be scaled up particularly in south-central agro-pastoral areas following poor March-May `Gu’ rains, say aid agencies.

The `Gu’ season accounts for 60-70 percent of Somalia’s cereal harvests.

Among parts of the south that are expected to be affected are the regions of Bakool, Bay, Gedo and Shabelle as well as parts of the Juba region, which normally get 4-6 months of cereal supplies from the `Gu’ season.

“The food security situation is going to deteriorate in the agropastoral areas in the South where below average Gu rainfall in most of the rain-fed farming areas suggest[s] an inevitable shortfall of [the] Gu harvest,” says a 25 June analysis by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit-Somalia (FSNAU). 

FSNAU is funded by the European Commission and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Livelihoods in most other pastoral areas of Somalia and Mogadishu are, however, improving following better livestock prices, anticipated increases in herds and milk production, as well as high export demand.

In addition, the opening up of Mogadishu port has meant increased imports and a reduction in food and commodity prices.

“The recent survey [April 2012] in Mogadishu indicated considerably improved food consumption and increased employment among the urban and IDP [internally displaced persons] population alike compared to the survey of December last year,” Sergio Innocente, FAO’s emergency coordinator in Somalia, told IRIN.

Despite a better outlook in some areas “continued humanitarian support is of utmost importance, particularly in the context of [the] prevailing very critical nutrition situation in southern Somalia, which is expected to remain unchanged in most parts of the region,” according to the FSNAU brief.

“[The] total number of people in a food security crisis is likely to remain unchanged in the second half of the year,” it added. 

Fragile

According to Degan Ali, director of African Development Solutions, (Adeso) the situation in Somalia has remained fragile with an unstable economic situation making it hard for the population to invest in recovery. 

Meeting people’s immediate food and non-food needs is as important as improving their ability to be resilient against future shocks, said Degan. 

“There is therefore a need for both continued humanitarian assistance and support to recovery activities,” she said. “Where possible, we should also move towards long-term development interventions, including providing people with social safety nets, as well as addressing wider issues such as natural resource management.” 

While famine conditions no longer exist in southern Somalia, a third of the population there remains in crisis, unable to meet food and non-food needs, according to a February analysis by FSNAU and USAID's Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

ko/aw/cb