UN: $50 million urgently needed within 90 days to help Horn of Africa farmers

The drought has taken a serious toll on livestock in the Horn of Africa. Photo: FAO

23 March 2012 – The United Nations food agency today urgently appealed for $50 million within the next 90 days to help farmers in the Horn of Africa with priority agricultural and pastoral activities, ahead of the region’s upcoming planting season.

“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 the Food Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, Castro Camarada.

Although the situation in the drought-affected areas of the Horn of Africa has improved significantly in recent months, there are still some 8.1 million people in need of assistance in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti, FAO said in a press release. In addition, the regional climate outlook for the coming rainfall season indicates increased likelihood of below to near normal rainfall.

The $50 million would be used to implement a 90-day plan that would distribute crops and vegetable seeds, help implement irrigation schemes, run cash-for-work activities to restore agricultural infrastructure and vaccinate livestock, among other activities.

Since the start of the crisis last year, nearly 200,000 families across the Horn of Africa have participated in cash or voucher-for-work programmes organized by FAO, receiving money they urgently need to buy food, while restoring roads, water reservoirs and irrigation systems. FAO has also vaccinated and treated millions of animals against diseases, and has given agricultural training and tools to almost 160,000 farmers.

“We can’t avoid droughts, but we can put measures in place to try to prevent them from becoming a famine,” said FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, stressing the importance of continued action to build up the resilience of local populations. He also pledged that FAO will increase its efforts in the Horn of Africa.

Although the end of famine conditions in Somalia was declared more than a month ago, nearly a third of the population – over 2.5 million – remain in crisis, unable to fully meet essential food and non-food needs. FAO is planning to distribute maize, sorghum and sesame seeds throughout the country, as well as fertilizers to ensure that Somali farmers are able to take full advantage of the next cropping season.

FAO’s total appeal for this year amounts to $293.7 million for emergency and longer term development operations in the region – however, only $101.7 million, less than half – has been received, leaving a funding gap of $193.9 million.


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