Horn of Africa: Rapid aid to drought-affected farmers and herders needed to avert hunger crisis – Ethiopia

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In a region reeling from locust invasions and COVID-19, a third consecutive year of low rainfall poses a major threat to food security

Rome/Nairobi– More than $138 million in urgent funding is needed to help 1.5 million vulnerable people in rural communities in the Horn of Africa whose fields and pastures have been hit hard by prolonged drought , the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said today, releasing a comprehensive response plan calling for a range of support for agriculture in the region.

In a region already prone to food insecurity associated with extreme weather conditions, natural resource limitations and conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020-21 locust invasion have pushed the adaptive capacities of rural communities to their limits, undermining agricultural productivity.

Now, a third season of La Niña-induced drought raises fears of a large-scale hunger crisis if rural food-producing communities across the region do not receive adequate seasonal assistance. agricultural to come.

In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, the most affected countries, projections indicate that some 25.3 million people will face high acute food insecurity by mid-2022 – should this scenario materialize, it would would place the Horn of Africa among the largest in the world. major food crises.

The importance of supporting rural livelihoods

FAO’s Horn of Africa Drought Response Plan calls for more than $138 million to help rural communities cope with this latest threat – of which $130 million of that total is urgently needed by the end of February to provide urgent assistance to highly vulnerable and agriculture-dependent communities in the three most affected countries.

“We know from experience that supporting agriculture in times like this has a huge impact – only when we act quickly and at the right time to provide water, seeds, animal feed, veterinary care and money so badly needed by rural families at risk, then hunger disasters can be averted,” said Rein Paulsen, Director for Emergencies and Resilience at FAO.

“Well, the right time is now. We urgently need to support herders and farmers in the Horn, immediately, because the cycle of seasons does not wait for anyone,” he added.

In 2011, a severe drought contributed to an outbreak of famine in Somalia that saw 260,000 people die of starvation – most before an official declaration of famine was made.

In 2017, however, potential drought-associated famines in four countries in the Greater Horn of Africa region were averted thanks to a concerted international push to act early that prioritized helping rural communities cope with stresses before they escalate into food crises.

The clock is already ticking, Paulsen warned. The lean season that has just begun is marked by limited grazing opportunities for herding families, and their livestock will need nutritional and veterinary support. Crop-dependent families, for their part, need to have seeds and other supplies on hand to get started at the start of the main Gu planting season in March.

FAO Action Plan

FAO’s drought response plan aims to target aid to 1.5 million of the most at-risk rural populations in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

For herding families, this would include the provision of animal feed and nutritional supplements and mobile veterinary clinics to keep their livestock healthy and produce milk, transport water to collapsible water tanks from 10,000 liters installed in remote areas and upgrading existing wells to run on solar energy. Powerful.

In the case of crop-dependent families, FAO aims to distribute seed of early varieties of protein-rich sorghum, maize, cowpea and mung bean and nutrient-rich, drought-tolerant vegetables, and to organize plowing services before planting. and access to irrigation as well as training in good agricultural practices.

Cash-for-work programs would allow able-bodied households to earn additional income by helping to rehabilitate agricultural infrastructure, such as irrigation canals or boreholes. Families unable to work for health or other reasons would receive unconditional cash injections. Providing rural families with additional disposable income gives them the means to buy food at the market while they wait for their crops to arrive.

In Somalia, FAO’s plan includes the provision of boats, equipment and training to help coastal communities that do not normally practice fishing get a new source of much-needed calories and protein, by s Building on FAO’s ongoing work to promote livelihood diversification. in the countryside.

If fully funded, the agency’s plan would produce up to 90 million liters of milk and up to 40,000 tonnes of staple food crops in the first part of 2022, putting more one million highly food insecure people on a secure basis for at least six months.

Sustainable solutions

By enabling people to stay in their homes and remain productive and preserve their livelihoods, while increasing their resilience, FAO’s intervention would lay the foundations for longer-term stability and food security.

“For years, we have seen the same cycles of vulnerability and stress undermine agricultural productivity in rural communities in the Horn of Africa. It is time to invest more in tackling the drivers of hunger and strengthen people’s ability to continue producing even when hit by shocks like drought, so that unavoidable shocks do not inevitably turn into humanitarian crises,” said Chimimba David Phiri, FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for East Africa (SFE) and Representative to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Contact Irina Utkina FAO News and Media (Rome) (+39) 06 570 52542 [email protected]

FAO News and Media (+39) 06 570 53625 [email protected]

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