Livestock death threatens food security in Somalia

Achta and her family fled drought in Northern Chad after drought killed all their animals- goats, sheep, camels and cattle. (Photo; World Food Programme:Chris Terry)
Achta and her family fled drought in Northern Chad after drought killed all their animals- goats, sheep, camels and cattle. (Photo; World Food Programme:Chris Terry)

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned Wednesday that massive livestock deaths due to drought which have severely impacted livelihoods could exacerbate the country’s food security situation.

FAO said in its Global Information and Early Warning Systems (GIEWS) that urgent support is needed to assist pastoralists as forecasts point to below-average rains in April to June.

FAO Representative in Somalia Daniele Donati said the losses 60 per cent of herds in some areas have severely damaged pastoralists’ livelihoods, noting that the situation remains critical in the central and northern pastoral areas.

“It is crucial that we continue to support pastoralist households in building resilience against climate-related shocks by providing timely veterinary and feeding assistance for their animals,’’ Donati said in a statement.

He said the massive livestock losses have severely affected Somalia’s economy and people in a country which is traditionally an agro-pastoral economy.

The UN food agency said urgent support is needed to build the resilience of pastoralist communities and avert deterioration in livelihood and food security with forecasts pointing to below-average rains during April to June.

FAO said the negative impact of prolonged drought in northern and central pastoral regions in the in the past two years on livestock in particular, has increased the number of people under severe food insecurity by an estimated 3 per cent to 1.8 million almost 30 per cent of the population of these areas.

In 2017, FAO reached 38.3 million animals through animal health services, provided more than 900,000 animals with supplementary feeding and delivered more than 53 million litres of water to respond to the urgent needs of the crisis-hit pastoralists.

The UN food agency aims to assist 2.7 million rural Somalis in 2018 and is appealing for 236 million U.S. dollars to sustain these livestock interventions, help farmers secure a good harvest and provide cash transfers to the most vulnerable so families can afford to eat while restoring their own food production.

According to FAO, overall food security situation improved to some extent in early 2018 mainly due to large-scale, sustained humanitarian assistance.

“The number of Somalis suffering severe food insecurity decreased by an estimated 15 per cent from late 2017, but remains 170 per cent above pre-crisis levels.,’’ it said.

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