Articole recente
Follow Us
Articole recente

Food and Travel Blog

Best Travel Stories, local food stories, food recipes, travel and food news and more!

Rapid aid for drought-affected farmers and herders is needed to avoid a hunger crisis

Over $138 million in urgent funds are needed to help 1.5 million vulnerable people in rural communities in the Horn of Africa whose fields and pastures have been badly hit by a prolonged drought, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said (FAO). , as it released a comprehensive response plan calling for a range of supports for agriculture in the region.

In a region already vulnerable to food insecurity linked to extreme weather, natural resource constraints and conflict, the Covid-19 pandemic and 2020-21 locust invasion have stretched the coping capacities of rural communities and undermined agricultural productivity.

Now, a third drought season caused by La Niña is raising concerns that a major hunger crisis could erupt unless the region’s food-producing rural communities receive adequate support, timed to meet the needs of upcoming farming seasons.

In Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, the worst-affected countries, forecasts suggest that around 25.3 million people will face high levels of acute food insecurity by mid-2022 – should this scenario materialize, it would make the Horn of Africa one of the largest in the world make food crises.

The criticality of supporting rural livelihoods
The FAO Horn of Africa Drought Response Plan earmarks over US$138 million to help rural communities weather this latest threat – with US$130 million of that total urgently needed by the end of February to provide time-sensitive assistance to high-risk, agriculture-dependent communities in the three hardest-hit countries.

Rein Paulsen, FAO Director for Emergencies and Resilience said: „We know from experience that supporting agriculture in moments like these – if we act quickly and at the right moment for water, seeds, animal feed, veterinary… Provisions and much-needed cash for vulnerable families in the countryside, then famines can be averted.”

„Well, the right moment is now. We need urgent and immediate support to shepherds and farms in the Horn, because the cycle of the seasons waits for no one,” he added.

In 2011, a severe drought contributed to an outbreak of famine in Somalia that left 260,000 people starved to death – most of them before an official declaration of famine was made.

In 2017, however, potential drought-related famines in four countries in the Greater Horn of Africa were averted thanks to a concerted international push to act early and help rural communities cope with stress before food crises hit.

The clock is already ticking, Paulsen warned. The lean season that has just begun is characterized by limited grazing opportunities for pastoral families, and their livestock will require nutritional and veterinary support. For their part, plant-dependent families need to have seeds and other supplies on hand to get started when the main Gu planting season begins in March.

FAO action plan
FAO’s drought response plan aims to provide assistance to 1.5 million of the most vulnerable rural populations in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

For pastoral families, this would include providing animal feed and supplements and mobile animal health clinics to keep their livestock healthy and producing milk, transporting water to 10,000 liter bulk water reservoirs constructed in remote areas, and upgrading existing wells for the operation with solar energy energy.

In the case of crop-dependent families, FAO aims to distribute seeds of drought-tolerant, early-maturing varieties of sorghum, corn, cowpea and protein-rich mung beans and nutrient-dense vegetables, and to organize pre-sowing land plowing and access to irrigation, as well as training on good agricultural practices.

Cash-for-work programs would allow working-able households to earn extra income by helping to rehabilitate agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation canals or boreholes. Families unable to work due to health or other reasons would receive unconditional cash injections. Providing additional disposable income to rural families gives them the opportunity to buy groceries at the market while they await their harvest.

In Somalia, FAO’s plan includes providing boats, equipment and training to help non-fishing coastal communities secure a new and much-needed source of calories and protein, and builds on the ongoing FAO’s work to promote livelihood diversification in the country.

If fully funded, the plan would allow the agency to produce up to 90 million liters of milk and up to 40,000 tonnes of crops in the first half of 2022, and put over 1 million people with high levels of food insecurity on their feet for at least six months.

Durable solutions
By allowing people to stay home, productive and livelihoods while increasing their resilience, FAO intervention would lay the foundation for longer-term stability and food security.

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, said: “For years we have seen the same cycles of vulnerability and stresses that erode agricultural productivity in rural communities on the Horn of Africa. It is time to invest more in tackling the root causes of hunger and build people’s capacity to continue producing even when hit by shocks such as drought, so that inevitable shocks do not inevitably lead to humanitarian crises.”