Kenya: FAO says floods aggravating food security in Somalia

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - After a poor rainy season, parts of southern Somalia are now being hit by severe bouts of floods, further aggravating the already alarming food security situation in the Horn of Africa nation, experts at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) have warned.

With the devastation of the 2011 famine still fresh in the minds of many, Somalia once again finds itself in a humanitarian crisis, the UN food and agriculture agency said in a news dispatch from Nairobi Friday.

More than one million people are now in urgent need of assistance - a rise of 20 percent in just six months - while another two million people are experiencing threats to their food security.

Much of Somalia's agriculture takes place along the Juba and Shebelle rivers, the only perennial streams in Somalia. They originate in Ethiopia, where over 90 percent of the stream flow is generated and experts fear that swells of floodwaters will ruin the crops.

Latest reports indicate that the worst affected area along the Shebelle River is Belet Weyne town. Along the Juba River, floods have been reported in Dollow, Jilib and Jamame in Lower Juba, where large areas with crops have been inundated.

"We have a small and critical window of opportunity - we must seize it now if we want to avoid going the same way as four years ago," said Luca Alinovi, acting Head of Office, FAO Somalia.

Close to 260 000 people died in the 2010-2012 famine in Eastern Africa - more than half of those were children under the age of five - which was the result of a severe drought exacerbated by inadequate humanitarian assistance and poor humanitarian access.

Many current food security indicators across Somalia resemble or are worse than those seen in the pre-famine period in 2010.

"If we've learned anything from the devastation of the 2011 famine, it's that early warning signs must lead to immediate action," said Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.

"We know from experience that quick responses to early warnings are crucial to prevent disaster and are less costly than emergency responses to full-blown humanitarian crisis," he added.

With resources currently available, FAO will be able to assist 35 000 families (some 210 000 people) throughout the current Deyr - the country's second annual rainy season.

The rains are being used to support livestock redistribution, expand livestock vaccination drives, provide fishing and agricultural inputs and extend cash-for-work programmes.

As part of its current activities, FAO is distributing vouchers to close to 22,500 families for the purchase of some 4,000 tonnes of locally-sourced seeds to help farmers produce a better January harvest.
-0- PANA DJ/VAO 31Oct2014

31 october 2014 11:49:33

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