by EGAL ABDIWALI
A sizable population is at the risk of facing hunger as well as acute malnutrition through to December.
This is according to a report released by Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO ). Below average harvests, death of livestock and trade disruption are some of the reasons contributing to this grim forecast.
This year’s Gu rainy season that runs from April to June occasioned low yields because whereas the rains started on time in most regions they ended up ceasing early. Areas that normally record high yields in southern Somalia produced 25 per cent less than expected. Drought conditions in Guban contributed to severe water shortage leading to livestock deaths.
During a press briefing in Kenya, FAO estimated that over 343000 children and 855000 adults would be staring at the grim face of food insecurity. Amongst the malnourished children under the age of five are bound to fall sick or die owing to acute malnutrition. This report draws from 39 nutrition surveys conducted from May to July.
This state of affairs has been worsened by insurgent activities in Southern urban areas leading to disruption of trade. Impeding El Nino expected to pound central and southern Somalia between October and December will likely cause flooding in riverine areas compounding the situation.
The many years of instability that led to poor infrastructure and insecurity will make it difficult for aid organizations to deliver much needed humanitarian assistance. Internally displaced persons make up the larger chunk of the population to be severely affected by the famine.
Rural and urban populations follow respectively. The internally displaced owes it to insurgency. Bulo Burto, Hudur and Wajid have been hard it by insurgency. However all is not gloomy, “In most pastoral and agro-pastoral zones, livestock production and reproduction has continued to improve, contributing to improved food security,” said Richard Trenchard, head of FAO in the country, intimating that January will spring new hopes.
Rains that start in October are expected to bring run-off water to Guban from adjacent highlands. This is expected to bring reprieve and stop death of livestock hence restoring food security. The affected populations need lifesaving humanitarian intervention, livelihood support and health services especially for the acutely malnourished between now and December.
Major areas of concern include Benadir, South Mudug, Bari, Lower Juba, Woqooyi Galbeed and North Muduq. FAO points out that pastoral, agro-pastoral and riverine populations have been earmarked for special attention because malnutrition is reaching critical levels.