UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) — The United Nations (UN) on Monday warned that the food crisis in the Horn of Africa is worsening and called for greater international efforts to minimize its effects.
The UN noted that in Somalia alone, around 750,000 people are in risk of starvation over the next four months. According to the latest data released by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU), which is managed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) famine has spread to a sixth area of the country, Bay region, which is one of Somalia’s most productive areas.
The Bay region produces 80 percent of Somalia’s sorghum harvest and is considered the country’s breadbasket. However, record levels of acute malnutrition have been registered there, with 58 percent of children under the age of five acutely malnourished, with a crude mortality rate of more than two deaths in every 10,000 per day.
Previously, famine was declared in five areas in southern and central Somalia. During the past eight months, the number of Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance has increased from 2.4 million to 4 million, the FAO said, adding that 3 million of them are in the country’s south.
The five other areas hit by famine include the Bakool agropastoral communities in Lower Shabelle region, the agropastoral areas of Balad and Cadale districts of Middle Shabelle, the Afgoye corridor which has the highest concentration of internally displaced persons (IDP) settlements, and the Mogadishu IDP community.
“Though these figures paint a bleak picture for Somalia, there is a window of opportunity for the humanitarian community to stop and reverse this undesirable trend by supporting farmers and herders in addition to other emergency interventions,” Luca Alinovi, the FAO Officer in Charge of Somalia, said during a press conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Humanitarian aid has been ongoing throughout the region, but despite the efforts, the crisis is projected to continue, indicating that famine will become widespread throughout southern Somalia by the end of this year.
Grainne Moloney, the FSNAU Chief Technical Adviser, said famine is likely to spread to agropastoral populations in Gedo, Hiran, Middle Shabelle and Juba regions, and the riverine populations of Juba and Gedo in the coming four months.
Furthermore, a post-harvest assessment showed this year’s cereal crop was the lowest in 17 years. Declining stocks of local cereals have sent cereal prices soaring by 300 percent over the past year, and nearly half a million acutely malnourished children across Somalia require urgent nutritional treatment.
With increasing access to many parts of southern Somalia, the FAO is currently carrying out emergency interventions and will open two new offices in Mogadishu and Dolo and several sub-offices in each region. In addition, it has already appealed for $70 million to fund agricultural emergency assistance for one million farmers and herders in Somalia.
A state of famine is declared on the basis of at least three criteria – severe lack access to food for 20 percent of a population; acute malnutrition exceeding 30 percent; and a crude death rate that exceeds two deaths in every 10,000 people per day.
The current drought-related food crisis has affected other countries in the Horn of Africa, including northern Kenya, southern Ethiopia and Djibouti – where large areas are classified as being in a state of humanitarian emergency.
Monday, September 5th, 2011