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Somalia humanitarian crisis eases

25.08.2010 09:21 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) The number of people needing humanitarian assistance in Somalia has dropped by 25 percent to 2 million in the last six months, easing one of the worlds worst humanitarian crises, according to a UN study published today. But the report, by the Nairobi-based Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) of the UNs Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), warned that though Somalia received above average rains, boosting food production and livestock farming, these gains could easily be reversed. «The current situation indicates an improvement but with 27 percent of the population still in crisis the needs remain very significant. And if the next rain season is poor, then the numbers in crisis will rise again» said Grainne Moloney, FSNAUs Chief Technical Advisor. The recent long rainy season — from April to the end of June — was good. The season, also known as Gu, received above normal rainfall in most of the country, boosting production of maize and sorghum and improving conditions in the livestock sector, the major economic activity of the country. These findings come after a prolonged drought reduced crop production, killed livestock and pushed 42 percent of Somalias 7.5 million people into crisis in 2009, The situation was exacerbated by high food prices and high levels of civil insecurity. «We are seeing some positive indicators in the agricultural sector, yet for the pastoralists in central, Hiran regions and parts of the north, they will need many more good seasons of rain to fully recover their herd sizes,» said Luca Alinovi, responsible for the FAO office in Somalia. It is estimated that 40 000 pastoralists have recently become destitute following the drought. The FSNAU — set up by FAO to provide aid agencies with reliable nutrition and food security data from Somalia — also reported that although Somalias nutrition situation has slightly improved in the north of the country, 90 percent of the estimated 35 000 severely malnourished children iThe study also highlighted the needs of the Internally Displaced Populations (IDPs), who have been forced from their homes due to conflict in recent years. The UN estimates that there are 1.41 million IDPs in Somalia. FSNAU reported that the epicentre of the humanitarian crisis continues to be in central and Hiran regions, largely due to the long-term effects of the drought, high food prices and insecurity. In these regions efforts to meet the immediate needs of the populations are essential to prevent further deterioration. FAO is currently helping Somalia with 16 projects worth more than $53 million. The main donor is the European Union, contributing more than $30 million, followed by the World Bank ($7.9 million), Spain ($3.7 million) and others. Projects are aimed at enhancing small farmers crops production, improving their market access and boosting their incomes while also rehabilitating essential irrigation infrastructure and improving agricultural practices through integrated pest management and storage techniques. Somalia has been in crisis off an on since 1991 but the situation worsened in March 2007 when fighting resumed.n the country remain in the conflict-stricken South Central zone.

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