Media Contact:Lauren Fisher
NAIROBI, Kenya (April 13, 2012) — Forecasts for insufficient rains in Somalia threaten to reverse gains made since last year's famine, and prolong the dire food crisis which continues to cripple the country, a coalition of 21 aid agencies said today. With the March – May rains forecast to perform poorly, the number of people in need of food aid is likely to increase. The agencies are calling on the international community to continue to prioritize aid for Somalia at a time when the UN appeal for 2012 remains vastly underfunded.
According to FEWSNET (the Famine Early Warning Systems Network), the rains in the Eastern Horn of Africa are expected to begin late, to be poorly distributed over space and time, and to total only 60–85 percent of average. This is a significant deterioration compared to earlier forecasts, and would have significant impacts on crop production, pasture regeneration, and the replenishment of water resources. In the worst–case scenario of 60 percent of average rainfall, this would result in a major failure of the Eastern Horn’s main growing season, similar to seasonal performance last year. That season’s failure contributed to the 2011 food crisis.
If the rains fail again, the situation may become devastating because Somalis continue to experience the after-effects of last year’s drought, the worst in decades. Many people reaching from Somaliland to Puntland and the southern regions lost their local support mechanisms and resilience due to the drought crisis. Many communities lack the capacity to absorb and survive stress and adversity, which continues. According to UNOCHA, malnutrition and death rates still remain unacceptably high, particularly in Southern Somalia.
To keep Somalia on the road to recovery, the international community must continue to fund large scale humanitarian aid for survival needs and also support recovery of livelihoods and access to basic services to build people’s resilience and protect investments in development made in Somalia over the last few years. Committing more funding for humanitarian and recovery projects in Somalia now can help avert a disaster on the scale seen last year; however, insufficient support puts lives at risk and can exponentially increase the cost of aid if a crisis worsens.
Last year the world did not listen to early warnings of the approaching crisis, and the response to the disaster was too late, leading to thousands of deaths that could have been prevented. The international community needs to build on gains made since then by allocating funding now to prevent the situation from deteriorating further, allowing contingency planning, and building community resilience. This includes support for infrastructure and long term development. If the world waits until they are certain that the region is once again in crisis that may be too late. The best way to save lives this year is to remain vigilant, and prepared to respond early when needed. We must build local capacity for response; recovery and longer term resilience, continuing to make aid to the Somali people the highest priority.
As much of the world’s attention now focuses on the food crisis in the Sahel, it must be remembered that Somalia is not out of the woods yet. Although some progress has been made and the nutrition situation has improved, those gains remain fragile as ongoing conflict and a lack of access to affected communities continue to hinder efforts to bring aid to people in need.
The agencies ask all donors to change their funding strategies to adapt to the Somalia context and help Somali communities build their resilience to future shocks. To do so, flexible multi-annual funding for livelihood support, disaster risk reduction and basic services are required, that can adapt to fluid access conditions and rapidly changing needs. Donors must support a forward-looking, fully funded donor strategy by building the capacity of both Somali communities and civil society to prevent, mitigate, prepare and respond to the kinds of crises to which Somalia is prone.
In recent years, drought during the March to May growing season (known as the Gu rains) has become increasingly common. According to FEWSNET, there have been six seasons of poor rains in the eastern Horn of Africa since the year 2000.
The signatory agencies include:
|ACTED||Norwegian Church Aid (NCA)|
|African Development Solutions (ADESO)||Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)|
|Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA Somalia)||Oxfam|
|CESVI||Première Urgence – Aide Médicale Internationale (PU-AMI)|
|Christian Aid||Relief International|
|COSV||Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Germany|
|Danish Refugee Council (DRC)||World Vision International|
|International Rescue Committee (IRC)||KISIMA Peace and Development|
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