Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Focus on concrete action on Horn of Africa

 FAO is to host a high-level operational meeting on 18 August 2011 to agree on urgent measures in response to the worsening crisis in the Horn of Africa. FAO has also issued a road map for its support to short-term agricultural recovery in the region, requiring immediate funding of about $103 million.

The meeting, to which agriculture ministers of all FAO's 191 member countries have been invited, will take stock of the evolving situation, needs and shortfalls in the crisis and identify concrete programmes, projects and other actions by governments in the Horn of Africa and their humanitarian and development partners to address both immediate requirements and underlying causes.

It follows up on the Emergency Ministerial-level Meeting on the Horn of Africa held in Rome on 25 July and sets the scene for the pledging Conference called by the African Union in Addis Ababa on 25 August.

From crisis to recovery

The follow-up Rome meeting will discuss how to help populations recover from the crisis — in complement to dealing with immediate food shortages.  It will consider measures such as cash for work for agricultural and water harvesting, seed and inputs distribution, support to vaccination and animal feeding, irrigation, storage of food at village level and rural infrastructure. These urgent actions will smoothly transition into FAO and development partners support to governments' medium- to long-term plans.

The meeting will focus on a twin-track approach to resolving the famine in Somalia and the broader emergency in the Horn of Africa, building resilience over the long haul and supporting livelihoods over the short, medium and long-term.

"When you see the sheer numbers of animal dead bodies along the road you know that this means that people have less capacity to buy their food today and tomorrow. FAO is concerned that support to incomes and safeguarding people's assets has so far been largely overlooked and this will make recovery slower," said Cristina Amaral, Chief of Operations in FAO's Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division.

Lives and livelihoods
FAO had asked for $161 million to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers and pastoralists across the drought-struck Horn of Africa and has received or had commitments for around $57 million.

"FAO's current funding gap stands at around $103 million to provide immediate support to crisis-affected populations," FAO said.

The agency's road map details FAO's short term strategy in the region, focussing on actions to save lives and livelihoods both at regional and country level.

Of the funds being sought, $70 million is intended for Somalia where planned interventions include distribution of seeds and other inputs, provision of animal feed, livestock vaccination and treatment, cash-for-work schemes and infrastructure improvement.

"It is vital that we not only save lives today but also save the livelihoods on which people's lives depend tomorrow," said Rod Charters, Senior Emergency and Rehabilitation Coordinator for the Region. 

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