Interventions to enable farmers and pastoralists to resume agricultural production
**Addis Ababa **– The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched an emergency programme to safeguard the agricultural livelihoods of communities affected by conflict in the Tigray region, Ethiopia.
The FAO Representative in Ethiopia, Fatouma Seid, noted that "FAO's priority is ensuring that the farmers and pastoralists resume agricultural production and build their resilience against future shocks."
The ongoing interventions include distributing crop and vegetable seeds (wheat or teff, plus onion and tomato) and training and extension support to targeted households. In addition, FAO is undertaking treatment and vaccination of livestock, including goats, sheep, and cattle against endemic transboundary animal diseases.
The interventions target 50 000 households with seed packages while livestock belonging to an additional 100 000 livestock households will be vaccinated and treated.
FAO is currently developing a response plan and funding appeal that will further define the Organization's medium to long-term interventions in Tigray.
Increasing food insecurity
Food insecurity and malnutrition levels in Tigray are increasing. The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) projections for January--September 2021 (released before conflict) estimated that about 15 percent of analyzed rural populations (761 000 people) were classified in IPC Phase 3 or above, due to desert locust invasion and climate-related disasters. This number adds to the more than one million people that were already benefitting from the Productive Safety Net Programme interventions before the conflict started in the region. The latest estimates indicate that about 5.2 million people (about 93% of the total population) require emergency food assistance in the region (UN OCHA 2021).
Conflict, desert locusts, COVID-19 disrupt agricultural production
Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for more than 80 percent of the population in Tigray. However, the sector has been severely affected by the conflict that started in early November 2020, following clashes between the Federal Government and Tigray Regional Government militias. The fighting started at the end of the 2020 Meher season and prevented many farmers from accessing their fields to harvest crops and get income from seasonal agricultural labor migration. The Tigray Agricultural Bureau estimates that 1.3 million hectares of crops were damaged.
Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists have lost their livestock to looting and displacement. Moreover, several livestock diseases including peste des petits *ruminants, *sheep and goat pox and lumpy skin disease, endemic in Tigray and are causing high mortalities. In addition, the conflict has caused large-scale displacement of people most of who are from rural farming communities. Agricultural infrastructure including markets and veterinary clinics were destroyed.
Since 2019, desert locusts have destroyed crops, pasture, rangelands, and vegetation, especially in the eastern part of Tigray. Projected favourable breeding conditions indicate that the pest will continue destructive activities throughout 2021.
The COVID-19 prevention measures also significantly decreased the movement of commodities, market functions, and cross-border trade and compromised livelihoods and daily labour opportunities.
To implement emergency interventions, FAO is collaborating with the regional government, Non-Governmental Organizations, and United Nations agencies. The Organization's interventions are under the framework of the Disaster Risk Management Agriculture Task Force (DRM ATF) - Agriculture Cluster, which coordinates activities amongst members, develops guidelines for common approaches, and provides technical guidance and advice. FAO is co-chair of the DRM ATF in Tigray.