FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops & Shortages 11/99 - Somalia

The food supply situation in southern Somalia gives serious cause for concern following an upsurge in inter-clan fighting which has disrupted food production activities and assistance to war and drought victims. Mounting civilian casualties, destruction of property and large-scale population displacements are reported. A number of starvation-related deaths have also been reported. The food crisis has been exacerbated by the extension of roadblocks and obstruction of runways that are hindering the movement of goods and food commodities, including food aid. Latest reports indicate that nearly 1.6 million people in Mogadishu, Lower and Middle Juba, parts of Gedo and Lower Shabelle are not accessible to humanitarian agencies. The escalation of violence against humanitarian workers has further reduced the flow and distribution of humanitarian assistance. An FAO/WFP Mission which visited the country last August found that the 1999 Gu cereal production, estimated at about 135 683 tonnes, is about 32 percent below the post-war (1993- 1998) average due to low and poorly distributed rains, uncontrolled crop pests and farmers' displacement. Prospects for the "Deyr" secondary season, which runs from October to January, in the agriculturally important regions of southern Somalia, are not promising, with below-normal rains received so far. Even assuming a post-war average Deyr harvest of 70 000 tonnes, the Mission estimated the deficit in 1999/2000 marketing year (August/July) at 310 000 tonnes. Elsewhere in Somalia, despite recent beneficial rains, which improved pasture conditions, the food situation remains precarious for a large segment of the population due to the cumulative effects of droughts. In north-eastern Somalia (Puntland), an estimated 50 000 displaced and vulnerable people are in need of urgent food assistance, while in north- western Somalia (Somaliland), acute food insecurity is concentrated among the poor pastoralists of Sool and Toghdeer, estimated at 40 000 to 60 000 people. For the 1999/2000 marketing year (August/July) total food aid requirements were estimated by the Mission at about 70 000 tonnes. However, with the recent escalation of the civil conflict and uncertain "Deyr" season, the amount of food assistance required can only increase. Where conditions allow, aid agencies are providing emergency assistance, but more funds are needed to cover the food needs until, hopefully, the next main harvest in August 2000. WFP distributed close to 2 200 tonnes of food during the month of September, mostly in southern Somalia bringing the total distributed from January to September 1999 to 16 870 tonnes. At the beginning of this year, the UN launched a Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Somalia, for a total is US$64 million; as of mid-October, donor contributions amounted to around US$35 million, or 55 percent. The CAP for the year 2000 has just been launched, totalling US$ 50.6 million. The international donor community is urged to be more generous in their contributions; otherwise the increasingly desperate population will face starvation.