How WFP is Responding to Acute Needs in the Gedo Region of Somalia
By Laila Ali
The gradual recovery and gains made since the end of the famine in 2012 are at risk of being reversed as poor rains, conflict, trade disruptions and reduced humanitarian access have led to a worsening of the food security situation across Somalia.
The Gedo region in southern Somalia is one of the worst affected areas, with severe water shortages and critical levels of malnutrition being reported. For many in the region, the primary source of income is through livestock and small-scale farming; however depreciating livestock prices due to poor animal health and a poor harvest have severely reduced household incomes.
High water prices means vulnerable families cannot afford adequate quantities of food and require urgent humanitarian assistance, according to the Famine Early Warning System (FEWSNET).
“Insecurity hinders access to a number of districts in Gedo. WFP is carefully managing the risks and provided emergency food assistance to nearly 70,000 people in various districts, including a number of villages in Garbaherey, where people are facing a severe crisis in an area that was inaccessible by road to humanitarian actors, ” said Laurent Bukera, WFP representative to Somalia.
Addressing the rising rates of malnutrition in Gedo, WFP is pursuing a two pronged strategy to prevent and treat acute moderate malnutrition. The targeted supplementary feeding programme (TSFP) treats acute moderate malnutrition in over 9,000 pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children, while the blanket supplementary feeding programme (BSFP) aims to prevent acute malnutrition. Through the BSFP intervention, close to 3,000 children will receive nutrient dense food to keep them healthy during the emergency period.
WFP is also implementing Food-for-Assets activities for over 12,000 people in Luuq, Dolow and Belethawa. Through Food-for-Assets WFP provides food rations to support self-help initiatives, such as building water harvesting structures and canal irrigation. The programme helps meet the immediate food needs of vulnerable people, as well as preventing communities from resorting to harmful coping strategies, such as selling assets and livestock during an emergency.
Food Security Outlook
Over 1 million people are in need of urgent lifesaving food assistance in Somalia– a 20 per cent increase since January 2014, with internally displaced persons (IDPs) constituting a majority of those with the greatest needs.
A further 2 million people are struggling to meet their minimal food requirements. They remain highly vulnerable to shocks that could push them into a food security crisis if humanitarian assistance is not sustained.
Urgent lifesaving humanitarian assistance and livelihood support is required to help meet immediate food needs, including crucial nutrition and health support for the acutely malnourished, particularly children.
Additional interventions are essential in order to protect livelihoods and build the resilience of vulnerable communities.
“As of June, we anticipated a surge in humanitarian needs and rapidly expanded lifesaving activities such as nutrition and emergency food assistance, targeting the most vulnerable in the accessible parts of Somalia. Resources are urgently required in order to sustain and further scale-up WFP’s response where required,” said Bukera.