Somalia: Participatory community needs assessment for livelihood food insecurity of Lower Shabelle Region



Food security is conventionally defined as "access by all people at all times to enough food for an active and healthy life". It is generally accepted as entailing not only food availability (adequate supply of food) but also food access through home production, purchase in the market or food transfer.

Food insecurity in the country is principally a rural problem. The following are the main factors generally create livelihood food insecurity.

i) Environmental crises : comprise two elements, i.e., climatic hazards (drought, flood, etc.), and land degradation through soil erosion, loss of nutrients, deforestation and overgrazing.

ii) Population pressure : rapid growth of human and livestock population resulting in diminishing holding size and fragmentation of farmland and absence or shortage of fallow periods.

iii) Poor asset base : involve aspects such as lack of invest able surplus cash, lack of farm input, absence of off-farm employment opportunities and inability to purchase modern farm inputs.

iv) Social ( cultural issues ): poor rationing of grain produced at home because farmers utilize a considerable proportion of their annual production for various ceremonies and celebrations immediately in post-harvest periods. Low level of educational background among the people in the area can also be the other variable.

v) Poor rural infrastructure: inaccessibility to roads, absence of rural credit, lack of irrigation practices, lack of agricultural extension services, poor health facilities, poor storage and unfavorable market for agricultural produce.

vi) Civil war: it creates instability, displacement and immediate famine.

In order to identify the root causes of livelihood food insecurity, Participatory Community Needs Assessment conducted by LORDO with the following findings.

Basic root causes hindering crop production in the villages:

1. Tractor hiring for land preparation is very high

2. Canals silted.

3. Lack of training on improved farming practices.

4. Poor quality seeds

5. Poor market accessibility such as culverts and roads

6. Poor flood protection structures such as river broken points and river dikes and river deepening

7. River bridges which became old and not functioning.

As social problems contributing livelihood food security crises are:

- Lack of formal and informal education

- Lack of health posts and care

- Poor hygiene and sanitation practices

- Lack of clean potable water.

- Lack of training for TBAs

- Lack of boats for river crossing. Because of the crocodiles killing at least one person/week while people are fishing or fetching water from the river.

- Lack of income generating activities

- Lack of human rights protection

Access to cash for copping mechanisms:

1. Lack of activities for cash

2. Lack of credit initiations

Table 1

Summarizes the root causes presented by the focus groups of the villages:

S# Root causes % presented
01 Tractor hiring 95
02 Silted canals 100
03 Lack of training on improved farming system 98
04 Poor culverts 88
05 Poor roads 87
06 Poor sluice gates 92
07 River broken points 78
08 River digging/deepening 72

Not these are the main root causes, but there exist social problems which contributes food insecurity to the livelihoods. These problems presented by the focus groups are summarized as follows:

Table 2

Summarizes the social problems contributing to the livelihood food insecurity

S# Social causes % presented
01 Illiteracy 80
02 Disease break out 99
03 Lack of potable water 98
04 Poor hygiene and sanitation 100
05 Lack/ poor river crossing boats 86
06 Lack of human rights protection 98
07 Lack of access to income generation activities 87

A strong recommendation is done to reduce the livelihood food security crises in Somalia . Here are the most important results to act are listed below.

- Improved access to productive resources and services:

- Improved access to the production area

- Reduced mitigated impacts of floods & droughts

- Improved access to cash for livelihood activities

- Improved access to social services

- Initiation for credit program.

- Reduced human rights, gender based and child abuse and violation.