Sustained humanitarian aid needed in Somalia

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“We had successive seasons of good rains following the 2011 famine. The rains have been good and prices, which were also very high at the time of the famine, have come down substantially,” FAO Somalia chief technical advisor Daniel Molle told CNBC Africa.

“Now poor people are able to afford staple food prices and those are important factors but equally important is sustained humanitarian assistance that have been provided to the population so far.”

A joint report by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia and the Famine Early Warnings System Network indicates an estimated 870,000 people in Somalia will be in crisis from August to December 2013.

This number is however at its lowest since the 2011 famine.  Despite the progressive figures, the same number of Somalis still remains in emergency situations.

“Out of 780,000, nearly three quarters are internally displaced persons, who are extremely vulnerable and live in IDP settlements across Somalia. They remain vulnerable, with very limited assets, pursuing livelihoods that are not able to support themselves,” Molle explained.

Resolving the cause of displacement will be a major factor in addressing food and security on a long term sustainable basis in Somalia.

There has been some relative improvement in the overall safety and security situation in some of the country’s areas, which has allowed for easier access to those in more serious need. There are nevertheless still substantial parts of Somalia that remain inaccessible. This is due to the heightened security risk by rebel militants.

Somalia also continues to have high and persistent levels of acute malnutrition.

“The recent improvement is not translating into improvements in the overall nutritional situation because besides food security, there are other causal factors that determine malnutrition. These are high levels of morbidity, disease prevalence, access to water and sanitation and health services as well as the feeding practice of children,” said Molle.  

The international community’s response to the food security, health and safety crisis in Somalia has so far been commendable. However immediate humanitarian assistance needs to be continued for Somalis still in crisis and malnourished children that require nutritional support.

“There are an estimated 2.3 million people who are barely able to fend for themselves but cannot cope with any major shock, such as a major increase in price or a failed harvest. Those are people who can benefit from livelihood support and measures aimed at improving their resilience to future shocks,” he said.