MOGADISHU (AXADLE) The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in partnership with the government and other implementation partners, has reached nearly 11 million livestock with supportive emergency care services belonging to some 275,000 rural families in Somalia.
The milestone is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and the Qatar Fund for Development and comes at a time when the country is facing a humanitarian emergency due to extreme drought.
Over 750,000 people have fled their homes in search of help, and rural areas have been hardest hit as water and grasslands dried up and livestock perished. Implemented through local government partners, the campaign was aimed at drought-stricken households with the aim of maintaining productive assets that are essential for food security and the nutrition of vulnerable families, especially those with young children.
From February 2022, the FAO Food Safety and Analysis Unit (FSNAU) estimated that some rural households in the most drought-stricken areas had lost up to 30% of their animals to drought. “We have seen drought-related livestock disease in pastoral areas, and this directly affects their ability to cope with these climate shocks,” said FAO livestock coordinator Khalid Saeed.
“We quickly scaled up through local government partners to achieve this goal, with a sense of urgency that life and livelihoods were at stake,” he said. The treatments administered are intended to protect domestic animals against common drought-related diseases which may be fatal to an animal already weakened by drought.
Pets a lifeline for young children
Livestock is not only an economic commodity for Somali families in the countryside, but is essential for human health. Young children depend on milk and meat from the family herd for their nutrition and development. Households experiencing livestock deaths due to drought are seeing a rapid decline in food and nutrition security, putting their young children’s health and nutrition at risk. “The nutrition and health of young Somali children is directly linked to the health of their animals and the ecosystems in which they live,” said FAO Nutrition Officer Emma Ouma.
“Healthy livestock provide high biological value proteins, vitamins and minerals from the milk and meat they produce. Livestock is a lifeline for young children. Without these critical nutritional benefits, the negative effects on their growth and development can last for years,” she said.
In Somalia, about 1.4 million children are malnourished, with about 330,000 children severely acutely malnourished, according to FSNAU. For families who lose their pets, their children risk acute malnutrition or even worse outcomes if they do not get help quickly enough.
In addition to supporting animal health, the FAO brings emergency cash and livelihood assistance to rural areas, as close as possible to affected communities. This helps keep families and communities together during crises, reduces psychosocial and physical risks to the vulnerable, and paves the way for faster and more sustainable recovery.
FAO Somalia urgently calls for $ 131.4 million to increase immediate food access in rural areas, ensure livelihoods and support seasonal food production, and to provide supporting evidence and coordination of drought control actions.
“The risk of famine is growing every day, but with an urgent injection of humanitarian funding from the international community, there is still time to avert a catastrophe. The FAO aims to help 882,000 people across 52 districts target the worst-hit rural areas,” he said. he says. said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO’s representative in Somalia.