UN approves US$22 million loan to pprevent famine in Somalia

The FAO is scaling up its activities in drought-affected regions of Somalia thanks to a US$22 million loan approved this week by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which complements the loans already provided by FAO’s Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities.

This effort is part of the international response to prevent another famine in Somalia five years after the previous one devastated the country. FAO’s action aims to increase rural livelihood support and restore food production, while ensuring that families meet their immediate food and water needs.

Across Somalia, 6.2 million people will face acute food insecurity through June 2017. Of these, nearly three million people are in Phases 3 (crisis) and 4 (emergency) of the five-phase International Phase Classification for Food Security (IPC). This represents more than a two-fold increase compared to six months ago. Phase 5 is famine.

The head of the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, said he was releasing the loan from CERF to FAO “as part of the efforts to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia.”

“More than 2.9 million people are at risk of famine and many will predictably die from hunger if we do not act now. CERF is one of the fastest ways to enable urgent response to people most in need.

“FAO is a key partner in ensuring that crucial support to livelihoods is reaching affected people. The loan will bridge a crucial gap and allow FAO to immediately save lives and livelihoods of farmers and herders until additional funds from donors are received,” O’Brien said.

“CERF has long been a supporter of FAO’s interventions to save and protect livelihoods and thus lives in crisis contexts. Livelihoods are people’s best defence against famine and this $22 million loan is critical to FAO’s famine prevention and drought response in Somalia, enabling the Organization to provide much-needed, rapid support to vulnerable rural households,” said FAO Deputy Director-General for Programmes, Daniel Gustafson.

Most of the 6.2 million people facing acute food insecurity live in Somalia’s rural areas where hunger levels have spiked primarily due to losses in crop and livestock production and other sources of food and income caused by repeated droughts.

Bernama

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