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Over two million Somalis will be in a food crisis
by July: Warning from United Nations agency

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The number of Somalis in crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity is estimated to reach 2.2 million by July, the UN humanitarian agency said on Monday.

The number marked an increase of 29 percent on projections taken in February, according to a Somalia Humanitarian Dashboard released by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In addition, delayed heavy rains and related flash flooding have resulted in the destruction or damage to crops, infrastructure, housing and livestock, according to the OCHA.

"The lack of clean water is further heightening the risk of waterborne disease outbreaks, while drought-induced displacement is on the rise, with over 60,000 people displaced since the beginning of the year," it said.

A recent UN report estimates a 40 percent to 50 percent decline in crop production in Somalia, compared to the long-term average, especially in northern and central regions.


Aid agencies appeal for funding to avert humanitarian crisis in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Nine local aid agencies on Tuesday appealed to the international community to increase humanitarian funding to help more than two million people in Somalia facing acute food shortages due to severe drought.

The agencies including Save Somali Women and Children warned in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu that failing and intermittent rains are wrecking havoc in Somalia where 2.2 million people are facing extreme hunger and some 5.4 million need humanitarian aid as at the end of May.

Amina Haji, director of Save Somali Women and Children said the massive spike in people requiring humanitarian assistance shows just how fragile the situation is for millions of Somalis.

"A huge injection of funding is urgently needed to save lives.

"We know early intervention is the best and most cost-effective way to save lives, particularly for women and children, who are always the most at risk," Haji said.

The UN says the 2019 Gu rains (April-June) have dismally failed, resulting in a second consecutive below-average rainy season while Somalia is still recovering from the impact of the prolonged 2016-17 drought.

Two failed rains and harsh weather conditions during the dry Jilaal season (January-March) has led to water scarcity, crop failure and an accelerated decline in livestock productivity, according to the UN.

The agencies warned that the situation is dire and is predicted to get worse in coming months, saying a massively scaled-up response is urgently needed to avert the humanitarian crisis.

The agencies said recent weeks saw some intense, short rain in some locales, which although replenishes some water sources, also caused extensive flooding and damage.

"We must collectively step up to the challenge with context specific, long-term and locally driven solutions to problems facing Somalis," the organizations said.

United States provides 185 mln USD in humanitarian support for Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided 185 million dollars in humanitarian assistance to help Somali people facing acute food shortage.

USAID administrator Mark Green said in a statement issued on Monday evening that the funds will address food insecurity and acute malnutrition, and deliver safe water and emergency health care to people affected by ongoing conflict and prolonged drought.

The Horn of Africa nation is currently facing emergency levels of hunger, with an estimated 2.2 million people experiencing life-threatening food insecurity and requiring immediate food assistance.

Meanwhile, the U.S. announced on Monday that it has reopened a permanent USAID Mission in Somalia after more than 28 years since its closing on Jan. 5, 1991.

According to USAID, the team which is led by mission director Jeffrey Bakken will work with the Somali government to advance peace and stability in Somalia.

Somalia ministry of livestock and forestry tackles environmental degradation

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somalia said Thursday it is tackling environmental degradation which is closely linked to desertification, drought and unsustainable livestock and agricultural practice.

Hussein Sheikh Hussein, minister of livestock, forestry and range said that the government is committed to eradicating deforestation by availing alternative options to communities.

"We are in the process of offering communities alternative livelihoods for livestock production and alternative energy for cooking," Hussein told a forum on unsustainable production and illegal export of charcoal in Somalia organized by the UN Environment.

He noted that over exploitation of forest and rangeland resources causes frequent drought and floods that affect communities and create chronic humanitarian crisis in the country.

The minister said that unsustainable production use and illegal export of charcoal remain the main cause behind deforestation and land degradation in the country.

He attributed the situation to weakening of traditional systems of decision-making on access to resources, absence of alternative sources of energy and limited livelihoods options have led to unsustainable production and trade of charcoal.

"We are making progress following charcoal trade ban by the UN Security Council in 2012, and we continue to work in partnerships in stopping the trade and providing alternatives to charcoal," he added.

Hussein said the joint Program for Sustainable Charcoal Reduction and Alternative Livelihoods is providing an integrated approach to address the issues.

The program that is a partnership between the government, United Nations Development Programme, UN Environment and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is focusing on priority actions in the areas of policy support, capacity development, advocacy and providing alternative energy and livelihood options to charcoal use and production in the country.

Hussein said the government has intensified efforts to stop illegal trade.

"The annual wholesale value of Somali charcoal ending in Middle East markets is estimated at 150 million U.S. dollars," he added.

The minister noted that the government, in a survey found that about 8.2 million trees were cut down to make charcoal between 2011 and 2017 alone.

"It is this destruction of trees for charcoal that leads to degradation of land, destruction of the ecosystems and as a result causes greater susceptibility to flooding and drought," he added.

Hussein noted that the livestock sector that gives the country 70 percent of export earnings is most affected.


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