The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today launched an appeal for more than $60 million to provide agricultural relief in the coming year in 14 countries and regions suffering from devastating human or natural disasters.
FAO's call for funds covers the agricultural component of the UN Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for 2005. UN agencies and their non-governmental partners are seeking a total of $1.7 billion to meet the basic survival and protection needs of 26 million people struck by major emergencies.
"By putting forward protection and recovery of agriculture-based livelihoods as an integral element of the emergency appeal, FAO seeks to ensure the rapid resumption of agricultural production to enhance self-reliance and food security, as well as improved nutrition of children, women, internally displaced persons, refugees and other vulnerable groups during and after a crisis," said Anne M. Bauer, Director of FAO's Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division.
"The inability to restore farmers' access to seeds and tools or to rapidly repair irrigation infrastructure during the critical period between the loss of agricultural assets and the planting season can result in prolonged dependency on food aid," Bauer said. "Failure to vaccinate and feed livestock can lead to dramatic reduction in household nutrition and income and slow regeneration of herds."
Conflict continues to take its toll in Africa
In Burundi, a decade of armed conflict has led to an increase in vulnerable populations from about 5 percent to an estimated 15 to 20 percent of the total population.
FAO is seeking $12 million to improve conditions for the most vulnerable households, particularly displaced populations and those returning to their communities of origin, through provision of seeds and agricultural tools, forest seedlings and agricultural training, particularly for unschooled or demobilized youths returning to their family land.
Other projects include rehabilitation of the fishing sector, supporting market gardens and small livestock production to improve diets in peri-urban areas, and rehabilitation of community-based systems for the production and exchange of quality seeds.
FAO will also provide technical and logistical support to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock for the coordination of emergency agricultural activities, and early warning and food security surveillance systems.
After five years of war, hopes for improvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were shaken in 2004 by renewed fighting in the eastern part of the country, which displaced thousands of people and hindered humanitarian action.
FAO's appeal for the country totals $12.5 million, which will provide emergency relief to help conflict-affected families resume agricultural production and improve their nutritional status and incomes. In particular, FAO will work with the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF and NGO partners to provide agricultural input kits to 300 000 families of malnourished children, as well as training in agricultural techniques.
In Chad, host to some 200 000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur region and another 30 000 refugees from the Central African Republic, any new influx of refugees will further endanger the food security of local populations, whose fragile livelihoods are under increasing pressure.
FAO is calling for $8 million to improve the food security of both refugee and host populations by providing seeds and agricultural tools, supporting poultry and small livestock production and improved veterinary services, and providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock for its emergency agricultural rehabilitation programmes.
With the conflict in northern Uganda now in its 18th year, large numbers of Ugandans remain displaced and in desperate need, with an estimated 1.6 million living in camps in mid-2004. Around the camps, environmental resources such as fertile land and trees for fuel wood, construction of shelter and charcoal are under significant pressure.
FAO is asking for $4.3 million for agricultural rehabilitation in Uganda. Projects include training of displaced and host communities around the camps in environmentally sound agro-forestry. Some 70 000 fast-growing seedlings will be planted to improve soil fertility, provide fodder, as well as wood for shelter and fuel.
FAO will support WFP's food distribution by providing a package of vegetable and staple crop seeds as well as hand tools to displaced people with safe access to land to allow them to cover their household food needs. FAO will also provide seeds and other agricultural inputs to former combatants to assist their reintegration in their communities.
Somalia is at a crossroads, as the conclusion of the latest peace talks leads to the formation of a new transitional government that promises to end years of political instability and violence. Of 7 million Somalis, more than 350 000 are refugees and up to 400 000 have been internally displaced by years of conflict and recurring drought.
FAO's appeal for Somalia is for $4.2 million to improve agricultural production, marketing, processing and rural infrastructure. Proposed activities include improving the health and nutritional status of exported livestock in order to increase the animals' value and the income of pastoralists, promoting production and consumption of fish, helping poor urban and peri-urban dwellers, particularly women, improve incomes through livelihood diversification, and updating the country's food security data system to facilitate a coordinated response to food security needs by agencies operating in Somalia.
West Bank and Gaza Strip
According to the 2004 FAO/WFP assessment mission report, food insecurity is a real or near constant threat for about 70 percent of both West Bank and Gaza Strip populations, with four out of ten households identified as chronically food insecure.
For the West Bank and Gaza Strip, FAO is asking for $4 million to support a range of projects, including helping female-headed households improve nutrition and income through backyard farming, beekeeping and other activities, enabling poor farmers to produce high-quality olive oil through improved production and post-harvest techniques, rehabilitation of damaged greenhouses for vegetable production, and developing a food insecurity and vulnerability information mapping system to monitor and provide up-to-date information on food insecurity and nutrition status among Palestinians.
Other countries and regions targeted by the 2005 appeal are the Central African Republic, Chechnya (Russian Federation), Côte d'Ivoire, Eritrea, the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Guinea, Republic of Congo, and West Africa.