August 23, 2010 / 11:48 AM / in 10 years

Over a quarter of Somalis still need aid: UN's FAO

An internally displaced Congolese man carries bags of relief food from a distribution centre at a camp in Shasha, 38km (24 miles) southwest of Goma, December 3, 2008. REUTERS/T.J. Kirkpatrick

MILAN (Reuters) - About 2 million Somalis, or over a quarter of Somalia’s population, still need humanitarian aid after rains boosted food production and helped to reduce the number by 25 percent, the UN’s food agency said on Monday.

Somalia has been in crisis off and on since 1991, and the situation worsened after a prolonged drought reduced crops, killed livestock and pushed 42 percent of Somalia’s 7.5 million people into crisis in 2009, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement on its unit report on Somalia.

Above-average rains have given a boost to maize and sorghum production and to livestock farming, Somalia’s major economic activity, helping to reduce the number of people needing aid by 25 percent to 2 million in the past six months, the FAO said.

“The current situation indicates an improvement, but with 27 percent of the population still in crisis, the needs remain very significant,” said Grainne Moloney, chief technical advisor at FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU).

“And if the next rain season is poor, then the numbers in crisis will rise again,” Moloney said in the statement.

FSNAU said in a report on Somalia’s situation that the epicentre of the humanitarian crisis continues to be in central and Hiran regions, largely due to the long-term effects of the drought, high food prices and insecurity.

In these regions, urgent efforts are necessary to meet the immediate needs of the population and prevent further deterioration, it said.

The Rome-based FAO is helping Somalia with 16 projects worth more than $53 million. The main donor is the European Union with a contribution of more than $30 million, followed by the World Bank with $7.9 million and Spain with $3.7 million.

Projects are aimed at boosting small farmers’ output, improving their market access and incomes, as well as rebuilding essential irrigation infrastructure and improving integrated pest management and storage techniques, the organisation said.

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