Center for Peace and Democracy (CPD)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Instability threatens Food Security in the South Somalia

NAIROBI, 21 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - Unless resolved, tensions within Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and reports of increased weapons imports could lead to an outbreak of armed conflict, which would have direct and widespread negative implications on food and livelihood security in the country's south, a food security agency has warned.
"Due to the uncertainty regarding the potential relocation of the TFG and the weapons build-up reported by the UN monitoring team, we cannot rule out the possibility of conflict," a senior analyst at the Food Security and Analysis Unit (FSAU) Somalia reported on Friday.
"The impact of such a conflict would be profound. We are already witnessing pockets of non-political, localised conflict in some areas of the south, which are limiting preparation for the upcoming season and limiting access to markets and land," he added.FSAU is an organisation that provides analysis of Somalia's food, nutrition and livelihood situation in order to promote food and livelihood security. It is supported by the UN, the European Union, the US Agency for International Development and various NGOs.
In its monthly briefing for October, FSAU said: "Civil insecurity and unrest continues to be one of the main factors contributing to food and livelihood insecurity throughout the [southern] region." The report added that civil tension threatened to disrupt the Deyr - seasonal rains between October and December - planting season. A poor 2005 Deyr harvest would "only further threaten food security in the sorghum belt, given the almost complete failure of the Gu [seasonal rains between April and July] 2005 crops.
"FSAU said humanitarian efforts in the southern port city of Kismayo and surrounding areas had been jeopardised by the murder of a national UN staff member in Kismayo on 3 October. The killing put plans for the re-engagement of UN activities in the region on hold, which could limit humanitarian access to the worst affected Juba riverine communities."Contingency planning for the possibilities of widespread humanitarian relief needs in southern Somalia is an urgent priority," the report said.
"Unless these underlying causes are addressed, humanitarian response and development assistance will at best be sporadic and or ineffective, and achievement of food and livelihood security transient."In contrast, FSAU said, peaceful and democratic elections held in September in the self-declared republic of Somaliland in the country's northwest would enhance food security. A functioning civil society would stabilise markets, increase market access and encourage economic investment in the region.In Hargeysa, the capital of Somaliland, FSAU reported a substantial improvement in the nutrition situation, with global acute malnutrition lower than previous levels in similar populations.In the country's southern Juba region, floods in June destroyed crops and other important assets, but filled all the flood plains, offering opportunities for recessional farming and fresh water fishing.
"The first harvest of the off-season recessional crops (maize, cowpea and sesame) planted in early July has started to reach the main markets in the region and will peak in late October," FSAU said. "As a result prices have fallen both in real and nominal terms."The agency observed that there was a need for immediate canal and riverbank rehabilitation to prevent flood damage to the remaining recessional crops and facilitate more efficient water off-take and use during the Deyr production season.
It also suggested that general food distribution was not advisable during the harvest period, as it would suppress "farm-gate" prices and discourage agricultural investment.In the south-central regions of Bay and Bakool, FSAU said the movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in certain areas was of "increasing concern". It cited unconfirmed field reports that two-thirds of IDPs had been unable to return to their farms to prepare for the upcoming Deyr rains. Food security in Wajid was also worrying due to the influx of people from surrounding areas as a result of civil insecurity.
The agency said it was mobilising a rapid assessment team to evaluate the situation.In the northern Sool plateau and Nugal valley, pastoral recovery was underway following two consecutive above-normal rainy seasons, the agency said. Camel calving was expected to dramatically increase in November and December. In response to the recovery, FSAU recommended a shift from relief measures that fulfil immediate needs to activities that support the continued recovery of livelihoods, creation of new livelihoods and a general focus on development.
Source: IRIN


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