News / Africa

Thousands of Famine Victims in Somalia Abandoning Farms

A Somali boy milks his cow outside his tent in Medina Xoosh district in Mogadishu (File Photo - January 12, 2011)
A Somali boy milks his cow outside his tent in Medina Xoosh district in Mogadishu (File Photo - January 12, 2011)
Lisa Schlein

A senior U.N. official says thousands of people in famine-stricken Somalia are abandoning their farms in search of assistance.  The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative for Kenya and Somalia warns this mass movement risks overwhelming international aid efforts, and says FAO is taking measures to try to keep people from leaving their land. 

The FAO representative says the situation of drought and famine in Somalia is worsening.  Luca Alinovi notes five regions in south and central Somalia have officially been declared famine zones, and he expects famine to spread to other regions.  

He says an increasing number of farmers, desperate for food, are abandoning their farms and moving to overcrowded refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. Thousands of others have fled to the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Alinovi warns the situation will become simply unbearable in the coming weeks, if this mass movement of people continues.

“We see the camps expanding dramatically in Mogadishu and we see the people moving towards Afgooye in a quite dramatic phase," said Alinovi. "It is difficult to foresee exactly a number because the possibility is basically everybody who lives in that area moving out, which would be a disaster.”  

Alinovi says a major concern is that once people leave their farms, they will not be able to go back because someone else will have taken over the farms they have abandoned.  He notes the next planting season is in October, just two months from now, and says it’s important the farmers remain on the land so they can be productive.  

He says that FAO has a strategy for doing just that. He says the only way to keep people on the farm is to enlist them into cash-for-work programs. This will provide them with money to help them maintain their irrigation systems, have access to markets, and work their own fields.

“And, in September, latest early October, provide them with seeds, tools and any kind of support that is needed to go back to farming because most of these people have lost their…most of their assets, which do not allow them to access decent seeds, decent fertilizer and a possibility to produce," said Alinovi. "So, if they know that the package includes immediate cash support for cash for work activities and, at the same time, the possibility to have access to inputs at the beginning of the season, that will give them the possibility to continue to farm.”  

(Alinovi says immediate cash relief must be given to those people who are too weak to farm so they too will remain on the land. And, once they become stronger and able to work, he says they too should be offered the opportunity to be part of the cash-for-work scheme.

The FAO official says the goal of the plan is to make these people believe they can continue their lives where they are. If the international relief response is targeted only to selected areas, he says, people will be forced to migrate to these places.

Alinovi says the FAO has received up to 70 percent support in pledges for its $70 million appeal. He says the agency could persuade a lot Somalis to stay on their farms if these pledges were translated into money in the bank.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid