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

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs