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As famine spreads action urgently needed.

Article / Review by on August 5, 2011 – 11:58 pmNo Comments

As famine spreads action urgently needed
Immediate support vital

Millions of Somalis need assistanceRome – As famine spread to three more areas of southern Somalia and threatened to engulf the whole of the country’s south, FAO warned that immediate action is needed to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers and pastoralists across the drought-struck Horn of Africa.

FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU) and USAID’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) announced in Nairobi this week that famine has struck three new areas of southern Somalia – Balcad and Cadale districts of Middle Shabelle, the Afgoye corridor IDP settlement, and the Mogadishu IDP community.

All other regions of southern Somalia are in the grip of a humanitarian emergency which has caused thousands of deaths. The emergency is part of a wider drought and conflict-induced crisis in the Horn of Africa that threatens the lives and livelihoods of some 12.4 million people in Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya and millions more in neighbouring countries.

South Somalia’s three new famine areas join the Bakool zone and the Lower Shabelle region, which were declared famine-struck on 20 July.  Famine indicators include death rates exceeding two deaths per 10 000 people per day and acute malnutrition rates in excess of 30 percent.

Famine is expected to spread across all regions of the south in the coming four to six weeks and is likely to persist until at least December 2011.

Saving livelihoods

Continued efforts to implement an immediate, large-scale, and comprehensive response are needed, FAO said. In Somalia, 3.7 million people are in crisis, with 3.2 million people in need of immediate, lifesaving assistance (2.8 million in the south).

FAO is seeking funds to protect the most vulnerable households in Somalia with a mix of interventions designed to save lives and livelihoods in the short-term and build food security over the longer haul.

Short-term measures include seeds, inputs and tools distributions for the October Deyr planting season, support to animal health through provision of drugs, vaccines and training, and food-for-work programmes and cash transfers.

Building resilience

Longer-term measures, designed to build greater resilience to drought and climate change include the development of drought-resistant seeds, the improvement of dryland crop and livestock production systems, development of irrigation infrastructure, improved storage and more effective water and pasture management.

FAO noted that it has been working effectively in the areas most affected by the current crisis, including Somalia where other organizations and agencies have faced severe restrictions in access.

The crisis in the Horn of Africa is the most severe food security emergency in the world today. Thousands of people have died since its onset, following a complete failure of seasonal rainfall in October-December 2010.

The situation has been exacerbated by protracted conflicts that over time have forced millions of people to flee their homes, abandoning land, livestock and other productive assets.



> UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is an intergovernmental organization and has 191 Member Nations, two associate members and one member organization, the European Union. Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO’s efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.

FAO HEADQUARTERS. Rome, Italy. Credit: FAO. Giulio Napolitano

FAO’s mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is working with its Members and the entire international community for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

These eight goals – each with specific targets and indicators – are based on the United Nations Millennium Declaration, signed by world leaders in September 2000. They commit the international community to combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women.

The eight Millennium Development Goals are:

The eight Millennium Development Goals are:
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

* More information at UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)


> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.


* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

More about United Nations (UN)

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