MOGADISHU, March 6 (Xinhua) -- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said Monday it urgently requires additional funding to ramp up humanitarian response in Somalia, which is facing a devastating drought in 40 years.
The FAO said while humanitarian assistance has prevented worse outcomes and staved off famine in parts of Somalia thus far, millions of rural Somali people continue to face exceptional challenges to their food security.
"The current situation demonstrates the urgent need to massively scale up investments and policies for disaster risk reduction and resilience building, highlighting agriculture's crucial role in achieving a sustainable future for the people of eastern Africa," it said in a statement published in Rome, Italy and circulated in Somalia.
According to the FAO, reversing the alarming trend requires not only sustained and at-scale humanitarian assistance but also transformative actions to sustainably improve food and water security, reduce people's vulnerability to shocks and stresses, and improve their adaptation to climate change.
Somalia is in the midst of the longest and most severe drought in its history, following five consecutive poor rainy seasons and an anticipated sixth, exacerbated by high food and water prices, conflict, and poor access to water, sanitation, and health service.
The latest Integrated Food Security Phase (IPC) analysis, which was released last week, reveals that thanks to a large scale-up in multisector humanitarian assistance and slightly more favorable than previously foreseen rainfall performance, famine is no longer projected in parts of Somalia, however, the situation remains critical and "risk of famine" persists in some areas.
The report shows that between January and March, nearly 5 million people across Somalia are experiencing IPC Phase 3 "crisis" or worse levels of acute food insecurity, including 96 000 people facing catastrophic hunger (IPC Phase 5).
The report says acute hunger is expected to rise, with 6.5 million people -- more than a third of the total population -- projected to be facing "crisis" or worse (IPC Phase 3 or higher) levels of acute food insecurity between April and June this year, including 223 000 people who will likely face catastrophic hunger.
The FAO said the humanitarian and development community must find ways to do more with fewer resources.
It added that immediate and sustained intervention at scale is required to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of Somalis who are still at risk of sliding into famine. ■