Somalia, UN mull ways of improving food systems

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A newly arrived woman fleeing from the drought affected areas in the Lower Shabelle Region cooks for her family at al-Adala Internally displaced people (IDP) Camp just outside of the Somali capital Mogadishu on May 15, 2019. - Drought has left nearly two million Somalis in desperate need of food, Norwegian Refugee Council agency warned on May 6, 2019, as poor rainfall pushes communities to the brink across East Africa. Victor Moses, the council's country director in Somalia, said in a statement, that hundreds of thousands of children were already suffering malnutrition in Somalia and millions had abandoned their homes in search of food in the arid, conflict-torn nation. The failure of the so-called long rains that usually sweep East Africa between March and May has caused widespread crop failures and heaped immense pressure on livestock-dependent communities in the greater region. Somalia is enduring its third-driest long rains season since 1981. (Photo by Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP) (Photo credit should read ABDIRAZAK HUSSEIN FARAH/AFP/Getty Images)
A newly arrived woman fleeing from the drought-affected areas in the Lower Shabelle Region cooks for her family at al-Adala Internally displaced people (IDP) Camp just outside Mogadishu. /AFP/Getty Images

Somalia and the United Nations on Tuesday called for local action to improve the systems that produce and distribute the food in the country.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation said Somalia has, in the past few years, faced a range of recurrent and devastating shocks ranging from the ongoing desert locust invasion to severe floods and droughts, affecting the country’s production system and individual livelihoods

Said Hussein Iid, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, said the government is committed at the highest levels to creating an enabling environment for equitable and sustainable food systems in Somalia.

“We believe this is the key to the country’s human, economic and social development,” Iid said in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, after a virtual event to mark this year’s World Food Day.

The event explored how food systems champions are transforming the agri-food systems in Somalia to support this year’s theme “Our actions are our future – Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life,” with participants from across government, UN agencies, civil society, academia and the private sector, in attendance.

FAO Somalia Country Representative Etienne Peterschmitt said the effects of climate change are being felt the world over amid an ever-growing population.

“We need to nurture the planet so that we can continue to meet the food production needs of the population in years to come. This requires us to build long-term resilience and change the way we produce and consume food,” Peterschmitt said.

WFP said its food systems interventions in Somalia interlock with its broader work to enable vulnerable communities to be more resilient in the face of natural shocks.

Luca Pagliara, EU resilience program coordinator, said agrifood sectors sustain the livelihoods of the majority of the people in Somalia, which are increasingly under stress due to climate change, environmental degradation, conflict and displacement.

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