FAO calls for anticipatory action to safeguard lives & livelihoods in Somalia ahead of El Niño

FAO calls for anticipatory action to safeguard lives & livelihoods in Somalia ahead of El Niño Green News

Mogadishu – The Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is calling for enhanced early warning & anticipatory action in Somalia ahead of an expected El Niño & positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event & the start of the upcoming Deyr rainy season in October 2023 that could affect up to 1.2 million people Somalia. The country’s riverine communities are particularly at risk of flooding. They face a potential loss of property & livestock, damage to crops with around 1.5 million hectares of land at high risk of being inundated by flood waters along both the Juba & Shabelle rivers. This threat to local livelihoods comes on the back of a historic drought that has already negatively affected food security & people’s ability to cope with disasters. 

El Niño is a climate pattern that occurs every two to seven years & brings with it a range of potential risks & opportunities to rural communities & their livelihoods in Somalia. The Indian Ocean Dipole is another climate pattern, also linked to sea surface temperatures but in the Indian Ocean. Meteorological models from global & regional agencies, such as NOAA/FEWS NET, ECMWF, IRI, UK MET & ICPAC, show a strong confidence in increased rainfall over the eastern parts of the Horn of Africa & other climatic changes during these weather phenomena. 

“We have the information needed to take action, & now is the time to work together as a humanitarian community to prevent another climate disaster in Somalia,” said Ezana Kassa, FAO’s Head of Program in Somalia. “We have just three months window to act & prevent the loss of more lives & livelihoods,” he said. The country has already witnessed a historic flooding event in the Shabelle river earlier this year, which displaced around 250,000 people. 

Risks & opportunities for Somalia’s rural communities 

In riverine communities along the Shabelle & Juba rivers, flooding can cause widespread damage to property & hamper critical services such as education, health care & the road network. It can also disrupt agricultural production through the flooding of farmland & crops, leading to food shortages. Coastal fishing communities can also be affected by El Niño, as flooding can bring storm surges & increased amounts of silt into rivers & oceans, reducing fish catches & placing fisherfolk at risk of loss of life & livelihoods. Affected livestock can also suffer from fevers & water borne diseases, carrying a risk of spreading to humans. 

However, El Niño can also bring some much-needed opportunities for improved food security in rural communities, particularly in the aftermath of the severe three-year drought. In rain-fed agricultural areas, the increased rainfall can lead to increased food & fodder production. Farmers who are provided with information & education can take advantage of the improved rainfall to boost their productivity. Water catchments & dams can also fill up, providing better water security through the next dry season. 

FAO is calling on all humanitarian stakeholders, government partners, & local actors to take the El Niño warnings seriously & to work together to prevent loss of life & livelihoods in Somalia. This includes providing early warning & education to communities about the flood risks of El Niño, pre-positioning emergency response resources, such as food, water, & shelter, & working with communities to develop contingency plans for dealing with the likely impacts of El Niño. There is also a short, three-month window of opportunity to support farmers to make the most of the increased rains through the provision of seeds & other equipment that would boost productivity. 

FAO is committed to safeguarding & supporting food security in Somalia, strengthening food systems to be more resilient to climate shocks & the challenges of the future. By working together to prepare for the potential impacts of El Niño, governments & humanitarian partners can mitigate the worst of its impacts prevent loss of life & livelihoods & take advantage of opportunities to further strengthen food security in the country.

来源:农粮组织 FAO

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