Thursday, November 4, 2010

Djibouti: UN Agencies Seek Funds to Help People Affected By Food Shortages

UN News - 3 November 2010

United Nations agencies and the Government of Djibouti today appealed for nearly $39 million to enable them to continue providing assistance to an estimated 120,000 people who are experiencing severe food shortages after four years of inadequate rainfall in the Horn of Africa country.

An estimated 25,000 children under the age of five - 25 per cent of Djiboutian children in that age group - are suffering from acute malnutrition, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"Successive years of drought have devastated the livelihoods of people in rural Djibouti," said Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

"Due to high food prices and reduced purchasing power, too many people are unable to feed their families. While this appeal will help meet immediate humanitarian needs, like food and nutrition, it is important that we also address the root causes of recurrent food crises and improve the country's capacity to respond to these emergencies," Ms. Amos said.

The drought has destroyed the crops of small-scale farmers for two consecutive years, while herders have lost 70 per cent of their livestock as pastures dwindled. The food shortages have been exacerbated by high prices of cereals, which have not significantly come down after the spike of international food prices in 2008, OCHA said in a press release.

Proceeds from the Djibouti Drought Appeal will enable UN agencies, working with the Government and others partners and local communities, to provide immediate humanitarian needs. Critical needs include food, nutrition, water and sanitation, and basic health care.

Available funds will also be used to improve Djibouti's national capacity to respond to the humanitarian needs of the population and to support agricultural recovery projects.