FAO declares end of famine in Somalia

The Food and Agricultural Organization declared Somalia famine free on Friday, after a season of remarkable harvest but warned of its reappearance in 100 days if farmers are not provided proper aid and support.

Aid agencies have been able to address issues of famine in the African country but received a bout of good luck with rain.

According to Jose Graziano, the United Nations food and agricultural agency’s Director General, the recent harvest in Somalia was twice the average of the past 17 years, lowering food costs but the mortality rate in southern Somalia is still one of the highest in the world.

“We got this season more than 200 percent improvements in some food staple crops and we can do that if we are able to support the farmers in this forthcoming 90 days. We have less than 100 days to avoid another famine in the region, that is the important message,” said Graziano.

The U.N. said the number of Somalis threatened with starvation had decreased from 750,000 to 250,000 in November last.

“The good news does not mean that the crisis is over. We still have a huge problem in the region particularly in Somalia and also in other countries that you know are facing similar situation like the Sahel region in particular the South Sudan,” added Graziano.

Despite delivery of aid to camps in the country’s capital Mogadishu, fighting continues to affect southern Somalia, making it difficult for aid workers to reach victims.

Kenyan and Ethiopian forces have joined Somalian government forces to help fight the ongoing conflict with al-Shabaab, the Islamist rebels linked with al-Qaeda.

“Access to the vulnerable populations remains a major challenge. However I believe that through inevitable planning, strengthening local partnerships we have been able to mitigate the worst effects of the famine but we also really rely on the humanity off all parties to conflict to demonstrate their continuous commitment to the Somali people,” said Mark Bowden, U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Somalia.

Al-Shabaab expelled the International Committee of the Red Cross on Monday, one of the few international aid agencies who have been delivering food aid to areas under rebel control, accusing it of providing out-of-date food to women and children.

The ICRC has delivered food aid to over 1.2 million people between June and December 2011.

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