25 November 2021, Rome: Efforts to help vulnerable rural communities in Somalia achieve food security and build up resilience towards climate change have received a boost thanks to a new partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), the state’s public development institution.
A $1.7 million contribution from the QFFD will kickstart the partnership with FAO, which was signed today. The parties will collaborate to help improve water access and management, and train smallholder farmers and herders to address the challenges of climate change, as well as anticipation of and reaction to extreme weather conditions. These joint efforts are estimated to benefit 78,050 households, equating to some 468,300 people. Special attention will be paid to ensuring the inclusion of poor, vulnerable, and marginalised groups, including women and youth.
Somalia is highly vulnerable to recurrent shocks – including severe droughts and floods – and climate change is resulting in more frequent and intense climatic events. Combined with poorly functioning and managed water infrastructure, the effects are even more dramatic. These shocks have led to continual disruption of livelihoods, increased vulnerability, and poverty, resulting in acute hunger and malnutrition.
A multiplicity of crises, including poor rainfall, a desert locust infestation, localised flooding, conflicts, and COVID-19, have worsened the conditions for local farmers and pastoral communities. Due to the compounding effects of these challenges, approximately 3.5 million people are currently facing high levels of acute food insecurity.
FAO Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol, signing the agreement today said: “FAO welcomes the commitment of the State of Qatar to support vulnerable farming communities in Somalia. Through this first-ever partnership with the Qatar Fund for Development, we will work together to save and reinforce livelihoods and help families to anticipate shocks such as drought and animal diseases by increasing and diversifying their food production and protecting their livestock – an essential source of food and income.”
“We gather all here today to witness the signing of this urgent anticipatory action agreement. We trust that the initiative will support farming and pastoral communities at risk in advance to reduce threats within these marginalized groups. More to that, the call of anticipatory action will help deliver effective solutions that are estimated to assist 1,850 farming smallholders and respond to emergency agricultural livelihoods in advance,” said Misfer Al-Shahwani, Deputy Director General of projects, Qatar Fund for Development.
FAO has considerable expertise and experience in both humanitarian and development contexts. It contributes to sustaining peace and works globally on all aspects of food and agriculture, food security and nutrition to protect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations.
FAO has a longstanding presence in Somalia. Its emergency and resilience programme saves lives and livelihoods by providing vulnerable rural households with cash transfers to meet immediate food needs. It also provides pastoral communities with critically needed supplementary livestock feed, water and treatment. Additionally, FAO’s emergency response provides drought tolerant seed varieties and supplementary irrigation to protect the livelihood of rural farming households.
Today’s virtual signing ceremony marks a first agreement between FAO and the State of Qatar through its developmental and humanitarian arm, the Qatar Fund for Development. The project in Somalia is seen as a first step towards greater future collaboration between FAO and QFFD, both in the areas of emergency and resilience work and beyond.