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07NAIROBI2289 2007-05-31 11:25:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Nairobi
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1. SUMMARY: Studies show improved food security in
south and central Somalia despite continuing conflict.
Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists are showing signs of
recovery. While the food security situation is also
improving for riverine communities, this group remains
particularly vulnerable to shocks. USAID?s Office of US
Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) continues to support
monitoring of food security and nutrition in south and
central Somalia and to work with partners to improve
food security and livelihoods of vulnerable populations.
Despite reported improvements in food security, many
challenges still remain for Somalia. End Summary.


2. In FY 2006, USAID/OFDA provided $6.4 million to
assist an estimated 1.4 million vulnerable communities
affected by drought in south and central Somalia. Since
last year, the situation for these populations is
improving (REFTEL). USAID-funded UN Food and
Agriculture?s (FAO) Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU)
and Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET)
report an improved food security and agriculture outlook
for pastoralists and agro-pastoralists.

3. FASU and FEWS NET also normal to above normal
rainfall through May is expected to continue to
replenish water sources and pasture and that
agricultural activities are ongoing. Due to a mild dry
season and good long rains (April-June), livestock body
conditions for all species (cattle, sheep, goat and
camel) are improving, milk is available, and animals are
reproducing. In addition, livestock prices and exports
have increased, improving purchasing power for

4. While malnutrition remains a chronic problem in
south and central Somalia and Global Acute Malnutrition
(GAM) rates have not gone below the WHO emergency
threshold of 15 percent for the last 12 years, FSAU
notes a slight improvement in malnutrition rates in some
pastoralist areas. Nutrition assessments conducted by
FSAU and partners in Gedo Region in April 2007 indicate
continuing critical malnutrition rates with 16.7 percent
GAM reported in the agro-pastoral population and 19.9
percent in the pastoral population. A direct comparison
cannot be made to last year?s assessment in March 2006,
which showed a 23.7 percent GAM, as the study did not
disaggregate by livelihood groups. FSAU points out some
recovery, however, and expects this improving trend to
be similar in other pastoralist areas in south and
central Somalia.


5. Despite early signs of improvement among
pastoralists and agro-pastoralists, FSAU studies show
that riverine communities remain highly vulnerable to
shocks as this group was among the most affected by the
November/December floods. According to the UN, the
flood displaced an estimated 255,000 people,
representing more than 80 percent of the population
along the Juba and Shabelle rivers. Many lost their
assets and crops. Localized flooding during the current
long rains could also negatively impact food security,
especially in areas still recovering from previous

6. Nutrition assessments conducted by FSAU in Hiran
Region in March 2007 targeting the riverine population
show a GAM rate of 18.2 percent. Assessments carried
out in similar communities in Gedo Region in April 2007
indicate a GAM rate of 17.7 percent. These rates are
consistent with previous years? assessments indicating
no recovery for the riverine population in spite of the
improved food security situation over the last year.
Malnutrition rates are still above the recommended
threshold because of persistent poverty, continuing

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conflict, insecurity, limited access to water and
healthcare, limited dietary diversity, poor sanitation,
and increased exposure to water-borne diseases following
recent flooding.

7. Following the floods, however, riverine communities
have benefited from limited off-season crops in flood
recessional areas. FSAU forecasts agricultural
production for the current season to be better compared
to this time last year. FSAU surveys indicate that
ongoing planting, weeding, and further land preparation
is creating more employment opportunities.


8. USAID/OFDA continues to support FSAU?s food security
monitoring and ongoing nutritional assessments. After
the current long rains, FSAU, FEWS NET, and partners
will conduct a long rains assessment which will provide
vital information for planning and programming. The
results should be available in August. In addition
FSAU, through its nutrition surveillance unit (NSU), is
conducting ongoing nutrition assessments including
surveys specifically targeting IDP populations.


9. In spite of marginal improvements in food security,
insecurity, piracy, political uncertainty and continual
large-scale human displacement means Somalia?s worries
are far from over.