The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has just finished distributing food and seed to over 170,000 people in the Lower Juba and Gedo regions of southern Somalia. The population of these regions remains vulnerable due to a poor rainy season and the ongoing conflict.
The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society distributed seed to 15,000 farmers, who in turn will be able to feed around 90,000 people, given that the average family consists of six persons. In addition, 84,000 destitute people in the same areas, over half of whom displaced from scenes of conflict in and around Kismayo over recent weeks, received enough rice, beans, oil and other basic food to last them a month.
"Constant humanitarian effort has improved the overall food situation in Somalia this year," said Patrick Vial, head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia. "However, the continuing armed confrontations and difficult climate mean that for many Somalis it’s still a struggle to get enough food. Large numbers of people are being forced to flee their homes and land, disrupting food production and economic activity."
The ICRC is supporting the efforts of communities to feed themselves and generate an income, in addition to distributing emergency supplies. From October to December 2012, for instance, people along the coast in the Banadir, Lower Shabelle and Lower Juba regions are taking part in a fisheries programme that will enable them to produce more food and become more self-reliant.
Mohamed Sheikh-Ali, who coordinates the ICRC's economic security programmes in the country, explains. "Our emergency food distributions aim to tide people over until the next harvest in January, whereas the seed distribution will hopefully improve the community’s ability to feed itself long-term."
The ICRC has been working in Somalia since 1977. In close partnership with the Somali Red Crescent Society, it provides emergency and long-term support with the aim of strengthening community self-reliance. In addition, it promotes compliance with international humanitarian law and monitors the treatment detainees receive and the conditions in which they are held.
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