Ongoing support is crucial for Somalia’s recovery

Mark Bowden, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator and UNDP resident representative for Somalia, says that ongoing support is necessary to help beat the famine in the Horn of Africa. This piece was originally published on UNDP’s blog.


Women await assistance at a feeding site in Mogadishu. Approximately 100,000 people are benefiting from cooked meals on a daily basis in Mogadishu. Source: WFP/David Orr
The arrival of the prolonged seasonal rains, coupled with a scaling up of humanitarian and early recovery operations in recent months, has improved the situation on the ground in southern Somalia, with three regions -– Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle — being downgraded from famine status to that of humanitarian emergency.

This progress brings some hope. But the hard-won gains are still extremely fragile. Without ongoing assistance, they could be reversed.

Four million people remain in crisis in Somalia. Of these, 250,000 are at risk of dying. A further one million Somalis are living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

Fortunately, the humanitarian and development communities continue to show their commitment to responding to the crisis and improving the lives of Somali men, women and children.

Yet we still face significant challenges, as demonstrated by the recent ban by the Al Shabaab group, of six UN agencies and 10 non-governmental organizations working in southern Somalia.

The progress we have made must be sustained, and we must be prepared for the long haul.

International support must continue at the same –- or even an increased -– level throughout 2012. This week, we launched the Consolidated Appeal Process which outlines the planned humanitarian assistance program in Somalia for 2012.

The program aims to reduce malnutrition rates, prevent further internal and international displacement, and assist people who are already on the move or stranded. It includes 349 projects from 148 organizations, including NGOs and the UN, and is seeking $1.5 billion to respond to the most urgent life-saving needs of Somalis in crisis.

Resilience is a key theme within the 2012 CAP, under which the UN Development Programme will be strongly engaged with specific initiatives to reduce dependency on humanitarian assistance and ensure households can withstand future shocks.

UNDP will also continue its work in the areas of emergency income generation and infrastructure rebuilding through cash for work initiatives.

Through our support to the establishment of rule of law, UNDP will support activities focused on the protection of vulnerable groups, particularly in the capital, Mogadishu, where cases of sexual and gender-based violence have been increasing.

There will always be challenges to the provision of assistance to Somalia, and 2012 will be no exception. But Somalia cannot be allowed to fall off the international humanitarian and development agenda at this crucial time.

-Mark Bowden, UN Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Somalia

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