ADDIS ABABA – The United Nations food agency said on Friday it has launched an emergency program to safeguard agricultural livelihoods of communities affected by conflict in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray.
The ongoing interventions include distributing crop and vegetable seeds including wheat, teff, plus onion and tomato.
Apart from training and extension support to targeted households, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said it is also undertaking treatment and vaccination of livestock, including goats, sheep and cattle against endemic trans-boundary animal diseases.
Many [astoralists and agro-pastoralists have lost their livestock to looting and displacement, according to the UN agency.
Moreover, several livestock diseases including peste des petits ruminants, sheep and goat pox and lumpy skin disease, endemic in Tigray are causing high mortalities.
“FAO’s priority is ensuring that the farmers and pastoralists resume agricultural production and build their resilience against future shocks,” said Fatouma Seid, FAO Representative in Ethiopia, in a statement sent to Ethiopian Monitor.
The interventions target 50 000 households with seed packages while livestock belonging to an additional 100, 000 livestock households will be vaccinated and treated, according to FAO.
The UN food agency is currently developing a response plan and funding appeal that will further define the Organization’s medium to long-term interventions in Tigray.
Increasing food insecurity
Food insecurity and malnutrition levels in Tigray are increasing due to multiple challenges in the region where more than 80 percent of the population its population depend on Agriculture as the primary source of livelihood, according to FAO’s statement.
The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) projections for January–September 2021, released before the latest conflict in Tigray, estimated that about 761 000 people or 15 percent of analyzed rural populations were classified in IPC Phase 3 or above, due to desert locust invasion and climate-related disasters.
This number adds to the more than one million people that were already benefiting from the Productive Safety Net Program interventions before the conflict started in the region.
The sector has been severely affected by the conflict that started in early November 2020, following clashes between the Federal Government and forces affiliated to the outlawed TPLF.
The fighting started at the end of the 2020 Meher season, FAO said, and prevented many farmers from accessing their fields to harvest crops and get income from seasonal agricultural labor migration, which was already affected by COVID-19 induced restrictions.
Regional officials estimates that 1.3 million hectares of crops were damaged.
The UN food agency said its newly launched emergency program aims to “safeguard agricultural livelihoods of communities affected” by the conflict.
The program, which aims to deal with most of the multiple challenges, is implemented in collaboration with the regional government, and aid agencies, according to FAO.
Featured Image: The ongoing interventions include distributing crop and vegetable seeds and treatment and vaccination of livestock against endemic trans-boundary animal diseases. [Photo FAO/Tamiru Legesse]