A “forgotten emergency” has left tens of thousands of pastoralists in Djibouti needing food and nutrition assistance as well as longer-term coping mechanisms, according to the UN.
The tiny Horn of Africa state is the subject of a US$38.9 million appeal for food aid ($16.2 million), agriculture and livestock ($6.5 million), health and nutrition ($7.4 million), water and sanitation ($2.4 million), and emergency preparedness and sanitation ($6.4 million).
Pastoralists and other rural dwellers have been particularly affected by successive years of drought since 2005, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
"Water reserves have been depleted, there has been a massive loss of livestock, and as a direct result many people are facing the destruction of their livelihoods and lost sources of income," the agency said. "Increasing numbers of pastoralists have had to give up their traditional activities and are settling in urban areas."
Djibouti's food security situation is likely to further deteriorate due to the effects of La Niña events, expected to result in drier–than–normal conditions during the October–December rainy season, according to OCHA.
The country is also affected by the worsening violence and insecurity in neighbouring Somalia, OCHA said, with Djibouti hosting a refugee population of 14,500.
Launching the appeal in Geneva earlier this month, Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said, “Due to high food prices and reduced purchasing power, too many people are unable to feed their families.
"While this appeal will help meet immediate humanitarian needs, like food and nutrition, it is important that we also address the root causes of recurrent food crises and improve the country's capacity to respond to these emergencies," she said.
Djibouti is considered a least developed low-income food deficit country and was ranked 147th out of 169 countries in the 2010 UN Human Development Index.
In an effort to mitigate the effects of drought, Djibouti abolished tax on food and some agricultural inputs and promoted the cultivation of unused arable land, according to Mohamed Siad Doualeh, the country’s ambassador to the UN.
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