DOLOW, SOMALIA – The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have joined forces with Somali authorities to encourage Somalis to eat more fish as a way to fight hunger in the Horn of Africa country.
Despite Somalia’s enormous marine resources, the country’s fishing industry remains largely underdeveloped and its fisheries unexploited. This is partly due to decades of conflict and piracy on the high seas – but also because fish does not form part of the traditional Somali diet.
“The major aim of this campaign is to encourage thousands of displaced families living in and around Dolow to start including fish in their diets,” said Luca Alinovi, the FAO representative in Somalia. “The Gedo region has two rivers, the Dawa and Jubba, yet the eating of fresh fish is nearly nonexistent.”
Somalia has a 3,300-kilometer coastline – the longest in Africa – yet the people of Somalia eat very little seafood. The country's per capita fish consumption is 2.4 kilograms per year, one of the lowest in the world.
The country is still emerging from a food security crisis following the drought and famine of 2011 that left many thousands dead.
‘Sustainable food systems’
Celebrating this year’s World Food Day in the southern Somali town of Dolow, the two Rome-based food agencies reached out to thousands of displaced Somalis in the border town, encouraging them to eat fish as part of a healthy diet.
“Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition” is the official theme of World Food Day in 2013, focused on improving understanding of problems and solutions in the drive to end hunger.
FAO continues to develop Somalia’s fisheries sector with training in sustainable fishing, fishing equipment, jetties and cold chains to support fish preservation, distribution and marketing.
“Making use of natural resources is vital in fighting hunger,” said Stefano Porretti, the WFP representative in Somalia. “WFP works with coastal communities, providing training in fishing and in preservation of fish products. Increasing the consumption of fish in Somalia will strengthen the livelihood of fishermen and provide a more nutrient-rich diet for Somali households.”
The “Fish is Good for You” campaign
The campaign’s messages are directed at female heads of households and young people with a goal of diversifying dietary habits biased against seafood. The "Fish is Good for You" campaign also focuses on the nutritional benefits of fresh fish.
The campaign was first launched in the Puntland coastal town of Bossaso and in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance.
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Laila.Ali@wfp.org, Public Information Officer