Djibouti – As food security starts to improve in the Republic of Djibouti, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is intensifying its work to strengthen the country’s defenses against recurrent drought while still providing critical assistance to meet urgent food and nutritional needs.
An Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA), carried out by WFP and its partners, highlighted the need to better equip the arid, Horn of Africa country to cope with food shortages caused by poor rains, water scarcity and high food prices.
The EFSA report showed a decline in the number of severely food insecure households but said the situation remains fragile with the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate exceeding crisis levels among children under five. It recommended continuing food distributions for the most vulnerable households but also highlighted the need to build resilience.
“Given the relative improvement in food security, WFP will gradually shift its focus from targeted food distributions to programmes aimed at strengthening communities’ ability to withstand shocks like poor rains and drought,” said Jacques Higgins, WFP Country Director for Djibouti.
“We need to help Djiboutians replenish their assets, such as livestock herds, after years of drought. We also need to enhance the country’s overall resilience by improving infrastructure, and tackling the scarcity of water. In this way, WFP will leave a lasting impact by making sure that people will not slip into crisis the next time the rains fail,” he added.
WFP’s operations in Djibouti include food distributions for vulnerable groups, school feeding, and Food For Work projects, where participants receive food in return for working on projects to conserve water, build feeder roads and community gardens, for example. WFP also distributes fortified food to children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
Other activities are designed to combat desertification and environmental problems. WFP is also distributing vouchers to around 32,500 people in the areas outside the capital so that they can buy food from July to September, when prices are typically high.
In 2013, WFP will assist 150,900 people in Djibouti including 22,000 who will receive emergency food assistance and 60,000 who will take part in Food For Work or Food for Assets projects.
According to the EFSA report, the number of people classified as severely food insecure in rural areas fell to nearly 22,000 in 2013 from 42,700 the previous year. However, the report stressed the situation remains critical, with the number of moderately food insecure people rising to nearly 60,000 from 24,300 in 2012. Data was gathered in May.
Poor nutrition and malnutrition are also concerns, with around 60 percent of households in rural areas reporting poor food consumption. In these homes, families mainly eat cereals, sugar and oil, with very few vegetables and little meat. Many people cope with shortages by buying cheaper food, eating fewer meals, or selling precious livestock. The GAM rate among children aged between six months and five years is around 18 percent, well above the global emergency level of 15 per cent.
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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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For more information on WFP’s work in Djibouti, visit http://www.wfp.org/djibouti
To view the EFSA report, visit http://www.wfp.org/content/republique-de-djibouti-evaluation-securite-al...