Syria: Looming Drought Threatens To Worsen Food Crisis

A displaced mother in Syria feeds lunch to her eighteen month old daughter. WFP/Abeer Etefa

The ongoing conflict is making it almost impossible for Syrians to access food and now a looming drought threatens to put the lives of millions more at risk.

ROME – Syrians are facing yet another challenge as a UN special report warns of a looming drought, which would have devastating consequences in a country already struggling in the midst of conflict.

WFP’s Syria coordinator, Muhannaad Hadi, says: “It has taken a massive effort from WFP and partners to scale up to reach 4 million people in March, but we fear now that a possible drought – if rainfall doesn’t pick up – could put the lives of millions more at risk.“

Low rainfall and poor crop development will have a huge impact on the next cereal harvest, while wheat production is already at an all-time low.  To make matters worse, the conflict has already damaged pumps and canals, caused power failures and destroyed tractors, making food production impossible.

The UN report  highlights how a potential drought would strain the country’s already fragile food security situation, stating: ‘The situation will not change while conflict lasts and its resolution will take considerable time if and when peace is restored to Syria.”

In recent few weeks, WFP has succeeded in reaching all 14 Syrian governorates for the first time in six months, although many areas still remain inaccessible as the conflict continues. In addition, WFP provides food and vouchers on a monthly basis for 1.5 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.

Funded entirely by voluntary contributions, WFP needs to raise around US$40 million a week to finance what is its biggest and most complex operation.