With growing challenges hampering humanitarian operations in Somalia, WFP continues to find innovative ways to achieve its goals
Faced with insecurity and growing needs, WFP Logistics has managed to expand its operations to assist around 3.2 million Somalis by increasing its monthly tonnage from 10,000 to 35,000MT by end 2008. WFP now plans to dispatch up to 50,000 MT per month across Somalia in 2009, with an expansion to new geographical areas handed over by CARE (a non-government organization, which works as one of WFP’s cooperating partners). An additional 20,000MT are also planned for the Ethiopia food corridor.
Despite continuous threats of piracy off the Somali coast, ocean transport remains the main and most cost-effective means of aid delivery to Somalia, with about 95% going by sea, mainly from Mombasa and Djibouti ports to Mogadishu and Merka in the south and Bossaso and Berbera in the north. Piracy threats have unfortunately resulted in limited vessels and increased ocean freight costs, and WFP’s effort to sustain naval escorts offered by friendly nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and European Union (EU), has proved crucial. The current EU/Atalanta one-year operation, which is part of a broader naval campaign to stop piracy off the Somali coast, has offered the long-term solution sought by WFP to provide protection of its shipments.
With the aim of enhancing vital transport routes, WFP is running several projects under a Special Operation (SO); including rehabilitation works at Mogadishu and Kismayo ports and key corridors in south and central Somalia. The SO, however, faces a funding shortfall of approximately US$8.5 million (66%). Thus if this funding is not obtained, the implementation of the projects could be hampered.
Through the Inter-Agency Logistics Services (ILS), WFP has witnessed an increase in requests to provide shipping, storage and surface transport services to 12 aid organizations on a full-cost recovery basis. The humanitarian community is also heavily reliant on UNHAS, which provides critical humanitarian air services across Somalia under unpredictable conditions. The air operation is partially funded by donor contributions and partially on a cost-recovery basis. In 2008, 16,180 aid workers and 156 MT of light cargo were transported. While deteriorating security has necessitated operating flights to new areas, it has also led to reduced passenger numbers; making UNHAS more dependent on donor contributions rather than cost recovery.
WFP Somalia’s expansion of operations comes at time when insecurity continues to threaten the lives of our staff operating in the country, with the killings of four since August 2008. Consequently, WFP Somalia has decided to seek new security commitments for our safe access in all areas of operations, and - as part of this strategy - has halted shipments to southern and central regions until it receives concrete safety assurances from community leaders and local administrations for WFP staff and partners. Meanwhile, the remaining stocks in the country are being distributed.
WFP Somalia has also taken the initiative to organise and host 2 Surface Transport Contracting trainings in March 2009, with support from WFP Headquarters in Rome and WFP Kenya, inviting participants from the region as well as UN Children’s Fund (UNIICEF) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) partners. The training includes modules on the humanitarian supply chain, transport market, customs, implementing and monitoring of transport contracts and more.
For further information, please contact: WFP.Logistics@wfp.org.