Emergency support to herders affected by regional crisis in Lake Chad Basin

October 25, 2017 Africa , News , OPINION/NEWS

FAO photo

 

By

Alpha Jallow

 

Belgium and FAO join efforts to safeguard the livelihoods of crisis-hit agricultural communities in Cameroon and Chad.

 

In the Lake Chad Basin, the security crisis exacerbates the challenges faced by vulnerable farmers and herders already affected by climate hazards over the past decade.

Herders bear a heavy burden as a result of the crisis, as their livelihoods are severely affected or even destroyed. Livestock have been deliberately killed or looted by insurgents, or abandoned by herders fleeing violence.

In 2017, the early start of the pastoral lean season – with water points and pastures drying out – has further deteriorated livestock body conditions. In areas where 70 to 80 percent of the livestock is transhumant, fodder availability is essential. The inaccessibility of some grazing areas and border closures has already weakened animal health and heightened tensions between herders and farmers, even before the dry season.

The ability of herders to continue their pastoral livelihoods is threatened, and severe income losses have a direct impact on food and nutrition security.

In response to these critical needs, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO and Belgium join forces to preserve the livelihoods of more than 17,000 people dependent on livestock in Cameroon and Chad, in the Far North and Lake regions respectively.

In Chad, FAO supports destocking activities to improve herders’ incomes, safeguard assets and reduce pressure on natural resources. The dried meat produced through the meat processing activity is distributed to the most vulnerable families, through malnutrition prevention and treatment programs in health centers of the Lake region. This will improve nutrition levels for children and pregnant and lactating women. The distributions are coupled with nutritional education sessions.

In Cameroon, the most vulnerable herders, including displaced ones who lost their livestock, are receiving cash transfers handed out in coupons to replenish their flocks. Cattle fairs will be organized, with less-affected herders encouraged to sell animals at an attractive price compared to the market. This initiative aims to improve the pastoral viability threshold of affected herders, strengthen intra-community solidarity and re-launch the livestock market system. Women and youth, who are particularly vulnerable to violence, will be the priority targets.

“These activities are essential and combined with the implementation of longer-term vulnerability reduction activities to strengthen the resilience of crisis-affected livestock farmers” says Coumba Sow, Coordinator of the FAO Sub-Regional Resilience Team for West Africa and the Sahel (REOWA). “For example, approaches related to the natural resources management and access, taking into account specific issues related to pastoralism and climate shocks and conflicts, are also developed by FAO with its partners.”

Belgium’s contribution to these emergency recovery activities, through the Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities- Agricultural Inputs Response Capacity (SFERA-CRIA) and amounting USD 600,000, is part of the FAO Response Strategy to the Lake Chad Basin Crisis. For the year 2017, FAO requires a total of USD 73.6 million to support affected people. To date, USD 26 million have been received.

In the affected areas of Niger and Nigeria, and in terms of livestock production, FAO also distributes small livestock, livestock feed and undertakes livestock vaccination campaigns to support internally displaced people (IDPs), returnees and host communities.

 

 

 

 

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Alpha Jallow

Alpha is a freelance journalist from Dakar, Senegal, having worked for the BBC African Radio service, West Africa Democracy Radio (WADR) and Radio France Internationale (RFI).

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