World Bank approves $40 million grant for Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia expected to receive $40 million for the fight against locusts approved by the World Bank board of directors on Monday, which is part of an emergency program that seeks to curb the threat posed by the locusts in Africa and the Middle East.
Since February, locusts have continued to wreak havoc in the Horn of Africa nation, subjecting over 2.6 million people in 43 districts to possible hunger and feminine. In the process, most agricultural products have been destroyed in the last seven months, hampering the country's ability to feed the impoverished population.
Agriculture remains the epicenter of the country's economy and contributes to 75 percent of the country's GDP, and the gains have been significantly affected by the locust's invasion. The country is largely dependant on foreign countries for aid.
The Shock Responsive Safety Net for Locust Response [SNLRP], World Bank said, will focus on addressing the immediate impact of the locust infestation on poor and vulnerable households by meeting their short-term food security and consumption needs and protecting their livelihoods and human capital assets through emergency cash transfer.
In Somalia, the project is commonly known as Baxnaano and complements the Somalia Crisis Recovery Projects [SCRP], which focuses on measures to control the spread of locusts and to restore the livelihoods of smallholder households by providing re-engagement farming packages.
“The locust invasion risks are aggravating the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Somalia and leading to reduced access to food, loss of income, resource-based conflict, and limited migration options,” said Felipe Jaramillo, the World Bank Country Director for Somalia.
“We are supporting the Federal Government of Somalia to put in place a social protection system under the Baxnaano program that can respond quickly to protect subsistence farmers and pastoralists, from falling into deeper levels of food insecurity, as well as preventing the sale/loss of their productive assets.”
For the last three decades, Somalia has been struggling with instantly which is largely fueled by inter-clan conflicts, political wrangles, and endless Al-Shabaab attacks, besides the perennial natural disasters such as floods and locust invasion.
But in recent months, the country is gradually establishing foundations of stability and new political settlements. However, wide-spread poverty and vulnerability to natural disasters, epidemics, and unemployment shocks threaten this progress and the well-being of millions of Somalis.
For example, Somalia has experienced 14 droughts since 1960, averaging one every four years. Today, nearly 70 percent of Somalis live below the international poverty line with poverty being more acute in rural areas, making Somalia the third poorest country in the region.
“During the crisis, poor and vulnerable households are hit hard because they have the least ability to adapt in times of crisis, so they adopt negative coping mechanisms, such as eating less food or less nutritious food, selling off their productive assets and taking children out of school, in order to meet their short-term needs,” said World Bank Task Team Leader for Somalia, Afrah Alawi Al-Ahmadi.
“Such measures have a long-term negative impact on the accumulation of human capital of impacted households. The Project will support around 100,000 households with cash assistance to access food and basic needs and therefore, enable them to protect their human and physical assets during the crisis.”
Last month, World Bank approved &500 million multi-phase programs of emergency financing which complemented by policy advice and technical assistance, to support countries in Africa and the Middle East affected by the locust outbreak
The Program provides immediate support to affected households through targeted social safety nets like cash transfers, while investing in the medium-term recovery of agriculture and livestock production systems and rural livelihoods in affected countries, as well as strengthen national systems for preparedness and enhancing regional coordination, World Bank added.
At least all regions in Somalia are struggling with locust invasion which has seen many states record poor yields from agricultural practices. A huge percentage of Somalis depend on donations from well-wishers especially the World Food Programme and FAO.