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close this bookMeeting the Humanitarian Challenge - UNV's Work Between Conflict and Development (United Nations Volunteers, 44 p.)
close this folderUNV humanitarian action in the field: Effort and impact
View the documentThe link to development: UNDP's strategic role
View the documentSupporting field coordination of response to complex emergencies
View the documentIdentifying the neediest and their survival strategies
View the documentRe-focusing and fine-tuning relief efforts
View the documentDelivery of urgent relief supplies to emergency victims
View the documentShelter and services for refugees and displacees
View the documentRepatriation/return of refugees and displacees
View the documentMonitoring and promoting respect for human rights, and enabling protection
View the documentConfidence- and capacity-building at community level
View the documentPreventing conflict and mending bridges between communities
View the documentFocusing on the special needs of women and vulnerable groups
View the documentEducation as therapy and for employment
View the documentRestoring food self-sufficiency
View the documentRebuilding primary health care and preventing epidemics
View the documentDeveloping new opportunities for sustainable recovery

Restoring food self-sufficiency

Getting away from the tragic famine conditions in Somalia in 1992 required restoration of food self-sufficiency. Coming from Japan where he was Project Coordinator for Japanese disaster relief teams abroad, Yuji Taketomo used his experience in Gulf War refugee camps to improve the logistics of importing and distributing agricultural inputs for FAO programmes.

Using such inputs, UNV agronomist Michael Agar (from Sudan), working with FAO in Hargeisa, managed seed, pesticide, sprayer, and tool distribution to over 30,000 displaced and returnee farmers and agropastoralists in the north of Somalia. Such support enabled local communities to resume agricultural activities and reduce dependency on food aid. The regions which benefited from FAO assistance included Borama, Hargeisa, Burao and Las-Anod. During the months of September/October 1993, the FAO programme of the gu season effectively took off, with the distribution of four different varieties of seeds - sorghum, cowpeas, mung beans and groundnuts - to families engaged in rainfed agricultural activities in north west Somalia. Despite the immense problems of insecurity and harsh conditions that exist in this region of Somalia, the FAO Emergency Agricultural programme achieved its objective of providing returnee refugee and displaced farmers with the essential agricultural inputs to restart their activities.

Six months after this distribution activity, it was evident that it had been extremely successful - most of the farmers in irrigated and rainfed areas had dramatically increased their output. There is now food security in these areas for the first time in over three years.

In Liberia a similar tools and seeds distribution programme which a UNV agronomist worked on successfully, helped farmers settle after the years of civil strife.

In Mauritania, Luis Cueto from Peru, a former FAO Chief Technical Advisor, used his skills and experience to establish horticultural and livestock activities, for 38,000 Touareg and Maure displaced persons from Mali, developing income-generating activities for them during an assignment as a UNV Emergency Field Officer with UNHCR.

UNV Zita O'Donohue, a Baby Nurse Specialist from Australia, working with Vietnamese "boat people" in Whitehead Detention Centre, Hong Kong. (Photo UNV/Eva Leon-Hing)