The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is seeking urgent donor support to help farmers hit by rain and floods. The organisation hopes to raise $18.9 million and use it to provide emergency livestock support and agriculture packages to over 300,000 families in Sindh and Balochistan.
One of the top priorities now is to prevent a further loss of livestock by providing feed rations, vaccination, and veterinary aid for the livestock. “Around 80% of the people in the affected areas depend on agriculture and livestock for a living,” said Luigi Damiani, senior emergency and rehabilitation coordinator. “The animals are often the entire savings of a family. It is vital to save them,” he said.
Restoring agricultural production is another priority and the farmers will be provided with seeds and fertiliser in time for the upcoming Rabi (winter) planting season.
The money will also be used for rapid rehabilitation of damaged irrigation and drainage infrastructure. Some of these repairs are likely to be done through cash-for-work schemes, which will also create much-needed income opportunities for the affected communities.
“Delayed assistance will lead to heightened food insecurity, more threats to public health, loss of land tenure agreements due to farmer inability to pay debts, population displacement and longer-term dependence on food aid,” said Kevin Gallagher, FAO representative in Pakistan.
The FAO and United Nations World Food Programme lead the “Food Security Cluster” in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority. The funds required by the food cluster amount to $174 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2011.
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