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Avoiding Future Famines in Somalia

Avoiding Future Famines in Somalia From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report in Special English. The humanitarian situation in Somalia has improved. United Nations officials say the improvement is the result of new methods of aid delivery, more rainfall and success against militants.

Luca Alinovi is head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization for Somalia. He says the situation has changed in a sustainable way. But he says those gains are at risk if the international community fails to support the Somali people. He warns of a possible return to conditions like those in 2011. That was when a famine emergency was declared in parts of Somalia. Many people died. Many others walked for weeks to reach areas with food and water.

Luca Alinovi says the FAO used cash-based interventions to help during the famine and the season after it. He says the aid effort urged Somalis to stay where they were. Earlier interventions, he says, were based more on simply providing food, shelter and other basic needs. Twenty twelve was a good year for rainfall in Somalia. Two major rivers cross the country. So, irrigation can be used in a lot of areas.

Luca Alinovi says continued investment in irrigation could increase agricultural production to meet the needs of more than half of Somalia. Another issue affecting the humanitarian situation has been the success against the militant group al Shabab. Forces from the African Union, known as AMISOM, along with those from the Somali government and Kenya have driven militants from many areas. But, Luca Alinovi says many rural areas remain under al-Shabab's control and the military operation continues.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal. Adapted from a radio program broadcast 05Feb2013)