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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 13:43 GMT 14:43 UK
Starvation threat in Somalia
Dry catchment area in Somalia (WFP photo)
People are leaving their homes in search of food
The World Food programme says there has been a slow response to its appeal for Somalia where more than half a million people are reported to be facing possible starvation.

It said the situation was very serious in the south of the country after the rains and then crops failed.

Fields are totally brown, bare compared to last year when they were full of wonderful green sorghum crop

Jeremy Hopkins, WFP

World Food Programme officer Jeremy Hopkins who is back from the area told the BBC's Network Africa programme that the WFP was appealing for 40,000 tonnes of food, without which Somalia would be in serious trouble.

He also said the organisation was trying to expand a programme in which people were given food in exchange for work.

"This would give them reason to stay in their area until the next planting season as we hope for rain, Mr Hopkins said."

Early migration

The WFP in August had warned this year's harvest of the staple food sorghum will fall below 10% of the expected average.

It had also said that the dry weather in March and April had forced some families to begin early migration in search of food and grazing land for their cattle.

Feeding centres were also recording high numbers of women and children turning up for food parcels.

Women at a feeding centre in Somalia (WFP photo)
Feeding centres have had to cope with increased numbers of people

According to Mr Hopkins the situation remains the same.

He said: "Fields are totally bare compared to last year when they were filled with wonderful green sorghum crops."


The regions worst affected by the drought conditions include Gedo, Bay and Bakol, bordering north-eastern Kenya and south-eastern Ethiopia.

The WFP said that although there is food for sale in the market they remain unaffordable to those who normally rely on their own harvest.

Drought is not the only reason for food shortage in the country.

Instability caused by years of inter clan fighting have also contributed to the country's food problems.

BBC interview with Jeremy Hopkins of WFP
"Every year people lose more of their goats and camels"
See also:

23 Aug 01 | Africa
UN warns of hunger in Somalia
30 Jul 01 | Africa
Kenya bans trading with Somalia
31 Jul 01 | Africa
Khat shortage hits Somalia
29 Aug 00 | Africa
Somalia's new civilian leader
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