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FAO calls for action to end malnutrition, hunger

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The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has advocated for proactive action to enhance access to healthy and affordable diets, to end malnutrition and hunger in the society.


FAO Director General in Nigeria, Qu Dong Yu, made the call at a symposium organised to commemorate the 2019 World Food Day, on Wednesday in Maiduguri.


The 2019 World Food Day theme: “Healthy Diets for a Zero Hunger World,” seek to encourage deliberation and actions to end hunger.


Yu, represented by Al Hassan Cisse, the Head of FAO office in Northeast, said that practical action is imperative to make healthy and sustainable diets accessible and affordable to all.


He disclosed that the organisation accorded priority to enhancing access to healthy diets to ensure total eradication of hunger and address all forms of malnutrition.


Yu lamented that available statistics indicated that malnutrition was on the increase across regions and income groups.


The director noted that effective partnerships were fundamental to promote synergy between farmers, governments, researchers, private sector and consumers to address the problem.


Yu explained that farmers need better incentives to enable them to increase and diversify their production of high quality food, while governments should adopt policies to encourage standards and regulations to prioritize the availability and affordability of safe and nutritious foods.

The FAO official called on research institutions to provide the best scientific advice that push the boundaries of knowledge and technology so as to encourage productions of products and consumables base on modern nutritional recommendations.

Yu also called for awareness creation and sensitisation activities to enable the people make informed decision on their food choices and eating patterns.

He added that: “FAO supports its member countries in their efforts to make sustainable healthy diets a reality for all.

“As a knowledge organization; FAO strengthens the capacity of countries to evaluate and monitor the nutrition situation, supports knowledge transfer and provides food standards.

“We also want to increase the production and consumption of high quality food through encouraging investment in agriculture, regulatory frameworks, technologies and innovations.

“Food system transformation requires strong political commitment for collective synergy and a holistic design of agriculture and food chains.”

According to him, the organisation would adopt Hand-in-Hand Initiative, to promote partnership between public and private sector as well as Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), to achieve the objective of the campaign.

Yu noted that nutrition indicated health, productivity, overall well-being of people and prosperity of societies, and reiterated commitments to achieve to a better and dynamic world.

Also, Ms Juliana Bitrus, the Commissioner of Animal Resources and Fisheries Development, said the state government was committed to the fight against hunger and malnutrition in the state.

Bitrus explained that Zero Hunger campaign aimed at ensuring that there is enough nutritious food for everyone to make healthy diets available to all.

She noted that the theme of the campaign was pertinent to the northeast where levels of food insecurity and malnutrition was a major concern due to the insurgency.

Bitrus, however, said that the efforts by the government and development organization have been yielding results to change trend and stressed for proactive measures to restore the wellbeing of the people.

She called for closer working collaboration between stakeholders to achieve the goal of the Zero Hunger campaign.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that highlight of activities at the event included paper presentations on nutrition and food exhibition.

The event was attended by government officials, representatives of United Nations (UN) agencies, development organisations, women groups and students. (NAN)

RSA/ABI


Edited by Ali Baba-Inuwa

Foreign

Roundup: FAO, European countries mark World Environment Day by calling for protecting biodiversity

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United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and a string of European countries Friday marked World Environment Day, calling for steps to make the world more resilient as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

BETTER NATURE, BETTER HUMAN HEALTH

Qu Dongyu, director-general of the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking at a virtual World Environment Day event, said protecting the environment leads to better health outcomes.

“Biodiversity provides the necessary infrastructure that supports life on earth,” Qu said. “We have to build up biodiversity. We now have an excellent opportunity to rethink the relationship between humans, animals, and the environment.”

“Better nature means better human health,” Qu concluded.

At FAO, the day was marked with a focus on biodiversity and a special “virtual” event.

“We are focused on the big global problem of the day, which is the coronavirus pandemic,” Berhe Tekola, the director of FAO’s Animal Health and Production Division, told Xinhua.

“But by protecting biodiversity, by advising people in poor countries on how they can eat more safely and how they can avoid environmental damage,” Tekola said, “we can have better health outcomes, and the world would be safer from some of the contagions that cause certain kinds of disease.”

LONG-SIGHTED POLICIES” NEEDED

Sergio Mattarella, Italy‘s president, made a similar point on the occasion of World Environment Day, themed “Time for Nature” this year.

“The dramatic events that have recently touched the whole of our planet demand that we acknowledge the essential link between the equilibrium of nature and our survival,” he said.

“To emerge from the difficulties that we are faced with today, we have an extreme need for research and for long-sighted policies that can imagine and render accessible a near future of sustainable prosperity,” the president continued.

Albanian President Ilir Meta also appealed for more efforts on environmental protection. Via a Twitter post, Meta said that no one should allow mismanagement of urban waste and air pollution to damage citizens’ lives.

“Albania lacks nothing to be the ‘diamond’ of the Mediterranean and Europe,” Meta said, calling for everyone’s contribution in protecting the country’s nature.

In neighboring North Macedonia, the government also reaffirmed commitment to preserved biodiversity.

“North Macedonia abounds with natural rarities and is fortunate to be endowed with rich biodiversity, but at the same time, it is our duty to preserve it,” the government said in a statement.

GREEK GOV’T PITCHES E-MOBILITY

To mark World Environment Day, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis presented a plan for promoting electromobility. The target is for one in three new vehicles in the country to be electric by 2030.

Under the plan, the state would offer financial incentives for switching to electric vehicles. The incentives would cover about 25 percent of the cost for about 14,000 new electric cars, Mitsotakis said.

He said the funds allocated for this purpose would reach 100 million euros (113 million United States dollars) over 18 months.

Electric cars would also be exempt from parking fees for two years, and charging costs would be deductible from taxable income, the Greek leader said.

The government also aims to increase the number of electric buses on Greek roads. In an upcoming tender for new buses to be used in public transportation in Athens and Thessaloniki, a significant percentage would have to be electric vehicles.

(XINHUA)

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COVID-19, opportunity to expedite launch of single market in Africa -FAO

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The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has called on Africans to make use of the opportunity provided by COVID-19 pandemic to expedite action on the launch of single market.

Mr David Tsokar, the National Communication Officer, FAO, said this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

Tsokar said the effect of the coronavirus pandemics presented an opportunity for African countries to accelerate the shift towards a single market.

He said this became necessary in order for the continent to make a paradigm shift to be able to fend for itself and reduced its dependence on food imports.

Tsokar said the move would help to open up continental trade routes and economic opportunities in the long-term, but presents an even greater short-term advantage.

He said that it would allowed African countries to keep their food systems alive to avert what could be the worst food crises in its history.

He stated that lowering intra-regional import tariffs would facilitates the movement of agricultural products that would help addressed the immediate concern around the possibility of low food supplies

He added that it would also help to cushion the general food insecurity, while laying the foundation for long-term policies.

“Africa’s agricultural exports comprise mostly cash crops like cocoa, coffee and spices, which have relatively limited markets in Africa, while basic food products are imported, indicating the need to prioritise a more diverse trade basket of goods.’’

Tsokar called on government to also build buyer-supplier networks, connecting small and medium scale producers, including smallholder farmers, to buyers locally and regionally.

“A large part of this step is the removal of discretionary constraints such as import and export restrictions that distort trade to connect these producers to their markets.

“It is essential to remove non-tariff barriers like transport and logistics bottlenecks, which have long been a deterrent for the efficient movement of goods and services between African countries.’’

He urged governments to implement policies to support local production, adding that such policies would help develop regional value chains, strengthening national food production capacities and linkages to regional markets

He said this would in turn provide a strong basis for countries to export and boost inter-and intra-regional trade in the long-term.

He stated that AfCFTA provided a viable platform for import substitution, promotion of regional agricultural value chains and more diversified supply chains, and local production and consumption of goods and services.

“This is a golden opportunity to expedite the launch of the AfCFTA in phases to mitigate the food-system and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.
BOL/


Edited By: Bola Akingbehin/Grace Yussuf (NAN)

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Biodiversity at risk as forests cut down “at alarming rates”: FAO

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The world‘s forests continue to be cut down at “alarming rates,” the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) said in its State of the World’s Forests 2020 report released Friday.

The 188-page report, which caps a decade of studies on biodiversity under the oversight of the United Nations, examines the contributions of forests and of the populations that use and manage them, with an eye toward forest conservation.

According to the report, forests occupy less than a third of the world‘s land, but they account for 80 percent of all amphibian species, 75 of bird species, 68 percent of mammal species, and around 60 percent of all vascular plant species. But that biodiversity is at risk, the report said.

“Deforestation and forest degradation continue to take place at alarming rates, which contributes significantly to the ongoing loss of biodiversity,” the FAO report said.

The report added that over the last 30 years at least 420 million hectares of forests have been lost to land-use changes, mostly to agricultural development, or in some cases for the production of wood. The lost forest land is roughly the equivalent to the size of the north African country of Libya, FAO said.

The news is not all bad, however. The report said the rate of deforestation has slowed in recent years, from around 16 million hectares per year in the 1990s to 10 million hectares per year over the last five years.

FAO headed the production of the report in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program. Rome-based FAO is headed by Qu Dongyu, a former vice-minister of China‘s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

(XINHUA)

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Feature: FAO promotes first Int’l Tea Day to help improve global health, fight poverty

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To promote tea consumption among the world‘s population, the Rome-based UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has spearheaded the effort to mark May 21 as the International Tea Day that falls on Thursday for the first time.

FAO said that the day was organized in part because of the health benefits of tea, which is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and also as a way to strengthen the economies of the main tea-producing countries, which are clustered in Asia and Africa.

“Welcome excellencies, dear guests, friends and tea lovers,” FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, said to open a virtual meeting of world leaders, economists, and tea industry figures called to mark International Tea Day.

Qu said, “this day is a proof that the United Nations recognizes the importance of tea”, adding that the economic benefits of tea as a crop were important. “Most tea is grown in poor areas, often mountainous areas that need the economic development that comes from tea.”

Calling the day’s activities a “celebration of life,” Qu called on the world to “celebrate tea and tea farmers and producers around the world.”

In a series of statements FAO furthered Qu’s remarks. “International Tea Day is an opportunity to celebrate the cultural heritage, health benefits, and economic importance of tea, while working to make its production sustainable from the fields where it is grown to individual teacups, ensuring its benefits for people, cultures, and the environment,” FAO said in a statement.

FAO further explained: “The tea industry is the main source of income and export revenues for some of the poorest countries and, as a labor-intensive sector, provides jobs, especially in remote and economically disadvantaged areas,” it said. “Tea can play a significant role in rural development, poverty reduction, and food security in developing countries, being one of the most important cash crops.”

Marco Bertona, president of the Italian Tea & Infusions Association — one of the main organizations that lobbied the United Nations and FAO to celebrate International Tea Day — said the double goal of improving health outcomes and aiding farmers in developing countries is an important combination.

“Tea is a healthy drink and it improves the quality of life for the people who drink it. And encouraging its use helps the economic prospects for tea farmers in poor and developing countries,” Bertona told Xinhua. “Promoting the use of tea spreads benefits.”

According to the statement from FAO, the origins of tea date back more than 5,000 years ago, in what is now southwest China, northern Myanmar, and northeastern India. Today, it is grown in more than 35 countries and more than 13 million people depend on tea in some way for their livelihoods.

International Tea Day, which will be celebrated annually going forward, is part of the United Nations’ far broader Millennium Development Goals, which seek to eradicate poverty and hunger, improve educational outcomes, combat disease, foster sustainability, and promote gender equality, among other areas.

According to FAO, International Tea Day addresses several of those points, including fighting poverty and hunger, empowering women, and sustainable development.

(XINHUA)

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Yemen could face “catastrophic” food shortages amid coronavirus outbreak, FAO warns

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Yemen, the west-Asian country already hobbled by five years of military conflict, could face “catastrophic” food shortages due to supply problems connected to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Monday.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak emerged, warfare had pushed Yemen to the brink of famine, FAO said.

Now, with the pandemic interrupting food supply systems and foreign aid, the situation has become more severe. Also contributing to the problem is the worldwide economic slowdown, which has sparked a significant drop in remittances from Yemeni nationals living and working outside the country.

“The health system [in Yemen] was already under heavy stress and it will now be overwhelmed if COVID-19 continues to spread,” Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, the FAO’s assistant director-general and regional representative for the Near East and North Africa said in a statement, adding that the pandemic “will affect the movement of people and the movement of goods.”

“The situation could be catastrophic if all the worst-case scenarios come to be,” Ahmed said. “The UN is working on avoiding that.”

FAO said that nearly 16 million out of 28 million residents of Yemen were classified as “food insecure before the coronavirus pandemic.”

FAO’s report on Yemen is the latest in a series of reports it has produced to highlight problems of food security in the developing world amid the coronavirus pandemic.

(XINHUA)

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FAO calls for measures to mitigate COVID-19 induced hunger

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The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), says it is imperative for nations to evolve measures to mitigate hunger associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Marco Cantillo, FAO’s Deputy Director,  Agriculture Development Economics Division, in a statement issued on Tuesday in Abuja, said that  global economic activities would  be greatly affected as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

“ Large scale consequences for the incomes and welfare of all, but especially for the most vulnerable food import-dependent countries.

“ In the absence of timely and effective policy responses, this will exacerbate an already unwelcome increase in the number of people who do not have enough to eat,” he said.

Cantillo said that a  report produced by  the FAO with other UN partners had last year warned of economic slowdowns and downturns that explained rising undernourishment  in 65 of  77 countries.

The International Monetary Fund had just slashed its global gross domestic product forecast by 6.3 per cent, making FAO’s analysis more relevant as part of a worldwide toolkit to prevent the health crisis from triggering starvation.

He said that in January the IMF anticipated global GDP would expand by 3.3 per cent but in April when much of the world was shutting down to contain the spread, it issued a new forecast of minus 3.0 per cent.

“ Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that is home to the world’s highest hunger rates and where the average age is around 20 years, must now brace for its first recession in a quarter of a century.

”Analysing data of food supply since 1995, linked to FAO’s statistical development of the prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) indicator, and correlating them to past local economic trends in countries that are net food importers, we find that millions of people are likely to join the ranks of the hungry as a result of the COVID-19-triggered recession.”

Cantillo said that the number would vary according to the severity of GDP growth contractions, ranging from 14.4 million to 80.3 million depending on the scenario.

The actual outcome could be worse if current inequalities in access to food are worsened, something that absolutely should not be allowed to happen.

“The world is not facing food shortages, which was why FAO has from the pandemic’s outset advocated that all countries must do their best to keep food supply chains alive.

“With the new estimates emerging from a strictly economic analysis – based on food supply and availability and not other central pillars of food security.

FAO is emphasising that all countries must also foster measures to protect people’s ability to access food that is locally, regionally and globally available,” Cantillo said..

Edited /Obike Ukoh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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COVID-19: Response must not exacerbate hunger, malnutrition, says FAO, WHO, WTO

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 The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), have called for care to minimise potential impacts of COVID-19 containment on food supply, global trade and food security.

The three world bodies said in a statement jointly signed by their Directors-General, QU Dongyu, Tedros Ghebreyesus and Roberto Azevedo, of FAO, WHO and WTO respectively.

According to them, governments should ensure that responses to COVID-19 does not unintentionally create unwarranted shortages of essential items and exacerbate hunger and malnutrition.

They said when actions were being taken to protect the health and wellbeing of their citizens, the countries should ensure that any trade-related measure do not disrupt the food supply chain.

“Millions of people around the world depend on international trade for their food security and livelihoods.

“Such disruptions including hampering movement of agricultural and food industry workers and extending border delays for food containers, result in the spoilage of perishables and increasing food waste,” the trio said.

The directors-general noted that uncertainty about food availability could spark a wave of export restriction and create a shortage on the global market.

“Such reactions can alter the balance between food supply and demand, resulting in price spikes and increased price volatility.

“We learned from previous crises that such measures are particularly damaging for low-income, food-deficit countries and to the efforts of humanitarian organisations to procure food for those in desperate need.

“We must prevent the repeat of such damaging measures. It is at times like this that more, not less, international cooperation becomes vital,” they said.

According to them, in the midst of COVID-19 lockdown, efforts must be made to ensure that trade flows as freely as possible, especially to avoid food shortage.

2wa2″SiwaaaAamilarly, it is also critical that food producers and food workers at processing and retail levels are protected to minimise the spread of the disease within this sector and maintain food supply chains.

“Consumers, in particular, the most vulnerable, must continue to be able to access food within their communities under strict safety requirements,” they said.

The directors-general advised countries to ensure that information on food-related trade measures, levels of food production, consumption and stocks, as well as food prices, was available to all citizens in real time.

“This reduces uncertainty and allows producers, consumers and traders to make informed decisions.

“Above all, it helps contain ‘panic buying’ and the hoarding of food and other essential items,” they said.

According to the world leaders, now is the time to show solidarity, act responsibly and adhere to common goal of enhancing food security, food safety and nutrition and improving the general welfare of people around the world.

Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)

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COVID-19: FAO urges stakeholders to keep global food chains alive

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Mr Qu Dongyu, the Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), of the United Nations has stressed the need to keep global food chains alive amidst the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the world.

Dongyu said this on Monday in a statement made available to Nigeria News Agency in Abuja through the National Commutation Officer Mr David Tsokar.

The statement said COVID-19 pandemic was putting enormous strains on the public health systems around the world, and millions of people in the world’s most advanced economies are in some form of quarantine.

“We know the human toll will be high, and that massive efforts to turn the tide carry a heavy economic cost.

“To reduce the risk of an even greater toll – shortage of food for millions, even in affluent countries – the world must take immediate actions to minimise disruptions to food supply chains.”

According to the statement, a globally coordinated and coherent response was needed to prevent the public health crisis from triggering a food crisis in which people cannot find or afford food.

“For now, COVID-19 has not entailed any strain on food security, despite anecdotal reports of crowded supermarket sieges.

“While there’s no need for panic – there is enough supply of food in the world to feed everyone – we must face the challenge: an enormous risk that food may not be made available where it is needed.’’

According to the statement, the COVID-19 outbreak, with all the accompanying closures and lockdowns, has created logistical bottlenecks that ricochet across the long value chains of the modern global economy.

Restrictions of movement, as well as basic aversion behavior by workers, may impede farmers from farming and food processors who handle most agricultural products from processing.

Shortage of fertilizers, veterinary medicines and other input could also affect agricultural production.

Closures of restaurants and less frequent grocery shopping diminish demand for fresh produce and fisheries products.

These will affect producers and suppliers, especially smallholder farmers, with long-term consequences for the world’s increasingly urbanised population, be they in Manhattan or Manila.

Uncertainty about food availability can induce policymakers to implement trade restrictive measures in order to safeguard national food security.

Given the experience of the 2007-2008 global food price crisis, we know that such measures can only exacerbate the situation.

Export restrictions put in place by exporting countries to increase food availability domestically could lead to serious disruptions in the world food market, resulting in price spikes and increased price volatility.

It stated that in 2007-2008, these immediate measures proved extremely damaging, especially for low income food deficit countries and to the efforts of humanitarian organisations to procure supplies for the needy and vulnerable.

The statement urged that the world learn from recent past and 

not

 make the same mistakes twice, adding that Policy makers must take care to avoid accidentally tightening food-supply conditions.

It said that every country faces its own challenges, and there should be collaboration between governments and the full gamut of sectors and stakeholders because the experience was a global problem that required a global response.

“We must ensure that food markets are functioning properly and that information on prices, production, consumption and stocks of food is available to all in real time.

“This approach will reduce uncertainty and allow producers, consumers, traders and processors to make informed decisions and to contain unwarranted panic behavior in global food markets.

Edited By: Modupe Adeloye/Donald Ugwu
(NAN)

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Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) welcomes European Union contribution of €11 million to fight Desert Locust outbreak

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FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today welcomed an € 11 million contribution from the European Union as the UN agency steps up efforts to fight the Desert Locust upsurge which has now spread from East Africa to the Persian Gulf.

The European Commission announced €10 million would come from the European Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO). Another €1 million has also been allocated from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

 “I want to thank the European Union for its generosity and support as the Desert Locust threatens to provoke a humanitarian crisis in East Africa,” Qu said.  

The Director-General said the situation was extremely alarming in a region where 20 million people were already considered food insecure.

The locust outbreak is the worst in Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years and the worst infestation that Kenya has experienced in 70 years. Djibouti and Eritrea have also been affected while swarms have been reported in South Sudan, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

This week there was a new development as strong winds brought swarms of Desert Locusts to both sides of the Persian Gulf to Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar reaching as far as southwest Iran.

“We must urgently scale up action to protect rural livelihoods and assist farmers and their families,” Qu said. “There is no time to waste.”

The Desert Locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world and a small swarm covering one square kilometer can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people.

FAO has appealed for $138 million in urgent funding to assist the countries that have been impacted. So far only $52 million has been received.

The Director of the FAO Liaison Office in Brussels, Rodrigo de Lapuerta Montoya, gave an update on the  upsurge to the Working Party on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid of the Council of the European Union last week. The Member States expressed their concern about the situation and confirmed their commitment and trust in FAO's work.

Dominique Burgeon, FAO's Director of Emergencies and Resilience, also briefed the European Parliament's Committee on Development in Brussels.

“It is an extreme situation,” Burgeon said. “We have a window of opportunity to bring this under control.” FAO's Desert Locust Information Service says the situation will be further exacerbated by new infestations expected in the coming months.

Pasture and croplands have already suffered damage in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, and there are potentially severe consequences for the region where millions rely on agriculture and livestock rearing for their survival. If favourable weather conditions continue, as expected, needs will grow.

FAO is already on the ground helping governments and other partners with surveillance and coordination, technical advice and the procurement of supplies and equipment.

The UN agency is also preparing action to protect rural livelihoods by providing affected growers with farming packages, veterinary care for vegetation-starved livestock, and cash for families who have lost their crops so that they can purchase food.

Of the $138 million, FAO has proposed the following amounts to help fight the outbreak: Djibouti ($1,965,000); Eritrea ($8,500,000); Ethiopia ($50,500,000); Kenya ($22,100,000); Somalia ($32,200,000); South Sudan ($ 8,650,000); United Republic of Tanzania ($505,000); Uganda ($8,580,000).

Desert Locust monitoring, forecasting and control are at the heart of FAO's mandate. Its Desert Locust Information Service has been in operation for nearly 50 years. FAO's well-established field presence, ability to link up authorities from different countries, and expertise in Desert Locust management make it a key player in responding to upsurges like that currently affecting East Africa and the Red Sea area.

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