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News Syria: Drought response faces funding shortfall

With a few weeks left before the end of this year's planting season, UN officials have raised concerns over the lack of funds to help drought-hit farmers and herders in northeastern Syria.

The northeast and the Badia region of Syria were hit by the worst drought in 40 years as rain failed for three consecutive years. The drought caused devastating losses for about 1.3 million people, of whom more than 800,000 were severely affected, according to the UN and the Syrian government.

The Syria Drought Response Plan 2009, which was launched by the UN in August, seeks about US$52.9 million, with food assistance and provision of agriculture inputs key.

The World Food Programme (WFP) shares similar concerns. "WFP has received $2.2 million only out of $22 million needed. This amount is barely sufficient to start the first distribution in December which should cover at least two months of entitlements [December and January].

About 90 percent of agriculture in the affected areas depends on rainfall. Poor rains have caused all crops to fail and prevented any vegetative growth that can be used as animal feed. It also affected grazing pastures, which usually provide 60 percent of animal feed for the herders.

The drought also forced 250,000-300,000 families (at least 1.25-1.5 million people) to leave their villages and they are now concentrated in the suburbs of Damascus and other cities like Aleppo and Daa'ra, according to Mohamad Alloush, director of the environment department at the State Planning Commission (SPC).

The government is making "tremendous efforts" to help the people "but the disaster was too immense and like any emergency it requires international solidarity [and assistance].

Last year Syria agreed with Turkey to draw 100 cubic meters per second of water from the trans-border Tigris River to irrigate 150,000ha of land in Hasakeh, the worst drought-hit governorat.


Syria: Drought driving farmers to the cities ; 02/09/2009 (EMWIS Flash n°73, September 2009)


Contact information n/a
News type Inbrief
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Source of information United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Keyword(s) Drought response faces funding shortfall
Geographical coverage Syria
News date 24/11/2009
Working language(s) ENGLISH