UN launches campaign to avert “food security disaster” in former ISIL-held Mosul

By Lester Wan contact

- Last updated on GMT

The campaign aims to protect 210,000 people who rely on livestock, against highly-contagious diseases that can spread rapidly across borders. ©GettyImages
The campaign aims to protect 210,000 people who rely on livestock, against highly-contagious diseases that can spread rapidly across borders. ©GettyImages

Related tags: Food security, Agriculture

The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched an emergency campaign to safeguard livestock and food security across the Mosul area in Iraq, recently retaken from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The campaign, which aims to protect and enhance the assets of 210,000 people who rely on livestock for food and income in the Ninewa (Nineveh) Governorate, includes vaccinating almost 1 million sheep, goats, cattle and buffalo, as well as providing 1,500 tonnes of high-nutrient feed for 60,000 animals.

The food security campaign is being implemented in partnership with Iraq's Ministry of Agriculture, with funding from the Iraq Humanitarian Fund.

More than one million people remain displaced, with the majority staying within the Ninewa Governorate's boundaries in host communities or camps. Many of these families had fled their homes with their livestock, most of which have not been vaccinated.

These livestock are likely to carry highly-contagious epidemic diseases that can spread rapidly across national and international borders to other herds and people, leading to serious socio-economic and public health consequences.

"If immediate measures are not taken, the effects on livestock production and food security could be devastating," ​said Fadel El-Zubi, FAO representative in Iraq.

This FAO-led initiative is the first comprehensive animal or livestock health campaign in the Mosul area since ISIL took control of central and north-western Iraq in 2014. Throughout the governorate, the FAO plans to vaccinate the animals against six diseases: sheep and goat pox, brucellosis, enterotoxaemia, blackleg disease, lumpy skin disease, and foot-and-mouth disease.

Local partners

The FAO is strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture’s staff, of implementing partners, vets and community animal health workers, and increasing awareness among livestock owners and community members to protect animals against highly-contagious or transmissible diseases that have the potential to rapidly spread.

"Healthy, productive livestock means income, food and financial security for farmers and their families.TheFAO is committed to ensuring livelihoods are protected, to promote people's self-reliance and dignity, and reduce dependence on food assistance," ​said El-Zubi.

Years of conflict in Iraq have destroyed or damaged harvests, equipment, supplies, livestock, seeds, crops and stored food; and left 3.2 million Iraqis food insecure. It is estimated that 2.7 million people may require some form of humanitarian assistance in Ninewa alone.

Around 12 million Iraqis reside in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Cattle, goats and sheep are raised for meat, wool, milk and their hide. After crop production, livestock is the second largest subsector providing agricultural income.

A lot of work is needed to redevelop critical infrastructure so that agricultural production can resume and livelihoods can be restored. The FAO is seeking urgent funding of $74.5m to assist 1.39 million people through returns packages, rehabilitating damaged agricultural infrastructure, vaccinating and feeding livestock, and expanding 

Related topics: Nutrition, Middle East, Food safety, Meat

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