The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)today launched an urgent appeal for $26 million for farmers and fisher folk hit by the South-Asian tsunami disaster, the agency said on the occasion of the international disaster summit in Indonesia. Funds are needed to finance emergency rehabilitation projects over the next six months.
"The tsunami tidal waves have destroyed the livelihoods and the economic basis of many coastal communities in terms of death, injury, unemployment, loss of assets and migration," said Fernanda Guerrieri, Chief of FAO's Emergency Operations Service.
"Fisheries and aquaculture are the sectors most seriously hit by the disaster with a devastating effect on many millions of mostly small-scale fishers who are dependent on a daily fish catch for food and sale," she said.
"In addition to the human tragedy, fishers have lost their boats, fishing gear, support industries, and aquaculture installations have been damaged or lost. Farm animals have been killed and crops have been washed away or are dying due to saltwater floods. Similarly, many water reservoirs and wells cannot be used anymore because of saltwater and water pollution, and irrigation and drainage facilities are destroyed," Guerrieri said.
"The need for emergency rehabilitation of agriculture and fisheries in the region is enormous and will be definitely much higher than the amount we are asking for now," Guerrieri said. "Our assessment teams are currently out in the region to obtain a clear picture of the damage."
FAO's initial call for international assistance is part of the United Nations' flash appeal for tsunami victims in Asia.
FAO has already provided a total of around $1.5 million from its own funds as emergency aid for agriculture and fisheries in Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Around $10 million will be needed over the next six months for agricultural and fisheries emergency projects in Indonesia. The 25,000 most affected families and an additional 25,000 families and communities hosting displaced persons will receive seeds, tools and other agricultural inputs for the rapid rehabilitation of food crop production for the next cropping season.
In addition, FAO is planning to provide around 25,000 fisher folk with essential inputs for a rapid re-start of small-scale fishing activities. FAO will also provide support to the initial repair works on fish ponds. Technical assistance is needed to facilitate and coordinate the provision of extension services to disaster affected households. An emergency coordinator and a fishery expert have already been sent to support the FAO office in Indonesia.
FAO has asked for around $10 million to finance emergency interventions in Sri Lanka over the next six months. Boats, engines and fishing gear will be replaced or repaired to resume fishing activities in a sustainable manner. FAO will also provide assistance for the repair and rehabilitation of fishing harbors, anchorages and other production related infrastructure.
To restore the livelihoods and economic activities of 28,000 persons, the agency will provide basic inputs and support the reclamation of damaged agricultural land, so that farming can be resumed. To coordinate the rehabilitation efforts in fisheries, livestock and crop production, FAO has established a coordination unit and has sent a fisheries expert and an agronomist to reinforce the unit in Sri Lanka.
In the Maldives, around $2 million will be needed to start the rehabilitation of the marine fisheries sector and agricultural infrastructure in tsunami affected areas, to replace or repair small fishing boats and gear, and provide inputs to resume livelihoods activities. Similar emergency projects for the Seychelles will require an additional $2 million.
In Somalia, FAO will provide assistance to around 2,000 fisher folk in the most affected communities for a period of six months, through the provision of cash, fishing boats and equipment. Projects will also provide training in improved fishing techniques and boat construction. Around $2 million will be needed for these projects.
The other affected countries -- India, Thailand, Myanmar, Kenya, Tanzania, and Malaysia -- have so far not launched aid appeals. FAO's country offices are in close contact with the respective governments. Proposals and appeals will be prepared in response to any request for assistance.
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf will meet ambassadors from affected countries and donors in Rome on Friday as a follow up to the appeal.
See latest tsunami updates in the FORUM, including Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) support for tsunami disaster relief and photos of the devastation to shrimp farms in Aceh