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Good Rains Help Struggling Somalis

Good Rains Help Struggling Somalis

The United Nations says the number of Somalis needing humanitarian aid has dropped by 25 percent in the last six months, thanks largely to good rains.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said Monday that the number of people needing food assistance is down to two million.

However, Grainne Moloney, who headed a study for the FAO, notes more than a quarter of the population still has "very significant" needs.

The FAO's top official in Somalia, Luca Alinovi, says efforts need to be focused not just on supplying emergency food aid, but in helping people increase their capacity to grow and stockpile their own food.

Somalia has suffered a prolonged drought that killed livestock and reduced crop production. That, along with high food prices and violent conflict, has forced millions of Somalis to rely on foreign aid.

The U.N. says good rains during the April-to-June rainy season helped many, especially in the north, recover. But the FAO says many still suffer in conflict-ridden southern Somalia.

According to Monday's report, 90 percent of the country's severely malnourished children live in the South Central region.

The FAO's Moloney said the situation of those raising livestock also remains precarious. She said there need to be "many more good seasons of rain" before herd sizes fully recover.