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By UNDP Newsroom

23 August - The scale of the humanitarian crisis in Somalia has eased this year, with the number of people needing aid falling by 25 per cent to 2 million, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today.

But more than one in four Somalis still needs assistance, FAO warned in its latest report on the impoverished and conflict-torn Horn of Africa nation, home to one of the world's most dire humanitarian crises.

The report said that this year Somalia – which has an estimated population of 7.5 million –experienced a longer than usual rainy season, known locally as gu, boosting agricultural and livestock production.

But the UN agency stressed that the situation in Somalia remains extremely fragile.

“If the next rain season is poor, then the numbers in crisis will rise again,” cautioned Grainne Moloney, FAO's chief technical adviser for the study, which noted that about 27 per cent of Somalis are still dependent on aid.

FAO's latest findings are in contrast to last year's figures, when about 42 per cent of the population was in urgent need of help due to a prolonged drought that killed a lot of livestock and was exacerbated by high food prices and insecurity. Some 40,000 pastoralists are believed to have become destitute following the 2009 drought.

Despite improvements in the agricultural sector, the agency warned that several more good rainy seasons are necessary for pastoralists to recover their herds.

According to the new report, Somalia's nutrition situation has improved slightly in the north, but 90 per cent of the 35,000 severely malnourished children in the country remain in the conflict-stricken south-central region.

It also spotlights the needs of the country's estimated 1.4 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The epicentre of the humanitarian crisis continues to be in the central and Hiran regions, driven largely by long-term effects of drought, high food prices and insecurity because of conflict.

Accra / Ghana/ Africa /