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Moldova: Emergency Assistance In Wake Of Drought

Moldova: UN agencies maintain emergency assistance in wake of drought

27 February 2008 - United Nations humanitarian agencies are continuing to provide emergency assistance to families in Europe's poorest country, Moldova, which last year experienced its worst drought in six decades.

Enough seed corn is being distributed so that more than 30,000 farming households can start their spring season planting in the coming months, while some 9,000 tons of livestock fodder has already been delivered to over 20,000 households, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said in a press release issued today.

Kaarina Immonen, the UN Resident Coordinator in Moldova, told reporters that the provision of livestock fodder and corn is only the latest phase of a multi-step programme to help Moldovans get back on their feet after the drought. So far, more than 135,000 people have received assistance.

The relief and recovery programmes are being organized by UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Food Programme (WFP), who responded to an appeal for help by the Moldovan Government last July.

Rainfall was so sparse last year that some regions of the small Eastern European nation experienced no rain for four consecutive months, and the overall totals for the year were 50 to 75 per cent below average.

The drought - considered the worst since 1946 - hit Moldova particularly hard because its economy is so dependent on agriculture, which provides a livelihood for two-thirds of the population of roughly 4.5 million. About 84 per cent of arable land was affected.

Ms. Immonen said a study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that the agricultural sector lost 100,000 jobs, while inflation caused the price of many basic goods and services - including gas and petrol - to soar.

ENDS

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