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Somalia: Food Security and Nutrition Quarterly Brief 21 Nov 2008 - Focus on post Deyr season early warning

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Overall, Deyr rains are considered to be normal, resulting in regeneration of pasture, normal crop establishment and improved water availability. The outlook for the Deyr season is expected to be normal in most of the central and south. Pasture, and water availability has improved and migration patterns are resuming to normal in most areas. Cereal crop establishment and development is good in main producing areas of the south. While the rapid increase in price of food commodities over the last 12 months has slowed down, prices are still significantly higher than 12 months ago and the five year average. Civil insecurity continues to dominate much of the country and is continuing to reduce movement of people and goods, including food commodities. The uncertainty of political environment is continuing to impact negatively on trade and income opportunities.

Localised flooding along the Juba and Shabelle rivers is reported. The impact of the flooding can bring both positive and negative impacts to the community. In some cases crops are destroyed while other regions create opportunities to carry out recessional planting as well as fishing. The flooding has likely contributed to the outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) being reported in these areas. Burao, Berbera and Bossasso IDPs are also faced with outbreaks of AWD.

Key Issues & Early Warning for January to June 2009

- Continuing Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis (AFLC) and Humanitarian Emergency (HE) for pastoralists in the Central, Hiran, and Bakool regions, despite near normal Deyr rains. Although pasture and water have improved, pastoralists are continuing to struggle. Herd sizes are severely depleted because pastoralists have sold large numbers of animals over the last 6 - 12 months to cover the high costs of food and water trucking and herds could take from 3 to 4 normal seasons to recover depending on the livestock species. Households are severely indebted and social support mechanisms are overburdened. Food prices, though stabilizing, still remain at record high levels. With limited livestock to sell and high prices, pastoralists will continue to struggle to not only meet their basic food and nonfood needs, but to take actions to recover their primary livelihood asset; livestock (see p. 9-10).

Pastoralists will continue to face conditions of HE and AFLC and it will take several good seasons for livelihoods to recover.

- Favorable cereal crop prospects bring improvements for agricultural populations in the south. Near normal cereal production and availability in the south is improving livelihood options and helping to stabilize food prices. Throughout the main agricultural areas of southern Somalia the situation has improved since the Gu '08. Off season crop production is better than projected, Deyr '08/09 rains are, so far, normal in most areas and crop establishment and development is good. Cereal production and availability is expected to be good in the Deyr '08/09 season harvest, especially in the Shabelle regions, Bay, Bakool and Gedo. Income opportunities are currently good in the main cropping areas. Good cereal production will improve food access for agriculture households, as well as help stabilize food prices (see p.7-9).

Depending on outcome of cereal harvest and prices, in areas of good crop production, the number of people in AFLC and HE could decline over the coming six months.

- Large numbers of Somali families continue to migrate internally and to neighboring countries due to insecurity, loss of livelihood assets, and exhausted coping options. Although the Deyr rains are bringing some improvements, for many households, it is too late as they have already either lost their assets and exhausted their coping options, or have been forced to relocate due to security threats. Food prices within the country are still at record high levels, and insecurity and criminality is continuing to spread and deepen throughout country.

The number of IDPs is likely to continue to grow, not only leading to increased humanitarian needs, especially in neighboring Kenya border areas, but also creating longer term problems around resettlement and livelihood recovery.

- Ongoing crisis for poor and most vulnerable urban populations. In some urban centres, prices for main food items have stabilized and in some cases declined since the Gu '08. In addition, in some areas, monitoring data indicates that income opportunities and wage rates have improved, especially in agricultural areas. However, despite these improvements, in most of the urban areas, the cost of the minimum basket remains extremely high, and there is a notable increased dependence on external assistance to cover basic needs. Loans, gifts and remittances have increased between 50% and 170% from June to Oct '08, urban poor are consuming a poorly diversified diet, and there is a notable increase in distress coping strategies (see p. 3-4).

Although some improvements are noted, the cost of basic food and nonfood items are still beyond the reach of many of the poor and most vulnerable urban populations. These households will continue to depend on external assistance to cover their basic needs, facing conditions of AFLC or HE, as long as there is hyperinflation and an economic crisis.

- Some improvement for pastoral populations in the north. Good rains throughout much of the north during October has alleviated water and pasture shortages for the majority of the pastoralists. However, there has been significant asset stripping (selling of livestock) to cover the cost of water and food. Livestock exports are lower compared to this time last year due to reduced numbers of marketable animals. Milk consumption and income from milk sales remains low to zero. The nutrition situation in Golis/Guban is Very Critical, while in Sool Plateau; the situation is in the Alert phase based on assessments conducted in October 2008. An outbreak of AWD was reported in Burao, Berbera, Erigabo , Hudun and Bossasso in September-October.

Pastoralists will remain in AFLC through to Gu '09 in the Hawd, Sool Plateau, Kakaar-Dharor, and Nugaal Valley livelihood zones, with a decrease in the number affected. Northwest agro-pastoralists that were identified in High Risk to AFLC, are expecting average Karan harvest thus reducing the risk to deterioration.