ACAPS Briefing Note: Somalia - Food Security and Nutrition Crisis (24 February 2017)

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Crisis overview

Severe drought conditions are rapidly deteriorating food security, nutrition, and health levels across Somalia. A pre-famine warning was declared in January, and there is currently a larger population at risk than in the 2011 famine. Below average gu (April-June) rainfall is predicted in most of the country, with famine conditions likely in localised areas if humanitarian assistance cannot reach all populations in need. Due to continued insecurity, this scenario is a distinct possibility.

Somalia is currently in the middle of the dry jilaal season (January-March). With little rain during this time, livelihoods are severely affected. The Shabelle river has dried up in some places, affecting hundreds of thousands that live along its banks. Livestock losses due to a lack of pasture; a lack of water sources; low wages; and high food prices have led to significant distress migration towards urban centres, with 73,000 displaced between 1-21 January. More than six million people (50% of the population) are in need of food assistance. In February, 439,000 people were in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food security - ten times more than six months earlier, and more than twice as many (2.47 million) were in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). A 24% increase in severely malnourished children from August 2016 to February 2017 has been recorded. Cholera cases have increased critically during the Jilaal season, with latest reports indicating 900 cases per week. An estimated 4.5 million people are predicted to be in need of WASH assistance in April, up from 2.7 million reported in August 2016.

Key findings

Anticipated scope and scale

The drought affects the whole of Somalia, with localised areas in Puntland and south central Somalia suffering from severe drought conditions. The drought is expected to last at least until mid-2017, and if the gu rainfall from April to June is poor, it could last until 2018. Food security is deteriorating rapidly in the current dry jilaal season, leading to an aggravation of poor nutrition and health.

Priorities for humanitarian intervention

  • Food security is rapidly deteriorating, with more than half the population currently in need.
  • Nutrition levels are at Critical levels in most regions, with a significant deterioration predicted.
  • Displacement is increasing as drought effects are worsening.
  • Health and WASH conditions are poor due to a lack of water. Cholera affects eight regions in the country, and could spread further.

Humanitarian constraints

Al Shabaab controls significant territory in south central Somalia, rendering many areas inaccessible. 165 violent incidents against humanitarian workers were recorded in 2016. Roadblocks by various armed groups are widespread in south central Somalia especially, with up to USD 4,000 charged for access to certain areas. Unexploded bombs are present in localised areas of south central Somalia.

Widespread corruption, especially around aid exists.