FEWS Somalia Food Security Emergency May 2007 - Food security deteriorates for households displaced by the recent conflict in Mogadishu

Issued in collaboration with FAO/Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU)

The recent armed conflict in Mogadishu has caused thousands of deaths and injuries and had an enormous impact on food and livelihood security. Two thirds of people living in Mogadishu have been displaced, both within the city and to other regions. Trade has been disrupted, competition for resources in host communities has increased and prices of food and essential goods have risen, severely restricting food availability and access for poor urban households and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

About 400,000 people have fled Mogadishu since February to other regions throughout Somalia, and many host communities have more than doubled in size as a result of the IDP inflow. The population has moved to urban areas of the Shabelle region (38 percent), Mudug and Galgadud (38 percent), Hiran (11 percent) and Bay (7 percent), and the remaining 7 percent are located in Gedo, Juba, Bakool and the northern regions. More than 3,500 people seeking asylum in Kenya are currently trapped in the Doble border town with Kenya where the border is closed. Additionally, 30 to 40 percent of the population of Mogadishu, mostly poor households and former IDPs, are displaced within the city, and most sections of Mogadishu are almost entirely deserted.

The conflict and displacement have severely disrupted economic activities, which is particularly impacting poor urban households that rely on petty trade and casual labor as their main sources of income. In host communities outside of Mogadishu, the inflows of IDPs have increased competition for already overburdened social services, markets, housing and employment opportunities. The increased competition is especially limiting food access in the south, where rural populations are still recovering from conflict and recurrent shocks of drought and floods (see timeline). Retail prices of staple foods and non-food essentials have increased drastically and continue to rise, as trade flows are restricted and demand increases substantially in host-community markets around Mogadishu. In the Shabelle and Bay regions, import commodity prices have increased between 20 and 70 percent between mid-March and the end of April, while locally produced maize prices increased between 50 and 120 percent since January (Figure 1).

The loss of income and sharp price increases have caused food access to deteriorate substantially for poor households, IDPs and members of host communities. These households are at the edge of their coping capacity. Peace and stability are needed to enable productive activity and trade to resume, prices to decline and families to return home, without which thousands of displaced households could become destitute if the current situation continues.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) issues periodic emergency alerts when a significant food security crisis is occurring, where portions of the population are now, or will soon become, extremely food insecure and face imminent famine. Decision makers should give the highest priority to responding to the situations highlighted by this emergency alert. FAMINE EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS NETWORK.