Somalia

Focus: GU 2001 crop establishment in southern Somalia and food security implications


INTRODUCTION
FSAU crop establishment field activities took place in late May and continued through early June. Though the figures mentioned in this report (historical data, established areas, projected cereal production) are certainly the most appropriate available for Somalia at the moment, it iAs worth noting that they are based on judgment and experience rather than accurate measurements in the field. After the detailed description of the crop establishment situation in southern Somalia, a preliminary food security analysis has been included in the report. This analysis has been based on the Household Food Economy Approach and is more specifically making use of the Food Economy Group Spreadsheet as a reference tool. For the purpose of this publication, the reasoning has been restricted mainly to agro-pastoral populations in Bay and Bakool regions, which have recently been the most affected by the poor Gu 2001 rains. The food security situation of the most vulnerable groups will be refined in July. With the technical assistance of the Food Economy Group, an open forum discussion on food security analysis will precisely be conducted by FSAU in Nairobi on the 19th of July. At this occasion, analysis will be extended to all vulnerable food economy zones taking into consideration a wide range of scenarios. Finally, the food security situation of all food economy zones (agro-pastoral and pastoral) will be reviewed during the Gu 2001 seasonal assessment that will take place in southern Somalia in August, that is to say at post-harvest time.

GU 2001 CEREAL PRODUCTION - OVERVIEW

The projected cereal projection of this Gu season is characterized by good prospects for maize and near crop failure situation in large parts of the sorghum producing zones. After the very good cereal production last year in Bay (close to pre-war standards, almost 70% of the total Gu and Deyr combined production of southern Somalia coming Bay), that region is now experiencing a bad crop failure. Cereal production will also be poor in Bakool region, although it was less severely affected than Bay, and in other rain-fed areas. Total estimated established areas are presented in Table 1.

TABLE 1: Gu 2001 total estimated established area (HA) compared to Gu 2000 cropped area and post-war average:

Cereal
Gu 2001
Gu 2000
Gu - PWA (*)
Sorghum
142,100
216,900
219,600
Maize
156,400
154,400
140,300
Total
298,500
371,300
359,900
(*)PWA : Post-war average 1993-2000. Source FSAU, FAO, FEWS.

As shown by the chart here below, in the best case scenario, the total projected cereal production of southern Somalia is lower than last year's production, but higher than in 1998 and 1999. It is also slightly lower than the post-war average production (-7%).

Table 2 illustrates the Gu 2001 projected cereal production in the different regions of southern Somalia. Rain-fed production in Bay, Bakool, Hiran and Gedo will clearly be well below last year's level and also significantly below the 1993-2000 post-war average. This will lead to a particularly poor sorghum production. The crop situation appears to be much better this year than last year in Lower and Middle Juba regions, which have had poor crop results in 2000. Prospects for cereal production, and especially maize, are particularly good at the moment in Lower Shabelle, but rain-fed maize production will be highly dependent on the Hagai rains.

TABLE 2: Gu 2001 projected cereal production in Southern Somalia (Maize and Sorghum combined, best case scenario-MT) compared to Gu 2000 and post war average.

Regions
Gu 2001 Projection
% Gu 2000
% PWA (*)
Bakool
2,100
-67%
-53%
Bay
7,500
-91%
-86%
Gedo
4,600
-49%
-55%
L/Juba
8,400
+ 98%
+ 2%
M/Juba
15,000
+ 95%
+ 19%
L/Shabelle
103,400
+ 33%
+ 68%
M/Shabelle
23,800
+ 16%
+ 7%
Hiran
1,700
-77%
-76%
Total
166,500
-22%
-7%
(*) PWA : Post- war average 1993-2000 Source, FSAU, FAO, FEWS.

At this stage, agro-pastoral populations in most of the rain-fed areas affected by the poor Gu rains still have cereal stocks from previous Gu and Deyr harvests and local cereal prices are relatively cheap for the time being. Coping mechanisms will have soon to be engaged and the next Deyr season will be crucial. Due to a combination of adverse factors, the food security situation of Gedo region is still of great concern (among others low stocks and high dependence on the sorghum belt production).

SORGHUM

Early signs already predicted a poor sorghum cropping season this year. The total Gu 2001 established area for sorghum is estimated at about 142,000 Ha all over southern Somalia (well below 1993-2000 post-war average,-35%).

At establishment time, the projected production was estimated at 35,700 MT. This is by far below the post-war average (86,000 MT; -58%). Last year, the Gu and Deyr sorghum production were very good. Regional contribution from Bay was particularly high. The production was then close to pre-war standards, this mainly attributed to good yields (the planted area was slightly below normal) and almost 70% of the total production of southern Somalia came from Bay region compared to 55% in average for Gu and Deyr combined). This year, the projection pattern is totally abnormal. The total Gu sorghum production will be very low. Bay production would only contribute to 20% of the total Gu sorghum production (compared to almost 60% in average, see pie charts). Yields are expected to be very low (in the range of 0.2 MT/Ha in Bakool and 0.1 MT/Ha in Bakool). At the same time, Lower and Middle Shabelle would contribute to above 55% of the total seasonal sorghum production. Gu rainfall were satisfactory in Lower Shabelle's sorghum highest potential producing areas (Wanle Weyne district). According to the projection, contributions from Hiran and Gedo regions would also been severely reduced compared to the average.

Key factors of the food security situation resulting of the actual Gu season can be summarized as follows:

  • Very poor Gu 2001 rains in most sorghum producing areas, especially in the sorghum belt (Bay/Bakool regions).
  • Good stocks from previous Gu and Deyr harvest in Bay/Bakool (especially 'middle' and 'better off' wealth groups).
  • Extremely low sorghum prices in Bay and neighbouring regions after the Gu 2000 harvest (negative impact on crop producer income), relatively low cereal prices up to now.

MAIZE

As opposed to sorghum, the Gu 2001 cropping season is favourable to maize. As usual, the bulk of the maize production will come from the irrigated farms. The total Gu 2001 established area for maize is estimated at about 156,000 Ha all over southern Somalia. The total projected maize production of Gu 2001 amounted to 131,000 MT, which is actually higher than the post-war average (94,000 MT) and even higher than good production of the Gu 2000 (102,000 MT). In Lower Shabelle, considered as the most high potential region for maize production in Somalia, the projected harvest is significantly higher than the post-war averaAge production (92,150 MT, +73%). This would also be much more than in the last Gu, which was considered as a good cropping season (about 65,000 MT of maize produced in L.Shabelle in Gu 2000). The contribution of Lower Shabelle to the total maize production of Somalia would be above 70% when it was in average below 60% during the post-war period (see pie charts). It would even go beyond last year's contribution when L.Shabelle procuced, as usual, the bulk of the southern Somalia maize production (64%). However, after establishment time, the rain-fed maize areas of L. Shabelle were still considered as 'high risk' areas in terms of crop production (plant water requirements to be met by the Hagai rains that can usually be expected starting from the end of June). Recent field reports confirmed that rainfed-fed maize in Afgoi distict, which is one of the important production zones of L. Shabelle, was not performing well due to lack of water. Taking this into consideration, the final maize harvest may be well below the projection. In Middle Shabelle, the projected maize production is close to the normal production level (14,900 MT, -4% compared to the post-war average). Good production prospects has had and will continue to have a positive impact on agricultural related employment, which is important for farmers who experienced crop failure elsewhere.

LOW PRODUCTION AREAS

As shown by the map on the left, most of the rain-fed crops failed during this Gu 2001 season in Bay, Bakool, Hiran and Gedo, mainly due to lack of water. At establishment time, the agricultural situation in southern Gedo (Bardera district) and in some parts of the agro-pastoral areas of Bakool region was not as bad as in other areas of the four above-mentioned regions. Due to the crop failure in Bay/Bakool 'high potential producing zones', total sorghum Gu harvest will be well below normal in southern Somalia. Cereal production will most likely be slightly below average in the riverine areas of Hiran, Gedo, Lower and Middle Juba (see map). If the high fuel prices that have resulted from the devaluation of the Somali shilling are considered as a determining factor of this Gu crop production, they did not hinder cropping activities. To a large extent poor wealth groups were more sensitive to the increase of fuel prices. The food security situation of Gedo region, particularly in its northern part, is still one of great concern due to a wide combination of adverse factors: several bad seasons in the recent past, asset depletion followed by partial recovery in 2000, poor Gu 2001 rainfall affecting both the projected cereal production and the pasture conditions, insecurity related problems, low stocks from previous harvests and, finally, high dependence on Bay/Bakool sorghum production. Agriculture related employment in riverine areas (Juba and especially Shabelle) is and will be a key source of income for poor affected agro-pastoralists.

1. SHABELLE VALLEY REGIONS

Rainfall and rain-fed crop establishment

Gu 2001 rains started on time in Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle and Hiran regions. In Lower Shabelle, the good start of the Gu rainy season encouraged farmers to plant more land. The sorghum high potential producing area of Wanle Weyne district received particularly good rainfall by the end of April early May allowing satisfactory crop emergence. Similarly, the starting of the rainy season was also favourable for rain-fed maize in Afgoi, Merka and Qoryoley districts. However, no rainfall occurred throughout the Shabelle valley regions in the second and third dekad of May. End of May, crops already reached 40-45 days from emergence in L.Shabelle. Actually, rain-fed maize was at wilting point in Afgoi district, which is one of the most rain-fed productive areas of L.Shabelle (maize intercropped with cowpea). At this stage, it is worth noting that most of the rain-fed maize was hardly supposed to reach final developmental stages without appropriate Hagai rains (those are usually expected between the end of June and August). The three agricultural districts of Middle Shabelle, that is to say Balad, Jowhar and Mahaday, obtained good rainfall at the beginning of the Gu season resulting in good vegetative development for both sorghum and maize. In Hiran, the heavy rains that were concentrated in one day in the last dekad of April were beneficial to crop establishment. Overall, rainfall distribution was particularly poor in May. B/Burti and Jalalaqsi districts were worse than B/Weyne in terms of rainfall. Sorghum and pasture were confined to depression areas.

Access to Irrigation

Outstanding average maize production is expected from irrigated maize in Lower and Middle Shabelle due to gravity irrigation facilities. As in previous years, international NGO's and Aid Agencies have contributed to the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructures On the contrary, scarce rainfall combined with expensive diesel certainly hindered the Gu 2001 crop establishment in Hiran region.

Established Area

The total established area of Lower and Middle Shabelle was estimated at about 160,000 Ha (70-75% of maize and 25-30% of sorghum), which is slightly higher than the 1993-2000 average cropped area (+18%). More planting has been done manually due to high fuel prices and prohibitive tractor hiring costs (this had a positive impact on agricultural employment). First weeding was progressing normally in both rain-fed and irrigated areas (weeding rates were unusually high due to the concentration of work in a short period of time and due to the inflation). About 40% of the total maize established area is actually cultivated under rain-fed conditions and it is supposed to go through a high risk period during the month of June (potential water stress against high water requirements). The total planted area in Hiran region was estimated at 1,500 Ha of irrigated maize and 1,800 Ha of sorghum. In the best case scenario, the total projected production of Lower and Middle Shabelle has been estimated at 128,000MT (85% of maize and 15% of sorghum). About 40,000 MT of maize is expected from rain-fed areas, mainly from Afgoi district. Hagai rains will have a key role. The rain-fed maize projection will not be achieved if a long dry spell coincides with maize high water requirements period (high risk). The expected production of the Hiran region was estimated below 2,000 MT (half maize, half sorghum). Summing up the total expected production of the Shabelle valley regions (Lower and Middle Shabelle and Hiran) was estimated at about 130,000 MT in the best case scenario - much higher than the 1993-2000 postwar average (+43%)

2. GU 2001 - JUBA VALLEY (LOWER/MIDDLE JUBA/GEDO)

Rainfall and rain-fed crop establishment

Gu rains started late March in western parts of Lower Juba. Eastern parts of Lower Juba and Middle Juba received normal rainfall in April followed by good rainfall in May. In Jamame district, good rains were received from mid-April onwards. Water requirements were generally met for both sorghum and deyshek -maize early development stages in Lower and Middle Juba regions. Only pockets within the two regions received insufficient rain for rain-fed crops. The final output of this Gu 2001 cropping season will now essentially depend on the quality of the Hagai rains (especially for deyshek-maize production). Gedo region was characterized by a very erratic rainfall pattern. Gu rainy season sporadically started in the second dekad of April. Up to June, rainfall quantities recorded in northern were extremely below normal in northern Gedo leading to germination failure. Emerged rain-fed crops (sorghum/maize) hardly reached vegetative stage. Most of the rain-fed crops totally failed due to lack of water. Rainfall situation was somehow better in Bardera district (southern Gedo) where well distributed heavy rains of mid-April were followed by sporadic rains allowing normal crop establishment. Almost no rains were received in May throughout the region.

Access to Irrigation

High fuel prices have contributed to the low established area in Gedo region (see FSAU/FEWS Net Monthly report issued 9 June 2001).

Established Area

The total established area of Lower and Middle Juba was estimated at 42,400 Ha-70% of maize and 30% of sorghum. This is slightly higher than the post-war average cropped area (+17%). As usual, most of sorghum was planted in Sakow district (Middle Juba region), which attracted poor agro-pastoral wealth groups from drought-affected areas of Bay region in search of job opportunities.

In Gedo region, the total area established was estimated at 12,600 Ha (55-60% of sorghum and 40-45% of maize). The relatively low established area observed this year is similar to that of Gu 1998, which occur after the El nino event. The combination of very low rainfall, high fuel prices and insecurity have contributed to poor crop establishment in the Gedo region.

Projected Production

In the best case scenario, the total expected production from Lower and Middle Juba regions estimated at 23,400 MT (80% maize and 20% sorghum). If this materialized, it would be slightly higher than the 1993-2000 postwar average production (+12%). However, about 20% of the projected maize production is expected to downward from the actual projection (optimal moisture was still required in June for full development of rain-fed maize). The crop situation is much better compared to last year when no river flooding occurred in the Deyshek farming area of Lower and Middle Juba leading to food insecurity. Agro-pastoralists in Gedo region suffered from insufficient rainfall for rain-fed crops (sorghum). A slight decrease in irrigated maize production is expected in Gedo due to expensive diesel. In the worst scenario, irrigated maize can still play an important role in maintaining fodder availability for livestock during pasture re-growth period in grazing areas. The projected cereal production for Gedo region was estimated at 4,600 MT (80% maize and 20% sorghum)- much lower than the 1993-2000 postwar (-58%). Summing up, the total expected Gu 2001 production of the Juba valley (including the Gedo) was estimated at about 28,000 MT in the best case scenario.

3. GU 2001 BAY AND BAKOOL

Rainfall and Rainfed Crop Establishment

In Bakool, first good rains were mainly concentrated in one day in the last dekad of April. However, in some areas, no rain fell in May. Similarly, rainfall was well below normal in Bay region. In the surroundings of Baidoa town, precipitations recorded in April were close to 100 mm, but no rainfall occurred from May onwards (the total recorded up to the end of June is not exceeding 113 mm, which illustrates clearly the prevailing dry conditions in Bay. Most of the emerged sorghum reached irreversible wilting point.

Established Area

The total Gu 2001 established area in Bay and Bakool regions was estimated at about 81,000 Ha (98% sorghum and 2% maize). In addition to the high risk of crop failure, this is much lower than the 1993-2000 post-war average (137,700 Ha for sorghum cropped area in Bay/Bakool).

Projected Production

In the best case scenario, the total projected production of Bay/Bakool was estimated at 9,500 MT (95% sorghum and 5% maize), which is approximately equivalent to 15% of the post-war average production and to 10% of the Gu 2000 production. In normal times, Bay region contributes to 60% of the total Gu sorghum production of southern Somalia. With this Gu 2001 season, Bay region only expects a maximum of 7,000 MT of sorghum. Poor sorghum production in Bay/Bakool will negatively impact on the overall cereal availability in southern Somalia up to the next Deyr harvest.

IMPLICATIONS OF THE CROP FAILURES (or what the crop failure means in terms of household food access in the coming months)

The bulk of this discussion will pay particular attention to one crucial area; a food economy zone referred to as Bay-Bakool High Potential Sorghum: Cattle, Camels & Shoats. This zone is the shaded area on the map in Figure (i) and comprises 44% of the population of Bay Region , 8% of Bakool Region and 8% of Gedo Region, accounting for a total of 315,510 people.

Bay and Bakool regions have no permanent rivers and rainfall has always been highly unpredictable -hence households have all based their livelihoods on livestock as well as crops. The difference between each of the food economy zones is therefore one of emphasis; in this zone families focus more of their time on farming activities. Nevertheless, they are still counted among the agro-pastoral livelihood groups. And since farming is their chief source of livelihood, they are the group that will feel the impact of the failed rains more immediately and with more initial intensity. The question currently on everybody's minds is: Given the poor crop establishment, will people make it through to the next harvest? Normally, since the Gu is the main cropping season, households budget their food starting from this harvest up until the following Gu. It is not really possible to forecast households' food security starting from the anticipated Gu harvest up until the following year (Gu 2002), as we have very little idea of the coming Deyr season. Hence, a realistic outcome would be to forecast food security up until just before the Deyr harvest, by which time forthcoming crop establishment figures for Deyr 2001 will be ready and we will be in a better position to anticipate trends over the following months.

VERY POOR
POOR
MIDDLE
BETTER OFF
LIVESTOCK: CAMELS
NONE
NONE
0 to 3
5 to 10
LIVESTOCK: CATTLE
0 to 2
1 to 3
3 to 5
8 to 15
LIVESTOCK: SHOATS
0 to 2
2 to 5
5 to 10
10 to 15
LAND CULTIVATED:
1 to 3 Ha
2 to 3 Ha
3 to 5 Ha
4 to 6 Ha
NUMBER OF WIVES:
1 to 2 (1)
1 to 2 (2)
1 to 2 (2)
1 to 4 (3)
HOUSEHOLD SIZE
7-1=6
7-1=6
7+1=8
7+ 2 to 3 = 9 to 10
PERCENTAGE OF POP.
10 to 15%
35 to 45%
30 to 40%
10 to 15%

WEALTH GROUPS AND DEFINITIONS

Visits to villages showed that people consider wealth as consisting of four wealth categories, which they called 'Very Poor', 'Poor', 'Middle' and 'Better Off'. A summary of the definitions and proportions of each of these wealth groups is given in Table I above. Importantly, many 'poor' households actually own land holdings that are the same as those in the 'middle' category; the difference being for them that constraints (especially that of limited labour availability) force them to cultivate a smaller holding.

Also, that the 'poor' and 'very poor' households routinely send a member out for a long time to stay with relatives who come from the 'middle' and 'better-off' categories. This affects household size of each wealth group and eases the strain for the poor.

The number of people represented by this wealth group is approximately 164,100.

SOURCES OF FOOD

The harvests in the year 2000 were so good that families in the 'middle' and 'better-off' wealth groups have enough grain stocks to carry over a substantial proportion to this year. These stocks will either suffice them until Gu 2002 (provided they get something in the Deyr season) or they will be able to use some as payment for labour during the Deyr planting. However, the 'poor' wealth groups have a somewhat different situation because their grain stocks will not last beyond the present Gu season, hence their food security picture will be presented here as an example of the kind of analysis being done by the FSAUExhaustive field research and cross-checking led to the baseline picture presented in Figure (ii). Although households derive two-thirds of their annual food needs from crops, a substantial portion also comes from food purchased in the market. Furthermore, grain purchases take place during the time of seasonally high prices, while crop sales normally take place when prices are at their seasonal lows. By carefully examining the data behind this chart, the FSAU team was able to draft a picture of how these households got their food during the 2000 Hagaa and Deyr seasons, or from the 2000 Gu harvest in late July until just before the 2000 Deyr harvest in early December. Figure (iii) shows the results: households obtained a higher percentage of their food needs during this period from their crops (75-85%), while not making any grain purchases. Milk and dairy consumption was slightly higher due to the fact that pasture development was somewhat concentrated during this period, while non-grain purchases such as sugar, oil, etc., remained the same.

SCENARIO: DRASTICALLY REDUCED CROP PRODCUTION EXPECTED FROM THE COMING GU HARVEST

With the predicted failure of this year's Gu harvest of cereals in Bay, Bakool and Gedo Regions, it is possible to create a scenario that modifies the baseline and predicts overall food access for this wealth group. To do this it is important to define and quantify a 'problem specification', which is applied to each of the components of the baseline's food sources, income sources and expenditure patterns:

  • The Gu crop level is 12% of what it was last year. Crops sold are expected to be worth an extra 11%, but they will cost an additional 60% when bought. The key assumption here is that these staple prices will persist or improve -if they worsen, the analysis will change , and this is discussed in the last section.
  • Milk production down by 50%. The milk price, however, has risen substantially for the time being, gaining an extra 187% in Somali shillings over last year. Again, it assumed that the milk price will persist, at least until well into the Deyr growing season. This assumption is under some threat by the fact that milk producers are increasing their sales to cash in on the good terms of trade, which may well drive the price down.
  • Apart from milk, households in this group also obtain income from other animal products, especially by selling eggs and live poultry. Output from this source is not expected to be affected, although prices have gained an extra 80% and it is assumed that they will continue to do so, as market supply cannot easily be increased.
  • With the failed Gu, income derived by doing locally available agricultural labour activities such as harvesting, bird scaring and threshing will be lost. However, if the Deyr season proceeds as usual, it is assumed that labour opportunities will arise later on due to the need for complete replanting. Hence, overall availability of income from labour will be 45% less than normal but the pay rate (it is assumed) will continue to be up by an additional 66%.
  • The poor rains have resulted in a drop of availability of around 30% for fodder, chaff, grasses, charcoal and opportunities for water collection, the sales of which bring in substantial extra income. However, pricing at present shows them to be worth a little more than 50% up from last year. It is also assumed that this state of affairs will also continue, although it is recognised that if members from all of the households in this wealth group were to engage in charcoal production to the maximum extent of the availability of their time, prices would be driven down and environmental destruction would be hastened.
  • The devaluation of the Somali shilling means that minimum non-staple expenditure will be almost 90% more than last year. This is the inflation adjustment component of the analysis.
  • If it is assumed that the Deyr season is two weeks later this year than it was last year, the delay in the onset of this year's Gu season will shorten the period over which this year's resources need to be spent, hence households are saved 5-10% of their food needs.

Overall, these factors will drastically reduce availability of food, and the difference between this year and the last is a loss of 70-75%. This loss is termed the 'initial deficit' and can be viewed graphically on Figure (v).

HOW WILL HOUSEHOLDS COPE?

The first way that households will do this is by switching milk over from consumption to sales, which gives a higher calorific return. Roughly half the milk will be used to do this, the balance being kept for feeding children and other specific uses only. This can be seen by the white portion of the 'Response' graph in Figure (vi). Next, households will expand their self-employment activities (i.e., charcoal burning, fodder and water collection, etc.) although income from this will be limited by the market's capacity to absorb the extra production. It is anticipated, given the assumptions outlined above, that overall income from this source in Somali shillings will rise by 10-15%.

Finally, households will switch non-essential expenditure over to cereal purchase. This is clear in Figure (vii) when one compares the 'Initial Deficit' graph with the 'Response'. An amount equal to 53% of their baseline income will be used in this way.How this increased income and changed expenditure pattern translates into Food access is shown in Figure (viii-). Notice that food from own crops has been increased because households will not sell any portion in a stress year. Energy derived directly from milk will have decreased; and importantly, households from the 'poor' wealth groups will rely on kinship and clan ties to obtain extra food from this source. After purchasing their non-grain food (the contribution from this source remains the same), the balance of their food needs will be obtained by purchasing grain.

Hence, providing the assumptions made above still hold, this scenario does not predict a food deficit until the Deyr harvest.

OTHER FOOD ECONOMY AREAS IN BAY BAKOOL

The other main food economy areas in the Bay and Bakool Regions are: Pastoral: Camel and Shoats; and Agro-Pastoral: Cattle, Camel and Sorghum.

For the pastoralist areas, up until now terms of trade for livestock and livestock products in the area have been quite good. This means that those families whose livelihoods depend more on animals are at present in a better position with regard to food security (livestock prices in this part of Somalia have been buoyed by the Kenyan market). The latest indicators seem to show a shift towards worsening terms of trade -a move that could quickly alter the pastoralists' food security.

The other agro-pastoral area (the Agro-Pastoral: Cattle, Camel and Sorghum) comprises households who place greater emphasis on livestock rearing and who are less settled in their lifestyles. The areas that they farm are more marginal and crop failure is less of a threatening occurrence. Hence, their food security situation should be stronger than in the high-potential area, as they have greater resources to fall back on. Again this is subject to possible threats from changes in the livestock-grain terms of trade, which is being monitored.

Previous baseline information indicated that 30-45% of the population of this zone are in the 'poor' category. The Zone represents about 695,900 (Source : WHO and UNICEF, 1998) People, while the 'poor' category is about 257,500 people. Their baseline picture very similar to that of the Bay-Bakool High Potential Sorghum zone; it is probably a fair assumption to say that households from the 'poor' in both areas are not in too dissimilar a position with regard to food security.

STAPLE PRICING

The key issue determining food access will be staple price. In order to get a better understanding of this, different scenarios were constructed using different staple prices, and the results assimilated in Table II. It is clearly stated at this point that this table assumes all other factors remaining equal, e.g. the price of milk, charcoal, etc. This, of course, is rarely the case and the prices of these commodities will vary with the staple price to a greater or lesser degree.

From the table, it can be seen that as the price approaches a factor of 3.25 (a value of Sshs. 1,790/- per kg), the deficit appears, and grows steadily with any further increase.

By converting the deficit into a food quantity it is possible to quantify the extent of the 'food gap' and this is shown in the last row of the table. The 'food gap' is a tonnage figure against the corresponding staple price. This 'food gap' or lack of food entitlement is not an estimate of food needs -it merely illustrates the amount of food that will be missing from peoples' diets, in accordance with cereal price changes, in Bay and Bakool regions if they remain in those regions. Food needs will need to be defined according to the mandates of the implementing agencies (for example, to what extent should potentially destructive coping strategies be exploited, given that the consequence of resorting to them) as well as their intended goals and outcomes.

Table II - Price versus deficit

Price factor*
1.6
2
2.5
3
3.25
3.5
3.8
4
5
7.5
10
Sorghum Price per kg (Ssh)
880
1,100
1,375
1,650
1,790
1,930
2,090
2,200
2,750
4,130
5,500
Deficit
0%
0%
0%
0%
0-5%
1-10%
5-15%
10-15%
20-25%
30-40%
40-45%
Food gap (MT) for agro-pastoral areas in Bay/Bakool
300
1,500
2,750
3,650
6,700
10,650
12,800

* Sorghum price in Baidoa market compared with February 2001

Migrating Out to the Juba and Shabelle Valleys

Perhaps the best way of maximising income is to migrate to another area where labour is in some demand. So far, reports indicate that labour availability in the Shabelle and Juba valleys is still good and that the small influx of people from Bay-Bakool has not had any real impact on wages or opportunities. Households in Bay region have begun sending members to the Shabelle and Juba valleys, as well as to urban centres like Mogadishu. The majority of these are just one or two active people, which is a 'normal' coping strategy. The movement is not confined to the poor wealth group and motivation for moving is to earn money, hence preserving food stocks. Presently, unskilled labour wage rates in the riverine areas are around Sshs. 25,000/- per day, compared with Sshs. 15,000/- in Bay. Pay rates and job availability are still more than able to cover food needs.

CONCLUSIONS

This analysis shows how a failure in one food source will affect people's food access in Bay-Bakool regions in the near future, given the following assumptions:

  • The availability of non-crop sources of income (and food) remain constant (although milk production will decline).
  • Commodity and cereal prices remain at present levels (these parameters are very fluid at present).
  • Household food requirements are pegged at the basic minimum that will provide for survival; without allowing for rehabilitation of already depleted household resources and stressed livelihood patterns.

The impact of the coming Deyr harvest will be critical in determining the situation over the coming year; however, it is likely that anything less than normal for Bay and Bakool will have a dramatic effect in terms of food security, not only on these two regions but also on areas that draw on them for their grain purchases.

The FSAU is funded by the EC and implemented by FAO. Further information is available through PO Box 30470, Nairobi, Tel: (254-2) 741299, 745734, 748297, Fax: 740598, e-mail: fsauinfo@fsau.or.ke, www:unsomalia.org under 'Food Security"

FEWS NET is funded by USAID and implemented by Chemonics, Inc. Further information is available through PO Box 66613, Nairobi, Tel: 350523, Fax: 75083 e-mail: somalia@fews.net

The FSAU Nutrition component receives additional funding from USAID. FSAU acknowledges the contribution from UNCU to the health information. FSAU key partners include CARE, FEWS, WFP, FAO, SCF(UK), UNCU, UNDP/DIMU and UNICEF. While all efforts have been made to utilize the most accurate data and information available, neither FSAU, FEWS, nor any of their supporters or partners endorse any figure or political boundary as definitive.

Alexandra Williams
Communications and Information Officer
Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU)
Peponi Plaza, C-4th Floor
Off Peponi Road, Westlands,
PO Box 1230, Village Market, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone : 745734, 748297, 746509 FAX : 740958
Radio : FAO Nairobi 11495 LSB
E-Mail : alex.Williams@fsau.or.ke
www.somalia.org under "Food Security"