Food insecurity remains at emergency and famine levels across South Somalia

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NAIROBI [ACTED News] – Food insecurity remains at emergency and famine levels across much of South Somalia, in spite of recent gains in food availability and falling prices, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) has reported. While three regions (Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle) were reclassified as being in Emergency from Famine-level conditions in November, famine conditions persist in Middle Shabelle, and among internally displaced populations in and around Mogadishu. Moreover, the Deyr (short rains) season harvest which is normally ready in January, is expected to be below average in several regions in the South, where ACTED has ongoing projects.

The Deyr season usually accounts for 30 – 40 percent of annual cereal production in Somalia, but has been negatively affected by flash floods which damaged crops during the recent heavy rains. Bay Region, the country’s grain basket, which usually accounts for 44 percent of national Deyr cereal production, experienced torrential rains which flooded over 21,000 hectares of planted land, damaging over 5,560 hectares of crops. In addition to flood-damaged crops, heavy rainfall delayed planting in many areas, which will contribute to a late and below-average harvest in affected regions.

The rainy season is now coming to an end in Somalia. However, farmers will face the dry season (January – April) with significantly below-average harvests, contributing to sustained food insecurity and emergency conditions. ACTED facilitates emergency access to food for vulnerable populations in South Somalia, as well as providing longer-term support to livelihoods in riverine and agro-pastoral areas through agricultural inputs and training. In 2012, should the humanitarian context allow, ACTED hopes to increasingly integrate Disaster Risk Reduction components into programming in order to address the underlying causes of vulnerability to shocks among vulnerable populations.