Food Security & Nutrition Quarterly Brief - Focus on Gu 2015 Season Early Warning (Issued April 22, 2015)

Situation Report
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According to the post-Deyr 2014/15 seasonal assessment results, based on Integrated Phase Classification (IPC), an estimated 731 000 people are classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity phases from February to June 2015. A total caseload of acutely malnourished children under-five (based on October-December 2014 results) is 202 600 children. The results of recent rapid field assessments (March 2014) and a monthly monitoring of food security indicators by the FSNAU indicated that the estimates of population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) among internally displaced persons (IDPs) and rural people is likely to remain unchanged through June 2015. However, recent nutrition MUAC assessment results (April 2015) in Bulo Burte (Hiran) revealed very critical level of malnutrition rates (Global Acute Malnutrition [GAM] of 33%), which suggests a worsening of the food security situation in the town which is already Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Worsened food security conditions could be attributed to a significant surge in food prices since January this year as a result of scarcity of food on the markets and reduced economic activities in the context of continued siege by insurgents and severely limitted access to humanitarian assistance.

• The 2015 Jilaal dry season (January – March) was hotter and drier than usual in all pastoral and agropastoral livelihoods of Somalia, which caused a significant deterioration in vegetation conditions in most of the South as well as parts of the North. Water shortages experienced in many parts of the country during February-March resulted in significant increases in water prices. However, the early start of the Gu rainy season (from late March) brought some improvement to pasture and water resources in the affected areas. Although milk production declined seasonally during the Jilaal period, causing increases in milk prices in most parts of the country, it is likely to improve in the course of Gu April-June 2015 rainy season with calving/ kidding of livestock expected in May-June 2015.

• According to FSNAU rapid assessment results, off-season harvest (maize, sesame and cowpea), with a total estimate of nearly 10 000 tones, was collected in February-March 2015 in three southern regions (Lower Juba, Middle Juba and Gedo). Poor farmers in these areas as well as in parts of Bay and Lower Shabelle currently have cereal stocks. However, in most agricultural livelihood zones of the country poor households have already exhausted cereal stocks from the recent Deyr harvest and will rely on market purchases of cereals until the next Gu harvest, expected from July to August. Prompted by early start of Gu rains, seasonal farming activities (land preparation, planting, etc) commenced in most of the South and in the Northwest, in March 2015. However, prevailing insecurity in parts of Lower Shabelle, Hiran, Bakool and Gedo may affect the intensity of cultivation in these regions. The Gu harvest will largely depend on rainfall performance in April through June, which is expected to be near to below normal, based on the early outlook issued in February 2015.

• Cereal prices exhibited mild increases in most markets in the first quarter of the year, but surged significantly in Bulo Burte (27%). The poor segments of Bulo Burte town also have the weakest purchasing power expressed in terms-of-trade (ToT) between daily labour wage and cereals (1.8kg of cereals for one day of casual labour wage). Conversely, cereal prices have come down in another siege-affected town of Hudur (Bakool) due to improved supplies through Elbarde as well as ongoing humanitarian assistance. Compared to a year ago, ToTs dropped in most regions as a result of increased cereal prices and/or decreased labor wages and goat prices. The consumer price index (CPI) shows relatively stable rates of inflation in the first quarter of 2015; it has also remained largely unchanged in most parts of Somali shilling (SoSh) regions, but declined by six percent in Somaliland shilling (SISh)-using regions.

• Acute malnutrition trends based on data from health facilities for January-March 2015 suggest deterioration in nutrition situation in Hiran region (Buloburte, Beletweyne districts), Banadir region and in riverine livelihoods of Gedo region and Shabelle regions, parts of Northeast (Sool and East Golis/Karkar) and Buraotown in Northwest. Apart from deteriorated food security conditions in Buloburte, the worsening nutrition situation in other regions in the South could be ascribed to various diseases reported by MCH clinics as well as lack of nutrition supplies to treat malnourished children in the largest referral hospital in South-Central Zone in Banadir.

• Humanitarian assistance, geared towards treatment of malnourished children, improved access to food, social safety nets and livelihood support are needed, at least, until the next Gu harvest in July-August 2015.