GIEWS Country Brief: Somalia 15-March-2018



  • Reduced 2017 “deyr” harvest due to erratic rainfall

  • Aggregate 2017 cereal production estimated at 174 000 tonnes, 23 percent up from record low 2016 output but still 26 percent below-average

  • After consecutive poor rainy seasons since mid-2016, heavy rains in November 2017 supported partial recovery of rangeland and livestock body conditions

  • Prices of coarse grains declined in second half of 2017 following local harvests and sustained food assistance operations

  • Prices of livestock sharply increased in recent months mostly due to low supply following severe drought-induced animal losses

  • Food security situation improving and risk of famine declining since early 2018 due to sustained humanitarian assistance, but 2.7 million individuals remain severely food insecure

Reduced 2017 “deyr” season harvest due to erratic rainfall

Harvesting of 2017 secondary “deyr” crops was completed in February in central and southern regions, where it typically accounts for about 40 percent of the total annual cereal output. The October-December 2017 rains had a below-average performance over most cropping areas, with the most severe rainfall deficits recorded over the main maize-producing areas in Lower Shabelle Region. Here the rainy season was characterized by severe dryness in October 2017, heavy precipitations in November (with about 60 percent of the cumulative seasonal rainfall being received only during the first dekad) and by an early cessation in late November, critically constraining yields. Comparatively better growing conditions prevailed in the “sorghum belt” in Bay Region, in the agro-pastoral areas of Bakool and Middle Shabelle regions and in the “cowpea belt” in Galgaduud and Mudug regions, where cowpeas are usually intercropped with sorghum. Overall, the 2017 “deyr” cereal production is estimated at 78 100 tonnes, over 20 percent below the average of the previous five years.

Earlier in the year, the “karan” harvest, gathered in November 2017 in northern regions and the major “gu” harvest, harvested in July in central and southern regions, also had a below-average performance as inadequate amounts and erratic distribution of seasonal rains negatively impacted yields.

Aggregate 2017 cereal production is estimated at 174 000 tonnes, about 26 percent below the average of the previous five years.

Land preparation for the planting of 2018 “gu” season crops is underway in central and southern regions and seasonal rains are expected to start soon in March. Below-average precipitations are forecast in most central and inland regions, while average to above-average rainfall amounts are expected over southern and northern coastal areas.

Heavy rains in November 2017 supported a partial recovery of rangeland and livestock conditions

In pastoral areas, where rangeland and livestock conditions were severely affected by consecutive poor rainy seasons since mid-2016, heavy rains in November 2017 supported some pasture regeneration, improving livestock body conditions in most pastoral areas, except in some northern parts, including Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed regions, were drought conditions persisted.

Despite the general improvement in livestock body conditions, animal reproduction and availability of livestock products remain generally low, as more than one year of drought resulted in a sharp reduction of herd sizes. Due to distress sales and high animal mortality rates, pastoralists have lost between 25 and 75 percent of their herds in 2017. In addition, improvements in rangeland conditions have been limited, as the rains did not continue into December and the “jilaal” January-March dry season had an early start.

Access to food improving in recent months but still constrained for most households

Prices of locally produced maize and sorghum declined by 20-40 percent in the second semester of 2017 in most monitored markets as “gu” crops and sustained food assistance operations increased supplies. Prices increased in January 2018 in some markets, including the capital, Mogadishu, subsequently levelling off or beginning to decline in February as newly harvested “deyr” crops increased supplies. Prices of coarse grains in February were 15-40 percent below the high levels a year earlier, when drought conditions seriously affected crop production, but still up to 55 percent above the normal levels of 24 months earlier.

Prices of livestock increased in recent months due to lower supplies resulting from severe livestock losses and currently, they are at high levels in most monitored markets. In Galkayo, one of the main livestock markets in the Horn of Africa, located in the Mudug Region, prices of goats and camels doubled between July 2017 and February 2018. Prices of milk are also generally high due to reduced supplies. In Galkayo, February prices of camel milk were about 35 percent above their year-earlier levels.

As a result of increasing livestock prices and declining cereal prices, terms of trade for pastoralists significantly improved over the last 12 months. In Mogadishu, the equivalent in maize of one medium-size goat was 213 kg in February, more than double compared to one year earlier. However, these potential food access gains are unlikely to be translated in to solid food security improvements, as herders are engaged in repopulating their herds, have very few animals to sell and incomes from this livelihood activity is reported to be very limited.

Food security improved since early 2018, but 2.7 million people still require assistance

Since early 2018, the food security situation improved and the risk of famine declined due to the delivery of large-scale humanitarian assistance and the availability of newly harvested “deyr” crops. According to the latest multi-agency assessment, about 2.7 million people, more than one-fifth of the total population, are currently estimated to be severely food insecure (IPC Phases 3: “Crisis” and 4: “Emergency”), over 15 percent less than the estimated caseload in late 2017. However, the current caseload is still almost three times the estimate of mid-2016, reflecting the dramatic impact on the local livelihoods of consecutive poor rainy seasons. The areas of major concern are central regions of Bay, Hiraan, Mudug and Galgadud and northern regions of Sanag and Sool, where 30-45 percent of the population is severely food insecure.

Drought-related displacements declined significantly in the second semester of 2017, when 190 000 people were displaced compared to 649 000 during the first semester. However, it is reported that only 44 000 individuals have returned to their places of origin between July and December 2017 and the displaced caseload is currently estimated at high 2.7 million.

Despite access constraints due to insecurity, humanitarian assistance has been substantially scaled up in the second semester of 2017, with the monthly number of assisted beneficiaries increasing from half a million individuals in January to 2.2 million in October-December 2017, mitigating the overall food insecurity and averting IPC Phase 5: “Famine” in the worst affected areas.

In addition to emergency life-saving assistance, a timely and effective support to the agricultural sector is required to mitigate the extent of the impact of the prolonged drought on pastoralist and agro-pastoralist livelihoods. To respond to the needs of the crisis-hit herders and farmers, FAO aims to assist 2.7 million individuals in 2018, appealing for USD 236 million.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.