GIEWS Country Brief: Somalia 26-November-2018

FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT:

  • Unfavourable prospects for 2018 “deyr” crops in key southern cropping areas due to poor seasonal rains

  • “Gu” 2018 main season cereal production estimated at 147 000 tonnes, about 60 percent above average, due to abundant seasonal rains

  • Above average “gu” rains supported substantial recovery of rangeland and livestock body conditions

  • Prices of coarse grains declined to low levels in recent months following local harvests and sustained food assistance operations

  • Livestock prices sharply increased in 2018 due to improving animal body conditions and low market supplies

  • Food security situation markedly improved in 2018 due to increased food production and large scale humanitarian assistance, but 1.56 million people still severely food insecure

Poor rains affect prospects for 2018 “deyr” season crops

In several southern and central cropping areas, the establishment and development of “deyr” (October-December) season crops, to be harvested in January 2019 and typically accounting for about 40 percent of the total annual cereal output have been heavily impacted by severe rainfall deficits. October and the first half of November were almost completely dry, with some scattered rains received only during the third dekad of October and the second dekad of November. In the main maize-producing areas of Lower and Middle Shabelle regions, according to FAO’s Agricultural Stress Index (ASI), vegetation conditions in mid-November were very poor, with up to 85 percent of cropland affected by drought. Comparatively better growing conditions prevailed in the “sorghum belt” in Bay and Bakool regions and in the “cowpea belt” in Galgaduud and Mudug regions, where cowpeas are usually intercropped with sorghum, as the intermittent showers received were more intense. However, failure of cowpea crops is reported in central and southern parts of Mudug State (Hobyo and El-bur districts). With seasonal rains normally subsiding by early December, recovery of “deyr” crops in drought-affected areas is unlikely and overall crop prospects are unfavourable.

Earlier in the year, the April-June “gu” season rains were the heaviest in nearly two decades in southern and central regions. The abundant precipitations resulted in significant flood-induced crop losses, but had an overall favourable impact on the cereal output, boosting yields in rainfed areas and inducing farmers to expand plantings of off-season crops harvested in September in riverine areas. As a result, the 2018 aggregate “gu” cereal production is estimated at 147 000 tonnes, almost 60 percent above the average of the previous five years. By contrast, in the northwestern Woqooyi Galbeed Region, the 2018 “gu/karan” harvest, currently underway, has been affected by erratic rains and stalk borer infestations, and cereal production is forecast at a low 19 000 tonnes, 56 percent below average.

Abundant “gu” rains supported drought recovery in pastoral areas

In most agro-pastoral and pastoral areas, where rangeland and livestock conditions were heavily impacted by prolonged and severe drought between mid-2016 and late 2017, the favourable April-June “gu” rainy season offset the accumulated moisture deficits and prompted a substantial regeneration of rangeland resources. Improvements were more significant in southern and central regions, while in northern regions, where the drought has been more severe, the recovery was less substantial and vegetation conditions remained below average in some areas. The increase in water and pasture availability resulted in a substantial improvement in livestock body conditions and allowed animal conception and reproduction. However, with livestock numbers estimated to have decreased by 25-75 percent in 2017 due to drought-induced losses, herds remain below average. The abundant April-June rains had lasting effects on vegetation conditions across the country, as of mid-November, despite the poor rains at start of the 2018 “deyr” season, rangeland conditions were good in most agro-pastoral, and pastoral areas (see ASI map for grassland).

Access to food improving in recent months

Prices of locally produced sorghum and maize declined in southern key markets, including the capital, Mogadishu, by 10-50 percent between May and September, as newly harvested crops increased supplies. Subsequently, prices began to seasonally increase in October in Mogadishu, while they levelled off or continued to decline in other markets. Prices in October were up to 50 percent below the levels of one year earlier, due to the above-average 2018 “gu” production and sustained food assistance operations. This, coupled with increasing wage rates due to improved agricultural labour opportunities following the abundant “gu” rains, resulted in an improvement in food access. However, food access constraints persist in the northwestern Woqooyi Galbeed Region, where prices of maize are at high levels due to a reduced “gu/karan” 2018 production. In the southern Middle Juba Region, heavy fighting between Government forces and insurgents in July and August disrupted agricultural operations and resulted in a sharp decline in labour opportunities and wage rates.

In 2018, prices of livestock increased across the country due to generally improved animal body conditions and lower supplies resulting from severe losses during the 2016/17 drought, and currently they are at very high levels. In Galkayo, one of the main livestock markets in the Horn of Africa, prices of goats in October were 70 percent above their year-earlier levels. Prices of camel milk are also generally high due to reduced supplies and prices in October in Galkayo were about 50 percent higher than 12 months earlier.

As a result of increasing livestock prices and declining cereal prices, terms of trade for pastoralists significantly improved over the last 12 months. In Galkayo, the equivalent in maize of one medium-size goat was about 120 kg in October, more than twice compared to one year earlier. However, these food access gains are largely potential, as herders are engaged in repopulating their herds and have few animals to sell.

Food security markedly improved in 2018, but still 1.56 million people remain severely food insecure

The food security situation has steadily improved in 2018 and, according to the results of the latest multi-agency assessment, about 1.56 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure (IPC Phases 3, 4, 5). This caseload is about half the estimate of 12 months earlier due to above-average “gu” production, increased labour and income opportunities, and sustained, large-scale humanitarian assistance. However, humanitarian needs still remain substantial, with approximately 13 percent of the total population still requiring humanitarian assistance, mainly reflecting the lingering effects of the 2016/17 drought. Current food insecurity is also driven by livelihood losses caused by floods in April-May 2018 and by the large-scale displacements resulting from conflicts and natural hazards. In particular, IDPs represent nearly 60 percent of the food insecure caseload, with about 217 000 displaced people facing IPC Phase 5: “Catastrophe” levels of food insecurity in Hargeisa (Woqooyi Galbeed Region), Burao (Togdheer Region) Bossaso (Bari Region), Beletweine (Hiraan Region) and in the capital, Mogadishu. Serious concerns exist also for the food security situation in agro-pastoral areas in southern Lower Juba Region and in northern Awdal, Sanag, Sool and Bari regions, where up to 40 percent of the total population is estimated to be severely food insecure.

Despite access constraints due to insecurity, large-scale humanitarian assistance has been instrumental in preventing more severe food insecurity levels, particularly in areas where households’ assets have been critically depleted by the 2016/2017 drought. On average, about 2 million beneficiaries per month were assisted between July and September, mitigating the overall food insecurity.

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.