FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
- Production of 2021 “Gu” main season cereals forecast at 20-40 percent below average due to unfavourable seasonal rains
- Below-average cereal output gathered in 2020
- Severe pasture and water shortages in pastoral areas affecting livestock conditions
- Prices of domestically produced cereals increased in recent months
- Sharply deteriorating food security situation due to two consecutive poor rainy seasons, with 2.7 to 2.8 million people estimated to be severely food insecure between April and September 2021
Unfavourable prospects for upcoming 2021 “Gu” season harvest
In central and southern agro-pastoral areas, seasonal rains established in late April, with about one month of delay, affecting planting and germination of the “Gu” season crops, to be harvested in July and accounting for about 60 percent of the country's total annual cereal output. Above-average precipitation amounts in early May benefited crops, but also triggered floods that resulted in localized crop losses and displaced more than 400 000 people. Subsequently, only scattered, below-average showers were received and seasonal rains had an early cessation in late May. Dry weather conditions affected the rainfed cropping areas as well as irrigated crops in riverine areas along the Juba and Shabelle rivers, as low river water levels negatively impacted irrigation activities. Poor and erratic seasonal rains severely affected the area planted and yields in the main producing areas, including the key maize producing Lower Shabelle Region, the “sorghum belt” of Bay Region and the "cowpea belt" in Middle Shabelle, Galgadud and Mudug regions. According to the preliminary forecast by the FAO Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), the 2021 “Gu” output is expected to be 20-40 percent below the average.
Since mid-2019, the country has been facing a severe desert locust upsurge. During 2019 and most of 2020, swarms were present mainly in northern and central agro-pastoral areas. Widespread damages to pastures have been averted and losses, although significant, occurred only in some localized areas due to large-scale control operations carried out by the government with the support of FAO. In late 2020, some swarms moved to southern key cropping areas, where they caused localized losses of “Deyr” crops. Infestation levels have been declining in 2021 as a result of sustained control operations and poor rains between October 2020 and April 2021, which created an adverse environment for insect reproduction. However, above-average rains in early May allowed the remaining swarms to mature rapidly and lay eggs in northern areas. Despite the formation of a new generation of locusts in June, control operations, coupled with the early migration of some immature swarms to summer breeding areas in northern Ethiopia, resulted in a substantial decline of swarms. Although current infestation levels are significantly lower compared to one year ago, monitoring and control operations must be maintained to further reduce migration and breeding during the summer.