GIEWS Country Briefs: Somalia 09-January-2012

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Famine persists in Middle Shabelle and among Afgoye and Mogadishu IDPs

Currently, about 4 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance

Humanitarian aid delivery is heavily hampered by persistent conflict and civil insecurity

Mixed prospects for the 2011/12 secondary “deyr” season crop production

Prices of maize declined sharply in the last six months

Famine still persists in the South, despite some improvements

Famine conditions still persist in agropastoral areas of Middle Shabelle and among IDP populations in Afgoye and Mogadishu. In areas of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle, formerly classified as IPC Phase 5 (Famine), substantial humanitarian assistance and favourable rainfall have mitigated food deficit levels and reduced mortality rates. These areas, as of 18 November 2011, have been downgraded to IPC Phase 4 (Emergency). Following these improvements, the number of people facing starvation declined from 750 000 in August 2011 to 250 000 in late November 2011.

Currently, about 4 million people, more than a third of the country’s population, are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance. Most of them are pastoral and agro-pastoral households in central and southern areas whose food security conditions have precipitously deteriorated since the poor outturn of the 2010 “deyr” season. Although several areas are expected to remain in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency), no famine is anticipated during the January-March 2012 period, given the deyr harvest. Possible exceptions are IDPs. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance is likely to remain near current levels until the next main “gu” season harvest in July/August 2012.

Rate of population displacements declines

The drought-induced influx of Somali refugees into neighbouring countries has significantly declined in recent weeks and, according to UNHCR, the total number of refugees hosted in camps in Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti is currently estimated at about 725 000 people

Civil insecurity and armed conflicts continue to represent the major serious threat to food security in most areas of southern and central Somalia, particularly in Mogadishu, parts of Bakool, Juba, Hiran, Mudug, Galgadud, Lower Juba and Gedo regions. This situation has resulted in loss of human lives, increased displacements of civilians, disruption of trade activities and increased transportation costs, while presenting an obstacle to the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Mixed prospects for 2011/12 secondary “deyr” season crops

Harvesting of 2011/12 “deyr” cereal crops is about to start and will continue until March. Planting has extended up to the end of November due to continued heavy rains. Crop production is forecast to be average in most crop producing areas of southern and central Somalia due to good and evenly distributed rainfall as well as average planted area. According to the latest deyr production outlook report by FSNAU, major producing regions of Lower Shabelle and Bay are expected to have sufficient cereal stocks at least up to the beginning of the next “gu” harvest in July 2012. Good stock availability is also forecast in Middle Shabelle, Hiran and Bakool regions. In contrast, crop production is expected to be well below average in various riverine districts of Juba and Gedo regions due flash floods and river flooding following torrential rains from late October to early December that damaged standing crops, especially to sorghum. However, this excess moisture will benefit off-season crops, mainly sesame, maize and other cash crops, to be harvested by the end of March 2012.

Most parts of Northern regions received favorable rains, with the exception of some areas of Bari and Sanaag regions and the Nugal valley of Sool region where crop and pasture conditions have been affected by insufficient precipitations. In the Northwest, good 2011 “karan” rains (August-October) benefitted cereal crop production that is estimated at 68 000 tons, the second best performance since 1998.

Declining prices of maize and sorghum

Prices of domestically produced staple cereal crops reached record levels in June 2011 in most markets and then sharply decreased in the following six months. Prices of maize declined from June to December in the main markets of Mogadishu, the capital city, and Marka, located in the main maize producing southern region of Lower Shabelle, by 62 and 72 percent, respectively. The significant decrease followed the increased supplies from the 2011 “gu” harvest last August, the good off-season crops harvested in the riverine areas of Lower Shabelle and, most importantly, the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Prices of red sorghum have also significantly decreased in Mogadishu and Marka markets as a consequence of the possibility for households to substitute sorghum with low-price relief maize. In general, maize and red sorghum were traded in December 2011 at lower or similar levels of one year earlier.

Prices of imported rice declined between August/September and December by about 18 to 22 percent respectively in Marka and Mogadishu, mainly due to increased supplies from the main regional ports, after the end of monsoon season, and the slight appreciation of the Somali Shilling against the US dollar. Rice prices are at about the same levels of December 2010 in Marka and in Mogadishu, while they are higher in other several markets, due to high fuel prices increasing transport costs and market disruptions caused by civil insecurity.