Somalia + 4 more

Horn of Africa: Humanitarian Impacts of Drought – Issue 1 (as of 31 March 2017)

Situation Report
Originally published


Rainfall forecast (mm)

Rainfall performance: Between March 1 and 10, Djibouti, Somalia, central and eastern Ethiopia, and northeastern and eastern Kenya recorded less than 6 millimetres of rainfall. Less than 75 per cent of the long term average rainfall was observed over much of Ethiopia and Kenya, in parts of Uganda, and in southwestern Somalia. However moderately wet conditions prevailed in northeastern Ethiopia and northern Somalia during March due to rainfall at 125 per cent levels compared to the long term average.

During February and March, the United Nations in Somalia established three Drought Operations Coordination Centres (DOCC) in Mogadishu, Baidoa and Garowe.

Displacement of people and livestock

Cross border displacement: Drought, food insecurity and conflict are uprooting people and livestock. Thousands of Somalis have crossed into neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya, while more than 30,000 Kenyans and 180,000 heads of cattle from Kenya and South Sudan have migrated to Uganda in search of water and grazing pastures. Ugandan MPs have warned of the risk of confrontations between armed pastoralists and Ugandans in Karamoja. More than 4,000 Somalis – mostly women and children from the Bay, Middle Juba and Gedo regions – crossed into Ethiopia through Dollo Addo in early 2017. Five hundred refugees arrived in Kenya’s Dadaab camp in March, 100 of whom who had previously received UNHCR support to voluntarily return to Somalia.

Internal displacement: According to UNHCR 438,000 people have been displaced in Somalia since November, with more than 187,000 new drought-driven displacements recorded between March 1 and 24. Over half of displaced people are fleeing to three regions: Banadir, Mudug and Bay. A total of 82,000 people have arrived in Baidoa – Bay region’s capital – and almost 80,000 people have arrived in Mogadishu since November 2016.

More than 20,000 Kenyans in Garissa and Turkana counties are displaced by drought. An additional 5,000 Kenyans have had to flee their homes due to violence relating to cattle rustling in Baringo County.

Disease and pest outbreaks

Somalia is facing an Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD)/Cholera outbreak in 12 of its 18 regions affecting more than 16,000 and killing 365 people during the first quarter of 2017 alone. This is more than five times the number of cases reported in the same period in 2016 and as many Somalis affected by AWD/Cholera for the whole of 2016. The current fatality rate of 2.3 per cent is more than double the emergency threshold. Since November 2016, 700 cases of measles have been reported in Kismayo and Galmudug and five deaths registered in Sool.

In Ethiopia, more than 3,000 people have been affected by Acute Watery Diarrhoea and eight have died, while nearly 465,000 people suffer from scabies. AWD/Cholera affecting mostly children under 5 has persisted in Kenya’s Tana River County since October 2016 (252 cases and 5 deaths) with a current fatality rate of 2 per cent. Diarrhoea also increased during the last quarter of 2016, with 36,200 cases recorded in January 2017.

Crop-eating caterpillars known as fall armyworms are spreading across Uganda, raising fears for the East Africa region. The pests have appeared in 20 central and western Ugandan districts, attacking up to 40 per cent of the maize in some areas. Authorities warn they could wipe out 11 per cent of the country’s annual four-million-metric-tonne maize output. Sugarcane fields have also suffered damage.

Access and logistical constraints

Kenya re-opened its border with Somalia on March 24 to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services through two specific entry-points. New modalities of assistance, for example electronic cash transfers in both Kenya and Somalia, enable access to previously inaccessible beneficiaries. However, aid diversion, corruption and access to Al Shabaab controlled areas in Somalia remain key challenges.

The quality and timeliness of the response in each country is highly dependent on bureaucratic and security constraints. The ability of INGOs to respond in countries like Kenya and South Sudan is curtailed by the difficulty in acquiring work permits for staff. In Kenya, insecurity constrains UN operations along the Kenya-Somalia border and in Baringo County due to growing local tensions. The potential increase of elections-related inter-communal conflict and conflict over resources due to the drought might lead to further access restrictions. Poor road conditions in the Turkana area – where Global Acute Malnutrition rates exceed 30 p


Globally, the real prices of wheat and maize continue to fall, but the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) food price index for East Africa has more than doubled. Tanzania, normally the largest exporter of maize in the region, has closed its borders for exports. Buyers scrambling for Ugandan maize, East Africa’s main cereal exporter, face price increases in excess of 75 per cent. The recent appearance of armyworm in Uganda could severely impact exports and the supply of cereals in East Africa.

Kenyan maize and bean prices rise while livestock falls. The price of maize has risen significantly across Kenya compared to a year ago: attaining a 40 per cent increase in eastern and coastal lowland areas, and up to a 64 per cent rise in Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, Taraka Nithi and Embu counties. Nationwide, beans are 60 per cent more expensive than in February 2016. Livestock prices in most pastoral areas have declined as animal body conditions deteriorate and pastoralists reduce herd sizes. In Marsabit, Mandera and Garissa counties, goat prices in January were up to 55 per cent lower than a year earlier.

Maize and sorghum prices in Somalia declined in February but still high. Somalia’s Deyr harvest and emergency food distributions have reversed the sharp increase in maize and sorghum prices, leading to a 5 to 10 per cent decline in prices in February in central and southern areas, including Mogadishu. But the sharp reduction in cereal output during 2016 has doubled coarse grain prices compared to a year earlier. Production last year was the lowest on record since the beginning of the conflict in 1988 and 45 per cent lower than the average of the previous five years.

Livestock prices have sharply declined in recent months, especially in the south. In February, they were up to 60 per cent lower than a year earlier. As a result of declining livestock prices and increasing cereal prices, terms of trade for pastoralists have sharply deteriorated over the last 12 months. The equivalent in maize of a medium-sized goat declined in Buale market from 110 kilogrammes in February 2016 to just 30 kilogrammes in February 2017. Severe drought has also caused a sharp decline in milk production and a surge in its average price.

Ugandan maize up by 60 per cent, other staples by 25 per cent. Maize prices levelled off in February after the second season harvest – although below average – increased market supplies. Prices in February were up to 60 per cent higher than a year earlier and at record to near-record levels. The upward pressure from a reduced second season harvest, affected by poor rainfall in southeastern areas bordering Lake Victoria, was compounded by a reduced harvest season gathered last June/July and by sustained demand from neighbouring countries. In the capital, Kampala, prices of important staples, beans and cassava were 25 per cent higher than a year earlier in February.


The United Nations has appealed for US$166 million to complement the drought response led by the Government of Kenya and the Kenya Red Cross Society. KRCS has announced plans to provide assistance to 1 million people, a significant increase from its initial 340,000 target.

The Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund (EHF) has allocated US$21million to provide immediate response to prioritised needs in Nutrition, WASH, Agriculture, Education, Health and Protection.

Donors have moved quickly to scale-up the response – US$369 million has been made available for humanitarian assistance in Somalia since January – but further additional resources are urgently required. On March 17, the European Union announced a €165million support package in response to the needs arising from severe famine in South Sudan and drought in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The World Bank has allocated US$4 million from the State and Peacebuilding fund to scale-up an existing cash transfer programme in Somalia. In Kenya, the World Bank is dedicating US$150 million to scale up cash transfers and expand water supply and sanitation services. Plans are underway to extend a US$150 million contingency loan to the Government of Kenya to enable it to address disaster risk preparedness. In Ethiopia, the World Bank is mobilising an additional US$100 million from the emergency Crisis Response Window to scale up the Government’s Productive Safety Net Programme.

On March 29, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) launched the Horn of Africa Cross-Border Drought Response Plan requiring US$39.6 million to address the urgent livelihood needs of pastoral and agro-pastoral households in the vulnerable cross-border areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda.

Food Insecurity

In Somalia, Food Security cluster partners have more than doubled the number of people reached in February with improved access to food for 1.1 million people, up from 490,000 people in January.

Health partners opened 14 cholera treatment centres and units and over 36,000 people were assisted with sanitation. Hygiene promotion activities were delivered to 498,00 and close to 570,000 people were reached with temporary or sustainable access to safe water. Over 100,000 children and pregnant and lactating mothers were treated for moderate acute malnutrition in February alone.

On March 10, the Government of Ethiopia and the United Nations warned that the number of people requiring food assistance could by far exceed the 5.6 million mark should poor rainfall persist.

In Kenya, government projections indicate that the number of people in need of assistance could increase from 2.6 to 4 million during April. The Kenya Red Cross Society has announced plans to provide assistance to 1 million people, a significant increase from its initial 340,000 target.


In March, a screening of 2,500 Kenyan children under five conducted in Kibish, North Turkana revealed that 55 per cent were acutely malnourished. Admissions for Severe Acute Malnutrition have increased by 27 per cent since February 2016.

Cross border water flows

The scarcity of water in reservoirs has increased demand for water from the Shabelle River in Ethiopia and Somalia. Heavy water consumption upstream has reduced water levels for consumers located downstream. In Jowhar, in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, water levels are only 0.5 metres high, substantially lower than the 1.8 metres typical of this time of year. Moreover, partners at Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) have noted that, although the gauge reads 0.5 metres, ground reports indicate the river is completely dry at Jowhar. Water levels in the Juba River in Gedo, Middle Juba, and Lower Juba remain at or above normal levels due to relatively better rainfall in the Juba River basin, a greater number of tributaries, and the lower intensity with which river water is used for irrigation purposes

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