The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) conducted a food security and agricultural livelihood impact assessment in Somalia in January and February 2021, focusing on the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A total of 2 720 households were interviewed across 17 regions, including approximately 160 agricultural (crop, pastoral and fisheries) households in each region.
In mid-February 2021, Somalia experienced a resurgence of COVID-19, straining one of the world’s most fragile health systems.
In addition to an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, Somalia’s overwhelmingly rural population also faced a slew of challenges related to agricultural productivity and livelihoods, resulting in elevated levels of acute food insecurity.
Of all households interviewed, 35 percent reported experiencing some type of shock during the three months prior to data collection. The most commonly reported shocks were drought and higher food prices. Other frequently reported shocks were higher crop and livestock production costs, and conflict or insecurity.
The October-to-December 2020 Deyr (rainy) season was characterized by delayed and irregular rains, resulting in below-average cumulative rainfall across most of the country.
This limited the availability of water resources and contributed to a below-average 2020 Deyr harvest.
During the data-collection period, 24 percent of crop-producing households reported a decline in their planting area compared to normal during the 2020 Deyr season. Dry spells, crop pests and diseases, higher input prices and difficulties accessing seeds were the most commonly reported problems. More than 50 percent of crop-producing households indicated difficulties accessing seeds.
Their reported reasons included high seed prices, insufficient income to purchase inputs and lack of seed availability – either from farmers’ own stocks or from local vendors.
Livestock-keeping households also reported several challenges during the past three months, including livestock pests and diseases, constrained water access, difficulty accessing feed and pasture, and poor access to livestock markets.
In the three months prior to the survey, 17 percent of households who sold crops reported significant difficulties while 67 percent reported minor marketing difficulties. Critical marketing challenges included low prices, market closures, lower demand than normal, higher-than-usual transportation costs and restrictive market access. Similarly, 19 percent of livestock-rearing households reported significant difficulties selling livestock and 70 percent of households reported minor difficulties. Market closures, lower-than-usual demand and high transport costs were the main drivers of declining livestock sales.
During the 24 hours prior to the survey, 86 percent of households consumed between 5 and 12 food groups based on respondents’ Household Dietary Diversity Scores. In addition, 66 percent of households engaged in negative livelihood-based coping strategies to obtain food or income.
When asked about the need for assistance, 96 percent of crop-producing households reported that they would require assistance in the next three to six months. The most reported types of assistance requested were cash, seeds, tools, access to water and marketing support. Among livestock-rearing households, 92 percent reported that they would require assistance during the next three to six months. Cash assistance along with access to water, animal feed and veterinary services were the most common forms of assistance requested by livestock-rearing households.