Somalia, East Africa: Hunger Crisis 2021 - Operations Update n° 2 (MDRSO011)


Situation overview

Somalia is currently experiencing a third consecutive failed rainy season, and in some areas a fourth consecutive failed rainy season, driving widespread food insecurity across the country. Despite scale-up of humanitarian assistance throughout 2021 and continued efforts to mitigate the impacts of the drought, the situation remains critical. The Post Deyr Assessment released by FSNAU on February 10th estimates that 4.1 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance between February and June 2022. OCHA further reported in December 2021 that 169,000 people had abandoned their homes in search of water, food, and pasture, and an estimated 1,379,000 people may be displaced by drought in the coming 6 months.

There is an urgent and critical need for further funding, to be able to appropriately and timely respond to critical needs and mitigate the impacts of the expected prolonged drought conditions. To date, the Emergency Appeal, which seeks CHF 8.7 million, is only 24% funded. Further funding contributions are very urgently needed to enable the Somalia Red Crescent Society, with the support of the IFRC, to respond quickly to the increasing humanitarian needs in Somalia.

The Federal Government of Somalia declared a state of emergency on 23 November 2021 and made urgent appeals for international assistance. While North-Western Somalia initially received more rainfall than the rest of the country, drought conditions have intensified and is severely impacting the 6 north-western regions as well. On January 13th, the Somaliland Vice President’s Office declared the drought a national emergency in Somaliland, appealing for scaled up international assistance, and highlighting the severe water shortages, rising food insecurity, and abnormal influxes in migration across the region.

The October to December 2021 deyr rainfall season was among the worst deyr seasons on the historical record (1981-2020), with delayed onset, erratic distribution and significant rainfall deficits across much of Somalia ( ). The intensity of the drought has led to water shortages, crop failures, scarce pasture for livestock and increasing food prices. The recent harvest season was one of the worst harvests on record, livestock losses are rising significantly, and cereal prices are exceptionally high. Increased migration in search of food, water and pasture is putting further pressure and resource depletion in less drought-affected areas. Many households already face widening food consumption gaps and diminished coping capacity, and acute malnutrition cases are elevated ( ). The impacts of the drought are compounded by the consequences of COVID-19, conflict, and displacement, as well as a severe desert locust upsurge through 2020 and 2021.

ICPAC highlights that currently, conditions across the Horn of Africa are comparable to those observed during the 2010-2011 famine and 2016-2017 drought emergency. If the upcoming March-April-May (MAM) rain season fails, this would lead to a historic four-season drought that would suppress critical food and income sources through midto-late 2022. Even in the case of average MAM rains would not lead to any immediate recovery. On the contrary, it is likely that the humanitarian crisis will further intensify in the lean season until the MAM rainfall season. February to March is the pastoral lean season, and mid-April to June is the agricultural lean season, and further peaks in food insecurity are expected in these months.

While humanitarian assistance is currently mitigating the severity of food insecurity, the rising numbers of the population that needs assistance will likely outpace current and planned assistance levels. A scale-up of food, water, and livelihoods assistance is urgently needed to prevent rising food insecurity and alleviate drought-induced destitution and displacement.