Multi-season drought is expected to drive high food assistance needs through early 2022
The impacts of two consecutive below-average rainfall seasons on crop and livestock production in late 2020 and early 2021 have driven a sharp increase in the food insecure population in Somalia, especially in rural areas. Drought conditions led to some livestock losses in northern and central Somalia in early 2021 and increased household spending on animal feed and water. Dry spells and the early end of the *gu *rainfall season also caused crop losses and reduced agricultural labor income. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are widespread.
The food insecure population is expected to remain elevated until at least January. Based on FSNAU and FEWS NET’s preliminary estimates, the 2021 *gu *cereal harvest in July will be at least 30-40 percent below the long-term average (1995-2020), which will diminish a key source of food and income for farmers and drive an increase in local staple food prices in both rural and urban areas. Additionally, poor pastoral households will likely sell more livestock than usual to repay debt and fund food and water purchases during the upcoming prolonged dry season, eroding their livelihoods and coping capacity. Furthermore, long-term forecasts indicate a third consecutive season of below-average rainfall in late 2021, which would likely result in a three-season drought.
Humanitarian food assistance plans are significantly under-funded in Somalia, resulting in a 25 percent decline in beneficiaries since January, even as the population in need of food assistance increased. Although an average of 1.52 million people received food assistance monthly from March to May, current and anticipated levels of food assistance are inadequate to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in many areas. The shortfall in funding is of urgent concern, as past trends show the severity of food insecurity in Somalia can rapidly worsen during multi-season droughts. In a worst-case scenario of rainfall failure, more extreme food security outcomes would be likely. A scale-up in food, water, and livelihoods support is needed to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes through at least the end of 2021.