Somalia Humanitarian Bulletin, January 2021 [EN/SO]



  • Food insecurity is expected to worsen in Somalia in 2021 with 2.7 million people likely to face acute food insecurity or emergency by mid-year.

  • Parts of Somalia face critical water shortages, particularly Somaliland, Puntland,
    Galmudug and Jubaland, where drought conditions have already been reported.

  • Spike in cases of female genital mutilation linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures that have forced girls to stay at home.

  • Humanitarian situation in Bakool region worsens due to insecurity, disruption of economic and commercial activities, and restricted access.

  • Plight of IDPs worsened by upsurge in forced evictions, lack of opportunities, harsh livelihood conditions, water shortages and inadequate health-services.


Food insecurity is expected to worsen in 2021 across Somalia, driven by the effects of localized floods, below-average rainfall and a worsening Desert Locust infestation. In the absence of humanitarian assistance, over 2.7 million people are expected to face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity by mid-2021, according to the findings of the 2020 post-Deyr seasonal food security and nutrition assessment. An additional 2.9 million people are expected to be under food stress, bringing the total number of people facing acute food insecurity to 5.6 million. Approximately 840,000 children under the age of 5 are likely to be acutely malnourished, including nearly 143,000 who are likely to be severely malnourished.

While large-scale humanitarian food assistance and government support since July 2020 is likely to have mitigated the magnitude and severity of food insecurity, the situation is expected to deteriorate towards mid-year among poor rural, urban and displaced populations. The situation will likely be exacerbated by erratic weather patterns which are expected to continue in 2021, including La Niña in the first quarter of the year, with drought conditions forecast due to a harsh Jilaal dry season (January-March 2021) and possible delayed or poor Gu rains (April-June 2021). Already, pre-drought conditions have been recorded in Somaliland, Jubaland, Galmudug and Puntland, characterized by widely depleted berkeds and shallow wells, loss of livestock, as well as extensive critical loss of pasture. In addition, the Desert Locust infestation is expected to remain serious until at least March 2021, particularly as control measures are a challenge in the south due to limited ground and aerial access.

Climate-related disasters – especially floods and droughts – have increased in Somalia over recent years, with severe droughts seen in 2007/2008, 2011/2012 and 2015/16/17. The latest food security and nutrition assessment found that delayed and erratic rainfall distribution in October to December 2020 resulted in below-average showers across most of Somalia. This led to inadequate replenishment of pasture and water resources and below-average crop production. In addition, Cyclone Gati caused significant damages and livestock deaths in northeastern coastal areas in November. Furthermore, recurrent floods between July and early November displaced people and damaged crops in riverine areas of Hiraan, Shabelle and Juba regions.

The assessment recommends that humanitarian assistance be sustained through mid-year to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes for 2.7 million people.

Overall, humanitarian partners estimate that in 2021, 5.9 million people will need humanitarian assistance, an increase from 5.2 million in 2020. This includes 4.3 million non-displaced people and 1.6 million people displaced by conflict, insecurity, drought and floods.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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