According to the Food Security Cluster, humanitarian food assistance reached more than 845,000 people in March, 85 percent of whom received cash/voucher assistance. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) or Crisis (IPC 3) outcomes are present in IDP settlements and in Guban, East Golis, central Hawd, and central Addun pastoral livelihood zones, where poor households’ livestock holdings remain below sustainable levels. Above-normal vegetation conditions and livestock productivity, seasonal agricultural labor income from Gu planting, and the March/April off-season Deyr harvest are driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes across the rest of Somalia.
As of March 30th, three cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Somalia. To date, movement restrictions implemented by the Federal Government are limited to the suspension of international and local flights, a ban on social gatherings, and closure of schools. Officially, Ethiopia has closed its land border with Somalia and Somaliland has closed all of its land borders, including the border with Puntland. However, preventing cross-border movement through unofficial entry points is likely to prove challenging. Thus far, these restrictions have not significantly affected labor demand or supply within Somalia. In addition, the delivery of cash/voucher and in-kind food assistance and food commodity trade flows have not been disrupted. Imported and local staple food prices are generally near average except in markets affected by flood-related Deyr crop losses.
Based on information from public health experts including WHO, the COVID-19 infection rate in Somalia is likely to be high in the near to medium term. Limited diagnostic capacity, limited health, water, and sanitation infrastructure, and pre-existing levels of malnutrition and morbidity raise the Somali population’s vulnerability to high infection rates. Layered on top of existing acute food insecurity, the desert locust upsurge, and the likelihood of seasonal Gu floods, the impact of COVID-19 on domestic market supply chains and household food and income sources could be significant. IDP and urban populations are of highest concern, as crowded living conditions and poor access to health, water, and sanitation services could contribute to higher infection rates.
Ongoing desert locust breeding in northern and central Somalia remains of high concern, especially since insecurity renders aerial and ground control measures in central and southern regions infeasible. Federal member state authorities and the FAO have carried out ground control measures in the northwest, northeast, and parts of Galgaduud. Gu rainfall from April to June, which is forecast to be above average, is likely to have mixed effects. On the one hand, wet conditions will be conducive for further breeding. On the other hand, the rainfall is expected to help regenerate pasture and offset pasture losses through June.
In most pastoral areas, satellite-derived data and field information indicate rangeland conditions remain above normal at the end of the January-March Jilaal dry season, though water sources have partially evaporated in the north. Based on the above-average Gu rainfall forecast, seasonal increases in livestock production and reproduction coupled with planned food assistance are likely to sustain current outcomes through June. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is anticipated to spread during the July-September Xagaa dry season, when pasture losses from desert locust will likely lead to increased household expenditures on the costs of livestock migration to distant grazing areas.
In southern and northwestern agropastoral areas, most poor households have consumed their food stocks from the Deyr season and are now relying on income earned through agricultural labor and livestock product sales or on credit to purchase food from the market. Land preparation for Gu cultivation and dry sowing is underway, driving normal agricultural labor demand. Most poor households are anticipated to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September, based on normal labor income and the availability of the Gu green harvest in July. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected from June to September in Northwestern Agropastoral and parts of Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral livelihood zones, where crop losses from desert locust are anticipated.
In riverine areas, high temperatures, pests, and excess soil moisture have reduced off-season Deyr maize yields, leading households to cultivate more vegetables as cash crops. Based on normal labor demand for Gu land preparation in neighboring agropastoral areas, most poor households are expected to earn agricultural labor and cash crop sales income, which should sustain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through May. Based on the likelihood of crop losses due to riverine floods and desert locust, however, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected from June to September.