Technical Release: As the risk of Famine declines, 2.7 million people still face Crisis and Emergency in Somalia

301 000 children are acutely malnourished

January 29, 2018, Mogadishu/Washington – Findings from the post-Deyr seasonal assessment conducted across Somalia in November and December 2017 indicate food security has improved notably due to continued large-scale humanitarian assistance and seasonal improvements to food and income sources during the Deyr (October-December) season. However, the 2017 Deyr rains were still below average in most parts of Somalia and the 2018 Gu (April-June) rains are also forecast to be below average. As a result, food and income sources are expected to remain below normal in most areas throughout the projection period. Although the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) has declined, in the absence of assistance, many households would face large food consumption gaps.
Humanitarian assistance must be sustained to prevent further deterioration of the food security and nutrition situation in Somalia.

Deyr rains started late and ended early, and rainfall amounts were well below average in northern parts of Somalia and slightly below average in many southern and central regions, although some southern regions received average or above-average rainfall. Relatively better rainfall during the 2017 Gu and Deyr seasons, compared to 2016 rainfall, has eased drought conditions in many areas. The 2017 Deyr season cereal harvest is estimated at 78 100 tonnes, including 5 200 tonnes of off-season harvest expected in February to March. This level of production is 78-79 percent of the long-term average (1995-2016). The 2017 Gu/Karan cereal production in northwest, harvested in November, was better than previously reported and is estimated at 15 950 tonnes; however, this production is still only 32 percent of the 2010-2016 average. Although the overall cereal production was better than expected both in northwest and southern Somalia, poor households in crop-dependent livelihood zones of Toghdeer region and some parts of southern Somalia currently have little or no food stocks due to low production. In these livelihood zones, farm labor opportunities were also limited.

Deyr rains have improved pasture and water conditions in most pastoral livelihood zones and opened up internal as well as cross border migration possibilities. Food access among pastoralists in many areas improved in the second half of 2017 due to increased terms of trade between livestock and cereals. However, livestock losses sustained during the 2016-2017 drought have contributed to increased indebtedness among many pastoralists, and destitution among some. Livestock production and reproduction remain lower than normal due to low livestock herd sizes and low conception rates during previous seasons. Poor pasture and water conditions still persist in some pastoral livelihood zones in northern and central Somalia and parts of Gedo region. In these areas, further deterioration of pasture and water is expected during the dry Jilaal (January-March) season.

Most areas of Somalia are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Humanitarian intervention, which was scaled up during the second quarter of 2017 in response to high levels of food insecurity, was maintained through late 2017 and has contributed to the improved food security and nutrition outcomes observed during the 2017 post-Deyr seasonal food security and nutrition assessment. According to the Somalia Food Security Cluster, emergency humanitarian assistance reached approximately 2.7 million people a month between July and December 2017.

Somalia faces a fifth consecutive below-average season. Climate forecasts from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University indicate a 40 percent chance of below normal 2018 Gu rains in most parts of Somalia (50 % in parts of Bay and Bakool regions). As a result, pasture and water availability, crop cultivation, livestock reproduction, access to agricultural employment, and water and food prices are expected to be adversely impacted.

In addition, in the absence of continued large-scale assistance, food security is expected to deteriorate through June 2018, as food and income sources decline further. Over 2.7 million people will face Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4)1 between now and June 2018. This represents improvement in the overall food security situation in Somalia compared to the 3.2 million people projected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse between April and December 2017. Through June 2018, an additional 2.7 million people are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In total, 5.4 million people across Somalia face acute food insecurity. This seasonal assessment was jointly led by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU, a project managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET, a project funded by USAID) and carried out with the active participation of Government institutions and other partners.

Results from 30 separate nutrition surveys conducted by FSNAU and partners between in November and December 2017 indicate that the overall nutrition situation in Somalia has shown some improvement with only 8 out of 30 nutrition surveys showing Critical levels of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM 15-30%) compared to 20 out of 31 nutrition surveys conducted in June-July 2017. At national level, median prevalence of acute malnutrition has improved from Critical (17.4% GAM) in June-July 2017 to Serious (13.8% GAM) in November-December. Accordingly, the number of children under the age of five that are acutely malnourished children is estimated at 301 000, including 48 000 who are severely malnourished and face an increased risk of disease and death. Mortality rates have declined compared to previous seasons. However, Crude Death Rate (CDR) is still Serious (0.5 to <1 per 10 000 per day) in 14 out of 30 population groups surveyed. Under-Five Death Rate (U5DR) is also Serious (1-<2 per 10 000 per day) in 5 out of 30 population groups surveyed.

Data from UNHCR indicates that drought-related displacement, which reached its peak in the first half of 2017, declined significantly from a monthly average of 117 000 between January to June 2017 to 29 100 between July and December 2017. Food security and nutrition outcomes across most of the 13 main settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs) have also shown some improvement. Accordingly, most of the IDP settlements are classified as Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Declining food prices and increased employment opportunities have improved food security situation in most urban areas. However, some urban areas in southern Somalia that continue to experience localized trade disruptions and other urban areas in northern and central regions affected by drought and depreciation of the local currency are classified as Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

Urgent treatment and nutrition support is needed for approximately 301 000 acutely malnourished children, including 48 000 who are severely malnourished. It is expected that over 2.2 million people will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and 496 000 people will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) between February and June 2018 and they need life-saving humanitarian assistance and livelihood protection support in order to prevent further deterioration of their food security situation. An additional 2.7 million who are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) also need livelihood protection support, as they are highly vulnerable to shocks that could push them to Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phases 3 or 4).