UNHCR Somalia: PRMN Drought displacements to 31 May 2017


  • 739,000 Drought displacements since November 2016

  • 46,000 drought-driven displacements in May 2017

  • 7,700 IDP returns in May 2017

  • 480,000 displacements of children since November 2016

Cumulative drought-related displacements in 7 months ending 31 May 2017

31 May 2017 drought-related displacement figures

During the month of May 2017, the PRMN has monitored 46,000 new displacements as a result of the prevailing drought. This figure represents a dramatic drop compared to previous months (April: 131,000, March: 278,000).

Although substantial decreases were seen in most regions, some increases were also noted; for example within Sanaag region of 14,000 newly displaced (compared to 3,600 in April), and 1,500 in May within Gedo region (compared to 500 in April).

While the decrease in new displacements may indicate an improvement in the humanitarian situation in areas of origin as a result of widespread rains during the second half of May, reports from partners in the field indicate that there are also causes for concern. Movements have been restricted due to poor road conditions as a result of the rain especially in South and Central Somalia. Reports also suggest that others have been forced to remain in areas worst affected by the drought being both unable to move their livestock from place to place (due to its weakened condition), nor being able to sell it at a price sufficient to pay for transport to urban locations where assistance might be available.

Baidoa and Mogadishu remain the two areas most affected by new arrivals with 4,900 and 9,000 arrivals respectively during May (down 77/90% compared to April). Those arriving to Baidoa continue to originate primarily from within Bay region while the majority arriving to Banadir (Mogadishu) as a result of drought were from Lower Shabelle.

Disaggregated drought-related displacement data

Based on disaggregated data from household-level interviews, women and children represent around 84 per cent of the drought- displaced population since November 2016.

Of the 739,000 drought displacements since November 2016, more than 480,000 (65 per cent) are under the age of 18. Moreover, those under 5 years old represent more than a quarter (195,000) of all those displaced and are those most at risk from malnutrition and disease.

Children of school-age (5-17) represent approximately 39 per cent of the displaced population; schools provide a safe space for children protecting them from an array of protection concerns including gender-based violence and forced recruitment, while displacement in turn compromises their chances of remaining enrolled in school, thus putting their safety at risk and additional strain on an already stretched education system.

PRMN household-level data indicates that an average of 23% of displaced households do not have an adult male within the household (rising to more than 40% in some regions such as Middle and Lower Juba). This may suggest that in some cases, men either choose to or are / feel compelled to remain behind in the area of origin or that their access to areas where assistance is available is compromised. It also suggests that in many cases, women travel alone or with children making them potentially vulnerable to a range of protection concerns. Even if men travel with their households during displacement, anecdotal evidence suggests that some leave after arrival (more than 70% of households installed at IDP sites in Baidoa in April were described as female-headed based on results of a REACH profiling exercise).

Note: PRMN partners in the field collect information at both aggregated level (from key informants) and also at household level based on interviews with displaced families from which disaggregated data is recorded. Over the past 7 months, the number of interviews at household level represents approximately 25% of the total number of interviews (5% of the displaced individuals recorded) – a sufficiently large sample size to allow conclusions to be drawn on the population as a whole with reasonable confidence.

IDP returns

May 2017 was the first month in which significant verifiable returns to origin of drought-displaced individuals have been recorded. Of the 7,700 returns recorded during May (predominantly in the second half of the month) about 85% arise within the Bay region (primarily within Baidoa district but also some IDP returns have been recorded to settlements in Dinsoor and Qansax Dheer districts)

Of the 7,700 returns, almost 60% were within 50 km and more than 90% within a distance of 100km. Many of the individual reports referring to the returns mention planting as a primary motivator for return. It is unclear if these returns are temporary in nature.

Third party reports have been received of some 3,000 returns within Bari region but have not so far been verified by partners in the field so are not included in the figures reported by PRMN.

The number of IDP returns is still limited, representing less than 1% of the drought-related displacements over the past 7 months. It should however be noted that IDP returns are less visible to the PRMN network than arrivals of displaced to recognised IDP sites so it is likely that the overall numbers are higher.