Mar 28 2012

Somalia: Food Security Outlook, Jan - June 2012 [FEWS Net]

SOMALIA Food Security OutlookSomalia - Current food security outcomes (January 2012)

January to June 2012

Key Messages

* Famine has ended in southern Somalia. However, nearly a third of the population remain in crisis, unable to fully meet essential food and non‐food needs. As of February 3, 2.34 million people remain in crisis, with 73 percent (1.7 million people) living in the southern regions, where humanitarian access remains very limited. 

* Improvements  in  food  security  outcomes  are  expected through March, largely due to a significantly above‐average Deyr  harvest,  which  followed  very  good  rains,  and substantial  multi‐sectoral  humanitarian  assistance  over recent months.  

* However,  some  deterioration  is  likely  between  April  and June  due  to  typical  seasonal  factors,  insecurity,  and  an assumption  that  no  major  assistance  flows  will  reach populations in Crisis.  

* In the worst‐case scenario, late and below average Gu rains, a significant escalation of insecurity in most parts of South, Sool/Sanaag and central region, and disease outbreaks will offset  recent  improvements,  though  a  return  to  Famine would not be expected during the scenario period.

Seasonal calendar and critical events

Somalia - Seasonal calendar and critical events (July 2011 - July 2012)

Most‐likely food security scenario February – June 2012

National overview

Deyr 2011/12 rains were average to above average in most parts of the country, resulting in average pasture conditions, availability of water resources, and average to  above  average  areaSomalia - Deyr 2011 Area planted vs Area harvested (ha)  planted.  As  a  result,  crop production  increased  substantially  this  season compared to average, reaching its highest level of the postwar period (1995‐present). A harvest of 190,400 MT  of  staple  cereals  (maize  and  sorghum)  including 6,400 MT of off‐season harvest is expected between now  and  early  March  (Figure  2)  (Source:  FSNAU). Staple cereal production in the Gedo and Juba riverine livelihood zones was below average due to floods that damaged planted crops. While the 2012 Deyr harvest is expected to be excellent, it is the country’s minor harvest, typically accounting for only 10‐20 percent of annual  consumption  needs.  Meanwhile,  the substantial  inflows  of  humanitarian  assistance  since September have also contributed to improved access to food and pushed staple food prices down during the lead‐up to the Deyr harvest.

Rangeland  conditions  throughout  the  South  and Central,  and  in  parts  of  the  Northern  regions,  have significantly improved. Water and pasture availability are  average  to  good  in  key  pastoral  areas,  including the previously drought affected regions of Hiran, Bay, Bakool, Gedo, and Juba. Exceptions are parts of Hawd, Nugaal  Valley,  Sool  Plateau,  East‐Golis/Gebi  and West Golis livelihood zones in the Northern regions where  rains  were  localized  and  below  normal. Importantly,  the  abundance  of  water,  pasture,  and browse  in  most  areas  is  expected  to  ensure  a  mild Jilaal dry season (January to March). As a result there is minimal livestock migration reported in most regions and herds are expected to remain in traditional seasonal grazing areas. However, in rain deficit areas of Sool Plateau of Bari region, herds have  migrated  to  Coastal  deeh  of  Banderbayla  district  while  herds  from  the  Nugal  Valley  of  Sool  region  have  moved towards Hawd of Togdheer region.

Maize and red sorghum prices have continued to decline since June 2011. Prices of these local cereals have declined the most in the typically surplus producing areas of Bay and Lower Shabelle (Figure 3). Markets near borders with Ethiopia and Kenya have also experienced notable reductions in local cereal prices. Humanitarian assistance to surplus‐producing areas which Somalia - Local cereal prices in two key reference markets 2008 - 2012experienced production failures in 2011 Gu, as well as assistance to Banadir region, has increased the overall cereal supply and is one major driver of lower prices. The ongoing Deyr 2011/12 harvest, in combination with the September off‐season harvest in Lower Shabelle have also increased supply. Prices of local cereals have fallen less in the Juba Valley due recent  floods  that  damaged  crops  and  limited  humanitarian  access.  Across  most  markets,  prices  of  most  imported foodstuffs declined slightly over the past six months due to a strengthening shilling (which has translated into increased cereal imports) as well as food disribution by many relief actors including Organisation of Islamic Countries such as Turkey and Sudan, NGOs, and UN agencies, contributing to significant declines in the Consumer Price Index (25 percent decline in the Central Region and 28 percent decline in the South since July 2011).

According  to  FSNAU,  the  overall  nutrition  situation  in  the  country  shows  an  improvement  from  the  previous  season. However, acute malnutrition and mortality rates in the south of Somalia still remain above emergency thresholds and are classified as likely Very Critical. The prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) in the south ranges between 20‐30 percent, with the exceptions of Bay region and the Juba Riverine livelihood zone, where the GAM prevalence is likely >30 percent. Severe acute malnutrition rates have also improved from >10 percent in all regions in the south to <10 percent. Crude death rates are <2 deaths/10,000/day across the country, apart from among Mogadishu IDPs with 2.06 with (1.60‐2.66) and Kismayo IDPs 2.30 (1.60‐3.0), though these rates still indicate an improvement over mid‐2011. The improvements in levels of malnutrition and mortality are attributed not only to improvements in household food access, milk availability, and  income,  but  also  to  humanitarian  support,  in  the  form  of  food  and  non  food  assistance,  and  the  control  and management of disease outbreaks. Outside of the south, slight deterioration has been noted in the Hawd of Central, where the nutrition situation was moved to Critical from Serious and the in the Hawd of Northwest which moved from Serious from Alert phase since August 2011. The deterioration in the Northwest is likely due to localized cholera outbreaks and outmigration of livestock to Ethiopia. The situation is likely to improve, beginning in February, when these animals return. The nutrition situation of IDPs remains of concern across the country,  with settlements reporting Serious to Very Critical levels of acute malnutrition. 

Food security in Somalia during January/February reflects significant improvements, attributed primarily to good Deyr rains and the subsequent harvest and on‐going humanitarian assistance.  Household stocks are expected to improve significantly with  the  harvest,  labor  opportunities  will  improve,  and  the  pressure  on  household  purchasing  capacities  has  eased significantly – a kilogram of white maize in Lower Shabelle is retailing at about 5,000 Somalia Shillings as compared to 17,500  in  June  2011  at  the  peak  of  the  crisis.    Similarly,  improved  rangeland  conditions  have  resulted  in  significant improvements in livestock body conditions and productivity for all species throughout the country. In the drought‐affected areas of the south and central regions, small ruminants have recovered fully while large ruminants recovery is ongoing. Most parts of the previously famine‐affected regions of Shabelle and Bay are now classified as in Crisis or Stressed (IPC Phase 2 or 3) (Figure 1).  However, serious concerns persist, especially in riverine livelihood zones in Juba Valley and Gedo, Middle Shabelle and Hiran agropastoral, Southeast pastoral of Juba and Shabelle and Coastal Deeh of central and north where an Emergency (IPC Phase 4)  persists.  In total, 2.3 million people in Somalia remain classified as in Crisis, or worse, and require humanitarian assistance to meet essential food and non‐food needs. 

Looking ahead through June, insecurity is expected to remain a significant driver of food insecurity. In areas controlled by militants, the food security of 1.7 million people in Crisis could decline sharply in the coming months due to the lack of access to humanitarian assistance, in particular the recent expulsion of most implementing agencies which remained in the south.  On‐going military operations in southern Somalia are also anticipated to interrupt production and market activities, impeding consolidation of the recovery process.  More specifically, trade movements, access to markets and availability of labor opportunities during the lean season (April‐June) in Gedo, Juba, Bay/Bakool, Hiran and Shabelle could significantly decline due to the anticipated insecurity. Across the south, the May to June lean season is likely to expose the vulnerability of livelihoods in agropastoral areas that are emerging from Famine and Emergency (IPC Phase 4 and 5) levels of food insecurity,  unless  humanitarian  assistance  is  continued  and  livelihood  resilience  is  strengthened.  Areas  that  are  still  in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or lack of access to humanitarian assistance are of particular concern.  

Over the coming months, the impact of the Jilaal dry season and the level of humanitarian access will be crucial. In the most‐likely scenario, based on medium‐range forecasts from NOAA, IRI, and ECMWF and additional analysis by NOAA and USGS, FEWS NET assumes an average March‐May season. However, FEWS NET also estimates that there is a higher than usual likelihood of below‐average rainfall in terms of total precipitation (mm).

Other important assumptions for the most‐likely scenario through June for southern and central Somalia include:

* Sorghum/Maize:  Availability  of  locally  produced  cereals  will  increase  through  March/April.  Prices  will  increase seasonably during the April to June period, but they will not reach the peaks of May‐July 2011. Prices will decline following the July/August Gu harvests, with the size of the decline depending on the performance of the season.

* Cowpea: The 2012 Deyr season cowpea harvest is ongoing and supplies will increase through at least March 2012. January prices have already declined to pre‐crisis levels and further declines are expected as more harvest enters markets. They will rise to a seasonal peak in June, before declining after the Gu 2012 harvest.

* Rice: Availability will likely increase with bumper harvests in South and Southeast Asia and a strong Somali Shilling. Humanitarian activities are also likely to reduce pressure on rice prices, hence prices will likely remain relatively stable.

* Livestock: livestock prices are currently rising, however they are expected to start declining by February, following the seasonal trend.

* Conflict:  Insecurity  will  intensify  during  this  outlook  period  due  to  escalating  military  interventions  and  clashes between armed groups, the TFG, and the Ethiopian and Kenyan armies, particularly in Juba, Gedo, and Hiran. Conflict and suicide bombings in Mogadishu are expected to persist and will hinder trade and population movement between Mogadishu, Kismayo, Bay/Bakool, and Lower Shabelle.

* Assistance: Due to uncertainty regarding insecurity, humanitarian funding, and implementing partner plans, no major assistance flows were assumed for the projection analysis.

* Return of Refugees from Kenya and Ethiopia: According to the Population Movement Tracking (PMT) and UNHCR, “over 6,100 refugees returned from Ethiopia and Kenya to their places of origin in Bay, Bakool, Gedo, and Banadir regions in January. Lack of livelihood options in the refugee camps, limited services, and reduced food access as well as delays  in  registration  and  insecurity  are  the  main  reasons  for  their  return.  According  to  UNHCR  “Armed  bandits roaming the unofficial border crossing routes pose major protection risks to refugees trying to cross the borders”. In the most‐likely  scenario these issues are expected to worsen during the February‐March period and are likely to continue through June.

Based  on these  assumptions,  and considering  the  improved  food  and income  sources  of  poor  households  in  southern Somalia due to average to above average cereal harvest, andSomalia - Projected food security outcomes (February - June 2012) access to humanitarian response over recent months, food security is expected to improve between January and March. During this period, the 4 million people who were in need of emergency food and livelihood support will drop significantly to 2.3 million people,  of whom 1.7 million people are from the south. However, despite the anticipated improvements, debt repayment, inadequate emergency response over the coming  months,  persistent  displacement,  and  the  impacts  of  the  2011  Famine  on  livelihoods  and  human  health  will continue to drive Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity in riverine areas of Juba and Gedo, among Cattle pastoralists of  Juba  and  L.  Shabelle,  in  M  Shabelle  and  Hiran agropastoral and in coastal areas of Central (Figure 4).  The projected increase in household food access and income is likely to positively impact the nutrition situation.  However the positive nutrition situation outlook remains fragile due to  continued  and  anticipated  disease  outbreaks,  high morbidity  coupled  with  the  suspension  of  humanitarian agencies providing nutrition and related services.

During  the  April‐June  period,  food  security  is  likely  to deteriorate  in  some  areas,  particulary  Bay  and  Lower Shabelle. While this trend is normal for this period (this is the typical lean season for southern agricultural areas), the severity of outcomes is likely to be worse than usual due to the  persistent  impact  of  the  2011  Famine  and  limits  on humanitarian assistance. Nonetheless, a return to Famine is not anticipated.

In  the  worst‐case  scenario,  a  late  and  below  average  Gu 2012,  escalating  insecurity  in  most  parts  of  South, Sool/Sanaag  and  central  region,  and  diseases  outbreaks, would  quickly  off‐set  the  improvement  made  in  recent months. A poor season would affect both pasture and water availability  in  most  agropastoral  areas  of  Juba,  Gedo  and Hiran and M. Shabelle and would substantially reduce crop production, with a subsequent reduction in the size of price reductions expected in the most‐likely scenario. Harvests could also be delayed. Income from agricultural labor and poor household cereal stocks would remain average between February and April but would decline from April to June. While some improvement in food security would still be expected during the January‐March period, substantial food gaps and an increase in the number of areas classified as Emergency would occur during the second half of the scenario period. 

In a best case scenario, humanitarian access and implementation will be substantially better than expected in the most‐likely  scenario.  If  this  occurs,  poor  household  food  access  would  be  substantially  better  than  expected,  with  less deterioration between current and projected food security outcomes.


* You may read the full report at:

Check the Somalia archive or the Famine archive  or the Hunger archive for related posts.