Somalia: Food Security Outlook, Jan – June 2012 [FEWS Net]
January to June 2012
* 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
Most‐likely food security scenario February – June 2012
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 area 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 experienced 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, and 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: http://www.fews.net/docs/publications/somalia_ol_2012_02.pdf