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In southern Somalia, a below-average Gu 2012 crop harvest likely

  • Alert
  • Somalia
  • June 18, 2012
In southern Somalia, a below-average Gu 2012 crop harvest likely

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary

    April to June Gu rainfall in most parts of southern Somalia began late and was poorly distributed over both space and time. As a result, the Gu season crop harvests in southern agropastoral and inland rainfed cropping areas will likely be delayed and belowaverage. Agropastoral households also face deteriorating access to humanitarian assistance, high debt burdens, limited livestock holdings, and a still precarious nutrition situation. As a result, the lean season is likely to extend by one month until July and the food security of poor, agropastoral households is likely to deteriorate to Emergency levels (IPC Phase 4) starting in June. A scaling up of humanitarian assistance and activation of the contingency planning process is necessary to address unmet emergency food assistance needs in agropastoral areas over the coming months.


    The April to June Gu rains started late and were poorly distributed. While there were some heavy rains at the start of the season, only very light and localized rains were received in most parts of the southern, rainfed cropping areas during May. In Gedo and Lower and Middle Juba, rains were especially poor. Some households reduced area planted. In addition to moisture stress, pest infestations, particularly crickets in parts of Bay, Bakool, and Lower Shabelle, have further harmed standing crops. Cereal production in more marginal, low potential southern, rainfed cropping zones of Hiran, Bakool, Lower and Middle Juba, and Gedo will most likely be below the Gu 1995-2011 average. Below-average production is also likely in the surplus-producing regions of Bay and Lower Shabelle, though household cereal stocks are expected to last through the coming Gu harvest in these areas. In all areas, harvests are likely to be delayed by one month.

    Other factors will also constrain food access in agropastoral zones. First, household-level Deyr season grain stocks are likely to have been exhausted as of April. Second, humanitarian access deteriorated from March to June due to new clashes and insecurity. Third, agropastoral households in southern Somalia have very limited livestock holdings. These households typically sell some livestock during the lean season to pay for market purchases of food. However, this year, their herds are small, and only breeding stock are available for sale. Given these constraints poor agropastoral households have relied increasingly on social and kinship support and credit to cover their food needs since May. But from June onwards, access to credit will significantly decline and green maize or sorghum will not be available due to the delay in the Gu harvests, exacerbating existing food deficits. As the lean season extends into July, poor, agropastoral households not receiving humanitarian assistance in Hiran, Bakool, Gedo, and Middle and Lower Juba are therefore expected to face increasing food deficits at the household level. These deficits will occur in the context of already high levels of acute malnutrition.

    Following the start of the harvest in August, households will need to sell some crops or livestock to pay down debts and reopen lines of credit. As they are likely to have very limited stocks from their own production, the availability of harvest labor in nearby higher potential areas, livestock price trends, and cereal prices trends will determine their food access in the post-harvest period. Cereal prices are likely to rise before the harvest and may stay high due to the below average harvest. Imported food prices seasonally rise during the June to September monsoon winds which reduces import volumes in most of Somalia’s ports. These factors may prevent a large improvement in food security for agropastoralists in August.

    Though a return to Famine (IPC Phase 5) in southern Somalia is not expected, a scaling up of humanitarian assistance and activation of the contingency planning process are necessary to address unusually high needs in agropastoral areas during the current extended lean season through July and potential needs following the Gu harvest in August.

    Figures Figure 1. Wilted sorghum crop in rainfed, agropastoral areas of Hiran

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit-Somalia (FSNAU)

    FEWS NET will publish an Alert to highlight a current or anticipated shock expected to drive a sharp deterioration in food security, such that a humanitarian food assistance response is imminently needed.

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