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Delayed planting and floods threaten Deyr crops

  • Alert
  • Somalia
  • November 27, 2013
Delayed planting and floods threaten Deyr crops

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  • Summary
  • Situation

  • Summary
    Food security is likely to deteriorate in some areas of Somalia due to recent, climactic shocks including river flooding and flash floods induced by a tropical cyclone. The shocks have had varying affects, such as the loss of human life and assets in northeastern areas hit by Tropical Cyclone Three and flooded crops and delayed planting in the Shabelle and Juba Valleys. While the national Deyr harvest is already expected to be below average, additional poor production could cause higher than expected levels of food insecurity in affected areas. Increases in humanitarian assistance and activation of contingency planning are necessary.

    Situation

    Deyr rains started in October but spatial and temporal distribution was erratic and total amounts were low. The rains did not become firmly established until the middle of November in some areas, especially in Lower and Middle Juba and Gedo Regions. Crops are just now being planted, several weeks later than is typical. Area planted in agropastoral areas of Middle and Lower Juba is 10 to 30 percent lower than typical. Cereals are behind their normal developmental schedule, mostly knee high or lower. With the shortened season, some crops may not have time to develop (in the “Drought-affected areas” in Figure 1).

    Along the Juba River, farmers tried to offset dry conditions in October by opening the river banks to support gravity irrigation. However, in early November, heavy rains in the river catchment in Ethiopia and Somalia increased water levels and flooded arable land in Sakow, Buale, Jilib, and Jamame Districts. The flooding damaged standing crops in agropastoral areas in Afmadow District.

    Along the Shabelle River, extensive flooding also occurred. According to field reports from the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit-Somalia (FSNAU), 8,000 hectares (ha) of standing crops in Jowhar and Balcad Districts in Middle Shabelle flooded. These flood waters are currently moving towards standing sorghum in agropastoral areas in Wanlaweyne and Afgoye Districts in Lower Shabelle. With continued rains forecast in the coming weeks, flooding is likely to continue. As a result, the demand for agricultural labor is likely to decline. A resulting drop in income will reduce access to food through March 2014. The floods could reduce the overall volume of the Deyr harvest in much of Middle and Lower Shabelle, surplus-producing areas that contribute significantly to national supply. Even where crops recover, the harvest may be delayed from January until March in riverine areas.

    In the Northeast, Tropical Cyclone Three hit Bari Region between November 10 and 12, bringing heavy rains and winds. Eyl, Bandar-Beyla, and Garowe Districts were affected particularly. Flash floods and high wind caused the loss of human lives and the destruction of assets including livestock and fishing boats. Flash floods damaged communications and transportation infrastructure, cutting off road access to coastal areas. Increased waterborne diseases are likely. Households that have lost the majority of their livestock may consider moving to urban areas instead of remaining in pastoral areas without livestock.

    In localized areas, these shocks may lead to food security outcomes worse than originally anticipated in the October 2013 to March 2014 Food Security Outlook. The significant reduction in Deyr crops could reduce national cereal supply, triggering wider food insecurity. With many households facing unexpected shocks, a scaling up of humanitarian assistance and activation of contingency planning are necessary to address likely greater needs.

    Figures Figure 1. Affected areas, November 2013

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Affected areas, November 2013

    Source: FEWS NET

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