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Cropping activities delayed in South/Central after poor start to Gu rains

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Somalia
  • April 2016
Cropping activities delayed in South/Central after poor start to Gu rains

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through September 2016
  • Key Messages
    • In most of Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone, there has been little to no Gu rainfall received. This aggravates the already poor conditions that resulted from below-average 2015 Deyr rains, influenced by El Niño. Livestock conditions are not expected to improve, limiting saleable animals and milk availability. The number of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will likely increase through September. 

    • Gu rainfall was delayed and had poor spatial and temporal distribution in most central and southern regions. However, the forecast for these areas is near-average Gu rains through the remainder of the season, which will improve pasture conditions and livestock productivity. Crop production is expected to be slightly below average, although food security in most areas will remain stable. Households are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or in None (IPC Phase 1).

    Current Situation

    In most of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Bakool, Lower Jubas, Diinsoor, Qansax-dheere Districts of Bay, and localized areas of Hiran, Gu rainfall began on time in April and has been favorable in terms of amount. Water resources and pasture have improved seasonally in these areas. However, in most agricultural and pastoral areas of the South, and in Sanaag, Sool, and Togdheer, spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall has been poor. In the Northeast, central Somalia, and the Shabelles, Gu rainfall has been significantly below average.

    Pasture and water resource deficits persist in Bari, Sanaag, Sool, Mudug, and Galgadub. Despite average Gu rainfall in Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed, poor conditions and water scarcity were also reported in these areas. Trucked-in water remains the main water source in most northern pastoral areas. Prices remain high: In March, 200 liters of water cost SOS 80,000-150,000, significantly above the five-year March average of SOS 21,000-31,600. Livestock body conditions in most northern areas remain very poor. Extremely low birth rates among small ruminants were observed in March and April, attributed to high abortion rates, atypical livestock deaths, and mating control practices that occurred during the poor October to December Deyr season. Significant livestock deaths also occurred through March. As a result, income from livestock and milk sales and availability of milk and meat for consumption are all either atypically low or nonexistent.

    The Shabelle River declined to record low levels in early March due to dry conditions in both upper Shabelle River catchments in the Ethiopian highlands and the Shabelle basin in Somalia, suspending all irrigation activities and cash crop farming across the Shabelle riverine. However, with the start of the Gu rains in mid-April, water levels have improved in the Shabelle and Juba Rivers and most farmers have resumed irrigation and planting activities. It is not expected that irrigated cereal or cash crop production will be below average.

    Land preparation and dry sowing took place in March. In the northwest, agricultural labor demand seasonally increased and average seed germination was reported. However, in many southern and central areas, germinated seeds wilted following a dry spell in mid-April, forcing many farmers to replant. Agricultural labor demand is also low in most areas of the South. Daily agricultural labor wage rates in Juba, Shabelle, and the Sorghum Belt are 39, 26, and 14 percent below March 2015 rates, respectively, and 16, 36, and 14 percent below the five-year average for March.

    In March, local cereal prices varied across main crop-producing markets. In Baidoa, the price of sorghum declined 5 percent from February due to an increase in supply as farmers sold stock to afford cropping supplies for the next season. However, maize prices in Qoryoley increased 15 percent from February to March, attributed to atypically high demand from Lower Juba. Maize and sorghum prices remain significantly below both last year and the five-year average of March prices, except for in Woqooyi Galbeed where the price of white sorghum is 22 percent higher than the five-year average.

    Livestock prices (goats and sheep) increased slightly or remained stable in March in most southern and central markets. In Juba, goat prices are 7 percent above last year due to increased trade with Kenya. Exports of camels, sheep, and cattle to Kenya in the first quarter of 2016 were double the volume of the first quarter of 2015 and 98 percent higher than the three-year average. However, conditions are less favorable in northern areas where livestock prices continue to decline unseasonably due to poor livestock body conditions and reduced livestock export demands. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for February to September 2016. However, the following assumptions have been updated:

    • In the February Outlook, it was assumed area planted would be near average given the expectation of near-normal March to May Gu rainfall. However, the forecast now indicates an increased likelihood of average to below-average rainfall. As a result of this and the erratic start of rainfall in the Jubas, Gedo, southern Lower Shabelle, eastern Bay, and most northern regions, area planted, agricultural labor demand, and yields are expected to be slightly below average.
    • Livestock body conditions are expected to deteriorate through May in parts of Awdal, Sanaag, Bari, Nugaal and Hobyo Districts, where pasture, browse, and water resources remain significantly below average. 

    Projected Outlook Through September 2016

    Although Gu rains are now expected to be average to below-average nationally, in the pastoral and agropastoral areas of southern and central Somalia, near-normal Gu rainfall is forecast through May. This is expected to improve both pasture and water resources. Livestock reproduction, production, and values are likely to improve and be average in May. Livestock prices are also expected to increase through September as livestock export demand increases for Ramadan in June/July and the Hajj in September/October. Many households will have access to typical levels of income from livestock sales. However, the harvest is now expected to be slightly below average given the delayed start of Gu rainfall and the impacts on crop development that were already incurred. Most households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or in None (IPC Phase 1).

    Food security in Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone of Bari and Sanaag is expected to deteriorate due to the negative impacts of the drier than normal Jilaal season and delayed Gu rains. Despite average Gu rainfall in Adwal and Woqooyi Galbeed of Guban Pastoral livelihood zone, moisture deficits remain and significant improvements are not expected. Food security is also expected to deteriorate in these areas as further livestock deaths and deterioration in livestock body conditions are likely. In both livelihood zones, low levels of camel calving in June/July are expected and milk production through September will be significantly below average, reducing household milk consumption and income from sales. Many households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and some may deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4). However, food security in Hawd and Addun pastoral areas will likely improve to None (IPC Phase 1) due to positive impacts of average Gu rains, medium camel births in June/July, increased milk availability, and increased livestock herd sizes.

    The ongoing El Niño pattern continues to influence rainfall patterns across Eastern Africa, although the tropical Pacific Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly is weakening and is forecast to end in late spring. According to CPC/IRI consensus forecasts, there is a 70 percent chance of La Niña event occurring between October and December 2016. 


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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