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Below average April to June Gu rains and conflict likely to reduce food security

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Somalia
  • May 2014
Below average April to June Gu rains and conflict likely to reduce food security

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Food security outcomes for poor households in conflict-affected areas in the Shabelle Valley including in Qoryoley and Jowhar Districts, parts of Galgaduud, northern Gedo, Bakool, and parts of Hiraan will likely deteriorate through July due to high food prices and unusually low access to labor opportunities.
    • Trade restrictions in conflict-affected areas are likely to increase local and imported cereal prices, which will continue rising atypical, particularly in Qoryoley and Hudur Districts, reducing food access from markets for poor households.
    • Through September, food and income access will likely remain typical in the central and northeastern regions. However, livestock culling will be likely if May rains were as below average as April rains, and livestock production and values would decrease. May rains are not expected to be far below average.

    Current Situation
    • The April to June Gu 2014 rains had a delayed onset in many areas, and the amount of rain received has varied greatly between regions. During April, rains were erratic both in temporal and spatial coverage and were significantly below average. However, in early May, moderate to heavy rains were received in most parts of the South except in northern Gedo and coastal areas in Lower Juba that were dry. Heavy rains fell in Bay, Sablale District of Lower Shabelle, and Bardere District of Gedo Region at the beginning of May. Riverine and agropastoral areas of Hiraan received light showers while pastoral areas received moderate rains. In the central regions, Addun Pastoral livelihood zone and adjacent eastern areas in Galgaduud and Mudug received light showers with erratic distribution. However, Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone received moderate rains. Bari Region, East Golis Pastoral livelihood zone in Sanaag, and parts of the Nugal Valley in Nugal Region received no rains or only light showers. West Golis Pastoral livelihood zone received localized, moderate rains with good spatial distribution. Togdheer, Waqooyi Galbeed, and Awdal Regions received moderate to heavy rains with good temporal and spatial distribution. These rains resulted in flash floods in West Golis Pastoral livelihood zone, which caused damage to livestock and other property.
    • Generally, germinated crops in both riverine and agropastoral areas of the South that had been affected by moisture stress in April revived at the beginning of May with the resumption of near average rains. In most agropastoral areas, particularly in Hudur and Tayeglow Districts in Bakool Region, replanting took place in early May. Earlier planted crops did not germinate during the long dry spell in April. Most of the area planted in Wajid and Rabdhure Districts in Bakool Region have germinated, and they are now at the development stage.
    • Pasture and vegetation conditions have remained below average in most parts of the country due to the effects of the persistently dry weather in April. However, improved vegetation conditions were observed in most parts Awdal, Bay, the Jubas, Woqooyi Galbeed, southern Gedo, and parts of Lower Shabelle due to the effect of some rain in April followed by moderate rains in early May. Despite their erratic onset and poor spatial and temporal distributions, the Gu rains have generally improved both pasture and water conditions, resulting in improved livestock body conditions in many pastoral areas. Moderate kidding, lambing, and cattle calving took place in March/April 2014. As a result, milk production is currently near average.
    • Insecurity is still leading to a reduction of trade flows and increasing market prices. Areas severely affected by recent conflicts include Bakool and Hiraan Regions as well as Eldher, Harardhere, and Elbur Districts in Galgaduud, Lower Shabelle, riverine areas of Middle Shabelle, and parts of northern Gedo.
    • Trade restrictions in Bakool and Qoryoley District in Lower Shabelle have increased cereal prices. Red sorghum prices in Hudur for example increased by 26 percent from March to April and still higher than last year and the five-year average by 31 and 25 percent, respectively. Similarly, in Lower Shabelle, particularly in Qoryoley District, the white maize price increased by 27 percent from March to April, and it was 69 percent higher than last year. Also, imported commodity prices in Qoryoley atypically increased from March to April. These price increase is attributed by the increased insecurity and declining cereal stocks due to the below average Deyr harvest during January/February 2014.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for April to September 2014. However, the following assumptions have been updated:

    • In April, it was assumed that the June to August Hagaa coastal rains would be near average. With increased likelihood for an El Niño starting by July, the coastal Hagaa rains in Lower Shabelle, Middle Juba, and Lower Juba are now expected to be average to above average in terms of cumulative rainfall.
    • Flood risk along the Shabelle and Juba Rivers has declined due to reduced rainfall in the rivers’ upper catchments in Ethiopia. While some flooding is still possible, the reduced risk of flooding is likely to lead to slightly higher labor demand in riverine areas than was earlier expected.
    • Last month, local cereal prices were expected to start declining in July. However, local cereal prices will likely not decline until August, a month later than typical, and the prices will likely be higher than typical due to the delayed Gu harvest, which is likely to have a below average volume.

    Projected Outlook through September 2014
    • With an increased likelihood of El Niño and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), June to August Hagaa coastal rains will likely result in increased water availability in the pastoral areas and allow crop production in some agropastoral areas through September. These areas are primarily in areas closer to the coast in Lower Shabelle, Middle Juba, and Lower Juba.
    • Pasture and water conditions in most pastoral livelihood zones are likely to either improve with continued rains in May or remain in their current condition. Average camel calving is expected in July.
    • In East Golis Pastoral livelihood zone, parts of the Sool Plateau, Karkaar-Dharoor Pastoral livelihood zone, and parts of the Nugal Valley, May rainfall will determine the performance of livestock production and value. May rains are expected to be adequate to support typical water availability and regenerate pasture and browse. However, if the rains in May are well below average, livestock production and value could deteriorate quickly. Livestock abortions are likely in these areas if rains remain erratic in their distribution or are well below average. Some pastoralists may cull newborn calves in order to prevent further stress on breeding females. Food security outcomes will likely deteriorate, but this may not change the classification from Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    • With the delayed planting and some other delays, green consumption will likely start in July rather than the typical start in June, and the primary harvest will likely be delayed for a month. As a result of this, the lean season is expected to be extended by a month into July instead of June. In the event of unlikely, poor rainfall performances in the remainder of May, this would significantly decrease crop production and likely lead to worse food security outcomes in much of the South.
    • Insecurity will likely continue to lead to further increases in market prices and decreased trade flows and population movements.

    ​​Food security will likely continue to deteriorate in conflict-affected areas of the Shabelle Valley particularly Qoryoley and Jowhar Districts, Bakool Region, northern Gedo, parts of Galgaduud, and parts of Hiraan Region. It is unlikely that armed conflict will become less prevalent by September. Despite expected deterioration in conflict-affected areas, the crop harvest from recession cultivation from Middle Shabelle will likely reduced the magnitude and severity of food insecurity in Middle Shabelle’s riverine areas. However, poor households in Shabelle Riverine livelihood zone in Jowhar District will likely still be unable to access this harvest and remain internally displaced. Both there and in the conflict-affected areas of Shabelle Riverine livelihood zone in Lower Shabelle, food insecurity is likely to increase to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September. In the worst affected areas that harvest the least, there is a possibility that some pockets may enter Emergency (IPC Phase 4) during the secondary lean season in October and November.

    In other areas of Lower Shabelle, primarily outside of Qoryoley District, distribution of maize seed, subsidized tractor rental, and digging out of some irrigation canals, including the Farxane and Liibaan Canals, and some support from non-traditional donors has helped prevent further deterioration of food security. In Hiraan, food security for the poor in both agropastoral and riverine livelihood zones will continue to deteriorate due to below average planted area and reduced income from agriculture labor as a result of the delayed and erratic Gu rains, the effects of insecurity, and lack of cereal stocks from last season. While these areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), an unexpectedly poor end of season or intensification of conflict could lead to higher phases of food insecurity later in the year. Cereal availability in main markets remains atypically low in all conflict-affected areas due to reduced supplies from neighboring regions and cross-border imports. The unusually low supply is especially noticeable in markets in Hiraan.

    Despite likely deterioration of food security in several riverine and agropastoral areas between now and July, there are few expected changes to area food security classification. However, the number of poor households that face significant food consumption gaps will most likely increase.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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