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Access to food improved in most parts of the country due to improved seasonal performance

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Somalia
  • November 2012
Access to food improved in most parts of the country due to improved seasonal performance

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Despite the improvement on the current food security conditions due to good Deyr rain seasonal performance, over 2 million people still remain food insecure either at the Stressed or Crises (IPC Phase 2 or 3) levels.

    • Kidding, calving, and lambing started in most pastoral areas of the central, northern, and southern parts of the country, resulting in improved milk availability and increased herd sizes. This has increased access to food and income for poor households in October and November.

    • The off-season harvest in Middle and Lower Juba Regions, which contributes around two thirds of the national off-season Deyr crop production, is not expected in March 2013. Despite the current, good crop establishment in the agropastoral and riverine zones, the lack of river flooding along the Juba during the Deyr season may actually reduce maize availability starting in April 2013. 


    Current Situation
    • Deyr 2012 rains started in the first week of October, slightly earlier than a typical season. Overall the Deyr rains have had mixed results in terms of amount and temporal and spatial coverage across southern and central Somalia. In the North, rains have been generalized and moderate despite a dry spell in October. The Northeast and the central regions received moderate to heavy rains following Tropical Cyclone Murjan on October 25. Rains subsided in early November in many parts of the country including the cropping areas of the South. However, moderate rains began to fall again across most of southern and central Somalia between November 11 and 20. In parts of Jowhar District in Middle Shabelle and Kurtunwarey District in Lower Shabelle, localized floods were reported in late November. Areas that had rainfall deficits during the 2012 March to June Gu including the Coastal Deeh and agropastoral and riverine areas of the South have received rains, though a few pastoral and agropastoral areas were still below seasonal averages as of November 28.
    • Rains have improved rangeland conditions and relieved severe water and pasture scarcities. However, exceptions exist that still have poor pasture and water availability include some parts of pastoral zones in Sanag, Awdal, and Sool Regions in the Northwest along with the agropastoral zones of Middle and Lower Juba, Gedo, and Lower Shabelle. In the South, the long dry spell in late October and early November slowed environmental recovery. Nevertheless, the rains resumed in most of these areas by mid-November. Poor precipitation in East Golis and on the Sool Plateau of Sanag Region as well as in localized areas of the Nugal Valley of Sool and Nugal Regions have also been reported.
    • Livestock body conditions have been maintained around average to good. High goats and sheep births were reported in October in all pastoral and agropastoral livelihoods. Camel births started in November. Medium to low cattle calving was observed in the South and in the agropastoral livelihoods of the Northwest. These births increased households’ herd size, milk sales income, and milk consumption. Production and availability of milk have remarkably improved. in October and November. .
    • Livestock prices remain at an all time high, and in some markets they are increasing. This has improved households’ purchasing power. October terms of trade (TOT) between local quality goats and sorghum or maize indicates significant increases since October 2011. The highest TOT between goats and cereals in October were 405 kilograms (kg) of red sorghum per goat and 316 kg of white maize in Baidoa in Bay Region and Qoryoley in Lower Shabelle Region, respectively. These terms probably reflect improved access to livestock trade routes, expectations of a good Deyr harvest, and grain stocks likely remaining in these high potential producing regions.
    • In cropping areas of southern Somalia, the on time start of Deyr rains in early October, encouraged demand for agricultural labor, hence increasing income for poor agropastoral and riverine households.
    • Despite the localized river flooding in Jowhar and Kurtunwarey Districts of Lower Shabelle during the second and third week of November due to open river breakages and weak embankments, both the Juba and Shabelle River are at levels below the critical, flood levels.
    • Staple food prices in October in both the cropping regions of the South and the consumer regions of central and northern Somalia, are significantly lower than at the same time last year. In Baidoa in Bay Region, the average sorghum prices in October was 56 and 21 percent less than October 2011 and the five-year average, respectively. Similar price trends have been observed in the maize-producing region of Lower Shabelle. The low price trend is attributable to the releasing of grain stocks onto the market by traders as a result of good performance of the Deyr rains and possibly improved targeting of food aid interventions.
    • Intensified, intermittent conflict in Gedo and Lower and Middle Juba and Shabelle Regions in October and November has reduced humanitarian access. , However, the scope of the conflict and the restricted humanitarian access remains less than it was at the beginning of the calendar year.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of October to March 2013. However, the following assumptions were updated:

    • The highly reduced likelihood of El Niño occurring in December, means that the Deyr rainfall totals are likely to be near average. In the October Outlook, rains had been assumed to be average to above average in their totals. However, the normal onset has occurred, and they will likely remain poorly spatially distributed, as in the original assumption. This assumption has altered several others, including:
      • There is now a reduced risk of large-scale flooding along the both Juba and Shabelle Rivers. This also reduces the likelihood of widespread, water-borne disease outbreaks and large-scale flood recession agriculture in the Deyr off-season for harvest in March and April.
      • Average to good crop establishment in all crop-producing zones along with the lack of large-scale flooding means that the expected average Deyr crop harvest will be in January and February with only minimal delays, instead of the substantial delays assumed in October.
      • An above-average off-season harvest in Lower and Middle Juba Regions had been expected due to flooding providing opportunities for flood recession maize cultivation or cultivation in the desheks (swamps). Now, the off-season crop production in March and April 2013 is expected to be minimal, if at all.

    Projected Outlook through March 2013
    • Near normal October to December Deyr rains and the reduced risk of excessive flooding along both the Juba and Shabelle Rivers will not inundate arable land. Hence agricultural labor opportunities, trade, and population movements will not be disrupted by floods. Significant increases in food prices are becoming less likely as trade helps stabilize prices following the below average Gu harvest. Outbreaks of water- borne diseases and poor sanitation may remain at a containable level. With limited deterioration in food access and increased access to income from labor and own produced crops in January and February, most of the riverine households’ access to food would likely improve to the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) level from January to February.
    • The same would be largely true in agropastoral areas in southern Somalia. Some of the areas currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Hiran, Bay, and Middle and Lower Juba are expected to improve to IPC Phase 2 from December to March 2013 as the Deyr harvest and associated labor opportunities increase incomes and food supply.
    • The ongoing, above average Gu/Karan crop harvest in north-west agropastoral livelihood zone in Awdal and Waqooyi Galbeed region will increase food availability and provide market supplies in northwestern Somalia.
    • While a high level of conflict was anticipated in the most likely scenario, now a further increase in conflict in Gedo, Lower and Middle Juba, Bay, Bakol, and Lower and Middle Shabelle Regions isan increasingly likely risk. While large-scale fighting may be less than recently over the next several months, armed groups are increasingly employing even more guerilla warfare tactics including land mines. An increase of conflict above levels initially anticipated, even if not involving large scale military maneuvers or foreign troop movements, could have detrimental effects on food security by reducing trade, labor and livestock migration, and humanitarian access. Food security outcomes could be significantly worse with higher phases of food insecurity across affected parts of southern Somalia.

    .Juba Valley—Gedo and Lower and Middle Juba Regions

    In the Juba Valley, access to agricultural labor and own crop production from the Gu was especially poor this year. Also, since the beginning of the calendar year, white maize prices in this area remained higher than in other parts of southern Somalia. However, milk production and herd sizes have been slowly improving since early 2012. In addition to increased livestock production and the reopening of the southbound cattle trade, the Gu off-season maize harvest in September and October has entered the market in October. Very early Deyr rains saved this crop in late September and early October, and due to wet road conditions, much of the maize stayed in markets near where it was produced. Meanwhile, the recent reduction in large-scale conflict has improved access to markets and agricultural labor opportunities. This has increased food access in both riverine and agropastoral livelihood zones in the Juba Valley. Other food security outcomes are expected to improve to reflect this improved access. Both agropastoral and riverine areas of the Juba Valley are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), but they will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to increased casual labor income, the Deyr harvest in January and February, and increased trade that has accompanied the decrease in violence.

    While the situation has greatly improved from September to November, these improvements are at risk of being very temporary. The possibility of increased civil insecurity as result of military operations by formal troops or informal armed groups using guerilla tactics, if they increase enough, could erase improvements as local populations become once again isolated from markets and labor and livestock migration opportunities. Also, intermittent dry spells during the Deyr rains have so far not prevented typical agricultural activities and crop establishment. However, further dry spells could also significantly reduce the Deyr harvest with impacts on own production, agricultural labor wages, maize prices, and terms of trade between livestock and maize.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Source: FEWS NET Somalia

    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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