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River flooding affecting fewer households than earlier expected

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Somalia
  • November 2015
River flooding affecting fewer households than earlier expected

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through March 2016
  • Key Messages
    • Food security is expected to improve between January and March as a result of increased livestock production and the anticipated above-average Deyr harvest in January/February. Some pastoral areas in both the southern and northern regions are expected to improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1), while a majority of the country remains Stressed (IPC Phase 2). 

    • Riverine areas in Middle Shabelle are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through December, as heavy rainfall, driven in part by the ongoing El Niño, led to flooding. The floods delayed planting, destroyed crops, and prevented households from accessing markets.

    • Agropastoral areas in Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed will likely have below-average Gu/Karan long-cycle crop production in November/December as a result of a drier-than-usual April to July. These areas are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), even after the harvest.

    • Guban Pastoral livelihood zone received atypical, moderate rainfall in October and November, which increased pasture and water availability. However, poor households in this region will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) through March but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance. This is due to very dry conditions in 2014 and 2015, which resulted in low livestock production, reduced incomes due to low livestock values, and unusual livestock losses during the drought in 2015, likely in part due to the ongoing El Niño. 

    Current Situation
    • Largely following forecasts driven by El Niño, Deyr rains started on time in October in most central and southern regions, as well as in the Hawd in the North. Rainfall intensified and was heavy in these regions between October 20 and November 10 as forecasts had earlier suggested. During the first ten days of November, near average rainfall with moderate spatial coverage was received in most southern regions, including Lower and Middle Juba and Lower Shabelle. However, in most southeastern and northern regions, rainfall was low, and there were long dry spells. In Guban Pastoral livelihood zone, there was atypical, moderate rainfall in October and November. This area usually only has substantial rainfall during the Xays rains in December and January. However, due to El Niño, there was a higher chance for unusual, out of season rainfall along the coast in Guban.
    • In northwestern agropastoral areas, harvesting began in early November. This increased demand for agricultural labor, increasing incomes of poor households.
    • Crops germinated already in most areas, and other activities such as weeding are progressing on a typical schedule in most southern agricultural and agropastoral areas. In parts of Gedo and Middle and Lower Juba, planting was late as households either planted less area or not at all for fears of flooded fields, related to expected heavy rainfall episodes due to the ongoing El Niño. However, in areas along the Juba River, some farmers planted less area due to less rainfall at the start of the season than expected or inadequate volume of water in the Juba River with which to irrigate. Most areas that planted late are too far behind schedule to have crops reach maturity by January, and they will not harvest until the off-season in February/March 2016, extending the agricultural lean season in these areas. Agricultural labor opportunities were seasonally available and more easily acquired in October and November than in recent months, providing incomes for poor households to purchase food.
    • River flooding was reported in Jowhar District of Middle Shabelle and many localized areas in Middle Juba between October 18 and November 10. In Jowhar, floods damaged 3,000 hectares (ha) of cropped land, in some cases destroying crops or preventing growth. However, no households were reported to have been displaced by these floods. Currently, both the Juba and Shabelle Rivers have had their water levels fall to more typical levels, and they are currently below flood risk levels.
    • Pasture and water availability increased significantly in November in most pastoral and agropastoral areas, including Southern Rainfed Agropastoral livelihood zone. However, pastoral areas in Sanaag, Awdal, and Bari Regions in the North have received only light to moderate rainfall, and there has been little growth of pasture or refilling of water points. Low water and pasture availability, more similar to the dry season, may persist in these areas.
    • Livestock body conditions have been maintained, and most livestock have average to good body conditions. A medium level of goat and sheep births was reported in September/October in most pastoral and agropastoral areas. A low level of camel births started in November. Cattle calving rates were medium to low in the South. These births increased household herd sizes, milk sales, income from milk sales, and milk consumption. Production and availability of milk have increased in October and November. However, in Northern Inland pastoral livelihood zone, livestock are in poor condition and many kids have died due to the dry and hot conditions and poor health of the birthing goats.   
    • Maize and sorghum are available in most markets, although stocks are being drawn down as supplies from the Gu harvest are sold and consumed. From September to October, the red sorghum price increased eight percent in Baidoa. However, the Baidoa red sorghum price in October was 10 percent lower than last year and six percent lower than the five-year average. Similarly, as a result of the near average Gu harvest and the off-season harvest in September/October, the maize price in Qoryoley decreased from July to October, and the October price was 22 percent below the five-year average.
    • Goat prices increased approximately five percent from October to November in most markets due to seasonally reduced market supply of livestock as livestock have been migrated to wet-season grazing areas farther from markets. However, local-quality goat prices were generally two to eight percent lower than last year.
    • Insecurity continues to limit trade. Unresolved inter-clan conflict in Lower Shabelle has resulted in further limitation of trade and of population movements. This conflict has also led to the loss of lives and assets. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for October 2015 to March 2016. However, and the following assumptions have been updated:

    • In the October outlook, total cumulative October to December rainfall had been assumed to be above-average to average, due to the ongoing El Niño. With similar rainfall across the region, severe flooding was projected in flood-prone riverine areas along the Juba and Shabelle Rivers. While the rains started on time and rainfall has been above-average in much of South-Central Somalia, episodic heavy rains have been less common, and with continued, typically erratic temporal and spatial distribution, further large-scale flooding along the Juba and Shabelle Rivers is now not the most likely scenario. In addition to changes to the original assumption, this alters the following four assumptions:
      • The likelihood of widespread, water-borne and vector-borne disease outbreaks has fallen, and they are unlikely to be widespread for the rest of the season, though localized outbreaks are still possible.
      • Substantial delays in the Deyr harvest were expected with much of the crop in riverine areas delayed into the off-season in February/March. With the good crop establishment in almost all cropped areas, with the exception of some riverine areas along the Juba, the Deyr crop harvest will likely occur on time in January and February with minimal delays.
      • Flood-recession cultivation and off-season Deyr crop planting was assumed likely to occur in Lower and Middle Juba and Middle Shabelle Regions. With the reduced risk of flooding, the March/April off-season crop production is projected to be minimal, and some riverine areas may not plant any off-season crops.
      • Staple food prices were expected to sharply increase in flooded areas due to difficulty accessing roads and trading. Given the reduced risk of further flooding, prices are expected to remain more stable.

    Projected Outlook Through March 2016
    • With reduced risk of further, widespread flooding along both the Juba and Shabelle Rivers, agricultural labor opportunities, trade, and population movements will not be disrupted by floods. Food prices are expected to remain stable as the off-season harvest from September and other trade flows help keep prices stable despite the below-average July/August Gu harvest. Additionally, outbreaks of water-borne diseases and poor sanitation are expected to remain at more typical levels. With limited flooding and water-borne disease outbreaks and increased seasonal access to income from labor, along with the Deyr harvest in January and February, most riverine households’ access to food is likely to improve following the rains, and they are likely to move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in January as the harvest starts.
    • Similarly, agropastoral areas in southern Somalia that are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including in Hiiraan, Bakool, and Middle Juba, are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) starting in December as the Deyr harvest and associated labor opportunities increase incomes and food supply.
    • According to FSNAU and FEWS NET’s post--Gu 2015 food security assessment, an estimated 628,680 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia are classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). These IDPs will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to limited income-earning opportunities.
    • Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Bari and Sanaag Regions will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Some households in this area will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to loss of recently born kids, limited saleable animals due to poor body conditions, and low goat milk production and consumption.
    • As prices for both locally-produced cereals and milk fall after the harvest, the number of people from urban areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is likely to fall by as much as a quarter.
    • Both Gu long-cycle crops and Karan crops are being harvested in Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone. As these harvests are expected to be below average, agropastoral households in Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed Regions may only have two months of cereal stocks and income to purchase from cereal sales. In a more typical year, households would harvest a three-to-four month cereal supply. Although this harvest will improve food security slightly, given the below-average harvest, households in these areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least March.
    • Despite the projected near normal Xays rains in December and January, poor households in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) but only with the continued presence of humanitarian assistance. Neither milk consumption nor production are likely to increase during the rains due to the lack of livestock births. Incomes from livestock and livestock product sales are likely to remain very low for the coming year due to poor livestock body conditions and small herd sizes.
    • Average to above average cereal harvests are likely in January/February in agropastoral and riverine areas in southern Somalia as a result of average to well above-average October to December Deyr rains during El Niño. However, in Southern Rainfed Agropastoral livelihood zone in Lower and Middle Juba and in Lower Shabelle Regions, harvests are expected to be both below-average and delayed, and will not begin in February/March, due to delayed planting.
    • Insecurity is likely to continue between now and at least March. Armed confrontations are likely to constrict humanitarian access, trade, and other economic activities, reducing poor households’ access to food and income.
    • Food security outcomes will remain as discussed in FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for October 2015 to March 2016 in most areas of the country. Most of the country is likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from January to March 2016. Some agropastoral areas in Hiiraan, Bakool, and Middle Juba that are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from December to March 2016 as the Deyr harvest and associated labor opportunities increase incomes and food supply. Poor households in Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone and Guban Pastoral livelihood zone are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) only with the continued presence of humanitarian assistance through March 2016.

    Figure 1


    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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