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Food security to deteriorate in the South due to intensified conflict

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Somalia
  • April - September 2015
Food security to deteriorate in the South due to intensified conflict

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • In agropastoral areas in the South that had a very limited January/February Deyr harvest, food security will remain at or deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during the April to June lean season. In parts of Bakool and Hiraan, the poorest households will move into Emergency (IPC Phase 4) due to more limited trade, which decreases economic activity.

    • In the North, food security is likely to improve through September as a result of increased livestock production and increased livestock prices due demand for Ramadan in June/July and the Hajj in late September. With average to below-average rainfall forecast for this season, pasture and water availability will increase, supporting recovery of livestock body conditions from a warmer and longer than usual January to March Jilaal dry season.

    • In the riverine livelihood zones in Middle and Lower Juba, food security will deteriorate between now and June as a result of reduced cereal availability from the well below-average off-season harvest in March and reduced agricultural labor income due to likely river flooding in April/May that will reduce demand for labor for land preparation, planting, and weeding.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    Since January 2015, food security has deteriorated, and the number of people in Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4) has increased to nearly one million.

    Food security has deteriorated due to a variety of unanticipated shocks since January. Intensified conflict in 2015 has restricted trader movement. The Deyr off-season harvest in March was much less than anticipated as stagnant flood waters reduced the area available for recessional cultivation. Insect infestations also reduced yields. Cereal prices are the highest they have been since 2011 in many markets, which decreased food access. High temperatures during the January to March Jilaal dry season accelerated water depletion in berkads and other water catchments, resulting in water scarcity in many pastoral areas in the northern and central regions. The higher temperatures also increased the frequency with which livestock needed to be watered. Distances to water points grew longer. Prices for trucked water increased, and water trucking continued later than usual through the end of March. Pasture deteriorated, and the availability of dry pasture was reduced. The driest areas were in Southern Inland Pastoral, Hawd Pastoral, Sool Plateau Pastoral, and Southern Agropastoral livelihood zones.

    In late March, light to moderate Todob rains fell in some parts of the country. These alleviated the water scarcity, but improvements were short lived as livestock from the drier areas were migrated to refilled water points. These Todob rains, the very light rains that precede the heavier April to June Gu rainy season, had different levels of intensity, and temporal and spatial distribution were uneven. Between 21 and 24 March, moderate to light rains of between 10 and 75 millimeters (mm) fell in some places. The heaviest amounts fell in West-Golis Pastoral livelihood zone, Northwest Agropastoral, parts of the Hawd in the northwestern regions, and agropastoral areas of Bakool. In the rest of the country, localized light to moderate rains fell in both pastoral and agropastoral areas, but this was not enough rain to facilitate planting. These rains subsided during the last week of March. Most of southern Gedo, Hiraan, Bay, and Middle and Lower Shabelle, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone in both Lower Juba and the central regions remained dry in March. Then in April the Gu rains started with mostly normal or even slightly early timing of the onset of rains. Thus far, amounts of mostly been near average (Figure 1).

    In the North, despite the Todob rains in late March, water trucking continued through March in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone in Awdal Region, the Hawd, Sool Plateau Pastoral, East Golis Pastoral, Karkaar-Dharor Pastoral, and Nugal Valley Pastoral in Togdheer, Sool, Sanaag, Bari, Nugal, and northern Mudug Regions. In addition to water supply being far below normal, rangeland conditions deteriorated more than usual due to the drier and warmer than usual January to March Jilaal dry season. Livestock have needed to be moved more frequently in search of dry pasture. Water and pasture conditions were similar in the central regions. In the South, temperatures were lower during the January to March Jilaal dry season in most of Bay and Middle Shabelle and in some parts of Lower Shabelle, Middle and Lower Juba, and Bakool, preserving some access to pasture and water. However, in the southern areas that received well below-average October to December Deyr rains, pasture and water access were lower. Livestock had to be migrated to riverine areas or over long distances to access dry pasture. These areas included agropastoral areas in Lower and Middle Juba, Hiraan, and Gedo Regions along with some parts of Lower Shabelle and Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Gedo and Lower and Middle Juba.

    The off-season Deyr harvest in March from riverine areas along the Juba River was well below average and below expectations from January. Flood waters did not recede in all areas, limiting planting. Also, moisture stress, insect damage, and foggy and cloudy weather reduced yields. Some households sold maize as fodder, realizing it would not reach maturity. Sesame yields were also lower than anticipated. Approximately 1,200 metric tons (MT) of maize and 2,900 MT of sesame were harvested in March.

    • Despite persistent insecurity, land preparation in agropastoral and riverine areas in the southern regions continued in March. However, a significant amount of land that is usually planted in Middle Juba was not prepared due to stagnant flood waters and limited cash for better-off households to hire labor for bush clearing.
    • Maize and sorghum prices increased from January to March in all cereal surplus-producing and deficit areas. The below-average Deyr harvest in January/February and Deyr off-season harvest in March along with reduced cereal imports for humanitarian assistance have decreased cereal supply. In the sorghum belt, sorghum prices have reached levels above last year, but they are generally near their five-year averages. Similarly, in the Juba Valley, the March white maize prices were generally higher than last year and recent months but near the five-year averages. The recent increases in prices are probably due to the low supply. In the Shabelles, maize prices have followed similar trends, but due to more outflow to the Jubas, they tend to be slightly above their five-year averages.
    • Imported red rice prices in the northeastern and central regions have decreased slightly since last May. Rice prices are significantly lower than their five-year averages. However, unlike in the rest of the country, in the Northwest, imported red rice prices have been stable over the past year.
    • Cumulative January to March 2015 informal exports of sorghum and maize from Ethiopia to central and northern Somalia were 25 percent more than last year. This was attributed to less domestic production of maize in surplus-producing Lower Shabelle during the Deyr and to trade restrictions in and around Bay Region, which is main supplier of sorghum to the North.
    • Livestock prices started to seasonally increase in most southern, central, and northwestern markets from February to March. From February to March in the sorghum belt, local-quality goat prices increased slightly. In the central regions, higher prices in March are likely due to the low number of sellable animals despite stable demand. In the northeastern regions, local-quality goat prices decreased from February to March. In the Northwest, March prices were slightly higher than February and generally above their five-year averages. The higher prices may be driven by lower imports from Somali Region in Ethiopia and central Somalia.
    • In the sorghum belt in Bakool, Gedo, and Hiraan Regions, livestock-to-cereal terms of trade (ToT) are generally below average. The March local-quality goat to sorghum terms of trade (ToT) in Beletweyne is 32 percent lower than the five-average, while in El Barde in Bakool, it was 56 percent below the five-year average. Similarly, in other areas that have been much drier than usual, livestock-to-cereal terms of trade are low. For example, in Sakow in Middle Juba, local-quality goat to white maize ToT in March was 45 percent below the five-year average. While much of the country still has livestock-to-cereal terms of trade that are above-average, the actual values vary greatly. Throughout Lower and Middle Juba, livestock-to-cereal terms of trade remain low compared to other parts of the country despite being above-average. For example, in Afmadow in Lower Juba, a local-quality goat can only buy 85 kilograms (kg) of white maize, compared to the five-year average of 69 kg of white maize per local-quality goat. In contrast, in Baidoa in Bay Region in March a local-quality goat could fetch 203 kilograms (kg) of red sorghum compared to a five-year average of 285 kg. In Qoryoley in Lower Shabelle Region, a local-quality goat was worth 146 kg of white maize in March, actually slightly below the five-year average of 158 kg.
    • The daily labor wage rate in the most of the crop-producing areas in the South remained largely stable or have marginally increased from November 2014 to March 2015. In Bay, Gedo, and Hiraan, rates are generally above the five-year averages, and most daily rates increased slightly from February to March due to the seasonal rise in demand for agricultural labor for land preparation. However, in Bakool, rates increased more substantially from February to March, but they were still mostly lower than last year.
    • Between January and March 2015, troops from African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and the government did not lose control of any territory. However, targeted killings, suicide and car bombings, and other violent incidents continued in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Kismayo, Galkacyo, and other larger towns in the South. Al Shabaab has carried out ambushes on army convoys and trucks of humanitarian assistance. They have also killed prominent people in several towns. Al Shabaab has largely retreated into rural areas, but they are still able to block roads leading into towns and confiscate goods destined for these towns. This along with active fighting and traders’ fear for their own personal security have disrupted trade and displaced thousands of people from towns. Approximately, 60 percent of the population have left Buloburte in Hiraan for Beletweyne and Mogadishu along with nearby villages in agropastoral areas.
    • Inter-clan conflict has caused displacement and the loss of lives and assets in Guriel District in Galgaduud Region, Marka in Lower Shabelle Region, and Beletweyne District in Hiraan.

    The April to September 2015 most likely scenario is based on the following national-level assumptions:


    • The cumulative April-to-June Gu rainfall in most of Somalia is likely to be near average to below-average with erratic distribution. However, most of the North and parts of Lower Juba will likely receive near average to above-average rainfall.
    • June-to-August coastal Xagaa rains are likely to have a normally timed start and have average to below-average amounts of rain in the coastal areas and adjacent inland areas in Lower and Middle Shabelle, Lower and Middle Juba, and Bay Region. The June to August Xagaa rains will seasonably increase water and pasture availability and allow the growth of late-planted and off-season crops.
    • The June-to-September Karan rains in northwestern Somalia are likely to start on time and have near average to below-average amounts of rain.

    Agricultural labor demand and crop production:                                                                                  

    • With a high likelihood of below-average rainfall and the rains having started late in some areas, below-average planted area is likely. This would result in a below-average Gu harvest in July.
    • Agricultural labor demand is likely to be below average in May to July due to low planted area both in agropastoral areas and in riverine areas along the Shabelle and Juba Rivers, which may have significant flooding. Some river bank breakages remain open, so even near average rainfall in both the upper river catchments in Ethiopia and locally in southern Somalia could lead to flooding. As result of floods, agricultural activities are likely to be delayed in many riverine areas, reducing agricultural labor demand throughout the Gu season.
    • As flood waters recede, recession cultivation of off-season Gu crops will likely occur in July.
    • In agropastoral areas of the Jubas, Hiraan, and Gedo, the poor will likely spend more time doing agricultural labor for others than working on their own land in order to increase cash income. However, this will reduce area planted. Conversely, in Bay, Bakool, and the Shabelles, planted area under cereals is likely to be higher than last year as households seek to build cereal stocks since prices have been higher after the below-average Deyr harvest in January/February 2015.


    • With the projected near average to below-average April to June Gu rainfall, grazing and water conditions are likely to be seasonally normal, but the availability of pasture, browse, and water will likely decline gradually during the July to September Xagaa dry season. With mostly average to good grazing conditions expected, livestock migration patterns should remain typical.
    • No major livestock disease outbreaks are anticipated, and the current average to good livestock body conditions are expected to be maintained. A low to medium level of livestock births are expected during the Gu along with a medium rate of conceptions, particularly in the South.
    • Camel, cattle, and goat milk availability and access will likely increase in most pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones from mid-April to July as a result of the low to medium level of calving, and the expected medium level of kidding expected during the Gu as well as the increased water availability and improved pasture conditions.
    • Livestock prices will seasonally increase from April through September as livestock export demand in the Middle East increases for Ramadan in June/July and in September for the Hajj. Restocking by traders both in Somalia and the Middle East steadily grows between April and September in anticipation of a large spike in demand for the Hajj.

    Markets and trade:

    • Sorghum and maize prices will likely increase significantly during the April to June lean season before green consumption of the Gu harvest begins in July. Prices will likely follow a seasonal decreasing trend between July and August, despite somewhat low cereal stocks as a result of low production in previous seasons and projected flood damage and of overall below-average planted area for the Gu.
    • March maize and sorghum prices at markets in surplus-producing Bay Region are the lowest they have been since May 2014, and they are likely to remain low due to the reduced ability to take this supply to other parts of the country due to trade restrictions. However, in Lower Shabelle, the March maize prices are at the highest they have been since August 2014, and they are likely to continue increasing through July due to high demand for maize from the Juba Regions.
    • Seasonal monsoon high sea winds between April and September prevent smaller ships from sailing from many of the smaller ports. This will likely contribute to a seasonally reduced volume of imports, including of rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, sugar, and fuel. The market supply of imported goods though will likely remain seasonally typical, and prices will only increase seasonally.
    • The Somali shilling (SOS) is likely to appreciate against major foreign currencies due to reduced imports during the monsoon high sea closure season between April and September, high demand for shilling related to the expected livestock exports, and the limited supply of the paper Somali shilling notes in circulation.
    • Due to difficulties in sending remittances, less money is likely to be remitted to Somalia with the largest reduction likely being remittances from Kenya.

    Humanitarian assistance:

    • Access to humanitarian interventions will likely be reduced from current levels due to sustained civil insecurity in rural areas of the South controlled by armed groups and roads’ impassibility during the April to June Gu rains. However, ongoing humanitarian assistance is likely to continue in the more secure and easier-to-reach areas including in the western parts of the central, northeastern, and northwestern regions.
    • Humanitarian assistance is also assumed to continue in the areas that are currently controlled by the Federal Government of Somalia supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) including some parts of Lower Juba, northern Gedo Region, El Barde District in Bakool, and Beletweyne District in Hiraan.
    • Restrictions on trade into Buloburte, Rabdhure, Xudur, Tiyeglow, Wajid, and El Barde towns will likely continue to restrict access to these towns both for traders and for humanitarian agencies.


    • Attacks on Federal Government of Somalia’s personnel and AMISOM troops are likely to continue. Armed conflict is likely to continue, mainly in the South and especially in the Juba and Shabelle Regions. The conflict will continue to hinder humanitarian access, cause further losses of life and assets, and interruptions of both population movements and trade. Additional people are likely to be displaced by the conflict from April to September.
    • Returnees and refugees from Yemen will continue to arrive in northern Somalia, primarily to coastal areas but also with some arrivals in Mogadishu, due to likely continued conflict and civil insecurity in Yemen. Households hosting returnees and refugees will face additional, unanticipated expenses, and some areas may see additional competition for certain types of labor.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    As a result of limited cereal stocks, early depletion of water points, and deteriorating pasture conditions during the warmer and drier than usual January to March Jilaal dry season, high local cereal prices, insufficient income to cover both food purchases and debt repayments, overstretched of social support networks, and escalating insecurity in South-Central Somalia, food insecurity in many places is expected to deteriorate between April to June. This will increase the number people who are acutely food insecure above the estimated 731,000 people in Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phase 3 or 4) that was made in January.

    From April through June, livestock productivity will seasonally increase during the rainy season. Many livestock will give birth. Even if below-average, April to June rainfall will likely still recharge water points and improve pasture and browse conditions. This will even be the case in the areas that had less October-to-December Deyr rainfall, including the Hawd, Addun Pastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones. However, change will be gradual, as livestock body conditions slowly recover. There will continue to be a limited number of sellable livestock, high cereal prices, and high debts. No major shifts in acute food insecurity phases are expected between now and June. All pastoral and most agropastoral livelihood zones in South-Central are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    However, in agropastoral areas in Hiraan, Bakool, and Middle Juba, food security will further deteriorate during the April to June lean season due to limited household cereal stocks, high local and imported food prices, low livestock prices, and conflict constraining market access and trade. Nutrition will likely deteriorate. Riverine areas in Middle Juba are likely to flood, damaging any standing recessional crops still in the fields and further reducing agricultural labor demand in Middle Juba. Food security outcome in these areas is expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) though the poorest households may have worse outcomes from April to June.

    No major changes in food security classification are expected between now and September in pastoral areas. Despite the increased livestock production and value through September, incomes will likely still not cover food purchases, debt repayments, and other essential expenses. Poor households will likely be able to access milk and some income from milk sales. Most pastoral areas are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Recently money remittances companies were closed by the Government of Kenya. This, along with continued difficulties in remitting from western countries will reduce income from remittances. The closures in Kenya will likely reduce the volume of cross-border trade between Kenya and Somalia as payments become more difficult to make and increase the likelihood of some refugee households returning to Somalia from Kenya.

    In riverine areas and some agropastoral areas in Hiraan, Bakool, and Middle Juba, nutrition outcomes may deteriorate during the April to June Gu rains and afterwards due to high incidence of communicable diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, and respiratory tract infections that are common during the rainy season. However, nutrition outcomes are likely to improve in most pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones between April and September as food consumption slowly increases, especially of milk.

    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, April 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, April 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Cumulative rainfall as a percent of the 1981-to-2010 mean, African rainfall climatology-2 (ARC2) methodology

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Cumulative rainfall as a percent of the 1981-to-2010 mean, African rainfall climatology-2 (ARC2) methodology

    Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Climate Prediction Cente…

    Figure 4


    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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