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Historic multi-season drought leads to Emergency (IPC Phase 4), with risk of further deterioration

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Somalia
  • February - September 2022
Historic multi-season drought leads to Emergency (IPC Phase 4), with risk of further deterioration

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  • Key Messages
  • Partner
    Key Messages
    • The severity of food insecurity has rapidly worsened in Somalia since the start of the dry season in January. Intensifying drought has caused acute water shortages, the loss of livestock essential to Somalia’s pastoral and agropastoral livelihood systems, and escalating staple food prices, exacerbated by ongoing conflict and global supply shocks. The deyr harvest in January was the third lowest on the 25-year record, and field information suggests households have lost up to 30 percent of their livestock holdings due to starvation or disease since mid-2021. Water and staple food prices rose 140-160 percent above the five-year average in some locations in February, rivaling the prices recorded during the 2010/2011 and 2016/2017 droughts. As a result, many households face widening food consumption gaps and the erosion of their coping capacity, leading to a surge in displacement. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are widespread, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is likely already occurring in central Somalia, and acute malnutrition is already at Critical levels in many areas of southern and central Somalia.

    • The severity of acute food insecurity is expected to worsen and remain elevated through September. Prevailing La Niña conditions, which typically bring below-average rainfall to the eastern Horn of Africa, are most likely to result in a historic, fourth consecutive below-average rainfall season in April-June 2022, according to FEWS NET’s partners at the NOAA, Climate Hazards Center, and USGS. Many households have a limited capacity to cope with another poor harvest and livestock reproduction cycle. FEWS NET and FSNAU anticipate 4-5 million people in Somalia (25-30 percent of the population) will need humanitarian food assistance to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes this year, inclusive of up to 1.0-1.5 million people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). The areas of highest concern include Hawd Pastoral, Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral, Addun Pastoral, Southern Agropastoral, and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zones, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected.

    • Although humanitarian food assistance reached 10-15 percent of the Somali population monthly throughout 2021, the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is only 3.8 percent funded and the Somalia Food Security Cluster anticipates pipeline breaks to food assistance will occur by May or earlier. Field reports already indicate that current levels of food and water assistance are quickly being outpaced by the rapid increase in the size of the food insecure population, widening of household food consumption gaps, loss of livelihood assets, and worsening acute malnutrition levels. Food, water, and nutrition assistance must be scaled up and sustained throughout 2022 to save lives and rebuild livelihoods.

    • FEWS NET and FSNAU assess that Somalia faces a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in 2022. Based on median rainfall anomalies in years with similar La Niña conditions, the 2022 gu rains are currently expected to be moderately below average. However, in an alternative scenario in which the gu rains fail, purchasing power declines to record lows, and food assistance does not reach areas of high concern, Famine (IPC Phase 5) could occur in mid-2022. Past trends demonstrate the potential for multi-season droughts to lead to famine in Somalia, such as in 2011-2012 when an estimated 260,000 people died of hunger-related causes. Timely humanitarian action prevented more extreme outcomes during the last multi-season drought in 2017. Sustained humanitarian assistance, alongside improved humanitarian access to conflict-affected areas, is vital to prevent the loss of lives and livelihoods and to avert the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5).


    Current Situation

    The ongoing drought in Somalia, which began in late 2020, has continued to intensify during the January-March 2022 jilaal dry season after a third consecutive below-average rainfall season occurred in late 2021. The October-December 2021 deyr rains generally failed, ranging from 40 percent to over 70 percent below the 40-year average in southern, central, and parts of northeastern Somalia (Figure 1). Furthermore, rainfall onset was delayed by four to six weeks in these areas, the season ended earlier than normal, and rainfall distribution was highly erratic. Although cumulative rainfall totals were near to slightly above average across most of the northwest, most rainfall accumulated very early in the season and the northwest received little to no rain after October. The December-January xeys coastal rains in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone were also below average. The only areas that experienced some relief toward the end of the season were Lower Juba and southern Gedo regions, which received 25-100 mm of rain between late November and late December. 

    After several seasons of poor rainfall, a longer and hotter-than-normal jilaal dry season has led to widespread water scarcity and, consequently,  an increase in human and livestock disease incidence. Most natural and manmade water sources are nearly to completely dry, leaving households increasingly dependent on purchasing water for themselves and/or their livestock from water trucks as prices surge. The price of a 200-liter drum of potable water ranged from 10 to 75 percent above the five-year average in most of the main towns in February, with even steeper increases of 110 and 140 percent recorded in Xudur of Bakool Region and Garowe of Nugaal Region, respectively (Figure 3). The worst-affected areas are located in Nugaal, Mudug, Galgaduud, Gedo, and Bakool regions. The water shortages have exacerbated inadequate access to sanitation and hygiene facilities, leaving households vulnerable to diseases like cholera and Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD). According to the WHO, the number of new cholera cases in early 2022 is higher than previous years, with cases clustered in Banadir Region and in large IDP sites where access to safe water is limited.

    The drought has also resulted in low pasture and browse availability locally and regionally, leading to massive livestock migration and increased grazing pressure in the few areas where green or dry pasture is still available. Vegetation greenness is significantly below median (2003-2017) levels across most of the country, indicative of inadequate to absent pasture for livestock grazing (Figure 2). In large areas of southern and central Somalia, the eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) shows vegetation conditions are now poorer than those recorded during the same period of the 2016/2017 and 2010/2011 droughts. While most of the northwest (Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, Togdheer, and Sanaag regions), Bari in the northeast, and Lower Juba in the south still have green pasture following the deyr rains, this has attracted large volumes of livestock in-migration from rainfall-deficit areas. Given concurrent extreme temperatures, pastures are rapidly depleting in these areas.

    The drought is occurring amid protracted conflict, which is also a long-term driver of food insecurity that causes household displacement, disrupts livelihood activities (e.g., access to irrigation, livestock migration routes, physical access to markets), restricts trade flows and market functioning, and limits humanitarian access, especially in southern and parts of central Somalia. Based on conflict event data tracked by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), levels of violence in 2021 remained high and similar to 2020, with the highest number of incidents recorded in December. Political tensions related to the slow progress of parliamentary elections and the long-delayed presidential election have led to violence between factions of Somalia’s security forces and an uptick in civil unrest. Insurgents continue to place restrictions on trade and population movements, and insurgent attacks against civilian and military targets have risen since October amid the divisive electoral process and uncertain political landscape. Meanwhile, clan conflicts over scarce resources and land management have increased, especially in drought-affected areas of Galgaduud, Mudug, Hiiraan, and Lower Shabelle. Nationally, most conflict incidents occurred in Mogadishu and Lower Shabelle followed by Lower Juba, Middle Shabelle, Bay, Hiiraan, and Bakool regions. Bakool, specifically, witnessed a three-fold increase in violent incidents in 2021 compared to the preceding three years, largely linked to the intensifying siege of Xudur by al-Shabaab. Galgaduud has recently seen several large-scale displacement events due to conflict, including the displacement of around 14,100 people in February due to resource-based clan conflict and over 100,000 people last October due to political conflict. An outbreak of conflict in Diinsoor, Bay Region, in February has also led to the recent displacement of an estimated 17,400 people.

    Scarce pasture and water resources have led to deterioration in livestock body conditions across the country, with livestock emaciation and deaths occurring in the worst-affected areas. As a result, pastoral and agropastoral households face significant reductions in their income-earning potential and many are now unable to afford their minimum water and food needs. In key informant interviews and focus group discussions, households have reported losing up to 30 percent of their herds due to starvation or disease since mid-2021, with the largest losses incurred in Hawd Pastoral, Addun Pastoral, Southern Agropastoral, parts of Southern Inland Pastoral (Gedo and Hiiraan regions), Coastal Deeh Pastoral, Juba Cattle Pastoral, and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zones. There are only a few areas where livestock emaciation is not widespread, including Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed regions of the northwest and the Juba and Shabelle regions of the south. In parts of southern and central Somalia, conflict has further exacerbated the impacts of drought by restricting options for livestock migration, such as in central Somalia, or restricting livestock trade at the market, such as in Lower and Middle Juba and Bakool regions. The drought also led to a decline in healthy livestock births during the 2021 deyr, alongside medium to low levels of livestock conceptions for the subsequent reproduction cycle. Consequently, milk production is far below normal levels in most areas, except for Southern Inland Pastoral in the Juba and Shabelle regions in the south and in East Golis Pastoral and West Golis Pastoral zones in the north.

    Household livestock holdings have consequently declined or stagnated in most livelihood zones, a signal of reduced coping capacity and the diminished sustainability of local livelihoods. Some of the worst-affected households have lost their herds altogether. This trend is due not only to excess deaths and lower reproduction levels, but also distress livestock sales as households seek to both mitigate the financial burden of sustaining their livestock and earn income to repay accumulated debts and cover the rising cost of living. When FSNAU conducted its bi-annual assessment of average livestock holdings among poor households in December 2021, livestock deaths as a proportion of total livestock holdings had not yet occurred at the same rate as the 2016/2017 drought. It is likely that large-scale cash and water humanitarian interventions throughout 2021, along with support from the Somali diaspora and household access to credit and loan mechanisms, helped households mitigate the scale of livestock offtake. However, herd sizes were already well below normal levels in most northern and central livelihood zones given that the increased frequency of extreme weather events continued to constrain livestock births and restocking between 2017 and 2021. Now, livestock deaths have accelerated at the February/March peak of the 2022 dry season, as humanitarian interventions are being outpaced by drought severity and the scale of need. In many pastoral areas, such as Addun Pastoral livelihood zone in central Somalia (Figure 4), livestock sales typically account for up to 80 percent of a household’s annual cash income, but their holdings were already 30-70 percent below baseline levels in December and have since further declined. Livestock holdings are also below normal in agropastoral areas like Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral livelihood zone, where livestock usually offer an alternative income source to cope with poor crop production seasons. 


    Drought, pest incidence, and conflict-related disruptions to crop cultivation resulted in the third lowest deyr cereal harvest in southern Somalia on the 1995-2021 historical record, eclipsed only by the failed 2010 and 2016 deyr harvests (Figure 5). Crop losses from the main season harvest in January were pronounced across all rainfed agropastoral and irrigated riverine areas, with the least severe losses reported in high potential and riverine areas in Bay and Lower Shabelle regions. Irrigation capacity along the Shabelle and Juba rivers was largely inadequate given the steep decline in river water levels – especially near Beletweyne and Jowhar – and related increase in water salinity. Despite farmers’ efforts to open river breakages to extract water for crops and livestock, the riverine off-season cereal and cash crop harvest is also performing poorly, exhibiting signs of moisture stress. Based on FSNAU’s post-deyr seasonal assessment in December, total main and off-season deyr sorghum and maize production in southern Somalia is approximately 42,500 MT, which is 55 percent below both the deyr post-war average (1995-2020) and the deyr 10-year average. Sorghum performed better than maize due to its relatively better drought tolerance, accounting for over 90 percent of planted area. Cash crop production – namely cowpeas and sesame – is similarly low, dropping nearly 70 percent below the 10-year deyr average. 

    As this is the fourth consecutive below-average cereal harvest, most households in agropastoral and riverine areas have less than two months of food stocks for consumption and sales following the deyr harvest in January. In central agropastoral areas, households have little to no food stocks due to crop failure, leaving them solely to rely on income from livestock, labor, and other sources. Moreover, poor households that typically earn a large share of their annual income from agricultural labor saw this income source significantly decline, with both a steep drop in labor demand and a 5-20 percent decline in the daily labor wage compared to last year and the five-year average. Compared to the 2016 deyr harvest during the last severe drought, though, most agropastoral and riverine households entered the lean season with slightly higher quantities of cereals. In Bakool, specifically, the 2021 deyr cereal harvest is three times higher than 2016, while in Bay, the cereal harvest is about 75 percent higher. In both cases, this is mainly due to relatively better rainfall distribution. The exceptions to this trend are Gedo and Middle Juba regions, where the cereal harvest is 10-30 percent lower than 2016.

    The impacts of drought on the agricultural sector and household income, ongoing political instability that may compromise Somalia’s IMF-supported budget and debt relief plan, and global price shocks are undermining the rebound in economic activity that occurred in Somalia in 2021 after the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In October 2021, the World Bank’s latest analysis projected real GDP growth would gain momentum in 2022 and recover to pre-pandemic levels at around 3.0 percent, stimulated by financial reforms, aid flows and social protection programs, increased remittance inflows to middle and better-off households, and rising investments in energy, ports, and the financial sector. However, the recovery already showed uneven benefits for the Somali population with poverty levels projected to stagnate at 71 percent between 2020 and 2023. Staple food prices and fuel prices have since surged, with outsized impacts on poor rural, poor urban, and internally displaced households, who spend a large share of their income on food. According to the IMF, food inflation is on track to reach 6.5 percent in 2022 due to high food and fuel prices.

    As of February, domestic and regional cereal supply shortages have pushed local cereal prices to exorbitantly high levels across the south, while global supply-side constraints, high global fuel and shipping costs, conflict, and localized currency depreciation have caused price spikes in imported rice, vegetable oil, and wheat flour across most of the country. According to FSNAU and FEWS NET price data, maize and sorghum prices are 51 to 160 percent higher than the five-year average in main markets in the south, while rice prices have risen by 11 to 75 percent in central and most northern markets (Figure 6). In Baidoa of Bay, the key reference market in sorghum-producing areas, the price of sorghum reached 16,000 SOS/kg (0.6 USD/kg) in February, which is nearly 160 percent above the five-year average and over 80 percent higher than the drought period of February 2017. In Qorioley of Lower Shabelle, the key reference market in maize-producing areas, the price of maize was nearly double the five-year average at 12,250 SOS/kg (0.47 USD/kg) and 86 percent higher than the drought period of February 2017. In both markets, sorghum and maize prices have yet to reach the record-high levels recorded in June 2011 during the 2011-2012 famine (SOS 18,125 and SOS 19,250, respectively), but they are likely on track to exceed them by mid-to-late 2022. Furthermore, the prices of other essentials such as diesel, vegetable oil, sugur, and wheat flour have also spiked. In Mogadishu, for example, a liter of diesel has risen 40 percent and vegetable oil has surged by over 85 percent since January 2021.

    Sharp increases in staple food prices, coupled with declining livestock prices and labor wages as well as lower salable livestock holdings, have significantly affected household purchasing power, especially in the south. While poor livestock health and low salability is a constraint that limits households’ ability to sell their livestock at all, an increase in distress sales of livestock in the south has pushed goat and cattle prices down by around 20-50 percent since last year. As a result, the amount of cereal that a household can purchase with the sale of a goat has dropped by around 45-75 percent compared to average, except in Kismayo (Figure 7). In Xudur of Bakool, for example, a household can only purchase 3 kg of sorghum with a day’s labor wage or 27 kg of sorghum with the sale of a goat, reflecting a decline of 42 percent and 65 percent, respectively, from the five-year average. Purchasing power has fallen less sharply in northern and central Somalia (Figure 7) due to less severe increases in the price of rice and less severe declines in livestock value. While livestock prices have declined over the past six months, local quality goat prices still broadly ranged from near average to 60 percent above average in February and have not fallen to the low levels observed in 2016/2017 and 2010/2011. Favorable livestock prices in north-central Somalia are mainly attributed to lower livestock supply, which results from two factors: 1) the large-scale loss of livestock in 2016/2017 and limited recovery in livestock holdings between 2017 and 2021; and 2) sustained humanitarian assistance throughout 2021 to northern and, to a lesser extent, central pastoral livelihood zones, which mitigated the necessity of distress livestock sales. As a result, the main limiting factors for household purchasing power in northern and central Somalia are low livestock holdings and poor livestock body conditions.

    The impacts of conflict and drought on local livelihoods led to significant displacement in 2021, and drought-related displacement has accelerated since the end of the 2021 deyr rains. Up to 724,000 people experienced new or repeat displacement due to conflict or drought between October and February, according to UNHCR's Protection and Return Monitoring Network (PRMN)[1]. During this period, drought-related displacement flows (571,000 people) were 120 percent higher than that recorded during the same period of the 2016/2017 drought (259,000 people) (Figure 8). The epicenters of drought-related displacement include Galgaduud, Bay, and Mudug regions, which account for over 60 percent of displaced people, followed by Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba, Gedo, and Bakool. Meanwhile, 85 percent of all conflict-related displacement occurred in Galgaduud, predominantly in Balanbale and Guriceel districts within Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone. Displaced people from Galgaduud and Mudug are primarily moving to urban areas and displacement settlements within these two regions, while most displaced people in the south are moving to Banadir and, to a lesser extent, Lower Juba and Gedo. Displacement is indicative not only of the loss of livelihoods among affected households, but also an increased risk of food insecurity, morbidity, and acute malnutrition. Acute malnutrition among IDPs is likely already at Critical (GAM WHZ 15-29.9 percent) levels in the most common displacement destinations, including Mogadishu (Banadir), Dhusamareb (Galgaduud), Galkacyo (Mudug), and Dolow (Gedo), according to the analysis of SMART survey data collected by FSNAU and partners.

    Considerable levels of humanitarian food assistance throughout the ongoing drought, as well as WASH and nutrition interventions, mitigated the size of household food consumption gaps, the use of negative livelihood coping strategies such as distress livestock sales, and levels of acute malnutrition through the end of 2021. During the 2016/2017 drought, food assistance reached less than 5 percent of the Somali population in 2016 before a scale-up began in early 2017, and then it took over 12 months of sustained assistance and several rainfall seasons to drive a significant decline in the size of the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes (Figure 9). In contrast, 10-15 percent of the Somali population received cash transfers monthly in 2020 and 2021, peaking at an average of 2.4 million people monthly in late 2021, according to distribution data from the Somalia Food Security Cluster. In addition, over 1.07 million people received emergency water supplies in 2021. New government and WFP safety net programs have also played a role, delivering 35 USD/month/household to 125,000 people in Banadir since July 2018 and 20 USD/month/household to 1.2 million people in rural areas under the Baxnaano/Resilience program since 2019. Finally, the Somalia Nutrition Cluster provided preventive nutrition services to 101,200 children under two years old and 46,200 pregnant/lactating women and girls between July and December 2021.

    The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is only 3.8 percent funded, however, and the delivery of food assistance declined to reach only eight percent of the population (1.26 million people) in January before partially rebounding to reach 13 percent of the population in February (2.01 million people). Emergency and sustainable water assistance have only reached approximately 495,000 people compared to an estimated 3.6 million in need of water, according to the Somalia WASH Cluster. Furthermore, humanitarian access constraints – driven primarily by the presence of multiple armed actors and insurgent-enforced restrictions – continue to limit assistance delivery and the ability of civilians to safely seek assistance in many southern and central rural areas, especially in Bakool, Middle Juba, the eastern side of Galgaduud and Mudug, and parts of Bay, Lower Juba, Gedo, Hiiraan, and Lower Shabelle.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    The impacts of drought and protracted conflict and insecurity on household food and income from crop and livestock production, coupled with very high staple food prices due to the national cereal deficit and global supply shocks, have led to rapid deterioration in the severity of food insecurity in Somalia in early 2022. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are widespread, and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is likely occurring in Addun Pastoral and the central-northeastern part of Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone. FEWS NET and FSNAU estimate that around 3-4 million people currently need urgent food assistance, inclusive of an estimated 750,000-1.0 million households likely in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). These classifications are derived from food security and acute malnutrition outcome indicator data collected by FSNAU and partners during the post-deyr rural household survey (n=3,935) and IDP and urban household survey (n=4,629) in November and December 2021, complemented by field reports and monitoring data collected in January and February 2022. Initially, the survey results showed that humanitarian food assistance, government safety nets, and community/diaspora support had mitigated the severity of food insecurity in assessed areas. However, subsequent data indicate that the impact of food assistance is quickly being outpaced by the scale of need amid water shortages, unaffordable food prices, and the loss of livelihood assets, leading FEWS NET and FSNAU to revise the assessed scale and severity of acute food insecurity (Figure 9).

    At the time of data collection in late 2021, most food-insecure households reported either slight to moderate food consumption gaps or demonstrated an ability to cover their minimum food needs by maximizing the use of stressed coping strategies. Nationally, 29 percent of the rural population and 24 percent of the IDP and urban populations reported moderate hunger on the Household Hunger Scale, while around 28 percent of the rural population and 13 percent of the IDP and urban populations reported a poor or borderline Food Consumption Score. Fewer than 10 percent of households had resorted to crisis livelihood coping strategies, but their reliance on stressed strategies – especially purchasing food on credit and borrowing money to purchase food – was extremely high, reported by nearly 60 percent of households in each population group. Meanwhile, the median national prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) had slightly deteriorated within Serious (GAM WHZ 10-14.9 percent) levels compared to the prior two surveys, and acute malnutrition levels in many assessed areas were one level lower in January 2022 compared to the same period of the 2016/2017 drought in January 2017.

    Since January, however, most households have nearly or already finished their harvest stocks; the severity of water and pasture shortages, poor livestock health, and excess livestock deaths have approached peak intensity during the dry season; staple food prices have reached very high to record-high levels; and displacement has surged. Reduced food and milk intake, low access to clean water, and rising disease incidence – including a measles outbreak – have led to an uptick in new admissions of severe and moderate acute malnutrition cases in several areas, such as Baidoa/Baydhaba district of Bay Region, where February admissions (8,884 cases) rose 130 percent compared to January. Critical (GAM WHZ 15-29.9 percent) levels of acute malnutrition are likely occurring in many southern and central areas, including Hawd Pastoral and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones; Bay, Bakool, Hiiraan, and Gedo regions; riverine areas; five major IDP settlements in southern, central, and northeastern Somalia; and the urban areas of Galkacyo (Mudug), Beletweyn (Hiiraan), and Xudur (Bakool). 

    Among the pastoral livelihood zones, the areas of highest concern include Hawd Pastoral, Addun Pastoral, northeastern and central Coastal Deeh Pastoral and Fishing, Juba Pastoral, and Southern Inland Pastoral of Gedo Region. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely occurring in Addun Pastoral and northeastern-central Hawd Pastoral livelihood zones, where water shortages, the loss of livestock-related food and income, and population displacement are most severe. In the other areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely ongoing but are inclusive of a rising number of households in Emergency(IPC Phase 4). Household livestock holdings are declining at a quickening pace due to distress sales, livestock deaths, and low livestock births. Household debt burdens to cover the costs of water and food against the loss of income from livestock production have escalated to unsustainable levels, with the average debt reported by poor pastoral households nationally rising 50-275 percent in December 2021 compared to the previous year. Drought, coupled with insecurity and clan conflict, has also led to large-scale displacement, especially in central Somalia’s pastoral areas. Although humanitarian food assistance is reaching some households in accessible areas – especially in northwestern Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone where food assistance has likely prevented deterioration to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) – field reports indicate that current levels of assistance are inadequate to cover the rising number of food-insecure households and widening of food consumption gaps.

    Among the agropastoral and riverine livelihood zones, the areas of highest concern include Bay-Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral, Southern Agropastoral, Togdheer Agropastoral, central Cowpea Belt Agropastoral, and the riverine areas of Middle and Lower Juba. While Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are most likely in these areas, available evidence suggests the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is also atypically high. Households either lack adequate, alternative sources of income (e.g., livestock) to cope with the loss of deyr crops and agricultural labor income or the salability of their livestock has drastically declined due to the severity of drought impacts. Southern agropastoral areas have seen the steepest declines in their purchasing power compared to the rest of Somalia, and while food assistance is significant in several main towns like Baidoa and Xudur, many rural households face difficulty safely accessing this assistance due to ongoing insecurity. Underlying vulnerabilities are also a concern, especially in riverine areas, where marginalized communities have fewer resources and have more difficulty accessing credit/loans, community support, and humanitarian assistance. Large-scale displacement due to drought is already occurring in agropastoral areas of Bay, Bakool, Gedo, Togdheer, and Lower Juba.

    In addition, all of the assessed IDP settlements in 13 of Somalia’s largest towns are areas of high concern, based on the high concentration of people that depend on irregular sources of income such as casual labor and petty trade, have high vulnerability to price shocks, and face an increased risk of acute malnutrition. While the majority of IDPs have been displaced for several years, the surge in drought- and conflict-induced displacement over the past few months means these areas are receiving thousands of people who lost their productive assets and recently became destitute. Many IDPs have weak social and clan ties and therefore lack access to vital social support mechanisms, a missing asset that rendered them more vulnerable to displacement in the first place. According to household survey responses, food constitutes around 70-85 percent of IDP households’ expenditures, and the cost of the minimum expenditure basket in key reference markets rose 15-50 percent above the five-year average with the highest increases recorded in Garowe (32 percent) and Baidoa (51 percent). Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely with some households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), the occurrence of which is mitigated by access to food assistance and relatively better access to income-generating activities than rural areas.

    While the severity of food insecurity is generally lower in urban areas, several cities showed a significant share of households reporting moderate hunger, including in Dhusamareb, Galkacyo, Garowe, Baidoa, and Kismayo. The trend reflects the effect of ongoing price shocks on urban households’ ability to purchase their minimum food needs. Over 50 percent of the urban population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is located in Banadir, Mudug, Bari, and Woqooyi Galbeed regions. 

    [1] According to UNHCR PRMN’s methodology note, available displacement data have limitations and do not capture total or cumulative displacement; as such, these figures should mainly be used to identify large-scale trends catalyzed by certain shocks.


    The most likely scenario for February to September 2021 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • The April-June 2022 gu rainfall forecast is based on research conducted by FEWS NET’s partners at the NOAA, Climate Hazards Center, and USGS on rainfall patterns in the eastern Horn of Africa. Based on rainfall recorded during years with La Niña conditions or a transition from La Niña to ENSO-neutral, which is forecast for April-June 2022, the gu rains will most likely be below average with a timely onset. The March update to the WMO ensemble model now also supports this rainfall forecast. Based on median rainfall in analog years, rainfall deficits are generally expected to be 10-25 percent below average, with deeper deficits in parts of the south and Guban Pastoral livelihood zone in Awdal Region (Figure 10)[1]. Mixed conditions are forecast in the northeast. Since global climate models have low skill in predicting gu rainfall, alternative scenarios are detailed under “Events That Might Change the Outlook” on pages 11-12.
    • Based on the NMME and WMO forecasts, the June-September karan rains in northwestern Somalia are forecast to be above average, while the July-September xagaa rains in southern coastal regions are forecast to be below average. However, there is uncertainty given the long-lead time. The rest of the country will be seasonally dry during this period.
    • In rainfed agropastoral areas, farmers have reduced capacity to plant at normal levels during the gu due to heavy income losses from multiple poor harvests in 2020 and 2021. As a result of reduced area planted and below-average gu rainfall, the gu harvest in July will most likely be below average. Consequently, agricultural labor demand is expected to remain below normal through September. In northwestern agropastoral areas, however, above-average karan rains will likely support normal planting and labor demand for long-cycle crops, which will be harvested after September.
    • In riverine areas, farmers are expected to have below-normal physical and financial access to irrigated water with reduced opportunities for recessional cultivation crop cultivation. Water levels in the Shabelle and Juba rivers will range from significantly below average to completely or partially dry in most areas through April, and water levels are expected to remain below normal during the below average gu season. Localized floods are still possible, particularly in Middle Shabelle, due to weak river infrastructure and open breakages. Overall, the off-season and main harvests in March, July, and September are expected to be below average. Demand for agricultural labor will similarly be below normal, though demand will reach a peak in July and August.
    • Very dry conditions during the jilaal dry season will significantly affect livestock health and salability through at least April, and below-average gu rainfall will most likely limit the pace of recovery from May to September. Low pasture availability, water scarcity, and reduced household capacity to purchase animal feed and water will drive significant, atypical livestock migration patterns, place enormous pressure on remaining rangeland resources, and lead to deterioration in livestock body conditions. These factors, coupled with the dense congregation of livestock in viable grazing areas, will most likely lead to increased livestock disease incidence and atypically high livestock deaths from disease or hunger. Based on current conditions, the worst-affected areas will likely include central Somalia; Gedo, Middle Juba, northern Bakool, and Hiiraan regions in the south; and most of Sool and Togdheer regions and the northern coast.
    • Livestock births are expected to occur at medium to low levels across species based on minimal livestock conceptions during the 2021 deyr and the likelihood of atypically high abortion rates during the 2022 jilaal. Due to reduced livestock births and poor livestock health, milk availability will be minimal to none through March and very low during the gu.
    • Based on FEWS NET’s analysis of price dynamics in Qoryoley (Figure 11), Baidoa, and Hargeysa, the price of a kilogram of sorghum or maize is projected to range from 115 to 170 percent above the 2017-2021 average in the south and from 20 to 25 percent above average in the northwest (where imported rice is preferred over sorghum and maize). Household and market cereal stocks are expected be lower in 2022 than 2021, based on multiple consecutive seasons of below-average cereal harvests within Somalia since 2020 and below-average cereal harvests from source markets in Ethiopia.
    • Global supply shocks – including but not limited to high oil prices, the Russia-Ukraine war, and supply chain bottlenecks – will place upward pressure on the already high and above-average prices of imported rice, wheat, vegetable oil, sugar, and fuel. According to the FAO, Somalia typically imports over 90 percent of its wheat supplies from Russia and Ukraine.
    • The health and salability of livestock, as well as herd sizes, will be the main factors that limit household income from livestock sales. In general, retail livestock prices are expected to remain favorable amid competing supply and demand dynamics. On the supply side, atypically high livestock deaths, low births, and poor livestock health will likely reduce the total supply of livestock for sale on the market; however, some local markets will likely see periods of over-supply when rural households increase distress sales to cope with high staple food, livestock feed, and water costs. On the demand side, local and export livestock demand will reach its annual peak between Ramadan (April-May 2022) and Hajj (August 2022). Based on FEWS NET’s analysis of these factors in Galkacyo and Burao, the price of a local quality goat is expected to range from near average to 80 percent above the five-year average, reaching its lowest point during the jiilaal.
    • Household purchasing power measured by the labor-to-cereal terms of trade (ToT) is expected to trend significantly below average through September, driven by low labor demand and high cereal prices. In most central and northern markets, the goat-to-rice ToT are expected to range from near to moderately below average, as above-average rice prices will likely outpace above-average goat prices. In the south, very high maize and sorghum prices will drive a moderate to significant decline in the goat-to-cereals and cattle-to-cereals ToT.
    • Conflict and insecurity related to the delayed presidential election are expected to periodically disrupt household engagement in income-earning activities and physical access to markets. There is an elevated likelihood of violence between state security force factions in the coming months, depending on the length of delays to the presidential electoral timetable and/or the perceived credibility of the outcome of an eventual vote. Such delays are also anticipated to lead to outbreaks of civil unrest around Mogadishu and other major urban centers. Related skirmishes between federally aligned security forces and local militias in Jubaland, Puntland, and Hiiraan are also likely to escalate, with temporary but significant impacts on trade, population displacement, and livelihood activities.
    • Insurgent attacks against civilian and military targets are likely to rise further in Mogadishu and across south-central Somalia, taking advantage of the uncertain political landscape. The attacks are expected to continue to restrict humanitarian access, cause displacement, impede household engagement in livelihood activities, and restrict trade, especially in Bakool, Hiiraan, and Bay regions and, to a lesser extent, Middle Juba and Galgaduud regions.
    • Clan conflicts over resource and land management will likely escalate from already high levels (when compared to 2020-2021) in drought-affected areas, including Hiiraan, Galgaduud, Lower Shabelle, and Mudug regions. These incidents will intermittently disrupt trade, livestock migration routes, and other livelihood activities.
    • Drought-related displacement is expected to continue through at least March, based on past trends, with the highest levels likely to occur in central and southern Somalia, especially Galgaduud, Mudug, Bay, Bakool, and Gedo regions.
    • According to the Somalia Food Security Cluster, funding is likely sufficient to reach a maximum of 2.3 million people per month with cash/voucher assistance equivalent to at least a 25 percent ration through April. Locations where food assistance delivery is likely to reach at least 25 percent of the population at the district or IDP settlement level is detailed in the Annex on page 17. Due to inadequate funding, however, pipeline breaks are expected by May. As a result, this scenario assumes food assistance delivery will not occur between May and September.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    With a historic four-season drought on the horizon, an immediate scale-up of food, water, and livelihoods assistance is necessary to avert a prolonged humanitarian emergency in Somalia. Currently funded levels of humanitarian assistance are inadequate to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes from spreading and persisting through September 2022. Food security outcomes have rapidly deteriorated over the course of the January-March dry season, and the severity of household hunger and erosion of livelihoods and coping capacity will worsen further in the near term. Dry and hot conditions will exacerbate water shortages and livestock deaths until the full establishment of the gu rains in April, while exorbitant staple food prices will further diminish household purchasing power. Normally, the start of the gu rains ushers in seasonal food and income from agricultural labor, livestock sales, and milk sales in advance of the gu harvest in July. After multiple poor harvests and recent large-scale livestock losses, however, many households lack the resources to plant or hire labor at normal levels, and livestock holdings among the poor and middle wealth groups will be inadequate to provide sufficient income and milk. Furthermore, the below-average gu rains will not fully replenish water and pasture resources or support normal crop yields, resulting in yet another season of low livestock births in April-June and another harsh dry season of water shortages, low livestock salability, and cereal shortages in July-September. At the same time, global price shocks will place additional upward pressure on the prices of cereals and other staple foods. As a result, seasonal food and income sources are not expected to substantially alleviate household hunger or support the recovery of local livelihoods.

    The population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes is projected to rise and peak in the range of 4-5 million people between February and September, inclusive of an estimated 1-1.5 million people likely to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), which is indicative of large food consumption gaps, heightened acute malnutrition levels, and an atypical increase in mortality. Due to reduced food and milk intake, low access to clean water during the drought, increased disease incidence during the gu rainy season, and other chronic health issues, Serious (GAM WHZ 10-14.9 percent) and Critical (15-29.9 percent) levels of acute malnutrition are projected to be widespread.An estimated 1.4 million children between the ages of six and 59 months are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition in Somalia in 2022, equivalent to nearly 45 percent of the population under age five. The expected number of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases is expected to be 130 percent higher in 2022 than last year (over 330,000 children).

    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in most pastoral livelihood zones, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) likely to spread across Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone and persist in Addun Pastoral livelihood zone. In addition to Hawd and Addun Pastoral, the areas of highest concern include northeastern and central Coastal Deeh Pastoral and Fishing, Juba Cattle Pastoral, and Southern Inland Pastoral of Gedo Region livelihood zones. Other areas of concern will likely include Guban Pastoral, northwestern East Golis Pastoral, and northwestern Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zones, where household coping capacity will likely erode amid declining food assistance levels. Food insecurity is expected to be most severe at the peak of the first pastoral lean season in March/April, when livestock health, salability, and milk production are lowest and livestock deaths are likely to occur. Households that lose most or all of their livestock will likely displace to IDP settlements or urban areas. The April-June gu rains, alongside seasonal income and gifts during Ramadan in April, will likely bring marginal, temporary relief to livestock production conditions and thus household income and access to food. However, food insecurity will reach a second peak in pastoral areas during the subsequent July-September hagaa dry season, when livestock health and salability again declines. Due to the reductions in household herd sizes, household income from livestock sales will not be sufficient to both repay debts and purchase sufficient food, water, and livestock inputs.

    Several agropastoral areas are expected to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4), while most other agropastoral and riverine areas will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September. The areas of highest concern include Bay-Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral, Southern Agropastoral, and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zones, followed by central Cowpea Belt, riverine areas in the Juba regions, and Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral livelihood zones. Since their harvest stocks will not last beyond February and since income from agricultural labor will be significantly below normal, many poor agropastoral households will be compelled to deplete or even liquidate their livestock holdings in order to repay accumulated debts from the failed deyr harvest, purchase food, and purchase inputs for the next gu harvest. In riverine areas, households will face the dual hazards of inadequate water for irrigation and a moderate risk of flooding, depending on rainfall distribution and the number of open riverbank breakages. At the same time, household purchasing power – which is already extremely low in the south – will continue to worsen as staple food prices rise further and reach record-high levels in some locations. Given the significant loss of assets and income, alongside the likelihood of further indebtedness to invest in gu crop production, the below-average main season harvest in July is unlikely to substantially alleviate household and market cereal supply shortages. Many poor and displaced households will be heavily dependent on community support and loans to access food.

    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected across all IDP settlements and many urban areas due to the worsening of staple food price shocks, insufficient income that will limit food access, and the stretching of social support mechanisms. Food prices are expected to reach their peak in June/July, prior to the limited restocking of gu harvests on the market. Based on past trends, drought-related displacement from rural areas to IDP sites and urban areas is expected to be highest in March/April, prior to the onset of the gu. Amid the influx of newly displaced households, the related increase in competition for limited income-generating opportunities, the decline in food assistance delivery, and reports of a rising trend of evictions of IDPs, the number of households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is also expected to rise. Displacement sites and urban areas in southern Somalia of highest concern, due to the concentration of insurgent attacks in the south, the latter of which disrupts daily income-earning activities, reduces market supplies, and exerts upward pressure on food prices.  

    [1] IGAD’s Climate Predication and Applications Centre (ICPAC) put forth a forecast of average to above-average rainfall during the 2022 gu season based on available weather ensemble models as of February. IGAD acknowledged the low skill of forecast ensemble models in its press statement.


    Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes


    Delayed and significantly below average gu rainfall in April-June 2022

    If the gu rains perform worse than forecast and if food assistance fails to reach areas of high concern, then more widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes with some households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) would likely occur. In a worst-case scenario where the gu rains fail, purchasing power declines to record lows, and food assistance fails to reach areas of high concern, then Famine (IPC Phase 5) could occur between June and September. Low access to water and pasture beyond March/April would cause large-scale livestock deaths or liquidation of assets among many households, and a fifth season of poor to failed harvests would lead to severe supply shortages and even higher cereal prices nationwide. Destitution and displacement would be widespread. The areas of greatest concern in this scenario include pastoral areas in central Somalia; Southern Inland Pastoral (Gedo) and Juba Cattle Pastoral livelihood zones; southern and central agropastoral areas; and parts of Riverine Gravity Irrigation livelihood zone. 

    Average to above-average gu rainfall in April-June 2022

    While heavy rainfall would be favorable for crop and livestock production, a single season of good rainfall would not be sufficient for livelihood recovery due to the scale of earlier income and asset losses. Heavy rains would also pose a hazard to livestock with weak body conditions, which are vulnerable to colder temperatures, flash floods, and waterborne disease incidence, and pose a flood hazard to riverine cropping areas. These caveats notwithstanding, improved water and pasture availability would gradually improve livestock health and salability and support the reproduction and milk production cycles that are critical for the recovery of pastoral livelihoods. The benefits would likely be greatest in agropastoral areas, supporting a normal gu harvest, as well as in downstream riverine areas, which depend on flood recession cultivation and gathering wild foods and fish. In general, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes would likely persist in pastoral areas in central Somalia and Gedo Region, as well as upstream riverine areas. Most other areas would likely improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), inclusive of some households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Scale-up of humanitarian food assistance

    If food assistance plans are scaled up beyond currently planned levels to reach at least 2-3 million people monthly beyond April, then it is possible that some northern and central pastoral livelihood zones would improve to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) or Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!). It is difficult to be precise in the absence of district-level distribution plans, but past trends and ongoing humanitarian access constraints suggest food assistance would mitigate the severity of food insecurity in areas such as Hawd Pastoral, Coastal Deeh Pastoral, East Golis Pastoral, Guban Pastoral, and Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zones. Other livelihood zones may see a decline in the share of the population that is in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse.


    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 Map of Somalia showing current food security outcomes, February 2022

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, February 2022

    Source: FEWS NET and FSNAU

    Somalia seasonal calendar

Land preparation and planting is from March to mid-May and September to mid-November. Deyr rainy

    Figure 2


    Source: FEWS NET

    Map of Somalia showing cumulative rainfall anomalies from October 1 to December 31, 2021, compared to the 1981-2020 average.

    Figure 3

    Figure 1

    Source: Climate Hazards Center

    Map of Somalia showing vegetation conditions in March 1-10, 2022, shown as a percent of the 2003-2017 median. Based on the eM

    Figure 4

    Figure 2

    Source: FEWS NET and USGS

    Graph showing the monthly price of a drum of water in select reference markets in Somalia, October 2016 – February 2022

    Figure 5

    Figure 3

    Source: FSNAU

    Bar chart showing the average sheep/goat holdings among poor households in Addun Pastoral livelihood zone during post-gu and

    Figure 6

    Figure 4

    Source: FSNAU

    Bar chart showing total gu and deyr cereal production (main season and off-season) by region in southern Somalia, 2010-2021

    Figure 7

    Figure 5

    Source: FSNAU

    Map of Somalia showing the percent change in staple cereal prices in monitored markets in February 2022 compared to the 2017-

    Figure 8

    Figure 6

    Source: FEWS NET and FSNAU

    Change in the amount of cereal that can be purchased with the sale of a goat, February 2022 compared to the 2017-2021 average

    Figure 9

    Figure 7

    Source: FEWS NET and FSNAU

    Bar chart, estimated number of people displaced monthly due to drought (red) or conflict (gray), Sep. 2016 – Feb. 2022

    Figure 10

    Figure 8

    Source: data from UNHCR PRMN

    Bar chart showing IPC estimates (Aug. 2016-Jan. 2022) and FEWS NET/FSNAU estimate (Feb. 2022) of the percent of the total Som

    Figure 11

    Figure 9

    Source: data from Somalia IPC workshops; data from the Somalia Food Security Cluster; F…

    Map of Somalia showing FEWS NET’s rainfall forecast for the April-June 2022 gu rainfall season based on median rainfall in an

    Figure 12

    Figure 10

    Source: NOAA, Climate Hazards Center, and USGS

    Chart showing the observed and projected price of maize per kg in Qoryoley, Lower Shabelle, Sep. 2020 – Sep. 22 against the 2

    Figure 13

    Figure 11

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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