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Risk of Famine persists in Somalia amid scale-down of food assistance

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Somalia
  • February - September 2023
Risk of Famine persists in Somalia amid scale-down of food assistance

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  • Key Messages
  • The humanitarian emergency and risk of Famine in Somalia is far from over
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Areas of Concern
  • Most Likely Food Security Outcomes in Areas Receiving Significant Levels of Humanitarian Assistance
  • Partner
    FSNAU
    Key Messages
    • In Somalia, current high levels of multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance are mitigating loss of life and preventing the complete collapse of livelihoods during the ongoing 2020-2023 drought. Nevertheless, the unprecedented drought resulted in an estimated 43,000 excess deaths – of which half occurred among children under five years of age – in the year 2022 alone, and thousands of additional people are expected to succumb to hunger in 2023. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes will most likely continue through September in the worst drought-affected areas and among displaced populations. Furthermore, the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) is expected to persist in multiple areas. Yet at this critical juncture in time, levels of food assistance are expected to gradually decline due to inadequate funds, scaling down to just 1.1 million people by June 2023, according to the Food Security Cluster. To ensure the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in Somalia ends, donor governments and humanitarians must sustain high levels of not only food assistance, but also health, nutrition, and WASH interventions, through late 2023.

    • The scale of livelihood losses incurred over the course of the 2020-2023 drought resulted in high levels of destitution and displacement, and many households face either further losses or a long, difficult road to recovery in 2023. As of February, rainfall forecasts indicate a sixth consecutive below-average rainfall season is highly likely during the 2023 gu season (April to June), though deficits are expected to be less severe than the preceding seasons. Even if the rains perform more favorably than forecast due to changing climate conditions, households in the worst drought-affected rural areas and households displaced by drought or conflict lack the resources to plant crops at normal levels or restock their livestock holdings. The areas of highest concern include internally displaced people in Baidoa, Mogadishu, and Laascaanood; agropastoral areas in parts of Bay, Togdheer, Middle Shabelle, and Hiiraan regions; and pastoral areas in Hawd, Addun, Coastal Deeh, and Guban livelihood zones.

    • The anticipated scale-down of aid is expected to leave households exposed to hunger, malnutrition, and the risk of death. Scenario-based forecasts of excess mortality suggest an additional 18,100-34,200 deaths could occur in early 2023, with thousands of people likely to die from drought-related causes even in an optimistic scenario. At this time, the aversion of Famine (IPC Phase 5) relies on the relative seasonal improvements associated with the gu rains and the delivery of humanitarian aid through at least June. However, if poor gu rainfall results in crop failure or further livestock losses, and if assistance is not delivered for any reason to the populations of highest concern, then Famine (IPC Phase 5) could still occur. Displaced populations in Baidoa and Mogadishu and agropastoral areas of Burhakaba in Bay region remain of greatest concern for this risk; additionally, central pastoral areas and Togdheer agropastoral areas are assessed to face this risk during the July to September dry season.


    The humanitarian emergency and risk of Famine in Somalia is far from over

    After a historic five consecutive seasons of drought resulted in the deaths of an estimated 43,300 people in 2022, Somalia continues to face a severe humanitarian emergency and a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in 2023.  While the large-scale delivery of multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance has likely averted the technical definition of Famine (IPC Phase 5) to date, millions of households have become destitute, levels of hunger and acute malnutrition remain high, and household capacity to cope with weather and conflict shocks has diminished drastically. As of February, rainfall forecasts predict Somalia will face a sixth consecutive below-average rainfall season from April to June 2023. While there is considerable uncertainty about the performance of the rainfall season due to changes in global climate conditions – including but not limited to the transition from La Niña to ENSO neutral conditions – the scale of losses incurred over the course of the 2020-2023 drought mean many households face either further livelihood losses or a long, difficult road to recovery. Scenario-based forecasts of excess mortality suggest an additional 18,100-34,200 deaths could occur in early 2023, with thousands of people likely to die even in an optimistic scenario in which the crude death rate begins to fall. Ultimately, even if rainfall performance is more favorable in early 2023, humanitarian aid must be sustained to prevent further loss of life, stabilize local livelihood systems, and rebuild household coping capacity. 

    Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes persist in the worst drought-affected rural areas and among displaced populations. However, rainfall deficits during the 2022 deyr season were less severe than the preceding two seasons. While far from sufficient to drive full recovery, the rains encouraged displaced households to split and send family members back to plant or labor on the farms of better-off and upper-middle-income households. Consequently, the deyr harvest in January performed relatively better at 32 percent below the 25-year average compared to the 50-60 percent deficit of the past three seasons. The rains also supported marginal improvement in livestock body conditions and small ruminant reproduction. Additionally, staple food prices began to sharply decline in January, driven by stocks from the 2022 deyr harvest and falling global food prices. These developments, coupled with food, health, nutrition, and WASH interventions, have alleviated the severity of food insecurity across much of Somalia, resulting in Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes in many areas as of February.

    Similar patterns of crop and livestock production are expected during the 2023 gu rainfall season, which is forecast to be slightly to moderately below average. However, levels of humanitarian food aid are expected to decline due to inadequate funds, scaling down from 4.6 million people on average in December 2022-February 2023 to just 1.1 million people by June 2023. Instead of supporting recovery from drought, the scale-down of aid will leave households exposed to hunger, malnutrition, and the risk of death. In the worst-affected agropastoral areas in Bay, Togdheer, Middle Shabelle, and Hiiraan regions, households will quickly deplete their own-produced deyr stocks, and labor income and stocks from the gu production season will likely be insufficient to prevent large food consumption gaps. In the worst-off pastoral areas where average livestock herd sizes have declined by 30-70 percent, such as in parts of Hawd, Addun, Coastal Deeh, and Guban pastoral livelihood zones, households lack sufficient salable livestock to sell for income to purchase food and will either face large food consumption gaps or resort to liquidating their assets. Meanwhile, destitute people displaced by drought or conflict will have few means of survival, especially given the high level of competition for casual labor income and social support. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to become more widespread from June to September, when dry season conditions occur across much of the country.

    The aversion of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in 2023 currently hinges on the gu rainfall forecast and the reach of humanitarian aid. In the most likely scenario, food availability and access during the gu rains, followed by the harvest in July, are expected to be minimally sufficient to prevent this outcome. However, the persistence of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes is still associated with elevated levels of wasting and hunger-related deaths, and there remains a risk the thresholds for Famine (IPC Phase 5) will be met in an alternative scenario. If poor gu rainfall results in crop failure or further livestock losses, and if assistance is not delivered for any reason to the populations of highest concern, then Famine (IPC Phase 5) could still occur. Agropastoral areas of Burhakaba district and IDP settlements in Baidoa and Mogadishu remain of highest concern for this risk; however, this risk is also expected to affect pastoral areas in central Somalia and agropastoral areas in Togdheer region during the July to September dry season.


    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Rainfall performance: In Somalia, drought persists to date in the middle of the January-March 2023 jilaal dry season. The below-average October-December 2022 deyr rainy season was the fifth consecutive season of below-average to failed rainfall in the country. The onset of the 2022 deyr rains was also delayed by two to four weeks, rainfall distribution was highly erratic, and the season ended earlier than expected in most areas of the country. Cumulative rainfall in the 2022 deyr season was widely below average, with totals of only 45-75 percent of the long-term mean recorded in many parts of the southern, central, and northwestern regions, according to remote sensing CHIRPS data (Figure 1). 

    Figure 1

    Cumulative rainfall, October to December 2022, percent of 1981-2010 mean
    rainfall was below average in most of Somalia but above average in some northeastern areas

    Source: USGS/EROS

    Meanwhile, near average to above-average rainfall fell in agropastoral areas in Bay and Bakool, localized pastoral and agropastoral areas of Lower Juba, and pastoral areas of Nugaal and Sool, though rainfall distribution was erratic. Overall, rainfall totals were still not as poor as in the 2021 deyr season. Additionally, late-season rainfall in coastal and adjacent pastoral areas in the northeast positively impacted some rangelands. Although remote sensing data suggest that the December-January xeys coastal rains in the Guban Pastoral livelihood zone of the northwest were average to slightly above average, ground information suggests that they were below average.

    Access to clean water: The unprecedented five-season drought is driving an atypically hot and dry jilaal season in southern, central, and northern regions. Most natural and manmade water sources are partially or entirely depleted, driving high household reliance on purchasing trucked water amid record-high water prices. In urban areas, prices of a 200-liter drum of potable water in January 2023 ranged from 15 to 50 percent above the five-year average in many areas and reached levels 90 to 105 percent above the five-year average in the northern regions of Sanaag and Nugaal. Similarly, in rural areas, the price of a 20-liter jerry can was 25 to 45 percent above the five-year average across most of northern and central Somalia (though was near average across most of the south, except in Middle Juba and Hiiraan where prices were approximately 30 to 200 percent above average). The high jilaal temperatures and reduced water access have led to an increase in household consumption of unsafe water, leaving rural households in worst-affected areas vulnerable to water-borne diseases like acute watery diarrhea (AWD) and cholera, and in turn increasing risk of acute malnutrition. According to WHO reports, as of February 15, over 1,000 suspected cases of cholera had been reported from 26 locations in southern Somalia.

    Livestock production: Pasture and browse availability remain seasonally limited and significantly worse than normal across most of the country, driving large-scale atypical livestock migration to the limited areas with remaining green pasture. Pastures in the southern and central regions are worst affected, primarily in Mudug, Galgaduud, Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, and Gedo regions. In large portions of southern, central, and northern Somalia, vegetation greenness as measured by remote sensing data is significantly below average (Figure 2). Conditions remain worse than in the last drought in 2016/17. In contrast, remote sensing data supported by ground information indicates that vegetation conditions are generally average to above average in localized areas in the north, especially in Awdal and Bari regions and pockets of Sool and Sanaag regions. While good rainfall and pasture availability (including dry pasture) is supporting livestock production and reproduction in Bari, increased livestock migration resulted in fast depletion of available pasture and water in Awdal.

    Figure 2

    Vegetation greenness as measured by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Feb 21-28, percent of 2012-2021 average
    vegetation is below average in most of Somalia but above average in some northern areas

    Source: USGS/EROS

    Persistent drought has led to worsening livestock body conditions and excess livestock deaths in central Somalia, Gedo, Hiiraan, and Togdheer. According to results of assessments conducted jointly by FSNAU, FEWS NET, and WFP in December 2022, birthrates for small ruminants have remained low or nonexistent across most regions of Somalia. However, in Juba and Shabelle regions, small ruminants experienced medium kidding/lambing levels in October/November 2022, following favorable 2022 xagaa (July-September) rainfall. Similarly, birthrates for large ruminants (camel and cattle) in December/January were low to nonexistent in most areas, except in the Juba region, where medium levels of camel and cattle births were reported.   

    While humanitarian aid, water interventions, kinship support, and access to credit have reduced the extent of livestock deaths and distress sales, household livestock holdings have continued to decline in most pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones, with many worst-affected households losing their entire herds. Results of the 2022 post-deyr assessment (which included household surveys, focus group discussions, and key informant interviews) conducted jointly by FSNAU, FEWS NET, and WFP, the average poor household’s herd size have dropped by 15-70 percent below 2010 baseline levels1 in central, northern, and the most affected southern regions, such as Hiiraan, Gedo, Bay, and Bakool. More recently, the atypically hot January-March jilaal season has led to massive loss of animals and weak body condition of remaining animals, according to FAO. However, in the Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone of Juba and Shabelle regions, small ruminant holdings are reported to be above baseline levels given favorable rains and access to green pastures in riverine areas.

    Inadequate pasture and water availability, limited livestock births, and a reduced number of milking animals have contributed to poor milk production across the country, limiting milk availability for consumption and sales. Poor households of Guban Pastoral and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zones are the worst affected, with very poor milk production due to severe rainfall deficits since 2020, low-to-no livestock births, and low livestock holdings. In many pastoral areas, such as Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone in central Somalia, livestock and milk sales account for up to 80 percent of a household’s annual cash income. However, camel and sheep/goat holdings dropped to 30 and 35 percent below baseline levels, respectively, as of December 2022, and have likely continued to decline. Similar trends are observed in agropastoral areas of Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral, Sorghum High Potential, Southern Agropastoral, and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zones, where livestock and livestock product sales serve as an important alternate source of food and income source to mitigate the impacts of poor crop production or limited agriculture labor opportunities. On the other hand, camel pastoralists in Juba and Shabelle regions have experienced average milk sales and consumption.

    Five consecutive seasons of below-average crop production combined with the impacts of ongoing conflict have severely impacted the economy in Somalia. Livestock are Somalia’s leading export, accounting for over 70 percent of total export earnings in 2011-2016, according to the Somalia Livestock Development Strategy 2020-2030. However, the livestock sector has seen significant losses due to the drought, with livestock exports falling by 26 percent in 2022 compared to 2020 (a comparison period before livestock losses intensified in 2021).

    Crop production: The ongoing drought conditions and restrictions on river flows by powerful farmers in upstream areas continue to limit the availability of irrigation water in downstream areas. This and the impacts of conflict and displacement on typical agricultural livelihoods have resulted in severe crop losses in south-central agropastoral areas of Somalia and total crop failure in the Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone. Based on crop estimates made during the 2022 post-deyr assessment, production of cereals (sorghum and maize) in agropastoral areas of southern Somalia is estimated at 67,200 MT for the deyr season, which is about 30 percent below the long-term mean (1995-2021) and 13 percent below the five-year average (2017-2021) (Figure 3). This estimate includes 3,800 MT of off-season crops that are expected in February – March 2023. An estimated 63 percent of the expected total off-season production is likely to come from the Lower Juba region. While off-season production is estimated to be 23 percent better than last year, the total is 13 percent lower than the five-year average. In central regions, cowpea production is estimated to be 1,460 MT, which is exceptionally better than failed deyr 2021 production but 45 percent lower than the five-year average.

    Figure 3

    Maize and sorghum production in the gu and deyr seasons in southern Somalia
    crop production has been below average for six consecutive seasons

    Source: FSNAU/FEWS NET

    Poor deyr rainfall performance in the river catchment areas has limited irrigation capacity from the Shabelle river. As rivers were inadequately replenished, river water levels in the downstream areas of the Lower Shabelle were severely depleted, suspending irrigation and resulting in increased crop moisture stress and a significant reduction in crop production. Additionally, the ongoing conflict and continued mass displacement in the south prevented many households from cultivating. Local production shortfalls were largest in Gedo, where production was less than 30 percent of the long-term mean, and in the Hiiraan, Lower Shabelle, and Middle Juba regions, where production ranged from 40 to 60 percent of the long-term mean. Most rainfed agropastoral areas in Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, and Gedo experienced complete crop failure. Meanwhile, in the Juba region, relatively better crop production was reported, with production being better than last year and similar to the five-year average, though still lower than the long-term average given that the five-year average includes several below-average seasons.

    Conversely, deyr rains in Bay and Bakool regions were better than anticipated, resulting in near-average crop production in Baidoa and Qansaxdhere districts of Bay region and in most of Bakool region. However, production in Burhakaba and Diinsoor of Bay region was largely affected by long dry spells during the growing period, reducing regional cereal production to 22,400 MT, 33 percent less than the long-term average. Still, regional production contributed 35 percent of the total national deyr 2022 cereal production.

    In the Northwest Agropastoral livelihood zone, which does not cultivate in the deyr season, 2022 gu/karan production also largely failed. Harvested in November, crop production was estimated at 9,400 MT, which is 25 percent of the gu/karan 2010-2021 average according to FAO’s Pictoral Evaluation Tool (PET). Low production was driven by poor and erratic 2022 gu/karan rainfall and prolonged dry spells, which forced farmers to replant twice. Additionally, the region saw atypically high levels of stalk borer and Quelea bird incidence.

    Staple food prices: Somalia imports over 60 percent of its food (wheat, rice, sugar, and vegetable oil), including nearly 100 percent of its staple wheat flour, resulting in domestic food prices being highly vulnerable to global commodity prices and global supply chain disruptions. In early 2023, prices of key imported foods such as vegetable oil, wheat flour, and rice remained 10 to 30 percent higher than the five-year average. However, prices were relatively stable or slightly decreased from December 2022 to January 2023 in most key reference markets. According to the Somalia National Bureau of Statistics, the national year-on-year inflation rate eased for the sixth straight month in January 2023 to reach 5.6 percent, the lowest it has been since November 2021. Price declines were driven mainly by declining global food prices, fluctuations in the exchange rate, and food from the deyr harvest in areas such as Bay and Bakool which saw good production, decreasing local demand for imported foods.

    Staple cereal prices decreased from December 2022 to January 2023 to reach levels generally lower than the same time last year, driven by slightly better-than-anticipated deyr production, the easing of global prices, and high levels of humanitarian assistance. However, due to the cumulative impacts of drought and global market shocks, staple cereal prices remain significantly above average. In Baidoa of Bay region, the key reference market in sorghum-producing areas, sorghum prices declined by 26 percent from December to January, reaching 13,120 SOS/kg (Figure 4). Though this is 15 percent less than the same time last year, it is 58 percent above the five-year average. Meanwhile, in Qorioley of Lower Shabelle region, the key reference market in maize-producing areas, maize prices declined by 3 percent from December to January, reaching 10,500 SOS/kg. This was 17 percent less than the same time last year but 43 percent higher than the five-year average.

    Figure 4

    Trends in monthly average prices (SOS/kg) of sorghum (red) in Baidoa market and maize (white) in Qorioley market, January 2016 to January 2023
    prices have been declining but remain above average

    Source: FSNAU/FEWS NET

    Household purchasing power: In southern agropastoral and riverine areas, agricultural labor is an important source of income for poor households. From December to January, purchasing power for laborers generally improved from December to January, primarily due to declines in local cereal prices, though purchasing power remains below average in most of the south. In the Bay region, for instance, a casual laborer could earn enough income to purchase 5.5 kg of red sorghum from one full day’s work in January 2023, at prevailing wage rates and prices. Though this is 22 percent more than the same time last year, it remains 54 percent lower than the five-year average. In Lower Juba, one day of labor could fetch 8.1 kg of white maize, 9 percent more than the same time last year but 14 percent less than average. Similar trends have been seen in the Middle and Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, and Gedo regions. Additionally, seasonal increases in demand for agricultural labor in January are expected to be improving access to income for agricultural wage laborers.

    Retail livestock prices in many central and northern areas remain favorable, in part due to the declining supply of livestock resulting from millions of livestock deaths during the 2016/2017 drought and the current 2020-2023 drought. However, in most northern and central pastoralist livelihood zones, relatively high staple food prices continue to drive below-average purchasing power. In the Mudug region, the sale of one local-quality goat could earn enough to purchase 64 kg of staple rice at January 2023 prices. This is similar to the same time last year (2 percent less) though 18 percent below the five-year average. In Togdheer, the sale of a goat could fetch 60 kg of staple rice, 5 percent less than last year and 29 percent less than the five-year average. However, it should be emphasized that most poor pastoralists are facing drastic reductions in herd sizes and livestock body conditions due to drought, significantly constraining their ability to earn income from livestock sales.

    Conflict and displacement: The ongoing drought is occurring amid increasing armed conflict in the southern and central regions and in Laascaanood of Sool region (Figure 5). Conflict is another major driver of food insecurity in Somalia, as it displaces households (separating them from assets and livelihoods), disrupts livelihood activities due to access constraints (such as related to access to fields, irrigation, and livestock migration routes), hinders physical access to markets, restricts trade flows and market functioning, and limits humanitarian access.

    Figure 5

    Heat map of conflict incidents in January-February 2023
    most conflict has occurred in Mogadishu

    Source: ACLED

    The historic five-season drought and escalating conflict continue to drive high levels of population displacement. According to UNHCR, over one million people were displaced in the second half of 2022, a 165 percent increase compared to the same period of last year (when 380,000 were displaced). Conflict and drought accounted for 48 percent and 47 percent of the total displacement, respectively, while other factors, like floods, made up five percent of the total. An estimated 3.7 million people are displaced.

    Between October and December 2022, up to 410,000 people were estimated to have been displaced, with around 62 percent reporting being displaced due to drought following the end of the 2022 deyr rains. The epicenters of drought-related displacement include Bakool, Bay, Lower Shabelle, and Lower Juba. Of those displaced due to drought from October to December 2022, some of the displaced people in the south moved to Banadir (14%). However, most moved to IDP settlements in Bakool (29%), Bay (27%), Middle Juba (6%) and Lower Juba (6%), largely remaining in their own regions. Meanwhile, most of those displaced due to conflict came from Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Hiiraan, and Galgaduud regions. The majority moved to Banadir (58%), Middle Shabelle (11%), Hiiraan (9%), Galgaduud (8%), and Lower Shabelle (7%). In many cases, able-bodied men in agropastoral and riverine livelihood systems remain at home to continue agricultural activities while other household members move to displacement sites. Information on the number of people who have returned home from displacement sites is not available, though some have likely returned home without reporting this to response agencies.

    More recently, in January and February 2023, nearly 522,000 people were displaced due to drought and conflict, a 15 percent increase compared to the same time period of last year. This increase is related to the escalated conflict in the Central, Hiiraan, Shabelle, and Sool regions, which displaced around 371,000 people.

    Humanitarian food assistance: In response to severe needs, the provision of emergency humanitarian food assistance was significantly scaled up in 2022 (Figure 6). According to data from the Somalia Food Security Cluster (FSC), an average of nearly 4.6 million people per month (equivalent to around one third of the national population) received food assistance in the December 2022 to February 2023 period from WFP and partners. Most assistance is provided in the form of cash or voucher due to access constraints in the country. Monthly rations are expected to be equivalent to approximately 80 percent of a household’s minimum energy requirements. Other multi-sectoral assistance (in the health, WASH, and nutrition sectors) was also significantly scaled up in the latter half of 2022, playing a significant role in preventing worse outcomes. Aside from assistance provided by western actors, the Qatar Charity and other non-western countries are active in providing assistance, though precise data and information is not available to FEWS NET.

    Figure 6

    Percent of national population reached with emergency humanitarian food assistance by WFP and partners, monthly, January 2016 to February 2023, and plans for March to June 2023
    assistance is expected to decline in March to June

    Source: FEWS NET, using data from the Somalia Food Security Cluster

    Due to high levels of identified need, roughly 20 percent of the national beneficiaries in the December to February period were located in Bay region, and this share was even higher in preceding months. Humanitarian access continues to be constrained by conflict in many southern rural areas controlled by insurgents. The delivery of humanitarian food assistance delivery is especially limited in Middle Juba and rural areas controlled by the insurgents in the central, Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, and Lower Shabelle regions. However, given that most assistance is provided via cash transfer, it is expected that beneficiaries are able to access humanitarian assistance in many cases, though high risk is involved and likely limits access.

    Acute malnutrition: Somalia is experiencing elevated levels of acute malnutrition, particularly among children under the age of five and women of reproductive age. According to household surveys led by FSNAU between October and December 2022, an estimated 1.8 million children under the age of five in Somalia are likely to be acutely malnourished, with nearly 478,000 of these children likely to be severely malnourished and at risk of dying if they do not receive urgent treatment. Of the 25 assessed population groups in December 2022 during the post-deyr assessment, 15 recorded “Critical” levels of acute malnutrition, defined as prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) of 15-29.9 percent as measured by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ). Meanwhile, 10.5 percent of pregnant and lactating women were found to be at risk of acute malnutrition. The high prevalence acute malnutrition is linked to reduced food quantity and quality, high disease incidence (including AWD, cholera, and measles), limited access to essential nutrition and health services, and compromised child and maternal care practices.

    Humanitarian organizations are working to address the acute malnutrition crisis in Somalia by providing specialized nutrition support. An estimated 2.31 million children have been vaccinated against measles, and a house-to-house cholera vaccination campaign in January 2023 aims to vaccinate approximately one million children (aged one year and above) and pregnant women across the drought-affected districts in Mogadishu, Bay, Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, and Middle Shabelle regions. UNICEF and WHO have provided ready-to-use therapeutic food and other essential medical supplies to the medium and severe acutely malnourished children and pregnant and lactating women (PLW). However, funding limitations and restricted access to conflict-affected areas remain major challenges to these efforts.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    The ongoing drought and protracted conflict continue to severely impact agricultural and pastoral livelihood systems and markets across the country. Most agropastoral areas in the south and central regions and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone in the northwest region have experienced repeated crop failure, limiting labor opportunities and driving up local food prices. Severe water and pasture scarcity in pastoral areas in the northwest, central, and Hiiraan regions have driven poor livestock body conditions, excess livestock mortality, a decline in livestock production, and atypical livestock migration to the Bay/Bakool and Juba regions, placing high stress on limited resources. This has not only affected herders but also the milk and meat traders who rely on livestock products for their livelihoods. Loss of livelihoods and income have heavily impacted households’ purchasing power and coping capacity. Conflict also continues to impede delivery of humanitarian assistance to many areas. In response, poor households have increased collection of bush products (wild foods), sought cash and food gifts, and migrated to major towns to access casual labor opportunities (though they are competing with skilled urban laborers). However, millions of people have been displaced due to insecurity or desperate need of the assistance distributed in IDP settlements.

    In pastoral areas, slightly better-than-anticipated deyr rainfall marginally improved rangeland conditions in many areas, improving migration options for those in rain deficit areas. However, results of the December 2022 post-deyr assessment indicate that low to no livestock births have occurred in most of the country, limiting food and income from livestock and livestock products. Humanitarian interventions helped to prevent unsustainable livestock sales during the deyr season. However, households allocated a high proportion of assistance to repay debts and purchase water and animal feed. Additionally, the impacts of COVID-19 on the Somali diaspora’s income, limited availability of saleable livestock within Somalia, and reduced demand for livestock exports are persistently reducing important social support systems and leading to significantly lower-than-normal access to food and cash gifts. Overall, most poor livestock herders are unable to meet essential food and non-food needs. In most northern and central pastoral livelihood zones, where livestock holdings are lowest, humanitarian assistance is expected to be supporting Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) food security outcomes. However, in parts of Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone (in north Mudug and Nugal) and parts of Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone (in Bakool, Gedo, and Hiiraan) better deyr rainfall and significant humanitarian assistance is leading to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes. Additionally, in the West Golis Pastoral livelihood zone in northwest region, livestock holdings are relatively better, though below baseline levels, and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely. In the Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone areas of Juba and Shabelle regions and the Juba Cattle Pastoral livelihood zone, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected at the area level due to normal to above-normal livestock holdings, access to some milk for consumption and sales, and relatively better terms of trade. Conversely, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely widespread in Coastal Deeh Pastoral areas of the central region, where access to humanitarian assistance is limited.

    In agropastoral areas, most poor households have no food stocks and inadequate alternative sources of income due to the severity of drought impacts. Consequently, these households are heavily reliant on humanitarian assistance and community support, though many are still unable to access adequate essential food and nonfood items. The greatest concern exists for areas in Burhakaba of Bay region and the Togdheer Agropastoral zone, where Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are most likely, respectively, and available evidence suggests that the population in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) is high. Meanwhile, in the Southern Agropastoral areas of Gedo and Hiiraan and throughout the Cowpea Belt livelihood zone, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are likely widespread. In the Northwest Agropastoral livelihood zone where poor households have depleted their karan cereal stocks, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely. In the Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral livelihood zone of the Lower Shabelle region and the Southern Rainfed Agropastoral livelihood zone in the Lower Juba region, most poor households are likely experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes following marginal improvements in access to pasture, consumption of milk, and the ability to sell a few livestock. Similarly, in the Southern Rainfed Agropastoral livelihood zone of the Lower Shabelle region, area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected, though some households are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or worse.

    In riverine livelihood zones, food security outcomes are varied, given variable deyr rainfall performance and differential access to irrigation water, differing degrees of conflict and insecurity, availability of own food stocks from the gu off-season harvests, and availability of river fishing and wild foods. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are likely in riverine areas of Lower and Middle Juba and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely in riverine areas of Lower and Middle Shabelle, as households in these areas have some stocks from deyr harvest, access to seasonal fish and wild foods, and income from crop harvest labor. In riverine areas of Hiiraan and Gedo, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are likely due to significant crop losses and limited access to agricultural labor income, caused by poor deyr rainfall performance, low river water levels, and escalated conflict, which disrupted or suspended irrigation activities. However, households are benefitting from the local citrus fruit harvest, which provides income from crop sales and labor and crop fodder sales. Seasonal fish and wild food availability are also mitigating worse outcomes.

    Among internally-displaced persons (IDPs), severe acute food insecurity persists. Most IDP settlements are currently facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3), Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!), or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes due to the high concentration of vulnerable households that have minimal income-earning opportunities, few livelihood assets, and reduced coping capacity amid high food prices. Most IDPs are resource-poor and face high competition for alternate income-generating opportunities, making it difficult to secure their basic food and non-food needs. These households have deteriorated access to kinship support, and a heavy reliance on external humanitarian assistance. Despite the efforts of the humanitarian community, the needs of the displaced people remain significant, necessitating ongoing support, such as the provision of necessities like food, water, shelter, and health support.

    Though the situation is comparatively less dire, the urban poor in Somalia are also struggling with high food prices. According to FSNAU-FEWS NET market monitoring data, the cost of the minimum expenditure basket (MEB) in urban areas in December 2022 was roughly 15 percent higher than last year and 16-64 percent higher than the five-year average. In Bossaso, Galkayo, Baidoa, and Mogadishu, the cost of the MEB is 50-65 percent higher than the average. As a result, poor households spent between 70 to 80 percent of their expenditures on food commodities. Despite most areas being classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2), some urban households in southern and central Somalia, including Bay, Bakool, Galguud, and Mudug, and Sool in the north are experiencing moderate food consumption gaps or are meeting minimum food needs through negative coping. These households are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity. However, in Laascaanood town of Sool region where the entire population of the town – including IDPs – were recently displaced due to conflict, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected.

    At the national level, the prevalence of acute malnutrition remains significantly elevated. According to the 26 SMART surveys conducted between October to December 2022 by FSNAU and partners, the median GAM prevalence as measured by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) was 15.4 percent (considered “Critical” (15-29.9%) and in line with Emergency outcomes according to IPC thresholds). This compares to 17.2 percent in the 2022 gu and 13 percent (considered “Serious” (10-14.9%) and in line with Crisis outcomes according to IPC thresholds) in the 2021 deyr season. Slight improvement compared to the 2022 gu can be attributed to the significant scale up in multi-sectoral assistance that occurred in 2022. Despite this, continued high prevalence of acute malnutrition is attributed to reduced food intake including limited milk access, disrupted access to health and nutrition services due to population displacement and conflict, late identification and registration of newly arrived malnourished children, high morbidity levels (particularly measles and AWD), and sub-optimal child and maternal care practices. A total 15 out of the 25 assessed population groups (livelihood zones, IDP settlements, and urban areas) show “Critical” (15 -29.9 percent GAM WHZ) prevalence of acute malnutrition. Across IDP settlements, the overall median GAM (WHZ) prevalence was Critical (15.4 percent), reflecting a similar median GAM prevalence as in gu 2022 (18.2 percent), but a deterioration from the Serious (13.9 percent) GAM prevalence in deyr 2021. The highest prevalence of acute malnutrition was recorded in IDPs in Mogadishu (24.5 percent), IDPs in Baidoa of Bay (21.2 percent), and Hawd Pastoral areas of central regions (20.2 percent).


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    two main rainy and agricultural seasons

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario from February to September 2023 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Above-average temperatures and below-average October to December 2022 deyr rainfall and expected to result in drier and hotter than normal conditions throughout the country for the remainder of the January to March jilaal dry season
    • According to international forecasts as of February, cumulative rainfall in the April to June 2022 gu season is likely to be below average, with a delayed onset in many areas of the country. In north and central regions, gu rainfall is projected to be only 10-25 percent below average, which is likely sufficient to replenish pasture and water.
    • According to international forecasts, the July to September hagaa rains in southern Somalia are likely to be below average. The June to September karan rains in northwestern Somalia are likely to be average, though there is uncertainty given the long-range nature of the forecast.
    • Water levels in the Shabelle and Juba rivers are expected to be insufficient to support cash crops and the standing off-season crops in downstream areas of the Lower Shabelle and Lower Juba regions through March. However, given a forecast for average rainfall during the June-September kiremt rains in the Ethiopian highlands, river water levels are expected to rise to normal levels after April. River flooding is expected in open breakages and weak river embankment points, especially in the Middle Shabelle and Middle Juba regions. Flooding after around mid-May would likely be harmful to standing crops.
    • Given the forecast of below-normal gu rainfall in most areas of the country, cultivated land area, demand for agricultural labor, and 2023 gu/karan crop production is likely to be below average. Production of sorghum, which is slightly more resistant to drought, is expected to be slightly below average, while maize production will be below average to a greater degree than sorghum production. Cowpea production, which is more drought-resistant and has shorter cultivation period, is likely to be near average. Overall, gu/karan cereal production is expected to be below average, with the harvest expected around July.
    • Kidding/lambing of small ruminants and calving of camels is expected to be low to nonexistent in drought-affected areas in the northern, central, Gedo, and Hiiraan regions. This expectation is based on minimal livestock conceptions during the 2022 gu and deyr seasons and atypically high abortion rates during the hagaa season. Reduced livestock births and poor pasture availability during the January to March jilaal dry season will drive reduced milk production through around May. However, medium livestock births and near normal milk production are likely in the Juba and Shabelle regions which received better deyr rainfall.
    • According to the World Bank and the African Development Bank, Somalia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected to grow by 3.6 percent in 2023, driven by private consumption and recovery in livestock exports. However, some uncertainty exists, as the impacts of conflict and drought conditions could threaten this growth. Meanwhile, inflation is projected to surge to 9.4 percent in 2023 due to higher food and oil prices.
    • Prices of imported food commodities (rice, wheat, vegetable oil, and sugar) are likely to remain above average due to tightening stocks, rising global demand, increased protectionism, continued strength of the US dollar, and increasing crude oil prices. Cross-border imports of sorghum and maize from eastern Ethiopia are expected to be below average, driven by expectations for below-average gu/genna and belg production, and will likely be insufficient to supplement food availability in central and northern markets.
    • Staple grain prices in southern Somalia are expected to decline between January and March, but they will remain above-average due to the below-average deyr harvest in January 2023. Grain prices are then expected to increase again until the gu harvest in July 2023. Sorghum and maize prices are expected to be above the five-year average throughout most of outlook period. Based on FEWS NET’s analysis of price dynamics of maize in Qoryoley (Lower Shabelle Region) and sorghum in Baidoa (Bay Region), prices of staple cereals are projected to range from 15 to 90 percent above the five-year average in the south through at least June 2023. In northern markets like Hargeysa, where demand for imported rice and wheat typically exceeds demand for sorghum and maize, price sof imported rice and wheat are projected to be 15-31 percent above average.
    • Goat prices are expected to increase seasonally through August due to increased export demand during the Hajj. Prices are expected to remain average to above-average given low supply due to declining livestock holdings and reduced livestock births. Based on FEWS NET’s analysis of these factors, the price of a local-quality goat is projected to trend 5-25 percent above average in Galkacyo (Mudug Region). However, in Burao (Toghdeer Region) and Baidoa (Bay Region), the price of a local goat is expected to range from near average to 20 percent below the five-year average. Overall, household income from livestock sales is expected to remain below average even in areas where prices are above average given limited ownership of saleable animals.
    • In general, household purchasing power for pastoralists as measured by the goats-to-cereal terms of trade (ToT) is expected to be near to below average, driven by high cereal prices despite favorable livestock prices. Purchasing power of laborers as measured by the labor-to-cereal ToT is also expected to remain below-average. The labor-to-cereal ToT will likely follow seasonal trends, peaking in the July-September period after the arrival of cereals from the gu harvest reduce prices.
    • Conflict between armed groups will continue, concentrated in south-central Somalia and parts of the the north. Armed clashes between local militias supported by the federal security forces and al-Shabaab insurgents are expected to increase over the coming months in Mogadishu and across south-central Somalia. Larger coordinated complex attacks are likely to target high-value military and insurgent operating bases, particularly in Mogadishu, Hiiraan, Lower and Middle Juba, Bay, Bakool, Lower and Middle Shabelle, and Galgaduud regions. Attacks carried out by the Islamic State (IS) will continue to occur infrequently in Puntland given that their operational capacity has been diminished by clashes with al-Shabaab for control over the region, and counterinsurgency operations conducted by Puntland’s security forces.
    • Intercommunal violence between rival clans will continue to occur, driven by disputes over land ownership and resource management in the Central and Hiiraan regions. This is expected to peak during the January-March jilaal season, causing disruptions to trade and population and livestock movements, and the loss of lives and assets.
    • According to plans from the FSC, based on assistance that is planned, funded, and likely through June, the provision of emergency humanitarian food assistance is expected to be notably scaled down from March to June due to funding shortfalls. The number that will be reached monthly is expected to decrease to 2.7 million in March, 2.1 million in April, 2.1 million in May, and 1.1 million in June. Though some assistance is expected to continue given high levels of need, FEWS NET’s analysis of most likely food security outcomes in July, August, and September does not consider the impacts of significant assistance given the absence of plans to indicate where beneficiaries will be located. Throughout the projection period, worsening security in many parts of the South and Central regions will likely continue to limit humanitarian access.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Through September 2023, food security outcomes are expected to deteriorate further, driven by ongoing conflict, sustained above-average food prices, and a planned significant scale-down of humanitarian assistance beginning in March/April 2023. Though households are expected to access some seasonal food and income from crops, livestock, and agricultural labor opportunities during the gu season, cumulative rainfall during the 2023 gu (April to June) is currently forecast to be below average, resulting in below-average access to food and income from typical sources. In August/September when seasonal access to food and income are more limited, the population in need of assistance is expected to peak with hundreds of thousands likely to face Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes in the absence of assistance. By September 2023, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will likely re-emerge in many rural areas and IDP settlements. While not the most likely scenario, a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) will persist in agropastoral areas of Burhakaba district of Bay Region and among those living in displacement settlements in Baidoa and Mogadishu. In the June to September period, a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) also exists in pastoral areas in the Central region (including in Hawd Pastoral, Addun Pastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones), and the Toghdeer Agropastoral livelihood zone in the northwest. Famine could occur if the gu rains fail and if assistance does not reach populations of concern.

    In agropastoral areas, a growing number of households are likely to face consumption gaps through the peak of the lean season in June, exacerbated by the anticipated scale-down in humanitarian assistance. Most poor households have either already exhausted food stocks from the deyr harvest or will exhaust them by March and will be highly dependent on markets for food before the gu harvest boosts food availability in July. While staple food prices are not likely to reach 2022 levels, prices are anticipated to remain around 40 percent or more above the five-year average, significantly constraining food access for poor households. Agricultural labor opportunities during the gu season will provide some limited income, though this will be insufficient for most households to meet their needs. Most agropastoral and riverine areas are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse throughout the scenario period. In the February to May period, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!) outcomes are expected in the Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral and Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral livelihood zones of Diinsoor and Burhakaba (Bay region); the Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone of Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle; the Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone of the central region; and the Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone in the northwest. After the arrival of the gu harvest in July, food availability will improve slightly. However, many poor households will be forced to sell an atypically high share of their harvest to repay heavy debts accumulated during the past successive drought seasons. Additionally, given anticipated continued low levels of humanitarian assistance, deterioration to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected to occur in June to September in the remainder of the Sorghum High Potential and Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral areas of Bay, Bakool, and Gedo. Risk of Famine is expected to persist in agropastoral areas of Burhakaba. Meanwhile, in the Southern Rainfed Maize agropastoral areas of the Lower Shabelle region, baseline levels of livestock holdings, expected medium livestock births, improved milk for consumption and sales, and livestock sales income, will likely sustain adequate access to food and income and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.

    In riverine areas of the Shabelle and Juba regions, good hagaa and deyr rainfall has supported relatively better crop and livestock production. Livestock births and production will offer a seasonal increase in milk consumption and sales an opportunity to sell some livestock during the upcoming gu season. This will likely be sufficient to sustain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. In riverine areas of Hiiraan and Gedo, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected to persist in the February to May period, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected in the June to September period given the gu harvest.

    In pastoral livelihood zones, during the jilaal dry season and the first pastoral lean season in March and April when pasture is very limited, most areas will face Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) and Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in the presence of humanitarian assistance. Given the widespread depletion in herd sizes, pastoralists will have very few livestock to sell to access food and water. Pastoralists in the central and northern regions are likely to have relatively worse food access due to limited marketable livestock availability, very low milk sales income, and above-average but stable rice prices. Meanwhile, in southern regions, where the staple food is sorghum or maize, pastoralists will face extremely high cereal prices. During the gu season, most pasture and water resources will likely marginally regenerate but will remain atypically low due to expected below-average rainfall. However, replenished pasture will not drive immediate improvements in food security. With the gu rainfall season, livestock body conditions are anticipated to improve in May and households will have some food and income from livestock and livestock products. However, this will be insufficient for most households to meet their essential food needs given reduced livestock holdings and the necessity to repay debts.  Given relatively better livestock holdings (though below baseline levels) and the ongoing humanitarian food assistance in Hawd Pastoral of North Mudug and Nugal regions and Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Bakool, Gedo, and Hiiraan regions, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) food security outcomes are expected through June.

    In the June to September period, given the anticipated scale-down of assistance, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely to emerge in Hawd Pastoral areas of Hiiraan, Galgaduud, and Togdheer; Addun Pastoral areas of Mudug; and the northwestern Guban Pastoral livelihood zone, and deterioration to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected in the June to September period in Hawd Pastoral of North Mudug and Nugal regions.

    Of greatest concern among pastoral areas is the Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone of the central regions, where consecutive drought seasons have led to unsustainable livestock holdings for poor households and forced some pastoralists to destitution. The onset of gu rains will marginally improve the conditions of remaining livestock, but pastoralists can only sell the breeding livestock and the debts accrued throughout the drought are high. Large food consumption gaps and increased asset depletion are expected. Limited access to humanitarian assistance, high conflict and insecurity, and high food prices are expected to keep this livelihood zone in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) throughout the scenario period.

    In West Golis Pastoral livelihood zone, households are likely to increase livestock sales, reduce food purchases, and divert some of their income to purchase water and animal feed, while also continuing credit food purchases and increasing current debt levels. These areas are likely to remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), though some poor households are still expected to face food consumption gaps and will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout the scenario period.

    In Juba Pastoral and Southern Inland Pastoral areas in Juba and Shabelle regions, livestock productivity and reproductivity are already near or above baseline levels. Most households will earn sufficient income from livestock and livestock product sales to repay debts and meet minimum food requirements in the February to May period, with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes expected area level. Though gu rainfall will moderately improve livestock production, rising food prices and reduced humanitarian assistance will likely lead to widespread Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in the June to September period.

    In urban areas, the growing number of internally displaced persons will continue to result in high competition for resources and income-earning opportunities. At the same time, above-average staple food prices will continue straining poor households’ available resources. In most urban areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist at the area level. However, several urban areas – including Laascaanood, Boosaaso, Dhuusamareeb, and Baydhabo – are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes due to conflict, high drought severity, and large populations of displaced households.

    Most IDP settlements are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) because of high competition for limited labor opportunities and minimal livelihood assets amid high market prices. A growing number of displaced households are expected to face wide food consumption gaps indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes given rising prices and expectations for significantly reduced humanitarian assistance. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected at the area level in many northern and central settlements. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) will persist for Burhakaba and Mogadishu settlements.

    Throughout the projection period, GAM prevalence is likely to follow seasonal trends, with deterioration likely in some rural livelihoods between February and June due to poor milk access, high food prices, and diseases, on top of the impacts of continued population displacement and limited access to health and nutrition services. GAM prevalence is generally expected to worsen but remain within “Critical” levels (GAM 15-29.9%). Specifically, atypically high and “Critical” levels of acute malnutrition are likely to be sustained among Guban Pastoral, northeast and northwest Hawd Pastoral, Gedo and East Golis pastoralists, Beletweyne, Baidoa, Burhakaba, and Middle Shabelle agropastoralists, Gedo riverine areas, and among IDPs in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Galkayo, Garowe, Dollow, and Doble towns. The ongoing humanitarian responses for the treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition will continue mitigating more severe nutrition outcomes. General mortality rates are projected to worsen due to high disease prevalence in the wet season and reduced food access but remain below the WHO Emergency threshold of less than 1/10,000 person per day through June 2023. However, the crude death rate (CDR) is likely to remain above emergency 1/10,000 person per day among populations in hotspot areas in Southern Somalia areas including among the Baidoa and Mogadishu IDPs due to increased disease outbreaks and reduced food access. The total acute malnutrition burden of Somalia is estimated at 1.8 million children under the age of five likely to face acute malnutrition through December 2023, including 478,000 who are likely to be severely malnourished.

    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalPoor to failed gu rainfall in April-June 2023If the gu rains perform very poorly or fail, household purchasing power would decline to record lows. Incomes from labor, crop sales, and livestock product sales would be minimal and food prices would likely increase beyond what is anticipated due to lower domestic supply and higher demand for purchased food. Access to social support would be further reduced. Water and pasture scarcity after March/April would cause further livestock deaths. Destitution and displacement would be widespread. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would likely be more widespread than what is currently anticipated in the most likely scenario, and Famine (IPC Phase 5) could occur between June and September if humanitarian food assistance also fails to reach areas of high concern. The areas of highest concern in this scenario include agropastoral areas in Bay and Togdheer regions; central pastoral areas; and IDP camps in Baidoa and Mogadishu.
    NationalAverage to above-average gu rainfall in April-June 2023Although this would improve rangeland and water resources and crop production prospects, a single season of good rainfall would not be sufficient for immediate recovery of livelihoods and resilience. Such recovery would require several normal seasons due to the severe drought impacts on income and asset losses. Nonetheless, improved water and pasture availability would gradually improve livestock body conditions and establish the reproduction and production sequences that are supportive for the revival of livestock assets. In general, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes would likely persist in agropastoral areas across the country and pastoral areas in the north and central regions. Most other areas would likely improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), though with some households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in the south. However, heavy rains pose some risk to livestock with weak body conditions that are susceptible to colder temperatures, flash floods, and waterborne diseases, and also pose a hazard to riverine cropping areas due to the potential for flooding.
    NationalContinuation of scaled-up humanitarian food assistance through September 2023The continuation of large-scale humanitarian assistance would likely sustain current food security outcomes and could lead to further improvements in many areas. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes would be likely in many areas, and the likelihood of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) would decline.

     


    Areas of Concern

    Area of Concern: Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral (SO16) and Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral (SO15) livelihood zones of Bay Region

    Current Situation

    Agropastoral areas of Bay (Figure 7) experienced a fifth consecutive season of below-average rainfall and crop production in the 2022 deyr season (October to December). This was followed by hot and dry conditions during the jilaal, driving continued deterioration in pasture conditions and poor water access. Households in Bay have limited access to alternative income-generating activities; firewood and charcoal collection is limited by depletion of natural resources and labor migration is restricted by high levels of insecurity. Consequently, the large-scale loss of agricultural livelihoods and diminished coping capacity are driving households to be heavily reliant on humanitarian food assistance to access food. 

    The 2022 deyr rains did support marginally improved crop production in Baidoa and Qansaxdhere districts as compared to 2021, though this primarily benefited wealthy households with larger farms. However, in Burhakaba and Diinsoor districts, poor and erratic rainfall in deyr 2022 limited cultivation and yields, and most poor households have likely already exhausted any stocks from the harvest and are highly dependent on markets. In January 2023, prices of local sorghum declined due to increased supply and reduced demand following the deyr harvest, reaching levels lower than last year. However, given below-average crop production in the region, prices remain well above average. In Baidoa market, the price of sorghum in January 2023 was 13,120 SOS/kg, 17 percent lower than last January, but nearly 65 percent higher than the five-year average (Figure 8). Similar trends are observed in Diinsoor, Burhakaba, and Qansaxdhere markets, where sorghum prices were 80 to 100 percent above the five-year average, but 2 to 20 percent lower than in January 2022.

    Consecutive seasons of poor rainfall and hotter-than-normal temperatures in the jilaal dry season have contributed to high evaporation and deteriorated pasture in Bay region. Areas with pasture remaining saw large in-migration of livestock, leading to high competition for resources and the early depletion of pasture. The ongoing drought – causing limited pasture and water – and livestock diseases have driven excess livestock mortality and atypical sales due to households’ desperation for income, severely depleting household herd sizes. Remaining livestock have poor body conditions, which led to low-to-no births in 2022, limiting typical herd replenishment and leading to only minimal household access to milk. In February 2023, the price of a 200 L drum of water in Baidoa was 53,750 SOS, 23 percent higher than last year and 65 percent higher than the five-year average.

    Figure 7

    Reference map for Bay Bakool Low Potential and Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral livelihood zones of Bay Region
    reference map for agropastoral Bay in central Somalia

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 8

    Monthly average prices of red sorghum (SOS/kg) in Bay State, January 2016 to January 2023
    prices have been declining but remain above average

    Source: FSNAU/FEWS NET

    Due to low livestock supply and increased demand in recent months (in preparation for Ramadan and the Hajj export season), livestock prices have increased to above-average levels. In January 2023, the average price of a local-quality goat in Diinsoor was 1,100,000 SOS, over 80 percent higher than at the same time last year, and 70 percent above the five-year average. Similarly, the price of a local-quality goat in Baidoa was 1,420,000 SOS, nearly 90 percent higher than last year, and nearly 45 percent above the five-year average. Given the high livestock prices and declining cereal prices in January, purchasing power as measured by the goat-to-sorghum terms of trade (ToT) improved in January, but remains below average. On average across Bay, the sale of one local-quality goat could fetch 90 kg of sorghum at prevailing prices in January 2023, nearly 110 percent more than at the same time last year, though 22 percent lower than the five-year average (161 kg of sorghum per sale of one goat). However, it should be emphasized that recent improvements in the ToT will primarily impact better-off households, as livestock sales typically contribute to less than five percent of poor households’ total food and income and as poor households have limited remaining saleable livestock.

    Agricultural labor wages, which typically account for around 40 percent of poor households’ total income, were marginally better than last year throughout the 2022 deyr season due to decreased labor supply as many households were displaced to IDP camps in Baidoa and Banadir towns. Despite higher wages rages, income from agricultural labor remains below average due to the limited cultivation. In January, on average across Bay, an agricultural laborer could earn enough to purchase 6 kg of sorghum per full day’s work at prevailing wage rates and prices. Though this is a 50 percent improvement from last year (4 kg of sorghum per day’s labor), it remains 54 percent below the five-year average (13 kg of sorghum per day’s labor).

    According to field observations and data from the UNHCR Protection and Return Monitoring Network (PRMN), rates of displacement in Bay region have continued to increase. In November and December, around 48,000 people were displaced. In January 2023, an additional 25,830 people were displaced and, in February, another 36,000 people were displaced. Most of those displaced from Bay region are fleeing desperate conditions in Diinsoor and Burhakaba districts, following the severe impacts of extended drought on crop and livestock production and households’ coping capacity. Most of those displaced from rural areas have travelled to Banadir and Baidoa IDP camps in search of humanitarian assistance. Throughout 2022, over 270,000 people were displaced to Banadir and Baidoa IDP camps, the highest displacement total recorded in a single year. Overcrowding in displacement sites remains of high concern due to the increased risk of disease spread.

    In response to high levels of need including concern for the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5), the distribution of emergency humanitarian assistance has increased significantly in Bay region since mid-2022 (Figure 9). According to the Food Security Cluster, an average of 428,000 beneficiaries (more than 70 percent of the non-IDP population) were reached each month between December 2022 and February 2023 across the region, with the majority of beneficiaries in Baidoa and Burhakaba districts. Additionally, multisectoral interventions in the nutrition, health, and WASH sectors have been scaled up by multiple agencies. Food and non-food assistance continues to play a crucial role mitigating more widespread severe outcomes across Bay region.

    Figure 9

    Beneficiaries reached monthly with emergency food assistance in Bay region, by district
    assistance was notably scaled up throughout 2022

    Source: FEWS NET, using data from the Food Security Cluster

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    Currently in February, poor households have little to no food stocks remaining from the 2022 deyr harvest, little to no milk from livestock, and only limited income from labor and petty trade. Following five consecutive seasons of drought and repeated crop and livestock losses since 2020, most poor households also face highly eroded coping capacity.  Ongoing conflict also continues to drive population displacement and disrupt livelihoods, trade, and humanitarian access. Many households are highly dependent on humanitarian assistance as a key source of food, but available assistance is insufficient to meet high levels of extreme need, and many households are expected to be facing food consumption gaps despite assistance. At the area level, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are likely in Baidoa, Diinsoor, and Qansaxdhere districts, while Burhakaba is expected to be in Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!), with significant humanitarian assistance preventing even more extreme outcomes across Bay region. High and increasing rates of displacement are indicative of worsening destitution in rural areas.

    According to surveys conducted in late October 2022, the prevalence of GAM (WHZ) was 19.8 percent (95% CI: 16.5-23.5), across Bay region, considered a “Critical” nutrition situation in line with Emergency outcomes according to IPC thresholds. The prevalence of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) was also high, at 4.1 percent (95% CI: 3.0 –5.7). GAM rates have been at “Critical” levels since the 2022 gu season, when GAM prevalence was 24.9 percent. In October 2022, the CDR was 0.67 to 1.16 deaths/10,000 people/day, likely driven by both high disease incidence and starvation. The U5DR was 1.63 to 1.95 deaths/10,000 children/day. The CDR and U5DR are in line with Crisis and Emergency outcomes according to IPC thresholds. There are also high morbidity levels in the agropastoral areas of Bay (31 to 34.7 percent). These results show that human death is already occurring due to starvation
     

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions listed above, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • According to international forecasts, the July to September xagaa rains received in parts of agropastoral areas of Bay region adjacent to the Shabelle region (including parts of Baidoa, Burhakaba, and Diinsoor) are likely to be near average. The rest of the region will be seasonally dry from July to September. Improved rainfall is expected to help late-planted and off-season crop growth, resulting in a near-average off-season harvest in late July to early August in Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral areas.
    • Cumulative effects of below-average October-December deyr cereal production, likely below-average gu 2023 precipitation, and below-average xagaa 2023 rainfall will reduce cereal production and availability at the household and market levels.  As a result, cereal prices are likely to remain above average throughout the scenario period. According to FEWS NET price projections, sorghum prices in the Baidoa reference market are projected to range from 68 to 73 percent above average, peaking at around 15,747 SOS/kg in July 2023, before declining again through September (Figure 10). Demand for agricultural labor will be atypically low.

    Figure 10

    Observed and projected prices (SOS/kg) for sorghum (red) in Baidoa market, August 2022 to December 2023
    prices are projected to follow typical seasonal trends but remain significantly above average

    Source: FSNAU/FEWS NET

    • Displacement from rural areas into main towns will likely continue at high levels throughout the outlook period, as populations seek labor opportunities, social support, and humanitarian assistance due to the negative impacts of consecutive seasons of below-average rainfall and protracted conflict.
    • Ongoing conflict is expected to continue to restrict population and commodity movements. This will hinder trade within and outside the region, as well as impede access to humanitarian aid. Insurgents will likely tighten restrictions on traders traveling to major towns in Bay region.
    • According to FSC assistance plans, the provision of humanitarian assistance will be scaled down starting in March. The average number of people that will be targeted with monthly assistance from April to June will likely reach at least 25 percent of the population on average.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    With no remaining food stocks, limited access to food and income from labor, livestock, and other sources, and depleted assets (including livestock) and coping capacity, many poor households will continue to depend highly on humanitarian food assistance. However, given plans for scale-down of assistance in March/April and the necessity of paying debts with income earned during this period, many poor households are likely to continue facing consumption gaps. Though households will receive some community and kinship support – such as zakaat during Ramadan – this will be limited by the negative impacts of drought and poor economic conditions on the resources of all wealth groups. At the area level, a range of Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) to Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!) outcomes are likely to persist in the February to May period, with a growing number of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Burhakaba and Diinsoor. Though not the most likely scenario, these districts continue to face a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in the February to May period.

    Further evidence is provided by the results of the household economy approach (HEA) analysis conducted by FEWS NET in January 2023. The analysis modeled a scenario where poor households in agropastoral areas of Burhakaba and Diinsoor faced significant reductions in food income from crop production (49-13 percent less than baseline levels), as well as a significant reduction in cash income from local labor (72-10 percent less than baseline levels). The analysis found that households’ total access to food and income in the coming consumption year (including any possible expansion of typical strategies) would not be sufficient to cover the cost of minimum energy requirements, leaving large food consumption gaps through June 2023, with the largest seasonal deficits in May and June. 

    In the June to September period, high levels of acute food insecurity will persist, with peak needs anticipated in August and September 2023 amid declining gu household stocks, declining livestock milk production, and rising food prices. Despite some access to labor and crop production during the gu harvest and hagaa season, most households will not be able to meet minimum food needs in the face of the anticipated scale-down in humanitarian assistance. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely to be widespread at the area level, with many poor households likely to be facing extreme food consumption gaps consistent with Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes. Though not the most likely scenario, a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists in agropastoral areas of Bay region, particularly in Burhakaba; such a scenario could occur if the gu season is very poor or fails, resulting in significant crop losses, further losses of livestock, amid absent humanitarian assistance.

    Area of Concern: Hawd Pastoral (SO05) livelihood zone of Galgaduud and south Mudug regions

    Current Situation

    Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone (Figure 11) has experienced five consecutive seasons of below-average rainfall, leading to widespread deterioration of rangeland resources and restricted access to communal rangelands, loss of livestock, and significantly below-normal livestock productivity, value, and saleability. Although the 2022 deyr rainy season started on time with favorable rainfall amounts received early in the season, a long dry spell at the end of the season resulted in one of the worst deyr seasons for the Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone since the 2016/17 drought.

    Figure 11

    Reference map for Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone
    reference map for Hawd pastoral livelihood zone in northern and central Somalia

    Source: FEWS NET

    The prolonged drought has resulted in very poor availability of pasture, browse, and water resources. Satellite-derived NDVI data for the period of February 1-10 show widespread below-normal vegetation conditions. The drought conditions have driven atypical outmigration of livestock from Galgaduud to the northeast and northwest where deyr rainfall marginally replenished some pastures, leading to overreliance on limited resources. Extreme water shortages and abnormally high water prices are reported in most Hawd Pastoral areas, with households’ expenditures on water purchases spiking from three percent of total household expenditure in the reference baseline year to 22 percent of total household expenditure in early 2023.

    Livestock body conditions continue to be significantly below normal levels, decreasing livestock value and saleability. Similarly, levels of livestock reproductivity and milk production are extremely low to nonexistent, limiting milk consumption and sales. Additionally, prolonged drought conditions have reduced livestock herd sizes due to excess livestock deaths and desperate sales of livestock to mitigate high staple food and water prices. Between the 2020 and 2022 deyr seasons, poor households’ sheep and goat holdings declined by 33 percent, from 36 in deyr 2020 to 24 in deyr 2022.

    The impacts of the drought have disrupted the livestock trade and reduced access to income for pastoralist households. Supply of livestock in key reference markets in Hawd Pastoral areas is lower than typical due to poor livestock body conditions, driving above-average goat prices across most markets. In Dhusamareb and Galkayo, local goat prices in February 2023 were 1,114,000 SOS and 2,750,000 SOS, respectively, 15 percent and 35 percent higher than average. Compared to last year, the Dhusamareb and Galkayo goat prices were 2 percent and 12 percent higher, respectively. However, despite the improvement in livestock prices relative to last year, purchasing power remains low due to high imported cereal prices and limited saleability of livestock given poor body conditions and depleted herd sizes. Prices of imported food commodities have been consistently high since April 2022 due to global prices and high transportation costs. Meanwhile, prices of local maize and sorghum and cross-border imports from Ethiopia are much lower due to the presence of WFP red sorghum distributions. During the January-February period, 40-55 percent of households in the districts of Caabudwaaq, Cadaado, and Dhusamareeb received assistance, though this represents a decline from the 70-85 percent reached in the October-December period of the prior year.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    The ongoing prolonged drought in central Somalia has severely impacted pastoralist households’ livelihoods, with access to food and income from livestock and livestock products significantly below normal. Due to sustained drought conditions and declining purchasing power, many households are relying increasingly on loans and credit, making it challenging to repay existing debts or access new loans. According to the most recent available FSNAU assessment data, over 25 percent of households employed livelihood coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Though no household survey data was collected during the deyr season, it is anticipated that the number of households resorting to Crisis- and Emergency-level coping strategies (or exhausting their ability to employ these strategies) is currently similar or higher in the midst of the jilaal season. Overall, most poor households have insufficient resources to meet their minimum food needs in the absence of assistance, while others are likely facing food consumption gaps despite ongoing assistance. At the area level, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected, supported by significant assistance.

    The prevalence of acute malnutrition is likely to be atypically high in the Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone, driven by inadequate food consumption, high disease prevalence, and poor access to health, WASH, and nutrition services. According to data collected by FSNAU in October 2022, GAM prevalence (WHZ) was 20.2 percent (considered “Critical” and in line with Emergency outcomes according to IPC thresholds) and SAM prevalence was 3.9 percent. The survey also revealed a high under-five morbidity rate of 17.4 percent, a CDR of 0.46, and an under-five mortality rate (U5MR) of 0.95 per 10,000 people per day, which are below Emergency thresholds but still of high concern.

    Assumptions

    In addition to the national-level assumptions listed above, the following assumptions apply to this area of concern:

    • Resource-based tensions and conflict will likely continue in Guraceel and Balanballe districts due to limited rangelands and poor access to water caused by prolonged drought.
    • Abnormal livestock outmigration from Hawd Pastoral areas to the northeast and northwest will likely continue through May 2023 before the gu rains improve conditions.
    • Low livestock supply and stable demand are expected to maintain above-average goat prices. The price of a local-quality goat in Galkayo is projected to range from 2,428,000 to 2,895,000 SOS between February and September, 13-21 percent above the five-year average.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Between March and May, poor households will continue to face highly limited access to food and income from typical sources, with limited alternative livelihood options. Livestock body conditions are expected to remain poor during the harsh jilaal season, preventing households from accessing normal levels of food and income from livestock products and livestock sales. Though households will receive some support from planned humanitarian assistance and food gifts during Ramadan (mostly April), this will be insufficient to allow households to meet their needs given the severe impacts of prolonged drought and highly eroded coping capacity. Overall, many poor households are expected to continue facing food consumption gaps. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes will persist through May, with a notable share of the population likely to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes given exhaustion of Stressed- and Crisis-level livelihood coping strategies.

    Conditions are expected to deteriorate further in the June to September period. Although gu rainfall will likely alleviate acute water and pasture shortages and marginally improve livestock body conditions, households will still face challenges due to herd losses, lack of livestock births, poor milk production, and lack of saleable animals. Furthermore, with no major planned, funded, and likely humanitarian food assistance beyond June, poor households are expected to face moderate to extreme food consumption gaps and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. At the area level, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will likely persist. As a result of extreme need and eroded and unsustainable livelihoods, some poor rural households will likely displace to towns and co-live with host communities.


    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes in Areas Receiving Significant Levels of Humanitarian Assistance

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Food Security Outlook February to September 2023: Risk of Famine persists in Somalia amid scale-down of food assistance, 2023.

    1

    Most baselines are from 2010. However, baselines for a few areas are from 2011-2015.

    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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