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Gradual drought recovery continues, though millions still need assistance

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Somalia
  • February - September 2024
Gradual drought recovery continues, though millions still need assistance

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Assumptions
  • Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Area of Concern: Riverine Pump Irrigation (SO13) livelihood zone of Gedo Region (Figure 12)
  • Key Messages
    • The recent main-season deyr harvests and marginal seasonal improvements in livestock production have improved food consumption levels in many rural areas, supporting ongoing gradual recovery from the historic 2020-2023 drought despite scaled-down humanitarian food assistance. However, some pastoral areas in the central region remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to sustained below-average access to food and income from livestock production driven by reduced herd sizes. Additionally, severe flooding due to significantly above-average rainfall during the October to December 2023 deyr season caused population displacement, damaged property, and destroyed standing crops and assets. In worst-affected riverine and lowland agropastoral areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are currently anticipated at the area level.
    • In general, households in agricultural areas will experience seasonally declining availability of food and income during the ongoing jilaal dry season as deyr stocks are exhausted. Despite some social support during the holy month of Ramadan in March/April and the recessional crop harvest in some areas around the same time, humanitarian assistance needs are expected to peak in the March to May period. Following this, access to food and income from agricultural labor and livestock production will improve seasonally during the April to June gu rainy season. In July, the main season gu harvest and livestock births will further support increased access to food and income. As such, agropastoral and pastoral areas will likely see continued improvement in acute food security outcomes during the projection period. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in the areas most severely affected by recent shocks. 
    • Available forecasts indicate that cumulative rainfall during the April to June gu season will likely be close to average, with localized areas of above-average rainfall. This would be the third consecutive season of average to above-average rainfall, which is expected to support the ongoing slow recovery of agricultural livelihoods. Additionally, the economy is showing signs of gradual recovery. Notably, livestock exports in 2023 reached 5,034,798 live animals, the highest since 2016. However, riverine areas remain vulnerable to flooding given open breakages and unrepaired damage to infrastructure. Consequently, some flooding in April and May is expected to drive population displacement and disrupt main-season gu agricultural activities, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes likely to be sustained throughout the projection period.
    • Internally displaced people (IDPs) have lost their assets and typical livelihoods and face high competition for limited available income-earning opportunities and social support. In the coming months, further assistance scale-down is likely to drive widening food consumption gaps for many poor households, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes expected to emerge by April in settlements where populations are likely to be displaced due to flooding or where assistance will likely be scaled down. In the June to September period, some increased seasonal access to food and income—including from improved availability of labor and self-employment opportunities—alongside seasonally declining food prices will likely improve food consumption. Though area-level outcomes are expected to improve to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during this time, many poor IDP households will likely continue to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. 

    National Overview

    Rainfall performance: The October to December 2023 deyr rainy season was among the wettest or second wettest on record in much of Somalia, supporting improved crop production and pasture recovery in many areas, although causing severe and destructive flooding in riverine areas of the south. As reported in the FEWS NET Somalia December Food Security Outlook Update, cumulative precipitation was over 300 percent of the 1981 to 2018 average. This, combined with above-average rains in the Ethiopian highlands, caused levels of flooding not observed since 1988 and affected an estimated 2.5 million people, and displaced 899,000 people in Gedo, Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, and Juba regions. However, deyr rainfall ceased early, in late November, followed by an extended dry spell through December and an early onset of the jilaal dry season, which supported the slow recession of river water levels in some flood-affected areas. However, even by late February, soil remains highly saturated or inundated in some of the worst-affected riverine areas and, according to FAO SWALIM data, there are still 109 open breakages along the Juba River and 190 open breakages along the Shabelle River, making these areas vulnerable to flooding during the approaching 2024 gu rains. 

    The 2023 deyr rainfall was distributed unevenly across Somalia. In most northeast and northwest areas, cumulative rainfall ranged from 10 to 100 percent above average, with average rainfall in localized areas of Bari, Sanaag, and Sool. Even with the less extreme anomalies in the north, rainfall supported some recovery of pasture and vegetation conditions. Additionally, in Awdal Region of the northwest, while December to January xeys rains generally performed poorly, the extended benefits of the October to December deyr rains sustained vegetation conditions through February.

    Deyr crop production: Despite the above-average 2023 deyr rainfall, the severe riverine flooding caused significant cereal crop losses, resulting in below-average deyr cereal production in southern Somalia. Anticipation of the above-average El Niño-enhanced rainfall is expected to have at least partially contributed to above average engagement in cereal planting; 21 percent more cropland was planted than the five-year average (2018-2022) for the deyr main season. However, only 47 percent of the 285,000 hectares (ha) planted was harvested due to the impacts of the deyr floods, as well as minor crop damage from cricket infestations (Figure 1). Based on findings from the 2023/24 post-deyr crop assessment conducted by FSNAU and partners in November 2023, total deyr cereal production[1] in agropastoral regions in the south is estimated at 60,400 metric tons (MT), which is 34, 14, and 5 percent lower than the long-term mean (1995–2022), five-year average, and last year, respectively (Figure 2). [2]  

    Figure 1

    Proportion of total planted land (ha) harvested in 2023/24 deyr main season for southern Somalia
    Proportion of total planted land (ha) that was harvested in 2023/24 deyr main season for southern Somalia

    Source: FSNAU

    Figure 2

    Cereal production (MT) during deyr main season, southern Somalia, deyr 2013-2023
    Cereal production (MT) during deyr main season, southern Somalia, deyr 2013-2023

    Source: FSNAU

    Riverine and agropastoral lowland areas, which primarily produce maize, sesame, and horticultural crops, experienced the most significant crop losses and disruption to seasonal cropping activities during the floods, partly due to the damaged irrigation infrastructure. Consequently, the proportion of lost maize cropping was significantly higher than that of sorghum. Only 27 percent of all maize cropping area planted was harvested, and total maize production was the lowest on record and 37 percent below the five-year average. Due to the large maize crop losses, many households replanted maize after the flooding began to recede; these maize crops will be harvested with the off-season cultivation in March. Sorghum production was only 3 percent below the five-year average and the 2023/24 deyr season saw the highest total sorghum production since 2020.   

    At the regional level, Bay and Lower Shabelle regions accounted for 62 percent of the total national deyr cereal production (Figure 3), though each region produced approximately 36 and 46 percent less than the long-term mean, respectively. In the regions that saw the highest proportion of planted crops lost due to the floods – Gedo, Hiiraan, and Middle Shabelle – cereal production ranged from 55 to 58 percent below their respective long-term means.  In Bakool, Lower Juba, and Middle Juba, deyr production was higher than the long-term mean at the regional level, but crop production within those regions varied considerably by livelihood zone. For example, in Middle Juba, where deyr production was 50 percent higher than the long-term mean, the surplus was uniquely attributable to the 5,600 MT of sorghum produced in the Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral livelihood zone, whereas the maize harvests in the Riverine Pump Irrigation and Riverine Gravity Irrigation livelihood zones reportedly failed with 0 MT produced.

    Figure 3

    Regional share of main season sorghum and maize crop production (MT) in 2023/24 deyr, southern Somalia
    Regional share of main season sorghum and maize crop production (MT) in 2023/24 deyr, southern Somalia

    Source: FSNAU

    In flood-affected riverine and agropastoral lowlands, recessional cultivation – deyr off-season cultivation – is ongoing in February, particularly in Hiiraan, Bay, Lower Shabelle, and Middle and Lower Juba regions. Because of the early cessation of the deyr rainfall in November and high temperatures through the end of 2023, flood water receded faster than anticipated in most areas and more land than previously projected was planted, particularly for maize. However, moisture stress and pest infestations are impacting crop development. Meanwhile, minimal to no off-season cultivation is ongoing in Middle Shabelle, Bakool, and Gedo regions.

    In Cowpea Belt Agropastoral livelihood zone in central Somalia, average to above-average rainfall and limited flooding supported favorable and well above-average cowpea production in the 2023/24 deyr season. An estimated 5,500 MT was produced – considerably higher than the drought-impacted 2021 and 2022 cowpea production – and nearly three times higher than the five-year average. The improved cowpea production is supporting slow recovery from the 2020-2023 drought, including increased income generation associated with crop sales in the post-harvest period.

    In the Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone in Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, and Togdheer regions, which generally do not harvest deyr crops, 2023 gu/karan harvests in November have been considerably below average for the fourth consecutive year and nearly failed for the second year in a row. According to FSNAU and the Somaliland Ministry of Agriculture and Development, total crop production is the lowest on record, estimated at 5,400 MT, which is only 16 percent of the 2010-2022 average recorded by FAO’s Pictoral Evaluation Tool (PET) and 42 percent lower than the 2022 gu/karan production. This is largely due to poorly distributed and insufficient 2023 gu/karan rainfall, delayed sowing, stalk borer infestations, quelea-quelea attacks, and lack of financial access to short-cycle sorghum seeds and other inputs.

    In most agropastoral areas, from late October to December, the heavy rainfall and riverine and flash flooding resulted in below-average agricultural labor demand in the south. However, in January and February, with the start of the deyr harvest and recessional cultivation activities, demand for agricultural labor has reached above-average levels, providing poor households with increased access to income. Based on data from FSNAU and FEWS NET monthly market monitoring, in Bakool Region in January, which received minimal flood damage and above-average 2023/24 deyr production, agricultural labor wage rates were 44 and 55 percent higher than last January and the five-year average, respectively. However, labor demand in badly flood-affected areas was much lower due to large-scale crop losses and fewer days of available work, resulting in lower daily wage rates and relatively less income generation. In Middle Juba Region, where only an estimated 24 percent of planted crops were harvested in January due to flood damage, agricultural labor wages were 37 and 55 percent lower than last January and the five-year average, respectively.

    Water availability and prices: Water availability improved considerably following the above-average deyr rainfall, with improvements generally higher in the south than in central and northern Somalia. However, in the central and northern regions, which typically have a higher reliance on water trucking, rain-harvested water availability from the deyr rains did support reduced demand for water trucking, resulting in seasonally declining and below-average water prices. In rural markets in northeast regions, the average price of a 200-liter drum of water in key reference markets was approximately 42,000 SOS in January 2024, 13 percent lower than last January but still 12 percent higher than the five-year average. In the south, including Bay, Juba, and Shabelle regions, the price of water was 20 to 62 percent below the five-year average.

    Rangeland conditions: In most pastoral areas, the above-average 2023 deyr rainfall has supported continued improvements in pasture and browsing conditions. In the south, pasture and browse availability is generally at above-average levels. Some central and northern pastoralist areas, which received less deyr rainfall, still face minor deficits as they recover from the drought and pastures have replenished to near-average, but slightly below normal levels; nonetheless, the pastures are sufficient for livestock herds. Based on remote-sensing satellite imagery, only localized negative anomalies in vegetation conditions remain in parts of Northern Inland and Guban Pastoral livelihood zones at the end of February (Figure 4). The improving pasture and browse conditions are supporting favorable livestock feed and production in February. 

    Livestock assets: As a result of the improved rangeland, most pastoral livelihood zones are experiencing relative improvements in livestock health, body conditions, reproductivity, productivity, and value. Improvements have also supported normal livestock migration to wet season grazing areas between livelihood zones and relieved the costs associated with migration for pastoralist households. From November 2023 to January 2024 (the typical season for livestock conception) rates of livestock conception reached average to above-average levels in most areas, attributed to improved livestock body conditions. In most regions, particularly in the south, conception rates for camel and cattle are medium and sheep and goats are medium to high. Following medium conception rates for small ruminants during the 2023 gu, medium kidding and lambing took place during the October to December deyr season in most livelihood zones. Meanwhile, in most northern and central pastoral regions, low to medium camel and cattle calving occurred during the 2023 deyr, driven by the low to medium conception levels in the 2022 deyr season. In Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone of central Somalia, small ruminant births were low given that rangeland availability and livestock body conditions have not fully recovered from the 2020-2023 drought, resulting in lower-than-normal household access to milk for consumption and sale and lower restocking rates.

    Similarly, camel and cattle milk production is higher in most of the southern regions than in northern and central regions; southern regions experienced successive seasons of average to above-average rainfall resulting in better pasture and water availability, higher livestock populations, and greater availability of milking animals. Most poor households in Addun PastoralHawd Pastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones are currently consuming very low quantities of own-produced camel milk. In central and northern pastoralist regions, goat milk consumption is near average but higher than the 2023 gu and 2022 deyr seasons due to improved pastures.

    Despite the positive trends for pasture resources and reproductivity, livestock herd sizes in most pastoral livelihood zones in central and northern regions remain well below baseline levels following significant losses of livestock during the 2016-2017 and 2020-2023 drought years. During the 2020-2023 drought, FSNAU estimates an approximately 60 percent decrease in livestock ownership due to the liquidation of livestock assets to access income and widespread livestock deaths amid low reproductivity. According to the post-deyr pastoral food security assessment conducted by FSNAU, FEWS NET, and partners in December 2023, when comparing poor household livestock ownership between the deyr seasons of 2019/20 and 2023/24, self-reported livestock losses, particularly of sheep and goats, were more substantial in the northeast pastoral livelihood zones and in Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone in central and northeastern Somalia, likely do to the impacts of the 2020-2023 drought and the slightly lower relative pasture recovery to date. Meanwhile, in the pastoral livelihood zones in the northwest and some parts of central Somalia, poor households’ livestock ownership of both camels and sheep/goats, has increased since deyr 2019/20 due to the average to above-average gu and deyr rainfall in 2023 (Figure 5). In areas worst affected by the drought and floods, livestock recovery will likely take several consecutive seasons of average to above-average cumulative rainfall.

    Figure 5

    Livestock holdings (camels and sheep/goats), post-deyr 2019/20 and post-deyr 2023/24
    Livestock holdings (camels and sheep/goats), post-deyr 2019/20 and post-deyr 2023/24

    Source: FSNAU

    Livestock trade and prices: Livestock prices have increased following the end of the deyr rains due to improved livestock health and increased restocking. Prices of local goats in January 2024 were generally stable or decreased slightly relative to December 2023, but remained higher than last year and the five-year average. For example, in January in Galkacyo market in Mudug Region, the price of one goat was 2,900,000 SOS, consistent with December 2023, but 7 and 42 percent above last year and the five-year average, respectively. Similar trends were observed in most major markets in the country. Households typically sell some livestock to access food and non-food items and repay outstanding debts when livestock body conditions are improved and can therefore be sold for higher prices. However, poor households’ diminished herd sizes following consecutive droughts are limiting the income they can generate from livestock livelihood activities. 

    Macroeconomy: According to the African Development Bank and World Bank, Somalia is seeing economic growth despite the myriad compounding shocks it has faced, including climate-related cycles of drought and floods, conflict, and high food prices. The estimated GDP growth rate was around 3 percent in 2023 – up from 2.4 percent in 2022 – reportedly stimulated by private sector and household consumption and increased livestock exports. However, the economy continues to face significant risks, including climatic shocks, domestic insecurity, and high vulnerability to global price trends. According to the Somalia National Bureau of Statistics, annual headline inflation has decreased to a four-month low of 6.19 percent in January. In addition, prices continued to decline for food and beverages, with the food inflation rate reaching -1.01 percent in January, the seventh consecutive month with a negative food inflation rate. The consumer price index has been on the decline ever since reaching an all-time high in November 2023, though it remains higher in February 2024 than in February of last year. 

    Staple food prices: Prices of locally produced cereals showed varying trends in the production areas of southern Somalia in January. According to FEWS NET and FSNAU data, in key reference markets in Bay, Bakool, and Gedo regions, sorghum prices generally decreased between December and January as deyr harvests reached markets and trended at levels slightly lower than last January but still above average. In Baidoa market in Bay Region in January, sorghum prices were 11,400 SOS/kg, which is 9 percent lower than December 2023 and 13 percent lower than January 2023, but 22 percent higher than the five-year average (Figure 6). Meanwhile, local maize prices trended higher than last year and the average due to the severe flood-related impacts in riverine areas where most maize is produced. In Lower Shabelle – where only 50 percent of the planted crops were harvested due to the floods – maize prices in Qorioley market increased unseasonably from December to January by 4 percent, and are 26 percent higher than the five-year average (Figure 6). In Hiiraan, which experienced similar crop losses, maize prices in January were 50 percent higher than last January and 43 percent higher than the five-year average. In central and northern Somalia, local cereal prices were generally stable or increased slightly month-on-month in January and are trending above both last year’s and average prices due to the poor 2023 gu/karan production and limited trade flows from the southern regions resulting from flooding impacts on key infrastructure, including roadways.

    The prices of imported staple foods – including rice, wheat flour, sugar, and vegetable oil – were moderately elevated (5 to 10 percent) in most southern and central markets from November 2023 to January 2024 due to the impacts of the deyr flooding, including severe infrastructure damage and impassable roads, which hampered the delivery of supplies from ports. In January in the northern markets in Garowe, Bosasso, and Ceerigaavo, rice prices were relatively stable compared to December, but trended 23 to 79 percent higher than the five-year average. Most other imported food prices are lower compared to last year, but moderately higher (10 to 20 percent) than the five-year average, due to high global food and fuel prices.

    Figure 6

    Retail staple food prices, Qorioley, Lower Shabelle Region and Baidoa, Bay Region, January 2016-2024
    Retail staple food prices, Qorioley, Lower Shabelle Region and Baidoa, Bay Region, January 2016-2024

    Source: FEWS NET/FSNAU

    Household purchasing power: In the agropastoral areas of southern Somalia, particularly agropastoral and riverine livelihood zones, purchasing power – as measured by the terms of trade (TOT) between daily labor wages and staple cereal prices – was largely stable month-on-month from December to January. Slightly elevated TOT were observed in areas with increased seasonal labor demand for deyr off-season cultivation and deyr main season crop marketing activities such as threshing, handling, packaging, and transporting due to the relatively higher incomes. The TOT are generally consistent with or slightly higher than last year, although remain below the five-year average. In Baidoa, the daily labor wages in January could buy 9 kg of red sorghum, 13 percent more than the previous month and last year, but 31 percent less than the five-year average. Similarly, in Afgoye market in Lower Shabelle, daily labor wages could buy 5 kg of maize in January, similar to the previous month and last year, but 29 percent lower than the five-year average. Similar trends have been seen in Hiiraan, Juba, Middle Shabelle, and Bakool regions. However, in Gedo Region, the TOT was 14 percent lower than last year and 50 percent lower than the five-year average, largely due to sorghum prices increasing 15 and 99 percent compared to January 2023 and the five-year average, respectively.

    In pastoral areas of the central and northern regions, household purchasing power – measured by the TOT between a local quality goat and staple cereal prices – also remains consistently lower than the five-year average, though trends vary relative to last January.  In Galkayo market in Mudug Region, a local quality goat could be exchanged for 74 kg of red rice in January, the same as the previous month, but 4 and 17 percent lower than the same time last year and the five-year average, respectively.

    However, in Burao market, Toghdeer Region, the sale of a local quality goat could fetch 71 kg of red rice, 16 percent higher than last January, though 14 percent lower than the five-year average. These variations are primarily driven by the differing prices of goats in pastoralist regions, depending on the relative improvement in their body conditions following the deyr rains.

    Conflict and displacement: Conflict in central, southern, and northwest Somalia continues to drive displacement, limit trade and market functionality, and disrupt livelihood activities in early 2024. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), from mid-December 2023 to late January 2024, there were nearly 300 political violence incidents reported in Somalia, resulting in at least 726 reported fatalities. The epicenters of political violence were the Lower and Middle Shabelle, Hiiraan, Galgaduud, and Mudug regions, where al-Shabaab continues to target security forces and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). Mudug Region reported the highest number of fatalities (412), followed by Lower Juba Region (at least 121). Most fatalities occurred during battles between al-Shabaab and security forces. As of January, al-Shabaab insurgency activity has generally decreased in urban areas, although activities and attacks have largely shifted to rural areas, disrupting the harvest of deyr crops in the worst-affected areas, and reducing access to pasture for livestock in some areas.

    In much of the Sool Region and Ceel Afweyn districts of Sanaag Region, unresolved interclan conflict continues, although significant diffusion occurred in January 2024. This conflict has disrupted normal livestock migration and trade, as well as blocked key supply routes for the trade of goods between Sool and other northwestern regions. The ongoing conflict has driven large-scale population displacement, disrupted normal livelihood activities, reduced income-earning opportunities, and increased food prices. 

    Figure 7

    Trends of population displacement and displacement drivers, January-December 2023
    Population displacements from January-December 2023, by driver in Somalia

    Source: UNHCR/PRMN

    According to current estimates by UN OCHA, there are approximately 3.86 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia. Between July and December 2023, an estimated 1,595,000 persons were displaced as a result of the 2023 floods, the 2020-2023 drought, and persisting conflict and insecurity, according to data from the UN Refugee Agency’s Protection and Return Monitoring Network (UNHCR PRMN). This is an 18 percent increase from the 1,349,000 persons displaced in the first half of 2023 (January to June) despite a considerable decrease in conflict- and drought-related displacements relative to the first half of the year (Figure 7). Flooding accounted for 80 percent of total displacements during this period, primarily from Gedo (28 percent), Hiiraan (22 percent), and Mudug (17 percent) regions. Drought-related displacements accounted for 10 percent (162,000) of all displacements during the period, with IDPs primarily displacing from Lower Shabelle (22 percent), Bay (21 percent), and Gedo (17 percent) regions. Meanwhile, only roughly 8 percent (122,000 persons) of displacements from July to December were reportedly driven by insecurity, with most IDPs displacing from Middle Shabelle (19 percent) and Middle Juba (18 percent) due to the al-Shabaab insurgency, and Togdheer (12 percent) and Sanaag (11 percent) due to the persisting interclan conflict. Other minor drivers for displacements included the forced return of IDPs, cross-border movements, and access to humanitarian assistance.

    IDPs in settlements in Somalia have limited working skills and face high competition for labor opportunities, arrive with few household or productive assets or resources, and have weakened social and communal support networks to rely on. With limited access to earned income through their regular livelihood activities, most IDPs are highly reliant on humanitarian food assistance, such as cash or vouchers to access food. This is supplemented by food purchases from minimal amounts of social support and income from the sale of bush products.

    Humanitarian food assistance: According to data from the Somalia Food Security Cluster, the total number of beneficiaries reached with humanitarian food assistance from October to January continued to decline. From October to January, roughly 1.8 to 2.0 million people received food assistance each month, representing 10 to 15 percent of the national population (Figure 8), which is 35 to 60 percent lower than the 3.1 million beneficiaries reached in August 2023 and 4.7 million beneficiaries reached in February 2023. According to data from the Food Security Cluster, in IDP settlements, the number of beneficiaries receiving humanitarian food assistance decreased by 55 to 60 percent from December 2023 to January 2024. In Baidoa, Bay Region, the proportion of IDP households receiving assistance decreased from roughly 30 percent to 15 percent of the population month-on-month from December to January. Similar decreases were seen in other urban areas with large IDP settlements, such as Kismayo, Lower Juba Region, Gaalkacyo, Mudug Region, and Dolow, Gedo Region.

    Figure 8

    Percent of national population reached with emergency humanitarian food assistance, monthly, January 2022-2024
    Percent of national population reached with emergency humanitarian food assistance, monthly, January 2022 to January 2024

    Source: Food Security Cluster

    In November, the Russian Federation facilitated the delivery of a 25,000-ton wheat consignment to the port of Mogadishu, intended for use as humanitarian food aid. However, most of the wheat consignment has been confined to the seaport due to transportation restrictions imposed by al-Shabaab. Additionally, the flood-damaged infrastructure – including roads – has contributed to the ongoing delays in distributing the wheat to populations in need.

    The humanitarian response to the deyr floods was extremely limited due to insufficient funding and difficulty accessing the most affected areas, resulting in minimal distributions of food or essential non-food items to the flood-affected areas. Despite the floods being among the worst on record, according to key informants in the humanitarian sector, the assistance provided was insufficient to support the population in need and generally fell short of the efforts seen in previous years of historic flooding. While boats were deployed to access isolated settlements in Gedo, Hiiraan, Juba, and Middle Shabelle regions to evacuate populations, these evacuations had limited reach. WFP, in collaboration with the Somali Disaster Management and Humanitarian Agency, extended financial aid of 100 to 110 USD to 1,492 individuals displaced by the floods in Beledweyne town, spanning a period of two months. Additionally, the Somali Red Crescent Society, along with other response agencies, reportedly supplied an unspecified amount of clean water and non-food items to some flood-displaced populations. Despite these efforts, the overall response to the flooding crisis underscores the need for enhanced strategies and resources to effectively address such climatic shocks.

    Based on nutrition surveys conducted by FSNAU and partners between October 2023 and January 2024, the prevalence of acute malnutrition at the national level is Serious (Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) 10-14.9 percent), reflecting an improvement from Critical (GAM 15-29.9 percent) levels recorded during the same time last year. The year-on-year improvement is largely linked to improved access to food and milk consumption due to enhanced crop and livestock production from the impact of average to above-average 2023 gu and deyr rainfall. However, the prevalence of acute malnutrition remains elevated in some areas. According to the IPC Acute Malnutrition (AMN) workshop conducted from January to February 2024, the rural and urban analysis areas classified in Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) included Beletweyne urban (Hiiraan); Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone in northeast and central regions; Riverine Gravity Irrigation and Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral livelihood zones in Middle and Lower Shabelle regions; agropastoral areas in Bay Region; and localized parts of Southern Inland Pastoral, Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral, and Riverine Pump Irrigation livelihood zones. Other areas in Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) include the flood affected areas of the riverine livelihood zones in Lower Juba and Hiiraan regions and in Baardheere (Gedo). The major factors driving high acute malnutrition in the country include high disease prevalence and periodic disease outbreaks (e.g., acute watery diarrhea and measles), low coverage of essential health and nutrition services (e.g., measles immunization and vitamin A supplementation), limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities, and sub-optimal infant/childcare and feeding practices.

    In IDP settlements, ten SMART surveys conducted by FSNAU and its partners from October to December 2023 reported an overall median global acute malnutrition (GAM) of 15.8 percent, reflecting a sustained Critical (GAM 15-29.9 percent) level of acute malnutrition. The January IPC AMN analysis indicated that IDPs in Bosasso (Bari), Galkacyo (Mudug), Dhusamareb (Galgaduud), Mogadishu (Banadir), Dolow (Gedo), and Kismayu (Lower Juba) all face Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) levels, while IDPs in Baidoa, Burao, and Hargeysa likely faced Serious (IPC AMN Phase 3) levels.


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal calendar for Somalia

    Source:

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    In agropastoral areas, food and income from crop and livestock production during the deyr season are supporting ongoing drought recovery, though some flood-affected areas in the south experienced negative impacts on crop production, reducing overall gains. In the Cowpea Belt Agropastoral, Southern Agropastoral, and Southern Rainfed Agropastoral livelihood zones, average to above-average crop harvests are improving food availability; however, livestock herd sizes remain below average, and households are selling a large share of their harvested crop and engaging in atypical livestock sales in order to meet their needs and repay debts. As such, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in these livelihood zones, though some poor households remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Meanwhile, Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral and Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral livelihood zones in Bay, Bakool, Juba, and Shabelle regions remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with some poor households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), given below-average crop harvests and associated reduced access to food and income, very low saleable livestock due to below-average herd sizes, below-average labor opportunities during the deyr due to flood-related impacts, and high local cereal prices. However, above-average recessional cultivation supporting by the flooding is ongoing in lowland agropastoral areas in the south, which has improved agricultural labor opportunities and wage income. Meanwhile, in the northwest, the Northwestern Agropastoral and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zones continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes due to the near-crop failure of the November 2023 gu/karan harvest, which is reducing typical income from crop sales and increasing dependence on markets for food amid above-average prices, combined with the below-baseline levels of livestock holdings and low income from livestock milk sales. 

    In riverine areas of the south, poor households continue to contend with the negative impacts of deyr flooding – including damage to property, assets, and livelihoods – on top of the lasting negative impacts of the 2020-2023 drought. Large-scale crop losses and near-crop failure of maize are limiting normal access to food and income in the post-harvest period for the worst affected households. However, in February, some increases in access to labor opportunities and income associated with recessional cultivation activities, reconstruction of damaged homes, and the sales of bush products, such as grass and poles, are supporting minor improvements in access to food. Additionally, as floodwaters recede, households have slightly increased access to food and income from wild foods, including river fishing and wild fruits and vegetable collection. However, in most riverine areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes likely persist at the area level due to the loss of own-produced crops from the deyr main season, reduced access to agriculture inputs, high food prices, loss of assets, limited humanitarian food assistance, and high reliance on credit for food purchases. In riverine areas of Gedo and Hiiraan, with the recession of floodwaters and slightly increased access to income and food, as well as the increased access to crop zakat following the deyr harvest, area-level food security outcomes have likely temporarily improved from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in February, though a subset of the worst-affected households with limited access to income-generation continue facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. 

    In pastoral areas, outcomes have generally improved from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in Northern Inland, East Golis, West Golis, Guban, and Hawd Pastoral livelihood zones in the northern regions, and Southern Inland and Juba Pastoral livelihood zones in southern regions. Despite declining levels of humanitarian assistance, improved livestock productivity and herd sizes and increased availability of saleable animals are supporting ongoing drought recovery. However, in Coastal Deeh, Hawd, and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones in central regions, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely still prevalent at the area level, with some households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) due to drought-related low livestock productivity and reproductivity, limited saleable livestock and low milk sales, above-average food prices, and high debt levels. Poor households are marginally able to meet minimum food needs by selling livestock, further depleting their herds, which are already below baseline levels.

    Across IDP settlements, area-level outcomes are now assessed to be Crisis (IPC Phase 3) given new evidence available during the recent IPC analysis. In most cases, it is likely that Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes were prevalent since the post-gu period of 2023. On the other hand, there has been an improvement in the situation for IDPs in Laascaanood (Sool), now classified as Crisis (IPC Phase 3). According to the 2023/24 post-deyr assessment, a substantial share of the population of IDPs are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, with the majority located in the Banaadir (Mogadishu), Bay, and Gedo regions. IDPs have limited assets, including farmland, livestock, and productive or household assets, and are highly dependent on low-paid labor. According to the 2023/24 post-deyr assessment, 89 percent of IDPs rely on market purchases for food access, and while staple food prices are generally declining, they remain above average, limiting household purchasing power. Access to life-saving services such as health and nutrition services is limited, resulting in high levels of morbidity. Given these challenges, high levels of acute malnutrition continue to persist in all IDP settlements, underscoring the urgent need for continued intervention and support.

    Most urban areas continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes given the availability of labor opportunities, favorable wages, declining food prices, and comparatively improved access to social services (including health services), community support, and humanitarian assistance. This is supported by outcome indicator data from the 2023/24 post-deyr assessment. However, food security outcomes in urban areas indicate that Bosasso and Beletweyne have experienced deterioration from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In Bosasso, Bari region heightened levels of political conflict disrupted livelihoods activities and major trade activities, limiting income for poor households. In Beletweyne, Hiiraan region, the severe deyr floods drove large-scale displacement, disrupted access to income and food, and destroyed major infrastructure.


    Assumptions

    The February to September 2024 most likely scenario is based on the following national-level assumptions: 

    • According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a second generation of locust breeding is expected from late January to April. More groups, bands, and some swarms would be expected to form in northwestern coastal areas (Guban Pastoral livelihood zone) in between Berbera and Zeylac districts. Throughout the April to June gu season, hatching and development of new swarms are expected in the high-risk areas along the northwest coast, facilitated by conducive soil moisture and vegetation conditions, with locust presence likely to spread southward towards West Golis, Hawd, and Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zones of Awdal, Woqooyi Galbeed, and Togdheer regions. Locusts are anticipated to infest pasture and standing crops at the vegetative level and spoil water in Berkads (Figure 9). However, strong southeasterly monsoon headwinds are expected to discourage the spread of locusts to coastal and adjacent inland areas in southern and central Somalia.

    Figure 9

    Desert locust outbreak map, January-February 2024
    Map of desert locusts in northwest Somalia

    Source: FAO

    • Average rainfall in the April to June gu season is expected across Somalia, with localized variability. The gu (long rains) rainfall over the Juba and Shabelle river catchments and in the Ethiopian highlands is also likely to be average, though there is uncertainty given the long-range nature of the forecast. The forecast is driven by a likelihood of significantly above-average Indian Ocean sea surface temperatures and neutral ENSO and IOD conditions in mid-2024. 
    • Both the June to September xagaa coastal showers in the Shabelle and Juba regions and the July to September karan rains in northwestern regions are expected to be average.
    • Water levels in the Shabelle and Juba rivers are expected to remain seasonally average or slightly above average throughout the scenario period. Average genna rainfall forecasts from March to May in the Ethiopian highlands are expected to maintain river levels sufficient for off-season crop irrigation through the dry season until the end of April, including areas downstream of Lower Shabelle. Average gu rainfall is expected to seasonally increase river levels from April to June, and localized flooding is expected in open breakages and weak river embankment points. Average kiremt rainfall in the Ethiopian highlands and a mild xagaa season in the Juba and Shabelle regions are expected to also help maintain normal river levels after April, with localized flooding in Hiiraan, Juba, and Shabelle regions.
    • Following typical seasonal trends, pasture and water availability is expected to decline through the remainder of the January to March jilaal dry season, ranging from average to above-average levels depending on factors such as vegetation and water availability, soil moisture levels, and land surface temperatures. Subsequently, the forecast average gu rainfall is expected to mitigate the effects of overgrazing during the jilaal dry season in the most nutrient-rich pastures with high concentrations of livestock and support average to above-average water availability. A significant surplus of pasture availability may occur in valleys benefitting from flash floods. Gradual pasture and water deterioration is likely during the xagaa dry season across the country, except for areas that receive xagaa showers (e.g., coastal and adjacent agropastoral and riverine areas in the south) and karan rainfall (e.g., West Golis Pastoral, parts of Guban Pastoral, and Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zones in Awdal and Woqoyi Galbeed regions), where forecasted average rainfall June through September will likely sustain average pasture and water availability.
    • Livestock body conditions are expected to be average, driven by the average to above-average 2023 deyr rainfall and vegetation conditions. During the jilaal dry season, adequate dry pasture and browse availability across the country will likely sustain normal livestock body conditions. Pastoralists are anticipated to engage in opportunistic livestock migration in traditional grazing areas.
    • Based on reported camel conception in the 2023 gu, exceptional rainfall performance in the 2023 deyr, and generally favorable livestock body conditions, medium camel calving, medium cattle and goat births, and medium to high sheep births are expected across the country during the gu season.
    • Off-season area planted and production prospects are expected to be largely above average in Bay, Lower and Middle Shabelle, Lower Juba, and Hiiraan regions due to above-average soil moisture following the recession of water from the October to December 2023 deyr flooding in riverine and agropastoral areas and availability of supplementary irrigation in the south during the January to March jilaal dry season. In contrast, off-season area planted and production are expected to be below average where severe floods damaged irrigation infrastructure in the riverine areas of the south, especially in Gedo and Middle Shabelle regions.
    • Area planted, agricultural labor opportunities and wages, and crop production are likely to be average to slightly above average during the gu main season except for flood-affected riverine areas; gu main season sorghum production is expected to be slightly above the five-year average. Maize production is expected to be near-average in downstream areas of the Juba and Shabelle rivers; however, below-average maize production is likely in the areas with significantly damaged river infrastructure in Hiiraan, Gedo, and Middle Shabelle regions, possibly compounded by the presence of crop pests and anticipated gu rainfall flooding. 
    • In the Cowpea Belt Agropastoral livelihood zone, gu cowpea production, which is typically more drought-resistant and has a shorter cultivation period, is also expected to be above average.
    • In the Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone of Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed regions, the expected average gu rainfall and average July to September karan rainfall will likely support favorable short-cycle (April to June) yellow maize and long-cycle (July to November) sorghum crop development. Average maize and sorghum harvests are expected in July and November, respectively. However, some crop losses from pest and bird attacks are expected.
    • According to the World Bank and African Development Bank, Somalia’s GDP growth is projected to improve to 3.5 percent in 2024 from 2.8 percent in 2023, driven by private consumption and external demand. Inflation is expected to stabilize at 4 percent in 2024 as global commodity supply chains stabilize. However, the current account deficit is projected to remain high (14.8 percent of the GDP in 2024) due to the high import bill resulting from elevated energy and food prices. Somalia will continue to be affected by recurrent climate-related shocks (droughts and floods), above-average grain prices, and high levels of conflict, all of which have hampered the country’s economic growth.

    Figure 10

    Observed and projected prices for red sorghum in Baidoa reference market, July 2023 to September 2024
    Observed and projected prices (SOS/kg) for sorghum (red) in Baidoa market, July 2023 to November 2024

    Source: FSNAU/FEWS NET

    Figure 11

    Observed and projected prices for a local quality goat in Baidoa reference market, July 2023 to November 2024
    Observed and projected prices (SOS/kg) for goat in Baidoa market, July 2023 to September 2024

    Source: FEWS NET/FSNAU

    • Due to the combined impacts of 2023 deyr flooding in southern Somalia – including below-average deyr crop production, household food stock losses, and infrastructure damage – the domestic cereal supply is expected to remain inadequate through June. Sorghum prices in southern Somalia are expected to seasonally decline between January and March as supplies from the deyr off-season harvest enter the markets; however, this decline is expected to be temporary and minimal due to the below-average 2024 deyr main season harvest. From April to June, prices are expected to seasonally increase until the gu harvest in July 2024, after which prices will decrease again through September. According to FEWS NET price projections in key reference markets, maize and sorghum prices are expected to be higher than the five-year average throughout most of the outlook period (Figure 10). The price of a kilogram of sorghum or maize is projected to range from 5 to 30 percent above the five-year average in the south, and prices are expected to peak in May/June 2024. In northern markets, like Hargeysa, where prospects for the 2024 gu/karan rains and crop production are average/near-average, sorghum and maize prices are projected to modestly decline but remain 25 to 40 percent above average through most of the outlook period. The prices of imported wheat, vegetable oil, sugar, and fuel in 2024 are expected to decline from the high levels caused by weather, war, high oil and gas prices, and production costs. The price of imported rice in Somalia is expected to remain relatively stable at a high level or increase slightly in line with global trends, sustaining upward pressure on the already high and above-average domestic staple food prices. In addition, extreme flooding in 2023 and early 2024 has destroyed roads and infrastructure and disrupted transportation, which will continue to contribute to high market prices in some of the southern regions through at least May. As a result, prices of imported food commodities are expected to remain above average through the outlook period.
    • Based on FEWS NET’s analysis of price dynamics in Galkayo (Mudug Region), and Baidoa (Bay Region), retail livestock prices in most southern, central, and northern areas are anticipated to remain higher than the five-year average and follow seasonal trends, increasing from March to June with the increased seasonal demand during the Hajj season, followed by decreased demand from July to September (Figure 11). Multiple droughts – including 2020-2023 – have reduced livestock supply in markets, however improving livestock body conditions due to replenished pastures will continue to increase saleable livestock and market supply. In Baidoa, the price of a local quality goat is expected to be well above average through the entire scenario period. 
    • In general, pastoral household purchasing power, is expected to remain near to below average, driven by high cereal prices, despite favorable livestock prices. The labor-to-cereal TOT in riverine areas is expected to follow seasonal trends at below-average levels due to above-average cereal prices and reduced labor demand from the impact of flooding and waterlogged farms during the deyr and gu seasons. The labor-to-cereal TOT will likely peak in July to September after the arrival of cereals from gu production.
    • Milk prices are expected to increase through the end of March and during the July to September xagaa dry season when milk production declines seasonally due to low livestock births, reduced pasture/water availability, and drying of milking animals. However, milk prices are expected to decline during the April to June gu season as milk availability increases with more livestock births. 

    Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes

    In agropastoral areas, needs are anticipated to peak from March to May. Households that planted off-season harvests will gain access to some off-season harvests in March/April, although poor households that received below-average deyr main season harvests will likely have minimal remaining cereal stocks. Following the considerably below-average deyr production, market supply will be limited, elevating market prices, which are expected to remain above the five-year average, particularly for maize. However, anticipated increases in agriculture labor opportunities and wages, along with higher livestock prices due to Hajj restocking and the Eid festival, are expected to stabilize household purchasing power through April/May. Additionally, improved milk availability, as well as increases in herd sizes and the availability of saleable livestock are likely to alleviate some debt burdens accrued during the drought. Anticipated gu flooding in the agropastoral lowlands in the south will likely disrupt some engagement in livelihood activities and trade routes, though not as severely as neighboring riverine areas. 

    Access to income and food is expected to increase with the green gu harvests, improving food security to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the Sorghum High Potential and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zones. In the Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone, gu/karan crop failure has led to reduced cereal stock availability, making most households market-dependent; however, high local cereal prices are limiting purchasing power and food access. Poor households are likely to allocate their production and crop fodder sales income toward debt relief. While the expected medium births of cattle and small ruminants during the gu will increase milk production, livestock herd size, and value, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are anticipated to persist through May 2024.

    In Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral livelihood zones in the south, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions are expected to continue through May. Limited seed and deyr cereal stocks for own-consumption, and above-average staple cereal prices are leading to sustained market-dependence through May. However, high debt levels, limited access to credit for food purchases, and low availability of saleable livestock due to below-baseline livestock holdings will likely limit financial access to food for poor households, resulting in households facing food consumption gaps. While the forecasted average gu rainfall is expected to support improved agricultural labor opportunities in April and May, amid expectations for minimal flash flood crop damage, this will likely be insufficient to support poor households in meeting their minimum food needs. 

    In the Cowpea Belt Agropastoral livelihood zone (Middle Shabelle) and Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone (Bakool, Gedo, Hiiraan, and Juba regions), improved livestock conditions and value, along with increased access to milk consumption and sales, are expected to stabilize food security and support Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes through May. 

    In the Southern Rainfed Agropastoral livelihood zone (Lower Shabelle and Juba regions), medium cattle births and medium to high goat kidding, improved pasture/water conditions, favorable gu cropping activities, and increased labor opportunities are expected to support continued improvements in food security. Milk production is expected to be average, which will support both household consumption and sales. Additionally, increased access to saleable livestock and higher casual and agricultural labor income are expected to increase household purchasing power. Overall, households are likely to meet their minimum food and non-food needs, supporting improvement to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes.

    In agropastoral areas, food security will improve from June to September as most households will have own-produced food stocks from the gu harvests and rely on regular market operations to procure other essential imported food items. Income from typical seasonal agricultural labor opportunities as well as income derived from the sale of livestock and milk is projected to rise, while the prices of staple local foods are forecasted to decrease slightly, supporting slightly improved household purchasing power. As households harvest gu crops in July, food availability and financial access to food will increase in most agropastoral regions, supporting improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in several areas. However, many poor households will have to sell some of their limited livestock resources to settle debts accumulated during the 2020-2023 drought and current lean season. 

    In the Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral livelihood zone (Bay and Bakool regions), and the Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone (Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed regions), Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist through September, primarily due to low livestock holdings, reduced income from livestock and milk sales, and diminished cereal stocks. A significant portion of the gu harvest will likely be used for debt repayment instead of own-consumption, worsening conditions for many poor and displaced households who are heavily reliant on community support and loans to secure food.

    On the other hand, in the Southern Rainfed Maize Agropastoral livelihood zone of the Lower and Middle Juba and the Lower Shabelle regions, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are anticipated through September. This projection is based on the above-baseline livestock holdings – supported by improved rainfall, pasture, and water availability – the expected improvement in livestock production and reproduction in the south, an increase of saleable livestock and cattle milk, and the forecasted average gu harvest in July. These factors collectively enable households to meet their food and other essential non-food needs without resorting to negative coping strategies.

    In pastoral regions, while no livestock births are expected from February to March, medium to high birth rates among small ruminants and moderate birth rates in camels and cattle are anticipated from April to May 2024. These births should contribute to some herd growth, increase livestock and milk sales, and provide milk for own consumption, helping poor households to meet their basic food needs. However, the projected births are unlikely to restore herd sizes to optimal levels and income from milk and livestock sales will likely remain lower than normal through May. Additionally, most livestock-derived earnings are expected to be used for repaying large debts from the 2020-2023 drought. These households may therefore still struggle to meet essential non-food needs without resorting to coping strategies associated with Stressed (IPC Phase 2), such as increasing milk sales while consuming less, selling livestock despite low herd sizes, and increasing purchases on credit. Food security outcomes in most areas in the north and central regions and the Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone (Gedo, Hiiraan, and Galgaduud regions) are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Food security in the Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone (Bakool, Juba, and Shabelle regions) and the Juba Pastoral livelihood zone is projected to improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1). The Addun and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones of central Somalia, which were among the worst-affected by the historic drought, will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3); livestock holdings and milk consumption remain significantly below baseline levels in these areas. Additionally, limited income from livestock and milk sales, coupled with insufficient fishing income, prevents these households from fully repaying debts or purchasing adequate food through credit or cash. 

    Between June and September, improvements from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) are expected in many pastoral areas, supported by improved livestock body conditions, increased herd sizes, and increased availability of milk for consumption and sale. However, the exception is in the Addun and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones (Galgaduud and south Mudug regions), during the xagaa dry season, the severity of food consumption gaps will remain high due to impacts of continued below-baseline livestock holdings, high food prices, high debt levels, and escalating conflict that restricts livestock movement, trade, and population mobility. Consequently, poor households in these areas will face significant challenges in accessing sufficient food and maintaining their income, resulting in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    In other pastoral areas in the remaining north/central regions including Hawd, Guban, East Golis, and Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zones, households are still likely to have few livestock to sell despite gu season births, and will have to reduce food purchases and divert some of their income to pay debts to access credit food purchases. These areas are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), though a proportion of the population will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September. A favorable xagaa season and average pasture/water availability will gradually improve livestock productivity and reproductivity in southern pastoral areas, including Southern Inland and Juba Pastoral livelihood zones, resulting in above-baseline livestock holdings, increased milk consumption and sales income, and increased livestock sales to pay debts. These seasonal improvements will have a substantial impact on area-level outcomes in Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Gedo, Hiiran, and Galgaduud regions, where outcomes are expected to improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1). Minimal IPC Phase 1) outcomes will be sustained in Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone of Bakool, Juba, and Shabelle regions. Some poor households will likely still face challenges, however; they may achieve minimally adequate food consumption but struggle to meet essential non-food needs without resorting to stress-coping strategies. Such households will likely face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    In the riverine livelihood zones of Hiiraan, Gedo, Middle Juba, and Shabelle regions, households are expected to harvest 15,600 MT of deyr off-season cereal crops from March to April, 3.5 times higher than the five-year deyr off-season averages. This will likely support improved food consumption, income access through agricultural labor, and some debt relief. However, with the nearly 300 open breakages in the rivers, the gu rains are anticipated to cause flooding, increasing damage in riverine areas and likely leading to some crop losses. Many farms and both urban and rural settlements in the riverine areas are likely to be flooded, stranded, and/or displaced, disrupting cultivation activities and supply routes. Flooding will also likely lead to increased imported food prices, negatively affecting food access. Households are expected to increase their consumption of river fish, wild vegetables, and fruits, and labor income from the gu cultivation season (starting in March 2024) will primarily support food purchases. Unfortunately, the combination of increased waterborne diseases, low food intake, and limited access to health services will likely raise acute malnutrition levels, although they will remain at Critical levels. From March to May, in most riverine areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist. However, in in Riverine Pump Irrigation livelihood zone in Gedo Region, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are anticipated starting in March due to the impacts of the flooding, limited access to income, and anticipated displacement. Factors such as below-baseline holdings and below-average large ruminant reproduction will likely have limited access to livestock, milk consumption, sales income, and overall food availability. Acute malnutrition is expected to persist at Serious (IPC AMN Phase 3) and Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) levels through the end of May.

    From June to September, food security outcomes are generally expected to improve between in the riverine areas, despite the likely crop losses due to a second consecutive season of flooding, pest infestation, and a shortage of farm inputs needed to rehabilitate irrigation infrastructure. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are anticipated to persist in both the Riverine Pump Irrigation and Riverine Gravity Irrigation livelihood zones, with some households reaching Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels. The income derived from the gu main and off-season harvests in July to September, coupled with the labor from recessional cultivation and enhanced livestock productivity and reproductivity, are likely to enhance the ability of these households to purchase food and access their cereal stock. However, both harvests are expected to be insufficient, as a significant portion will be allocated towards debt repayment.

    IDPs in most settlements will likely continue to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) conditions throughout the scenario period. However, in Ceelbarde, Xudur, and Wajid (Bakool), as well as Baidoa (Bay), Dhuusamareeb (Galgaduud), and Laascaanood (Sool), limited access to labor or income, decreases in humanitarian food assistance, and deteriorating coping capacity are likely to result in the deterioration of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes from February to May. Factors contributing to this deterioration include expected flooding and resulting population displacement, disruptions to livelihoods and market access, disease outbreaks, and reduced access to health services and humanitarian assistance. From June to September, however, food security in these areas is expected to improve to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with improved casual and agricultural labor, self-employment opportunities and wages, improved food and milk market supply, reduced food prices, and increased access to crop zakat and food gifts. 

    Across all urban populations, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected from March to September. Urban households are largely purchase-dependent for food and the increased demand for casual labor as well as engagement in small businesses and trade activities are supporting average incomes. Poor households will also be able to rely on social support through September.

    According to the IPC AMN analysis conducted in January 2024, acute malnutrition is expected to deteriorate during the March to May period, which coincides with the agricultural lean season and seasonal spikes in disease prevalence during the gu rains. During this period, the prevalence of acute malnutrition will likely increase and 11 rural areas are expected to reach Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) (GAM 15-29.9 percent): parts of Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone of northeast and central regions, Beletweyne District, riverine and agropastoral areas of Middle and Lower Shabelle regions, as well as the worst flood-affected riverine areas of the Lower Juba, Gedo, and Hiiraan regions, parts of Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral livelihood zone (Bay Region and Hudur District), Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone (Elberde District), and Addun Pastoral livelihood zone (Galgaduud Region). 

    In addition, Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) acute malnutrition is expected among eight IDP populations in Bosasso (Bari), Galkacyo (Mudug), Dhusamareb (Galgaduud), Mogadishu (Banadir), Dolow, Kismayu (Lower Juba), Beletweyne (Hiiraan), and Baidoa (Bay). The heightened prevalence of acute malnutrition is likely attributed to the reduced access to food during the pastoral and agropastoral lean seasons as well as a seasonal increase in disease prevalence and outbreaks during the gu rains, combined with limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. This will likely be exacerbated by the projected scale-down of humanitarian food assistance and social protection programs due to limited funding. The reduction in humanitarian funding is also expected to impact health and nutrition services that prevent and treat acute malnutrition. Between August and September, following the gu harvest and during the xagaa dry period, the prevalence of acute malnutrition is expected to decline due to seasonal increases in food consumption and decreases in disease prevalence.


    Events that Might Change the Outlook
    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalBelow-average gu rainfall in April-June 2024Coupled with the limited ability to control pests and insecurity, below-average gu rainfall would likely result in significantly below-normal gu cereal and livestock production. Poor households would face reductions in agricultural labor income, social support including crop zakat and milk gifts, own-produced food stocks, increased expenditures on water and migration, and little access to own milk consumption and sales. This would likely lead to an increase in the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and deterioration to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in crop-dependent agropastoral and riverine livelihood zones. In pastoral areas in central and northern regions, increased livestock movement for pasture and water, wasted livestock weight, reduced saleable livestock availability and value, and increased livestock input cost will likely reduce households’ food access. Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity is expected with a large population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4); however, Addun and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones in central regions will likely deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4).  
    NationalScale-up of humanitarian food assistanceIf food assistance plans are scaled up beyond currently planned levels to reach at least 3-4 million people monthly beyond April, then it is possible that riverine and agropastoral livelihood zones in southern regions and Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone in the northwest and Addun and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones of central regions would improve to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!), and the likelihood of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) would decline. 

    Area of Concern: Riverine Pump Irrigation (SO13) livelihood zone of Gedo Region (Figure 12)

    Figure 12

    Reference map for Riverine Pump Irrigation (SO13) livelihood zone of Gedo Region
    Map of Riverine Pump Irrigation in Gedo Region

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Situation

    The Riverine Pump Irrigation livelihood zone in Gedo Region covers Dolow, Lugh, and Baardheere districts. Maize and sorghum are the primary cultivated crops, followed by sesame, onions, tobacco, cowpea, other vegetable crops, mangoes, and citrus.

    According to field reports, and corroborated by satellite-derived estimates, the 2023 deyr rainfall began atypically early in October and cumulative rainfall was one of the wettest or second wettest on record in the livelihood zone, driven by the El Niño phenomenon. Heavy rainfall over both the river catchment areas of Somalia and in the upstream Ethiopian highlands drove severe river flooding in most of the Juba riverine areas of southern Somalia between October and November. In the worst affected areas, the heavy rains and floods destroyed standing gu off-season crops and prevented the maturation of early planted deyr season crops, including irrigated cash crops. According to FSNAU field reports in December, flash and river floods damaged approximately 2,850 ha in Gedo, impacting over 87 percent of riverine cropping areas. As a result, the overall deyr main season maize production was estimated at only 960 MT, 20 and 14 percent of the five-year and historical averages, respectively. Additional flooding late in the season resulted in waterlogged conditions continuing into the period of off-season cultivation in January through March, negatively impacting production: only 800 MT of off-season cereals are expected in March.

    Typical livelihood and income-earning activities — including agricultural labor — were significantly disrupted as towns were impacted by the heavy rains and submerged by river floods. Many households in the Riverine Pump Irrigation livelihood zone lost any remaining food stocks after storage facilities were destroyed and crops washed away. Poor households lost a significant source of income since crop production is an important source of food and typically contributes over 50 percent of poor households’ annual cash income. The heavy rains and flooding also disrupted trade and transportation, blocking typical flows of cereals from surplus to deficit-producing areas and increasing prices in areas with low supply. Agricultural labor wages are low due to reduced demand for labor; for example, the January daily agricultural wage in Baardheere was 136,000 SOS, 18 and 8 percent lower than last year and the five-year average, respectively. The decrease in labor demand is driven by the reduction in cultivated area relative to last January; the flooding caused erosion of soil and loss of agricultural inputs and assets, such as water pumps and pipes. Additionally, most productive household members have moved out to main towns. 

    Due to lower wage levels and higher maize prices, the TOT in rural and urban riverine areas is lower than last year and the five-year average, reducing household purchasing power. In Baardheere, the January daily labor wage-to-maize TOT was only 8 kg, 27 and 43 percent lower than last year (11 kg) and the five-year average (14 kg), respectively. Similarly, the January daily wage-to-maize TOT in Lugh was 8 kg, 11 and 43 percent lower than last year (9 kg) and the five-year average (14 kg), respectively. 

    Due to flood-related access constraints and decreased humanitarian funding, only limited humanitarian food assistance was reported in flood-affected areas. The heavy rainfall and flooding have also increased the risk of water- and vector-borne diseases due to the presence of contaminated and standing water. According to data from FSNAU, the December 2023 SMART household survey in North Gedo indicated a sustained Critical (IPC AMN Phase 4) level of acute malnutrition (as measured by WHZ) with a GAM prevalence of 15.5 percent (CI: 12.5-19.1) and SAM prevalence of 3.1 percent (CI: 1.9- 5.1). 

    The excessive deyr rainfall and flood damage caused the loss of deyr crops, spoiled cereal stock in underground storage pits, limited households’ cereal stock, and reduced food market availability, in turn driving high food prices and reduced labor demand and wage income, affecting households’ purchasing power and causing reduced food consumption. According to the December 2023 FSNAU household survey, the Household Hunger Scale (HHS) and reduced Coping Strategy Index (rCSI) indicated nearly 75 percent of households reported Crisis-level HHS and roughly 25 percent of households reported Crisis-level rCSI. FSNAU’s post-deyr household survey in the riverine areas of Gedo indicated over 25 percent of riverine households are using negative coping strategies associated with emergency or worse outcomes, including selling land/houses, selling the last female livestock, and begging. Additionally, 22 to 27 percent of households reported engaging in one or more crisis-level coping strategies including decreased input expenditures, selling productive assets, consumption of seeds, withdrawing children from school and madrasa, and harvesting of immature crops. Households are likely facing food consumption gaps and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in February.

    Assumptions

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

    • Poor households will have little to no food stocks from March to June due to the near failure of deyr crops in the October to December period and the expected below-average deyr off-season crop harvest in March/April.
    • Atypical gu flooding is likely due to forecasted average April to May 2024 gu rainfall in Somalia and genna rainfall in Ethiopia, combined with seasonally average river water flow and the expanded and deepened open river breakages from the October to November severe floods.
    • The projected average April to May gu rainfall is expected to improve riverine irrigation, help poor households obtain typical access to crop sharing, agricultural labor, and income, and lead to average cereal and non-cereal crop production in July. During the second half of the outlook, the forecast July to September xagaa rainfall is expected to increase the production of late-planted off-season maize and other cash crops, with a likely average harvest expected in September.
    • The July to September xagaa season is expected to be favorable, and livestock migration to the riverine area for water and pasture will be minimal due to ample pasture elsewhere. 
    • Between March and July, cereal stock production will likely be negligible due to severely below-average deyr main and off-season harvests. From July to September, household cereal stocks are expected to return to normal levels after the gu harvest in July and the gradual gu off-season harvest in late-August through September. 
    • Fish consumption and sales are expected to be typical prior to and after the April to June gu rains. Since river flooding is likely, there will be limited fishing during the peak rainy period.
    • Humanitarian food assistance will likely be limited throughout the scenario period. According to the Somalia Food Security Cluster, planned and funded assistance through May is expected to reach only 10 to 20 percent of the population. 

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Poor households in riverine areas will face worsening food insecurity through at least May 2024 due to a lack of food, high cereal prices, and limited labor opportunities. Prolonged market dependency during the agriculture lean season through June and high local and imported food prices will atypically decrease households' purchasing power. Households will rely on wild food and fish in March and April but will be unable to compensate for the lack of cereal stock and purchased food contributions. Consequently, an early onset of the lean season is expected. The April to May gu floods will reduce agricultural labor income and cereal stocks, and food prices will be atypically high. Poor households will have limited income from labor and crop sales, reducing household purchasing power. Additionally, with restricted access to credit purchases, low social support, and minimal humanitarian assistance, households will be unable to mitigate their food consumption gaps. Consequently, food consumption will be very low, morbidity and malnutrition will be high, and area-level outcomes are anticipated to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity outcomes.

    From June to September, food security conditions for the riverine populations are expected to improve. Households will have more agricultural labor opportunities in off-season cropping from July to September, early access to green maize in August, wild foods throughout the scenario period, and a near-average gu cereal and cash crop harvest in July. Households will also be able to sell cash crops (sesame and vegetables), receive crop zakat donations, and benefit from lower food prices as market activities resume. As such, area-level outcomes in the Riverine Pump Irrigation zone are expected to improve to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the June to September period. Further recovery will likely take another favorable season.


    [1] Deyr cereal production estimates are calculated based on sorghum and maize production in Bakool, Bay, Gedo, Hiiraan, Middle Juba, Lower Juba, Middle Shabelle, and Lower Shabelle regions.

    [2] Estimates reported do not include anticipated deyr off-season cereal production, which is expected in March and April 2024.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Food Security Outlook February - September 2024: Gradual drought recovery continues, though millions still need assistance, 2024.

    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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