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Food security to remain stable through June despite deterioration in pastoral areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Somalia
  • January - June 2015
Food security to remain stable through June despite deterioration in pastoral areas

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Events That Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Over one million people will likely remain in Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4) through June 2015. The most food insecure people will be in Hiraan Agropastoral livelihood zone, southern riverine areas in Middle Juba, and Jowhar District in Middle Shabelle. Food insecurity in these areas is primarily the result river flooding that delayed crop production, limited access to humanitarian assistance, and continued high food prices due to trade restrictions.

    • In coastal areas of the central and northeastern regions, food security is likely to improve from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between January and June. This is attributed to increased access to markets and humanitarian assistance due to reduced levels of conflict, and evidenced by the restocking of livestock by very poor households.

    • During the dry January to March Jilaal season, central pastoral areas in the Hawd and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones along with Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone will see some areas move from Minimal (IPC Phase 1) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The last two rainy seasons did not fully replenish water resources and restore pasture, so unusual livestock migration patterns are likely to reduce household milk access and to temporarily reduced income from livestock sales.

    • While the Deyr cereal harvest in January/February is likely to be below-average, income from labor and crop sales will be sustained by cash crop production in the South, especially of sesame. While this will reduce the availability of locally produced cereals and likely increase their prices, poor households will maintain food access through labor income and livestock sales.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    In most pastoral areas, livestock reproduction has increased as a result of increasing pasture and water access during the October to December Deyr rains. As a result, food security has improved in these areas. Most agropastoral areas have had similar improvements. However, in agropastoral areas in Hiraan, Lower Juba, Middle Juba, and parts of Lower Shabelle, the Deyr rains were well below average and concentrated mostly in November. However, during the October to December Deyr rains, food security deteriorated in most riverine areas due to delayed and erratically distributed rains in some areas and floods destroying planted crops and reducing labor opportunities in others. In most cereal-producing areas, locally produced cereal prices remain high and following the seasonal trend of increasing before the start of the Deyr harvest.

    • Deyr rains started in late October in most agricultural areas of the South. The rains also started on time in most northern and central regions. Rainfall amounts were largely average to below average with typical spatial coverage in the South, being below average in much of Gedo, Middle Juba, Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle, and some parts of the central regions. However, rainfall amounts were near average with typical spatial coverage in the northern regions and most parts of the central regions.
      • In the Northwest, substantial precipitation fell in most areas in October, but there was a dry spell in late October and early November. Localized, moderate to light rains fell in late November. In December, rainfall was low, and in some areas there was none. December rains were unreliable in all areas. This year, unusual moderate amounts of rains fell in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone in October that improved both pasture and water conditions.
      • In the Northeast, from mid-October to early November, rainfall with moderate intensity and fairly even spatial distribution but erratic temporal distribution were reported in pastoral areas in Bari, Nugaal, and northern Mudug. However, parts of Dharoor Valley Pastoral and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones in Bari Region had low cumulative October to December rainfall, which led to low pasture availability, compelling pastoralists to migrate their livestock to other coastal areas that had better conditions.
      • In the central regions, Deyr rains from October to early November were near average in amount with fairly typical distribution in most of the cowpea belt, the Hawd, and parts of Addun Pastoral livelihood zone. However, the rains ended by mid-November, which means that pasture and water did not fully recover in these areas. In Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone, the rains started late in November and had moderate intensity and spatial coverage. In general, Deyr rains were sufficient to rejuvenate pasture, replenish water sources, and support both cowpea germination and development.
      • In Middle Shabelle, Middle Juba, and Lower Juba, river flooding caused by heavy upstream rainfall and river bank breakages damaged standing crops in October and November. Flood waters displaced several villages, and flood water even reached several grazing areas used by pastoralists that are a considerable distance from the Juba and Shabelle Rivers.
      • In the South, October to December rainfall was below average in Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone, adjacent agropastoral areas in Lower Shabelle, Hiraan Agropastoral livelihood zone, Hiraan Riverine livelihood zone, Middle and Lower Juba Regions, and parts of Gedo. Near average to above average rainfall fell in the rest of the southern regions (Figure 1).
      • Livestock and rangeland conditions in the pastoral livelihood zones have improved since the start of the Deyr rains in October. Pasture availability in most areas is currently seasonally normal to slightly better than normal. However, areas of the South that had less rainfall than normal and a few areas of the central and northern regions, a significant deterioration of pasture conditions is already observable (Figure 2). Livestock body conditions are reported to be average. During the Deyr rains, there was a medium rate of births for all species in the South due to a medium level of conception over the last year. In the North, high conception rates of sheep and goats and a medium level of camel conceptions were reported during the Deyr, but medium to low camel calving levels were observed. Milk availability is mostly typical in pastoral areas, but in agropastoral and riverine areas, milk availability is seasonally low as most livestock have been migrated to wet season grazing areas that are farther away from settlements.
      • Crop planting and performance: Due to late start of the Deyr rains and their erratic temporal and spatial distribution and disruption of seasonal planting activities due to river floods in riverine areas in Middle Shabelle and Lower and Middle Juba regions, planted area for cereals was below average for the Deyr.
        • In the Northwest, an average cereal harvest occurred between November and December as result of Karan rains from July to September.
        • In Lower and Middle Shabelle, Bay, and Bakool Regions, which are the main cereal-producing areas, planting cash crop such as sesame surpassed cereals this season, reducing the total area planted under cereals to below average.
        • In Lower and Middle Juba and Gedo Regions, planting started late in November in both riverine and agropastoral areas. Due to river flooding, more than 70 percent of the arable land in riverine areas in Middle and Lower Juba are still inundated and uncultivated. These areas typically contribute between 13 to 15 percent of national cereal production during the Deyr.
        • In the central regions, cowpea production will likely be near average despite some localized area in Xaradhere, where crops are in less ideal condition and yields will likely be below average. For areas that have started harvesting, near-average cowpea yields have been observed.
        • In Hiraan, very dry weather in October to November retarded crop development, resulting in many crops wilting or not reaching maturity, especially in agropastoral areas. In those areas, this is the second consecutive season when crops have not fully developed. In riverine areas, planted area was near normal, and crops have developed normally, though many areas did require some irrigation this year.
      • Commodity prices:
        • Local cereal prices in the cereal-producing areas of the South vary greatly in different areas. In Bay Region, the Baidoa sorghum price slightly increased four percent from October to November, and it was 11 and 44 percent more than June 2014 and last year, respectively. Similarly, in Lower Shabelle, the Qoryoley maize prices have increased 13 and 60 percent from October and last year. In Middle Shabelle, Bakool, and Gedo Region, prices are increasing but significantly lower than six months ago.
        • In Jamame in Lower Juba and Jilib in Middle Juba, November white maize prices have continued to rise since the end of the Gu rains in June and are above-average. These high cereal prices were driven by reduced stocks, limited trade, increased collection of tariffs and fines on transportation, and the high likelihood of significantly below-average Deyr cereal production in these areas due to recent river floods and the delayed start of the rains.
        • The most-consumed, imported commodities such as rice, sugar, and vegetable oil had stable prices since June. However, in towns of the South along the borders with Kenya and Ethiopia, imported commodity prices have risen. For example, in Elbarde, the imported red rice price in November was 15 percent higher than last year. Similarly, in Belethawo and Doblei, November rice were 13 and 25 percent higher than last year, respectively. Rising prices have been caused primarily by increasing collection of tariffs and fines along roads and less road access during the rainy season.
        • Livestock prices:
          • In the central and northeastern regions, livestock prices are following the seasonal trend of decreasing this time of year, following the export sales peak and the peak of demand in October. However, they have fallen lower than last year and their five-year averages. In the northwestern regions, prices are atypically increasing and still generally higher than last year due to higher than usual local demand.
          • In the South, cattle prices are slightly lower than last year. In November, the regional average of the local quality cattle prices was 13 percent less than last year due to seasonal decreasing demand and increased border control, especially with Kenya, related to increased insecurity incidents in Mandera and Wajir Counties in Kenya.
          • Also in the South, local quality goat prices declined in the sorghum belt and the Shabelles, but in the Jubas, they increased slightly, likely due to low supply. In Afgoi in Lower Shabelle Region, a local quality goat in November was 17 percent less than last year. In Bardhere in Gedo Region, though prices were among the lowest they have been since December 2011, the prices unusually declined 23 percent from October to November. November goat prices were 25 percent less than last year in Xudur. Some of the lower prices may be due to an increased number of goats on the market, attributed, in part, to recent increases in herd size leading to more goats given as zakat (gifts from the better off to the poor) and of sales for seasonal debt repayments.
        • Terms of Trade (ToT): Generally, the local-quality-goat-to-cereals ToT  have been mostly typical though they have seasonally decreased in most areas in the country from October to November. However, the ToT sharply declined in some areas. In Beletweyne in Hiraan Region, a local quality goat could buy 57 kilograms (kg) of white sorghum in November compared to 96 kg in November 2013 (Figure 3). Similarly, in Qoryoley in Lower Shabelle, a local quality goat could fetch 167 kg of white maize in November 2014 compared to 265 kg in 2013. Also in the northeastern and central regions, the average ToT of goats to cereals is up to 35 percent lower than last year. However, in the Northwest, ToT are similar to last year as the average to slightly above-average Karan cereal harvest has increased local demand.
        • In most crop-producing areas in southern Somalia, the labor-to-cereals terms of trade (ToT) remained stable from October to November. However, in Lower Shabelle, Hiraan, and Middle Juba, the regional average labor-to-cereal ToT declined between 11 and 9 percent. However, these ToT were only up to 43 percent of last year, but they were close to or slightly higher than last year in Gedo, Hiraan, and Middle Shabelle. In Xudur, the daily wage rate in November could buy 4 kg of red sorghum rather than 5 kg from a year before. In Jilib in Middle Juba, it could buy 10 kg of white maize this November, while in November 2013, it could buy 18 kg. Similar trends have been seen in Bardhere in Gedo, Jamame in Lower Juba, Qoryoley in Lower Shabelle, and Baidoa in Bay.
        • Conflict in most part of the southern regions still remains a major contributor to food insecurity, despite increasing security and the weakening of the insurgency in some areas.
      • Food security outcomes have improved due to the rains and other factors like increased security in many parts of the country (See “Current food security outcomes, January 2015”). However, notable exceptions can be found in:

        • Riverine areas in Middle Shabelle where the limited cereal stock availability, displacement, and loss of green maize and cowpea consumption was coupled with a significant reduction of agriculture labor income due to flooding and inter-clan conflict. Displaced and poor households are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance.
        • Riverine areas in Middle Juba, where flooding has led to a substantial delay in planting, reduced availability of agricultural labor opportunities, extended the lean season, reduced milk availability, and increased milk prices. These areas are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
        • Hiraan Agropastoral where poor households have no cereal stocks. The poor are totally dependent on purchases. White sorghum prices in Hiraan are the highest they have been since August 2011. Despite increasing milk availability in Beletweyne town, milk prices are still much higher than last year. With increased debt levels and reduced lines of credit, poor households have increased livestock and milk sales to obtain food. However, in agropastoral areas, many households are unable to access sufficient quantities of food and are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
        • The coastal areas in the central and northeastern regions are currently receiving humanitarian assistance, in many places for the first time in many years. They are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only due to the presence of humanitarian assistance.

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

    • Climate:
      • The January to March 2015 Jilaal dry season will likely be typical in terms of the length of the dry period and the forecast temperatures.
      • The December 2014 to February 2015 Xays rains over coastal areas of Djibouti and northwestern Somalia are likely to be near average. Xays rains will likely replenish water resources and improve pasture availability on the coastal strip of the Northwest.
      • As a result of a mostly normal Jilaal dry season, water and pasture availability will decrease in most areas, especially in pastoral areas of the North and the central regions including the Hawd, Addun, and Sool Plateau Pastoral livelihood zones, and in the South including Southeastern, Southern Inland, and Dawo Pastoral livelihood zones.
      • The April to June Gu rains are likely to be near average in terms of cumulative rainfall and to have a normally timed start of the rains.
    • Agricultural labor demand and crop production:

      • The Deyr cereal harvest in January/February is likely to be below average in terms of volume. This will reduce the amount of cereals available to both markets and households through June. Cereal prices will likely increase, particularly in the areas where production was the most below average or the harvest was delayed until March due to flooding.
      • The Deyr cash crop harvest in January/February is likely to be above average in terms of volume throughout the South. This is the result of above-average area planted under cash crops and of the fairly favorable yields of sesame and other cash crops. The increased production will likely result in increased cash income for middle and better-off households from cash crop sales.
      • Harvest labor demand from January to March will likely be fairly typical in most areas of the sorghum belt with harvesting cash crops being as important as harvesting cereals as a source of income for this season.
      • From April to June, with likely normal performance of the Gu, area planted is expected to be close to average. Land preparation and planting are likely to start on time. Agricultural labor demand is likely to be typical from March through June for land preparation, planting, and weeding.
    • Livestock:

      • Livestock body conditions are likely to remain near average during the dry January to March Jilaal season due to the anticipated continued availability of dry pasture and browse. However, pasture, browse, and water availability will be lower than usual in the areas that received less rainfall during the Deyr. This will result in atypical livestock migration patterns from January to March to areas that received near average Deyr rains.
      • Milk availability will typically, seasonally decline during the February to March Jilaal dry season as pasture availability and the number of milking females decrease. However, medium kidding, lambing, and cattle calving are expected in late March to June, so milk availability will recover following births between late March and June and increased pasture and water availability.
      • Milk prices will follow the seasonal trend of increasing during the February to March Jilaal dry season, and decreasing following livestock births in the middle of the April to June Gu rains. Along the normal seasonal pattern in riverine livelihood zones, during the middle of the Gu rains in May, milk prices will likely increase as most milking livestock will have been migrated to wet-season grazing areas at some distance from riverine homesteads.
      • Livestock prices are likely to follow typical, seasonal trends. They will continue declining through the end of February due to low export and domestic demand, and then livestock prices will increase gradually from March through May due to the start of traders’ restocking for sales during Ramadan in June and July.
    • Markets and trade:

      • Despite the below-average Deyr production in January/February, sorghum and maize prices will likely decrease through February as new supplies reach markets. Sorghum and maize prices will likely increase from March through June as market stocks are drawn down and demand increases as the agricultural lean season approaches. However, markets will likely remain supplied with some local cereals. Many middle and better-off households are expected to invest the proceeds of cash crop sales in cereal purchases while prices are lower in January/February. They will then sell these between March and June, after the prices increase, allowing traders to purchase cereals through June to meet market demand.
      • Imported commodity prices will likely largely remain stable through April. Following the normal seasonal trend, prices of imported commodities will likely start to rise slightly in May as shipping is curtailed from May to August during the monsoon winds off the coast.
    • Conflict:

      • Insecurity will likely continue. Inter-clan conflict in Lower Shabelle and Galgaduud Regions will likely continue, and conflicts are likely to continue to limit trade, labor migration, and normal movement of people, livestock, and goods in these areas.
      • Conflict between Al-Shabaab and government forces supported by troops from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) are unlikely to decrease between now and June as both sides retain control of large areas of the country. This conflict will likely continue to reduce trader movements and humanitarian access in some areas, and an increased number of road blocks is likely to lead to higher collection of fees and tariffs for transport of goods.
      • All forms of conflict in southern and central Somalia may lead to additional losses of human life, livestock, and other assets. Displacement of populations between now and June will continue.
    • Humanitarian assistance:

      • Access to humanitarian interventions will likely be stable between January to March despite the late arrival of the harvest on markets and continued insecurity. However, between April and June, physical access to isolated rural areas will decline as most dirt roads become impassible during the rains. Insecurity is likely to continue, so it will continue to limit humanitarian access to some areas.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    While the Deyr cereal harvest in much of the South will likely be below average, the cash crop harvest will be notably above average. So while national cereal availability is unlikely to increase to a normal level over the short term, the Deyr harvest will help maintain current levels of food access by providing some food, allowing some households to restock, and providing a normal number of opportunities for agricultural labor on cash crops. Cash crop sales and income from the harvest will help fund staple food purchases at prices that are still lower than the five-year average in many areas. Many households will have market access, especially during the harvest when labor demand is high.

    Unlike most areas of the country, food access is likely to decrease in the riverine areas of Middle and Lower Juba and among the displaced and flood-affected in Shabelle Riverine livelihood zone in Middle Shabelle, where maize production will likely be very low. Similarly, in Hiraan Agropastoral livelihood zone, sorghum production will likely be below average. With likely crop failure in some areas, access to labor migration and resulting income alone will not allow poor households to meet their basic food needs, so poor households will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through March. However, with increased livestock production and reproduction in Hiraan Agropastoral livelihood zone after the start of the rains, increased access of labor migration to riverine areas, and steady livestock- and labor-to-cereals terms of trade, poor households will likely regain minimally adequate food access and move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between April and June. Due to the availability of the off-season cereal harvest in March and continued agriculture labor income and cash crop sales income in Middle Juba and Middle Shabelle, poor households will move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between April to June.

    In the coastal areas of the central regions, despite the late start and early cessation of Deyr rains, near normal amounts of rains with typical distribution in November increased pasture and water availability. This has improved livestock body conditions, conception levels, and the availability of saleable animals. Low milk consumption and sales are likely to continue between January and March 2015. However, due to increased access to milk as a result of projected increased kidding and lambing in March, and the gradually increased size of livestock herds which will enable poor households to access their own meat as well as sell some animals after April, food security outcomes will likely improve. As poor households in Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone in the central and northeastern regions gain greater access to markets and humanitarian assistance, they will move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between April and June.

    In crop-dominant, agropastoral and riverine areas in Bay, Bakool, and Lower Shabelle, most poor households are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June. Food security will follow seasonally normal trends though with a high risk of disruptions and deteriorating food security due to conflict. In Lower Shabelle, rainfed agropastoral areas in between the Shabelle River and the coast of Afgoye, Marka, and Barawa Districts will likely have below-average harvests with some crops failing to reach maturity, due to the residual effects of flooding this season. In Bay, the maize harvest will likely be moderately below average, but sorghum production will likely be near average. High levels of cash crop production including of cowpeas and sesame are anticipated.

    Food security outcomes in pastoral areas of the northern and central regions and in Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in the South will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June. However, food security outcomes in Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Lower and Middle Juba and Gedo and the Hawd in the central and northern regions will likely deteriorate to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from January to June. This change from Minimal (IPC Phase 1) is due to reduced consumption of their own milk and meat production as well as the impact of decreased cash income as livestock prices decrease as a result of two successive seasons with poorly distributed rainfall that was, in some areas, below average. Also, atypical and motorized livestock migration and population movements are expected at high levels during the January to March Jilaal dry season. Disease outbreak were reported in Middle and Lower Juba and Gedo, which worsened camel body conditions, increased livestock deaths, and reduced milk production for both sale and consumption. Poor pastoralists in coastal areas of the South will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as access to migration options are more limited in these areas, and the lower than average prices of local cereal as well as medium kidding and lambing  during the Deyr will likely sustain current levels of food access. However, the increased number livestock sales to buy food will further reduce the already low livestock holdings of poor households.

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

    Events That Might Change the Outlook

    Table I: Possible events over the next six months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes

    Riverine areas in Middle Shabelle and Lower Juba

    An earlier than normal start of near-average or above-average April to June Gu rainfall, upriver

    Further flooding could damage the off-season crops during the harvest in March. Population displacement and reduced labor demand could result in a sharp increase of both local cereal prices and imported commodities, especially with poor road access during the floods. Having had few income-earning opportunities in 2014 and early 2015, many households could further deteriorate into Emergency (IPC Phase 4) though the area classification would most likely remain Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Hawd Pastoral, Addun Pastoral, and Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zones

    A drier, hotter, or longer than typical January to March Jilaal dry season and/or below average April to June Gu rainfall

    With the rains having ended early in these areas, an especially long or harsh dry season could result in a significant number of livestock abortions during the dry season, the death of the weakest small ruminants, and reduced camel conceptions in April/May. This would likely reverse the successive improvements in food security and increased herd sizes of the recent past. Poor households in these areas would likely fall back into Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Hiraan Agropastoral and Southern Agropastoral livelihood zones, other agropastoral and coastal areas in the South

    Below-average April to June Gu rainfall

    The Gu crop harvest in July would be well below average in these areas . Labor income since April would be down, and many households could have difficulty accessing sufficient food and move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Some areas that are already depending more on labor over the coming months, such as Hiraan Agropastoral lielihood zone, could enter Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    Figures Current food security outcomes, January 2015

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, January 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 2

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Rainfall estimate (RFE2) anomaly in millimeters (mm) from 2001 to 2013 mean for October 1 to December 31, 2014

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Rainfall estimate (RFE2) anomaly in millimeters (mm) from 2001 to 2013 mean for October 1 to December 31, 2014

    Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)/FEWS NET

    Figure 2. December 21 to 31, 2014 eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from 2001 to 2010 mean

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. December 21 to 31, 2014 eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from 2001 to 2010 mean

    Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)/FEWS NET

    Figure 3. Local quality goat to white sorghum terms of trade (TOT) in Beletweyne, Hiraan Region, January to November 2014, in

    Figure 5

    Figure 3. Local quality goat to white sorghum terms of trade (TOT) in Beletweyne, Hiraan Region, January to November 2014, in kg of sorghum per goat sale

    Source: Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit-Somalia (FSNAU)/FEWS NET

    Figure 6


    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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