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Food assistance needs remain high amid ongoing recovery from drought

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Somalia
  • June 2023 - January 2024
Food assistance needs remain high amid ongoing recovery from drought

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  • Key Messages
  • Food assistance must be sustained to support Somalia’s recovery from drought
  • National Overview
  • Area of Concern: Internally Displaced Persons in Mogadishu
  • Area of Concern: Addun Pastoral livelihood zone of Mudug and Galgaduud regions (Figure 9)
  • Most Likely Food Security Outcomes in Areas Receiving Significant Levels of Humanitarian Assistance
  • Key Messages
    • Humanitarian assistance needs remain significantly elevated in Somalia, as many households continue to suffer from the impacts of high levels of debt and asset depletion (including livestock) that occurred due to the historic five-season 2020-2023 drought. The internally displaced population, which has risen to an estimated 3.7 million people since the start of the drought, is of particularly high concern. As of June, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes remain widespread in advance of the gu harvest in July/August, with humanitarian food assistance preventing more severe outcomes in many areas. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are assessed among displaced populations in Baidoa, Mogadishu, Laascanood, Beletweyn, and Xudur; agropastoral areas in Togdheer and Hiiraan; and central coastal areas.

    • Food assistance reached 30-40 percent of the total population of Somalia in late 2022, but then declined to reach 20-25 percent of the total population from April to June 2023. Available information on food assistance plans is limited but indicates food assistance levels will further scale down in the remainder of 2023. The rapid, sharp decline in aid is occurring prematurely, as millions of people experienced significant livelihood losses and are still unable to access sufficient food despite the end of the drought.

    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist in settlements of internally displaced people (IDP), northern and central Somalia, and several riverine and agropastoral areas between June and September. The April to June 2023 gu rains were generally beneficial for cropping activities and supported improved livestock health, reproduction, and sales, especially in the south. However, the early cessation of rainfall in some areas affected crops in critical growth stages, leading to localized poor gu crop production. Additionally, heavy rainfall led to riverine flooding in April and May, with significant population displacement and disruption to livelihoods. Furthermore, many livestock with longer gestation periods (camel and cattle) will not give birth until at least late 2023 because they did not conceive during the drought.

    • More substantial improvement in food security is anticipated across much of rural Somalia from October to January, when the 2023 October to December deyr season is forecast to be above average based on El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole conditions. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in an increasing number of IDP settlements as well as in Addun Pastoral of central Somalia; Coastal Deeh Pastoral of central and northeastern Somalia; agropastoral areas in Togdheer and Hiiraan, and some riverine areas. While the rains will generally benefit crop and livestock production, the likelihood of flooding in riverine and lowland areas will cause damage to food and income sources and increased human and livestock disease incidence in the short term. Meanwhile, the scale of drought-related livestock losses and resultant high debt levels in central and coastal pastoral areas are expected to drive a slower pace of livestock herd recovery, constraining access to food and income. Among IDP populations, evidence following prior droughts suggests many will be unable to rebuild their typical livelihoods, and income-earning opportunities are expected to remain very limited and insufficient to cover the cost of food.


    Food assistance must be sustained to support Somalia’s recovery from drought

    Somalia faces both opportunities for recovery and persistent challenges following the end of the historic, five-season 2020-2023 drought, which brought parts of the country to the brink of Famine (IPC Phase 5). Recent and anticipated rainfall is favorable for crop and livestock production and local staple food prices have continued to decline, supporting the gradual recovery of rural livelihoods and household purchasing power. Humanitarian food assistance also reached 20-25 percent of the population in the second quarter of 2023, mitigating levels of acute food insecurity before the upcoming harvests. However, around 3.7 million people are internally displaced, many of whom became destitute or were compelled to abandon their livelihoods during the drought. Variations in rainfall distribution are driving an uneven pace of recovery between livelihood zones, leaving central Somalia, coastal Somalia, and localized flood-affected areas behind. Finally, levels of food assistance are expected to scale down rapidly in the second half of 2023. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in many IDP settlements and central pastoral areas, while Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in several riverine, pastoral, and agropastoral areas from July until at least early 2024. Food aid must be sustained to prevent food consumption gaps, severe coping, and atypically high levels of acute malnutrition and mortality.

    Somalia’s displaced population dramatically increased from 2.6 million people in 2019 to 3.7 million people in 2023, according to OCHA’s estimates. This trend was driven primarily by the drought but is also related to persistent conflict. Internally displaced people (IDPs) now represent over 20 percent of the total national population. Based on what occurred in the aftermath of the 2016-2017 drought, many drought-displaced households will be unable to recover their former livelihoods in the near-to-medium term or will remain in a state of protracted displacement, given highly limited assets and income-earning, above-average food prices, and overstretched access to social support. In many cases, displaced pastoralists left a few livestock behind with better-off households in their communities, and they will not return until their livestock herds recover to a level that permits consistent income-earning to purchase food. 

    Meanwhile, concern for severe acute food insecurity among non-displaced rural households has largely shifted away from southern agropastoral rural areas to central pastoral areas and flood-prone riverine and lowland areas. The gu harvest in July is expected to provide several months of food stocks and income from crop sales and labor demand. Additionally, the gu rains supported livestock conceptions that will materialize in livestock births and seasonal milk production during the October to December 2023 deyr rainy season. However, it will take years for pastoralists in the worst drought-affected areas – especially parts of central Somalia – to rebuild their livestock herds to sufficient levels. Poor households in many areas face eroded asset bases and high levels of debt and will need to divert a portion of their income toward debt repayment. Furthermore, while the forecast above-average October to December deyr rains will be generally favorable for crop and livestock production, it is also likely to result in atypical flooding in riverine and lowland areas. Flood-affected areas will see population displacement, destruction of homes, property, and infrastructure, damage to standing crops, and increased livestock and human disease incidence in the immediate aftermath. Once flood waters recede, however, it will also lead to benefits in terms of recessional crop cultivation and contribute to longer-lasting pasture and water availability during the dry season. 

    Ultimately, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are associated with elevated levels of malnutrition and mortality, and the likelihood of these outcomes among displaced and pastoral populations necessitates a renewed commitment to sustain humanitarian food assistance. At the same time, access to income from agricultural labor, improved livestock production, and the anticipated gu harvest in July/August and deyr harvest in January/February is largely expected to mitigate the risk factors that drove a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) during the 2020-2023 drought. In the coming months, the share of the population facing extreme food consumption gaps is anticipated to decline, and it is unlikely that levels of malnutrition and mortality will approach the technical definitions of Famine (IPC Phase 5) during the projection period. Additionally, displaced households will benefit from connections to family members in rural areas where access to food and income is anticipated to improve. Even though Somalia is no longer assessed to face a credible risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5), high levels of food assistance must be sustained to help ensure that the severity and scale of acute food insecurity continues to decline while local livelihoods gradually recover.


    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Rainfall performance: In the second half of March, atypically high amounts of todob rainfall were received in several northern and southern areas of the country, including Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed in the north and Bay, Bakool, and localized areas of Gedo and Juba in the south. Following this, the April to June 2023 gu rains generally started on time, from early to mid-April, across most of the country. However, most pastoral and agropastoral areas of Hiiraan and coastal areas of the central and Shabelle regions experienced a delayed start to rainfall in late April.

    According to Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station data (CHIRPS) rainfall estimates, the April to June gu rainy season concluded with ranging from around 75 to 200 mm across most of the country (Figure 1). Compared to the long-term (1981-2010) mean, cumulative rainfall was average to above average across most of the northwest, northeast, and parts of the southern regions of the country (Figure 2), though rainfall was poorly distributed over time. Although rainfall deficits were largest in the south, total rainfall was nevertheless highest in the south and northwest, with more than 150 mm or even more than 200 mm of rainfall received in the most important cropping areas of Bay and Lower Shabelle and the predominantly pastoral areas of Gedo, Bakool, and the Jubas.  

    The gu rains generally benefited crop production activities in agricultural areas (mainly located in the southern and northwestern regions) and have also improved access to water and pasture across most of the country, bringing much-needed relief from the 2020-2023 drought. However, rainfall was poorly distributed in some areas. Most significantly, a long dry spell from late May into June marking early cessation of the gu rains negatively affected crop development in some areas. In other areas, river flooding caused damage to standing crops and pastures. 

    Rangeland conditions: Overall, pasture and water availability have improved due to the recent todob and gu rains. However, the degree of improvement varies. Rainfall totals and distribution during the gu rainy season, along with the high level of water demand following the drought, had direct effects on the degree to which pasture and water resources have been replenished. Further evidence of below-average pasture availability at the peak of the gu rainy season in mid-to-late May is provided by satellite-measured Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data (Figure 3). At the conclusion of the gu season, field reports indicate rangeland conditions remain below-average in pastoral and agropastoral areas of the central, Hiiraan, and Shabelle regions and in localized areas of Bay and Bakool regions.

    Given the improved availability of pasture and water, most pastoralists who migrated out of their normal seasonal rangelands during the severe 2020-2023 drought have returned and are currently pursuing normal seasonal migration patterns characterized by moving shorter distances within their livelihood zones. However, some pastoralists in rain-deficit areas in central Somalia, Hiiraan, and parts of the northeast region where conditions remain below average have not yet returned. Instead, pastoralists in these areas are generally pursuing the migration options available to them in pursuit of available pasture, both within their livelihood zones and to other neighboring livelihood zones (such as riverine areas and valleys that received flash floods). 

    Flooding: Heavy rainfall in parts of Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands caused water levels in the Juba and Shabelle Rivers to rise sharply in March, exceeding flood risk levels in most monitored stations by April and reaching full capacity (“bankfull levels”) in Beledweyne and Buloburte in May, according to FAO’s Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) river station gauge data (Figure 4). Resultant flooding displaced a significant number of people and destroyed roads, crops, and property. As reported by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the number of individuals displaced in May 2023 stands at an estimated 247,000, while an estimated 468,000 were impacted.

    Figure 4

    River water levels in the Shabelle River at Belet Weyne, Hiiraan
    Graph showing river water levels as discussed in Current Situation.

    Source: FAO SWALIM

    Among the areas most severely affected, Beledweyne district of Hiiraan region had witnessed five fatalities and the displacement of around 210,000 people as of mid-May. According to the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) technical field team, approximately 80 percent of residents temporarily relocated to elevated areas. The floods also damaged homes, businesses, infrastructure, and property, as well as contaminated shallow wells. Additionally, an estimated 1,000 to 1,200 hectares of crops and 7,000 to 8,000 hectares of cultivable land were inundated in the riverine and agropastoral zones. According to FAO SWALIM data, upstream Shabelle River water levels had begun to subside as of June 21. Although still higher than the long-term mean, river water levels are currently well below the flood risk levels in these areas. In other areas, including Lower Shabelle, Gedo, and Juba regions, river water levels are at or slightly above the long-term mean and significantly below flood risk levels.

    Water prices: According to field information, the gu rains largely replenished most shallow wells, berkads, and water catchments, easing water shortages. As a result, water trucking is currently largely unnecessary, and water prices have decreased in most areas. However, water prices remain above average and higher than prices recorded at the same time last year, particularly in rainfall-deficit areas in the southern, central, and northeastern parts of the country. For example, prices of a 20-liter jerrican in May 2023 were 28 to 67 percent higher than average in the rural north-central areas of Hobyo, Jalam, and Dhahar. In Jarriiban of Mudug region, prices remained nearly 170 percent above the five-year average.

    Livestock production: Improved pasture and water resources in recent months have in turn led to improvements in livestock body conditions and saleability. According to field observations in May and June, livestock body conditions ranged from average to good on the Pictorial Evaluation Tool (PET) scale across most of the country. However, the degree of improvement is more limited in some areas that were relatively more severely drought affected and also experienced rainfall deficits during the 2023 gu, including rural areas of Hiiraan region, Coastal Deeh pastoral livelihood zone, and some parts of Addun Pastoral livelihood zone of the central regions. In these areas, livestock body conditions are improving but remain somewhat below normal/optimal body weight.

    Birthing rates for goats and sheep (which have a gestation period of around five months) during the 2023 gu season were generally medium across the northeastern and southern regions and low to medium in the northwest. Given this and improved rangeland conditions, most poor households who did not become destitute and displaced during the drought have had access to goat milk for consumption since April. However, due to worse drought impacts, birthing rates of goats and sheep were low in central pastoral areas (including Addun and Coastal Deeh), Hiiraan, and parts of the northwest and access to milk remains highly limited.

    Across most of the country, birthing rates for cattle and camel (whose gestation period is around nine and thirteen months, respectively) during the gu 2023 season were low to none due to very low conceptions in 2022. Consequently, access to milk generally remains below average across most of the country, and particularly in central pastoral areas. Key exceptions to this trend include Middle and Lower Juba and Middle and Lower Shabelle regions of southern Somalia, where relatively better rainfall and conceptions have supported medium levels of cattle and camel calving during the gu. These areas are also benefitting from near-normal milk availability. It should be noted, however, that an unknown camel disease is killing both the newborn calves and their mothers. Information on the scale of deaths remains limited. 

    Alongside improved livestock body conditions, medium to high rates of livestock conception took place in most areas during the April to June 2023 gu season. High livestock conception rates were additionally driven by the fact that fewer than normal livestock were conceived in past seasons, allowing a larger proportion of the herd to be available for conception during the 2023 gu. The benefits of these conceptions will not be fully realized until the October-December 2023 deyr season, when the next livestock birth cycle will take place.

    While the recent births and conceptions are indicative of an improving trend in livestock production conditions, the number of births have not offset the number of livestock sales required to earn income for food at the household level. Based on focus group discussions, livestock herd sizes among poor households (specifically, those who did not become destitute and displaced during the drought) generally remain similar to – or even slightly less than – herd sizes recorded at the conclusion of the deyr season in December 2022. Many poor households were still engaging in distressed sales of livestock during the January to March 2023 jiilaal season. Herd sizes also remain largely below baseline levels. 

    Crop production: In northwestern agropastoral areas, households typically plant yellow maize (three-month cycle), red sorghum (three-month cycle), and white sorghum (six-month cycle), and cash crops such as watermelon, onion, and tomato. In the southern agropastoral areas – the high-production region for sorghum – households typically plant red sorghum (three-month cycle), white maize (three-month cycle), and cowpeas. Based on field observations, area planted with gu crops was normal in most areas. Despite low asset holdings and high levels of debt, most agropastoral households across the country are expected to have accessed sufficient seed for planting by borrowing from cereal traders.

    In most of the northwest, cropland area planted was above average. A key exception is Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone, where farmers had lower financial access to seeds which resulted in a decline in planted area and a shift from three-month-cycle to four-month cycle sorghum. Furthermore, while good seed germination was initially observed, a long dry spell in June caused some of the long-cycle sorghum crop to wilt, and households instead used the severely wilted crop as fodder for livestock. In worst-affected Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone, around 70 percent of the sorghum crop (the four-month cycle) has been lost and will be used as fodder. However, grass fodder production in the Togdheer Agropastoral zone is normal this season, owing to regeneration of vegetation following plentiful rainfall and water from flash floods received from the watershed of the adjacent West Golis Pastoral livelihood zone. The fodder production is positively impacting labor and self-employment opportunities for poor households. Currently in June, expecting karan rains, farmers are engaged in tractor tillage and planting long-cycle sorghum.

    In most of the southern regions, the area under cultivation of gu crops and associated agricultural labor opportunities were at normal levels from March to May. Generally, though households living in displacement settlements did not return home given the better access to humanitarian assistance at displacement settlements, they were likely able to send some household members back home to plant their lands. As of late June, crops have generally developed normally. However, in parts of the south, the gu rains subsided early in May or June, negatively impacting the development of late-planted crops during vegetative stages; early-planted maize and sorghum crops were at the tussling and seed-filling stages and were relatively unimpacted.

    Overall, the most significant impacts of moisture stress during the gu have occurred in agropastoral areas of Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle, where poor and erratically distributed rainfall alongside the impacts of clan conflict almost suspended cropping activities. In these areas, the majority of crops have wilted beyond recovery. Only in lowlands (about 10 to 15 percent of the region’s farmland) are crops developing normally after benefiting from flash floods. Meanwhile, poor rainfall in the Southern Rainfed Maize livelihood zone and poor irrigation access coupled with erratic gu rainfall in  downstream irrigated areas of some parts of Qoryooley and Kurtunwarrey districts of Lower Shabelle has negatively affected the cropping season, with most farmers waiting for the hagaa season. Additionally, in the Cowpea Belt of Galgaduud, despite normal planting and seed germination, the early cessation of gu rainfall in late May resulted in excessive dryness that stressed cowpea crops. This coupled with high pest incidence adversely impacted cowpea production in this area. 

    In April and May, flooding of the Juba and Shabelle Rivers inundated both irrigated and lowland rainfed farms in Hiiraan, Middle Juba, Bardheere district of Gedo, and Jowhar District of Middle Shabelle (Figure 5). Available estimates indicate that flooding destroyed off-season deyr crops and early-planted maize and cash crops across nearly 16,750 hectares of farmland in Hiiraan, 10,000 hectares in Middle Juba, and 70,000 hectares in Jowhar/Mahaday. As such, in flood-affected areas, agricultural labor demand is low, and daily agricultural labor wage rates have declined in May. For example, in Walamoy of Middle Shabelle and Rahole of Middle Juba, agricultural labor wage rates decreased by around 10 percent from April to May 2023, reaching levels around 25 percent lower than the May five-year average. However, as flood waters receded, recessional cropping started in June and will boost agricultural labor demand in riverine areas. 

    Figure 5

    Flooded farms in Buurfulley village, Jowhar Middle Shabelle
    Picture showing flooded farms as discussed in Current Situation.

    Source: FSNAU

    Markets and trade: Somalia has opportunities for economic growth and job creation, such as in the fishing and wild fruit production sectors.  However, economic activity continues to be hindered by severe drought, high food prices, falling export levels, and slowing growth in remittances. According to the African Development Bank and the World Bank, Somalia’s real GDP growth declined to 1.7 percent in 2022, down from 2.9 percent in 2021. The decline was driven by impacts of the regional drought, insecurity, and food and fuel inflation. Meanwhile, the current account deficit widened to 17.1 percent of GDP in 2022, up from 10.8 percent in 2021, driven by the increase in food import levels and the suspension of budget support by some development partners prior to the May 2022 elections. The current account deficit was financed by aid, remittances, and foreign direct investment. In Somalia, monetary policy is challenged by widespread dollarization, but reforms are underway to establish a framework for monetary and exchange rate policy. On the other hand, Somalia achieved a balanced budget in 2022, consistent with its commitments under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) and is expected to reach its HIPC completion point by the end of 2023. 

    According to the Somalia National Bureau of Statistics, the annual inflation rate in Somalia rose for a second month in a row in April 2023 to reach a five-month high of 6.2 percent, up from 5.7 percent in March. The main upward pressure came from the prices of beverages, tobacco, health, and food. The cost of food in Somalia in April 2023 was 6.6 percent higher than in the previous year, driven primarily by higher prices of imported food items. On a monthly basis, consumer prices surged by 2.8 percent in April, the most since April 2020, after a 2 percent rise in the prior month. 

    Staple food prices: Prices of locally-produced staple cereals have generally declined during the ongoing April to June gu season across main crop-producing markets (Figure 6), at least partially attributed to improved prospects for the gu harvest in July. Prices are significantly lower than last year but remain close to or moderately above average levels due largely to low supply following multiple seasons of below-average production. In Baidoa of Bay region, the key reference market in sorghum-producing areas, the price of sorghum declined by 8 percent from April to May to reach 8,560 SOS/kg, 41 percent lower than in May of last year but still 7 percent above the five-year average. In Qoryooley of Lower Shabelle, the key reference market in maize-producing areas, the price of maize declined by 12 percent from April to May to reach 8,875 SOS/kg, 41 percent less than in May of last year and near the five-year average.

    Chart

    Meanwhile, the prices of most imported staple foods – such as vegetable oil, wheat flour, and rice – were stable or slightly increased in May, as moderate to heavy gu rains rendered many roads impassable and increased transportation costs to inland markets. In addition, the April to September seasonal monsoon on the coast of the Indian Ocean has contributed to reduced import levels, especially in northern markets. As of May, prices of most imported food commodities were moderately above the five-year average in most northern markets due to devaluation of the local currency and high fuel prices. In Hargeisa of Waqooyi Galbeed region, the key reference market in rice-consuming areas, the price of red rice increased by 6 percent from April to May 2023 to reach 7,400 SOS/kg, reaching levels 6 percent higher than last year and 16 percent above the five-year average. However, in most south and central regions, prices of most imported commodities are close to the average, likely due to higher levels of humanitarian assistance, a generally stable exchange rate, and declining prices of locally-produced cereals (substitutes). 

    The recent favorable gu rainfall has positively impacted livestock health and saleability in May. However, multiple seasons of poor rainfall and drought conditions have reduced the supply of livestock available for sale in many pastoral areas. As a result, the supply of goats in main markets is below average at the same time as local and seasonal export demand (for Hajj collection from May to July) is near normal, driving average to above-average goat prices. In Galkacyo market, for example, the price of a local-quality goat in May was around 2,800,000 SOS, which was stable compared to April but 17 percent higher than last year and 20 percent above the five-year average. 

    Household purchasing power: The combination of declining cereal prices and high goat prices has contributed to generally favorable purchasing power for pastoralists who have animals to sell, with terms of trade near average in May. For example, in the central Galgaduud market of the central region, where terms of trade have been increasing since March, a household selling one local-quality goat could purchase an average of 53 kilograms of cereal, which is similar to last year but 9 percent below the five-year average. In the southern Gedo markets, a household could purchase 42 kilograms of cereals against the sale of one local-quality goat, which is 5 percent higher than the previous month, 120 percent higher than last year, and 5 percent below the five-year average. However, most poor pastoralists are unable to take advantage of these terms of trade without depleting their already limited remaining livestock assets, as their herds are significantly below baseline levels. 

    In the agricultural areas of the south (where tractor usage is less common than in the north), labor wage rates improved from April to May, largely due to the typical seasonal increase in demand for agricultural labor and generally favorable performance of the gu in most agropastoral areas. For example, the daily labor wage rate in Afgoye of Lower Shabelle Region increased by a full 36 percent from April to May, to reach 75,000 SOS, 29 percent above last year and 15 percent above the five-year average.

    The combination of increased wage rates and declining prices of locally-produced cereals have contributed to improvements in purchasing power for laborers. In the Baidoa market, for instance, a day of casual labor in May 2023 could buy an average of 12 kg of red sorghum, a 9 percent increase from the previous month, 71 percent higher than last year, and close to the five-year average. In Afgoye of Lower Shabelle, one day of labor could fetch 6 kg of white maize, a 50 percent increase from previous month but similar to the same time last year and the five-year average. Similar trends have been recorded in the Middle and Lower Juba, Hiiraan, and Gedo regions. 

    Conflict and displacement: Most south-central regions continue to experience insecurity and conflict. According to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a total of 1,163 security-related incidents were reported across Somalia between January 1 and June 9, 2023, similar to the number reported during the same period of 2022. However, the number of recorded explosions as well as overall number of fatalities were both significantly higher than last year. Most incidents occurred in Banaadir, Hiiraan, Lower and Middle Shabelle, and Lower and Middle Juba regions alongside a counter-offensive against insurgents led by the federal states and supported by the federal government of Somalia, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), and local clan militias. Additionally, in the north, armed confrontation persisted in Laascaanood town of Sool region and spread to surrounding rural areas, categorized by clashes between Somaliland forces and the Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn local militia due to political differences between the local communities and the Somaliland administration in Laascaanood town. As of mid-June, continued shelling ongoing since February 2023 continues preventing residents and internally displaced people from returning to Laascaanood town. In addition to causing loss of life, population displacement, and damage to property and assets, the relentless conflict and insecurity have also disrupted crop planting activities in Hiiraan riverine areas and localized affected areas of Lower and Middle Shabelle and Lower and Middle Juba regions. The insecurity has also disrupted trade flows, increasing transportation costs. 

    According to displacement data from UNHCR’s Protection and Return Monitoring Network (PRMN), an estimated 1,257,000 people were displaced between January and May 2023, about 38 percent (474,000) due to conflict and insecurity and 33 percent (415,000) and 27 percent (341,000) due to the effects of floods and drought, respectively. Most conflict-related displacement occurred in Sool (Laascaanood, 195,000 people), Galgaduud, Mudug, and Shabelle regions. Meanwhile, the vast majority (63 percent) of displacement due to flooding occurred in Hiiraan, where 261,000 people were displaced because of river flooding. Most displaced households fled without their belongings and have remained separated from typical food and income sources.

    Figure 7

    Percent of national population reached with emergency humanitarian food assistance by WFP and partners
    Percent of population reached with emergency food assistance as discussed in Current Situation.

    Monthly, January 2016 to May 2023, and planned reach for June 2023

    Source: FEWS NET, using data from the Somalia FSC

    Humanitarian food assistance: Due largely to funding shortfalls, the provision of humanitarian food assistance has fallen short of planned levels in recent months. Most recently, in May 2023, a total 3,581,622 people were reached with humanitarian food assistance (Figure 7), only 70 percent of the planned 5.1 million for May. On average from March to May, around 4 million people – roughly a quarter of the national population – received monthly assistance. Due to high levels of identified need during the 2020-2023 drought, approximately 16 percent of all beneficiaries in the March to May period were located in Bay region, and this share was even higher in preceding months. The continued significant provision of assistance to displaced households in Baidoa of Bay region is one major reason that internally-displaced persons (IDPs) remain in settlements instead of returning back home despite improvements in food security conditions. 

    Humanitarian access continues to be constrained by conflict in many southern and central rural areas controlled by insurgents. The delivery of humanitarian food assistance is especially limited in Middle Juba and rural areas controlled by the insurgents in the central, Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, and Lower Shabelle regions. Though most assistance is provided via cash transfer, which enables beneficiaries to receive cash-based assistance in many cases, high risk is involved as insurgents may kill those found receiving assistance.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    Most internally displaced people lack assets and have highly limited opportunities for income-earning and social support. Generally, displaced households rely heavily on casual labor for income amid high competition for available opportunities. With high dependence on market purchases for food, high food prices continue to limit purchasing power. Although some displaced households receive regular humanitarian assistance, new arrivals often face challenges in accessing assistance, especially if they are from marginalized and minority groups. Given this and the high levels of destitution that drive people to displacement settlements, most displaced households generally struggle to meet their essential food needs. Recently improved food security conditions in many rural areas – particularly agricultural areas – is likely providing some additional support to displaced people from those households, as displaced households maintain connections with their communities of origin, sharing resources in both directions, and given that some IDP households were able to send members home to cultivate their land during the gu season, especially in Lower Shabelle and Bay regions. However, many worst-off households who remain in displacement sites likely continue to face moderate food consumption gaps. Crisis (IPC Phase 3), Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!), and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes likely persist at the area level. Household surveys conducted in Baidoa and Mogadishu in March 2023 provide support for the likely persistence of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    In pastoral areas, livestock and livestock product sales typically provide the majority of most poor households’ income, while market purchases and livestock products are the primary sources of poor households’ food. In most pastoral areas of the country, livestock ownership remains significantly below normal due to severe herd depletion during the 2020-2023 drought. Many livestock in these areas, though now experiencing recovery in body conditions, will not give birth until the 2023 deyr season. As such, many poor households are unable to access food and income from livestock products, and many do not have livestock left to sell and have high levels of debt. Significant and sustained humanitarian assistance has played a significant role in mitigating further livestock losses and preventing worse food security outcomes to date. As of June, just prior to the availability of the gu harvest and the Hajj-related period of peak livestock demand, most central and northern pastoral areas face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes. Outcomes are more severe in Coastal Deeh livelihood zone, where livestock body conditions remain poor due to localized, very poor gu rainfall, limited pasture recovery, and inter-communal and conflict-related constraints on livestock migration, resulting in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). 

    In areas of the south where most poor households have relatively more livestock holdings in saleable condition, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are likely as of June, though a sub-set of the population is likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Meanwhile, in pastoral areas of the Jubas and Lower Shabelle, livestock ownership and access to milk for consumption and sales are largely close to normal, allowing most poor households to meet their basic needs. In these areas, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Minimal! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes are currently assessed, though some households likely face worse outcomes. 

    In rainfed agropastoral areas, poor households are experiencing seasonal improvements in access to income from agricultural labor opportunities during the ongoing gu cropping season. Many are also accessing green maize and cowpeas for consumption, in addition to sustained humanitarian assistance benefits. However, livestock herd sizes and milk production remain significantly below normal, limiting access to food and income from livestock and livestock products. Additionally, many poor households are currently diverting some income toward the repayment of debts. As such, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are assessed in most rainfed agropastoral areas amid overstretched social support and high dependence on market purchases. Even more severe Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely ongoing in Southern Agropastoral areas of Hiiraan due to the destruction of gu crops – which reduced agricultural labor opportunities – on top of below-normal livestock herd sizes and access to milk. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are also likely ongoing in the northwestern Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zones given another ongoing season of significantly below average to failed crop production, below-average livestock holdings, and high levels of debt. Meanwhile, in rainfed agropastoral areas of Lower and Middle Juba and Lower Shabelle, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are currently assessed given favorable gu rainfall, near normal livestock holdings and body conditions, and improved access to milk alongside ongoing livestock birthing.

    In riverine areas, current food security outcomes vary notably given variable access to off-season deyr crop production in March, variable irrigation access, and the impacts of recent flooding in some areas. Currently, households in many riverine areas are still benefiting from off-season deyr maize and cowpea production. Given this, seasonal fish availability, and improved agricultural labor opportunities during the ongoing gu season and the start of off-season recessional cultivation in late June, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are assessed. Meanwhile, upstream riverine areas of Gedo and Riverine Gravity Irrigation areas of Middle Juba experienced multiple waves of irregular river flooding in May, which caused significant population displacement, reduced availability of agricultural labor opportunities, and caused many households to miss potential gu cropping activities and green crop (maize and cowpea) consumption in June. Despite some access to income from agricultural labor associated with the start of recessional cultivation in late June, these areas are likely facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes given these factors on top of the cumulative effects of several consecutive below-average crop harvests and high indebtedness. The worst-off riverine areas are in Hiiraan, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely ongoing. In these areas, high levels of population displacement resulted in only minimal farming activities and minimal access to green maize consumption, while local and imported food prices remain particularly high due to escalated conflict that reduced supplies to the area. 

    In urban areas, poor households report spending a significant portion of their income (around 60 to 80 percent) on food due to high food prices and limited income-earning. Despite declining prices in recent months, poor households continue to struggle with limited income-earning opportunities and high competition for jobs, and many poor urban households are not able to meet all their essential non-food needs. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in most urban areas. However, in Laascaanood district of the Sool region, many households displaced by floods are likely receiving inadequate assistance and facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes.

    Based on results of available nutrition assessments, typical seasonal trends, and available information on contributing factors, it is expected that the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) has declined at the national level since the end of the drought. However, GAM levels likely remain within the range of 15.0-29.9 percent (classified as “Critical” according to the IPC reference table) across most areas of the country. According to results of 26 nutrition SMART surveys conducted by FSNAU and partners during the October to December 2022 deyr season, the median GAM prevalence as measured by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) was 15.4 percent. More recent SMART surveys conducted by FSNAU and partners in March 2023 showed slight improvement, largely attributed to the sustained scale up in multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance that occurred in 2022. For example, between the deyr 2022 and March 2023 surveys, GAM prevalence declined from 24.5 percent to 20.2 percent amongst Mogadishu IDPs, from 21.2 percent to 15.3 percent amongst Baidoa IDPs, and from 19.8 percent to 15.3 percent amongst agropastoral households in Baidoa and Burhakaba (Bay region).

    In more recent months, GAM prevalence has likely declined further due to improvements in food consumption following the onset of gu rainfall, including due to improved access to nutritious milk from livestock. However, levels of malnutrition likely remain elevated overall, driven by lower-than-normal access to food, including milk; increased incidence of diseases including due to outbreaks of measles and waterborne diseases such as acute watery diarrhea (AWD), cholera, and malaria during the gu rainy season; and poor access to health and nutrition services. Notably, GAM prevalence has ranged from Serious (10–14.9%) to Critical (15–29.9%) levels across much of Somalia over the past decade, with limited improvement observed even after weather shocks subside. 

    Nutrition admissions data from the FSNAU Early Warning Action dashboard provide additional evidence that malnutrition levels have relatively declined but remain atypically elevated. From January to May 2023, a total of 713,264 children with Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) were admitted to health centers for treatment, a 125 percent increase compared to the 317,418 admissions recorded in the same period of last year. Fifteen percent of the admissions from January to May 2023 occurred in Mogadishu alone. In addition, around 5,578 cases of AWD were reported from January to May 2023, attributed in part to limited access to safe water, poor hygiene and sanitation, and consumption of low-quality, cheaper foods in drought-affected areas and IDP settlements. The majority of AWD cases were also reported in Mogadishu (23 percent), followed by Bossaso (10 percent).

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal calendar for Somalia.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario from June 2023 to January 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • According to international forecasts, cumulative rainfall during the July to September hagaa season in southern Somalia is most likely to be above average.
    • According to international forecasts, cumulative rainfall during the June to September karan season in northwestern Somalia is likely to be below average.
    • According to international forecasts built upon expectations for El Niño and positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions, cumulative rainfall during the October to December 2023 deyr season will most likely be above average. As such, risk of flash flooding and riverine flooding will be above average during this period.
    • Given expectations for elevated risk of flooding during the October to December 2023 deyr season, levels of flooding-driven displacement are expected to be higher than during the same time period of last year, which was characterized by drought conditions. Most of those displaced due to flooding in riverine areas will likely remain displaced only through December/early January given that these households are highly dependent on agriculture and will shortly return to their normal livelihoods.  
    • Cereal crop production for the 2023 gu season is expected to be approximately near the five-year average [1] overall given generally favorable gu and hagaa rainfall, with the harvest expected in July/August. Sorghum production (which covers nearly 70 percent of cropping land) is expected to be approximately average at the national level, but below-average in Bay region due to the impacts of insect infestations and a dry spell in late May/June. Maize production is expected to be below average at the national level given the impacts of flooding in riverine areas. However, maize production in rainfed areas is likely to be approximately average. 
    • Off-season cereal crop production is likely to be above average due to forecast above-average hagaa rainfall and positive impacts of flooding on recessional cultivation, with the harvest expected in August/September. Total gu plus off-season cereal crop production will therefore likely be average to above average.
    • In northwestern karan-receiving agropastoral areas, significantly below average gu/karan maize production is expected in July/August. Below-average June-September karan rainfall will likely negatively impact long-cycle sorghum crop production, with a below-average harvest expected in October and November.
    • Demand for agricultural labor is likely to be above average during the June-September hagaa season given the expected above-average hagaa showers and above-average recessional cultivation following recent flooding. Given the forecast for above-average deyr rainfall, demand for agricultural labor in agropastoral areas of the south will likely increase and remain above average during the September 2023 to January 2024 period as many farmers will be encouraged to expand cropping land. In riverine areas, while it is likely that flooding during the deyr season will disrupt main season cultivation, recessional off-season cropping will instead provide agricultural labor opportunities beginning in December 2023. In northwestern agropastoral areas, demand for agricultural labor will remain insignificant, which is typical given that farmers mostly use tractors or oxen and help each other during harvesting.  
    • Crop production in the 2023 deyr season is expected to be approximately average overall, with the harvest expected in January 2024. Above-average deyr rainfall is likely to lead to above-average production in rainfed areas. However, in riverine areas, below-average main season production is expected, driven by crop losses due to flooding. On the other hand, farmers in riverine areas will likely increase the production of sesame and other cash crops (a common practice when recessional cultivation opportunities are high and when declining humidity after the deyr season supports sesame production) though the harvest will likely occur outside of the projection period.
    • Pasture and water conditions are anticipated to decline during the dry and windy hagaa season through September but improve following the start of deyr rainfall in October. Through September, conditions will likely remain near average or above average across much of the country, though below average in much of the Hiiraan region, the Coastal Deeh livelihood zone of the central and northeast regions, and in localized areas of the south and northeast. Given above-average deyr rainfall, pasture and water conditions will likely improve to average to above-average levels across the country during the deyr season.
    • In the October/November deyr season, medium to high rates of goat kidding and seasonal goat milk is expected among households that still own livestock across most of the country. This is expected even in the northern, central, and Hiiraan regions as levels of conceptions notably improved during the April to June 2023 gu season. 
    • The timing and rates of camel and cattle calving will vary. Based on low conception levels during the 2022 gu rains (which failed in many areas), rates of camel and cattle births are likely to remain low to none across most of the country through September. However, medium calving rates are expected in the southern Juba and Lower Shabelle regions, where 2022 gu rainfall amounts were adequate to support conceptions, as well as in Bay, Bakool, and Gedo regions, where camels and cattle had out-migrated to the Juba and Shabelle regions, conceived, and have now returned. During the October to December 2023 deyr season, camel and cattle calving rates will increase to medium across most of the country, as the 2022 deyr rains were minimally adequate to support conceptions. However, low to no calving is expected in central Somalia and some parts of the northwest, where the 2022 deyr rains performed more poorly and did not support much calving. Overall, milk availability is expected to considerably improve, but below-average levels of milk production will likely persist in central regions and parts of the northwest.
    • According to FEWS NET's price projections in Baidoa and Qorioley reference markets, prices of locally-produced staple cereals are anticipated to follow seasonal patterns, increasing during the lean season until July and then decreasing thereafter due to increased supply from the gu harvests (July/August) and off-season crop production. Prices of local cereals are projected to stay close to five-year (2018-2022) average levels, though with some variation expected, after the gu harvest. Following the gu harvest, household and market cereal stocks will likely improve to levels better than in 2022, supported by expected average gu cereal harvests within Somalia and from source markets in Ethiopia.
    • Import volumes of rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, sugar, and diesel are expected to be approximately normal. Prices are likely to remain generally stable or slightly increase. However, in the northwest region, moderate price increases are anticipated due to the ongoing depreciation of the local currency (SLS).
    • Livestock prices are anticipated to range from near to above average through January, driven by improved livestock body conditions and a gradual increase in livestock supply. Prices will rise in response to seasonal demand during the Hajj season in July, then decline through the of the hagaa season in September as pastoralists increase sales to pay debts and purchase food. Prices are then expected to seasonally increase again during the October to December deyr rainy season as pastoralists move to remote wet grazing areas, reducing market supply. However, the degree of seasonal price increases may be muted as livestock supply – which is currently below normal – begins to recover to meet demand. 
    • Given expectations for staple cereal prices and livestock prices, purchasing power for pastoralists as measured by the terms of trade will likely remain average to above average through September and near average from October to January.
    • The Food Security Cluster’s plans for humanitarian food assistance delivery beyond June are unavailable. Additionally, recent trends in assistance distributions indicate levels of food assistance are already scaling down as Somalia exits the drought. As such, this scenario assumes a significant scale-down of food assistance will continue from July onward. While areas with populations of highest concern, such as large IDP populations, will most likely continue to be prioritized for food assistance deliveries, it is assumed that deliveries will reach less than 25 percent of the population at the district or IDP-site level.
    • Armed conflict in Somalia is expected to persist, primarily affecting south-central regions and Sool region of northern Somalia. Given the government’s ongoing preparations for a new wave of fighting against al-Shabaab, an increase in clashes between local militias (supported by the federal security forces) and al-Shabaab insurgents is expected in Mogadishu and across south-central Somalia. The Islamic State (IS) will also continue occasional attacks in Puntland, though with reduced capacity due to clashes with al-Shabaab and counterinsurgency efforts by Puntland's security forces. The conflict between Somaliland and Lasanood militias in the Sool region – ongoing since February 2023 – is expected to continue throughout the scenario period due to the absence of meaningful negotiations. Levels of conflict-driven displacement are generally expected to be similar to the high levels of 2022. 
    • Overall, the number of people displaced during the 2020-2023 drought who return home is expected to be relatively limited given that recovery of livelihoods linked to livestock production will take time, returning home is costly, and better opportunities for assistance and labor exist in displacement settlements. Some agropastoralists (mainly from Bay, Bakool, and Lower Shabelle regions) are likely to return to their areas of origin during the projection period to cultivate their lands. Conversely, many destitute pastoralists are likely to stay in displacement settlements for at least another one or two seasons, as they will not return home until their livestock herd sizes – currently with kin in areas of origin – return to sustainable levels. Meanwhile, the number of new displacements due to drought or poor rainfall will be significantly lower than during the same period of last year.
    • Overall, the number of people newly displaced during the projection period (mainly due to conflict and flooding) is expected to be similar to or lower than the number newly displaced during the same time period of last year (mainly due to drought and conflict). Given expectations for new displacements and returns during the projection period, the total cumulative number of internally displaced people is likely to remain broadly similar to the current OCHA estimate of 3.85 million (though it should be noted that many people included in this estimate have been displaced for a protracted period and have since established new homes and livelihoods). 

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Recent and anticipated improvements in rainfall amounts are expected to support the gradual recovery of typical sources of food and income from crop and livestock production among rural populations in the coming months. However, the trajectory of recovery is much more precarious among displaced populations that lost their livelihoods during the 2020-2023 drought or recently lost their livelihoods due to conflict-related reasons. In general, populations that have remained in cropping areas or were displaced from cropping areas have a higher likelihood of regaining access to food and income compared to the pastoralist or former pastoralist population. The ability to purchase seed on credit is a notable factor that supports a quicker recovery, as is the ability to take advantage of favorable rainfall or flood recession cultivation. Among the pastoralist population in central and coastal Somalia, however – where herd losses have been greatest – the longer timelines for livestock gestation, the costs of restocking, and risk of increased disease incidence during an above-average deyr rainfall season are expected to lead to a slower pace of recovery. Furthermore, the anticipated scale-down in humanitarian assistance will diminish an emergency source of food/income that many displaced populations have depended upon. While seasonal crop and livestock production gains alongside declining local cereal prices will compensate for the decline in food assistance in many rural areas, displaced households that lack assets to re-invest in their former livelihoods will either not benefit or will see only marginal gains.

    Households living in displacement settlements will generally continue to face highly limited access to income, high dependence on market purchases for food amid high food prices, and limited access to social support. Given the anticipated scale-down in humanitarian assistance, many poor households will continue to face food consumption gaps despite expectations for declining staple food prices and seasonal improvements in availability of food and income in surrounding rural areas. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will persist in displacement settlements, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes expected in settlements in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Xudur, Beletweyne, Dhusamareeb, Galkacyo, Garowe, Laascanood, and Hargeisa. 

    In many central and northern pastoral areas, income and milk from livestock will range from below-average to minimal throughout the June to September period. Coupled with high debt levels, many poor households in the worst drought-affected areas will resort to selling rather than restocking livestock in order to purchase food and repay debt. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist, with worst-affected poor households expected to continue facing severe food consumption gaps indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4). At the area-level, deterioration to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is anticipated in the Addun Pastoral zone. However, improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is expected in the northeastern East Golis Pastoral livelihood zone due to some increased livestock holdings (following recent births) and frankincense exports. Additionally, in most southern pastoral areas and in the West Golis Pastoral livelihood zone of the northwest, normal livestock holdings and medium livestock birth rates and access to milk during the gu season will likely sustain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes even throughout the coming dry season.  

    Levels of acute food insecurity are expected to begin to improve more strongly in the October to December 2023 deyr season, when livestock births and milk production will improve access to food and income and support some recovery in livestock herd sizes. Gifts from wealthier households are also expected to increase. These factors will allow poor households to repay more debt while improving their ability to meet their minimum food requirements. Widespread improvement from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are anticipated in many pastoral areas during this period, but greater recovery will be impeded by below-normal herd sizes and, consequently, below-normal milk availability. Some of the worst drought-affected areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including central Hawd Pastoral areas and Addun Pastoral areas, while Coastal Deeh livelihood zone will remain in and Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In these areas, improvement in livestock holdings and access to milk will be more limited during the deyr season, only slightly improving access to food and income amid persistent high food prices and high levels of debt. 

    In July/August, many poor households in rainfed agropastoral areas will experience improved access to food and income from the gu harvest, with stocks expected to last for around two to three months in most areas. Own-produced food stocks, harvest labor income, and seasonally declining food prices will likely support improvement from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in many areas. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in the areas where the gu harvest is expected to be below-normal due to the impacts of late-season dry spells, pests, and/or conflict. These areas include the northern Northwestern Agropastoral and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zones, the central Cowpea Belt livelihood zone, Burhakaba and Baidoa districts of Bay region, and the Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone of Hiiraan. 

    In the October to December deyr season, most agropastoral households will experience another consecutive season of improved access to food and income from crop and livestock production activities, including from agricultural labor, milk production, and the start of green harvesting in December. Additionally, by January, the start of deyr harvesting will further increase access to food and income from crop production. Overall, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected most agropastoral areas, though a subset of poor households will likely continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Most significantly, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in the Togdheer Agropastoral zone and the Southern Agropastoral zone of Hiiraan.

    In many riverine agricultural areas, the floods that occurred during the gu rainy season are expected to result in below-average main season gu crop production. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in the worst flood-affected areas, including Riverine Pump Irrigation livelihood zone of Hiiraan, Bardheere district of Gedo region, and the Riverine Gravity Irrigation livelihood zone of Middle Juba, where the benefits of recessional cultivation and the off-season harvest will not materialize until September. However, in other riverine areas where the impacts of flooding were less severe, households will have increased access to food and income from gu crop production and associated labor opportunities, and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected. 

    The risk of riverine floods during the above-average October to December deyr season will most likely materialize in negative impacts that offset the positive impacts of favorable off-season cultivation. The above-average off-season harvest in September will support food availability, with stocks generally expected to last through around December. However, flooding during the deyr will likely disrupt deyr cropping activities, reducing seasonal access to income from agricultural labor and driving population displacement, loss of assets, disruption to livelihoods, and crop losses in affected areas. Though flooding during the deyr will also likely support recessional cultivation and associated labor opportunities beginning in December, most benefits – including from the harvest – will not materialize until February, which is outside of the projection period. As such, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to emerge in most riverine areas during the October to December deyr season.

    At the national level, the prevalence of acute malnutrition is expected to decline slightly following improved access to food from the gu harvest in July/August 2023 and the typical decrease in disease prevalence during dry seasons. However, during the October to December 2023 deyr rainy season, a slight increase is expected due to typical seasonal disease prevalence and reduced access to health services due to impassible roads. Additionally, throughout the projection period, chronic factors such as high morbidity levels, sub-optimal child and maternal care practices, low coverage of essential nutrition and health services, and limited access to safe water and sanitation facilities will likely continue contributing to high rates of acute malnutrition. Many areas will likely continue to face “Critical” (15.0-29.9 percent) levels of acute malnutrition throughout the projection period, with highest concern for displacement settlements and south-central rural areas. 

    Table 1
    Tabe 1: Possible events that would change the most likely outlook through September 2023
    Area Event Impact on food security outcomes
    National Sustained high levels of humanitarian food assistance Sustained high levels of humanitarian assistance (near current levels or further scale-up) in combination with the anticipated seasonal improvements in access to food and income would allow many additional households to meet their basic food needs without engaging in damaging livelihood coping strategies. Improvement to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes would be likely in more rural areas, including in pastoral areas if assistance in livestock restocking also occurs. The Coastal Deeh Pastoral and Fishing livelihood zone would likely see improvement to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes. In displacement settlements, sustained humanitarian food assistance would likely sustain Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes and prevent Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. 
    National Below-average rainfall in the October to December 2023 deyr season

    This would likely hinder deyr crop production activities in affected agropastoral areas. Poor households would have less access to agricultural labor, which is their main source of income, and deyr crop production would likely be below average in some areas, depending on the timing and distribution of rainfall received, leading to lower-than-anticipated food and income from crop production and sales. With many poor households struggling to rebuild asset bases and repay debts, this would likely also cause poor households to face increased difficulty in borrowing to access food. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes or worse would be expected to persist in worst-affected south-central agropastoral areas. 

    Below-average rainfall would also likely lead to less improvement in pasture and water conditions than what is currently anticipated. In worst-affected areas, anticipated improvements in livestock conceptions and births during the deyr season could be limited. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes could persist in worst-affected areas.


    Area of Concern: Internally Displaced Persons in Mogadishu

    Current Situation

    Estimated at just over 1.1 million people as of 2015, the population of IDPs in Mogadishu (Figure 8) is the largest in Somalia, accounting for 32 percent of the total IDP population in the country and 41 percent of Mogadishu city's population. Nearly 98 percent of IDPs in Mogadishu are from Lower Shabelle (56.4%), Bay (20.8%), and Middle Shabelle (20.5%) regions. Most were displaced due to drought (81.5%) and conflict (35.5%). It is important to note that many IDPs had displaced to Mogadishu prior to the 2020-2023 drought, and the current population includes both those that have been displaced for a protracted period of time and relatively recent (<1 year) arrivals. 

    Figure 8

    Reference map for displacement settlements (in red) in and around Mogadishu city as of 2015
    Map of displacement settlements as discussed in Area of Concern.

    Source: REACH

    Displaced persons in Somalia generally maintain connections with household members back home in their areas of origin, with resources shared in both directions depending on availability and need. After earning some income or receiving assistance, displaced household members may send money home via cash transfers. Meanwhile, when conditions permit it, household members in rural areas may send money to displaced household members after selling livestock. Rural household members may also have the ability to send milk to members in IDP settlements delivered via local transports. However, given current conditions faced by worst-affected households in south-central areas of Somalia, rural household members are generally not sending resources to family members in Mogadishu displacement settlements. Rather, household members in displacement settlements may share some of their labor income or humanitarian assistance with household members back home, as they are able.

    Displaced households in Mogadishu face significant challenges, including owning minimal assets. According to results of a household food security and nutrition survey conducted by FSNAU and partners in March 2023, mobile phones were the only asset reported by most households. Although over 20 percent reported having tools and capacity to do skilled labor, less than 3 percent reported income from skilled labor in the three months prior to the assessment, mainly due to competition from urban people and poor social connections. Most households reported having no savings.

    Displaced households are also significantly challenged by limited and non-diversified sources of income. A full 97 percent of the 256 IDP respondents surveyed in March 2023 reported only one source of income. For most, casual labor (primarily portage and construction activities) is their main source of income. Only a few households reported self-employment activities (such as selling water, charcoal, or firewood) or petty trade as their primary source of income. 

    According to data collected by FSNAU and FEWS NET, wage rates for portage labor in Mogadishu (Bakara market) in May 2023 were similar to last year, and slightly higher than the five-year average given that the average includes a period of suppressed wages following the 2016/17 drought (after which economic recovery and inflation have driven a trend of increasing wages). However, despite generally favorable wage rates, IDPs face significant challenges in earning sufficient income from casual wage labor due to high competition for available opportunities and weak social support mechanisms.

    Market purchases were the primary source of food reported by a full 98 percent of IDP households surveyed in the March 2023 assessment. Most households further reported relying on cash purchases, as they were unable to purchase food on credit due to lack of trader trust. Displaced households only rarely reported alternative food sources, such as food from borrowing, community gifts, or own crop production. These sources of food are highly inaccessible to IDPs due to weak social connections and limited resources and assets. On average, respondents reported that 82 percent of their total expenditures were allocated to food purchases, leaving inadequate income for other needs, including non-food needs like health/education expenses and household goods (12 percent of expenditures), repayment of debts (6 percent), or investments in livelihoods and savings (1 percent).

    Given the importance of market purchases, above-average food prices continue to constrain food access for IDP households, despite some recovery in prices since the peak in mid-2022 during the drought. From April to May 2023, prices of locally-produced white maize in Mogadishu (Bakara market) declined further, by 8 percent, to reach levels 30 percent lower than at the same time last year but still 19 percent above the five-year average. Declining prices in recent months are largely being driven by better-than-anticipated deyr 2022 crop production and relatively positive prospects for 2023 gu crop production. Given maize prices and wage rates, purchasing power for laborers as measured by the terms of trade increased from 7 kg in April to 8 kg in May 2023 of maize purchasable from one day’s work. The terms of trade in May 2023 were also 17 percent higher than last year although 12 percent lower than the five-year average.

    The cost of the minimum expenditure basket (MEB), which serves as a proxy for the overall cost of living, remained generally stable from January to April 2023, and in April was recorded at 3,538,000 SOS (138 USD). Though this was similar to the cost recorded in April of the previous year, it was 33 percent higher than the five-year average. 

    Above-average living costs are placing considerable strain on IDP households, who struggle to meet their basic needs due to limited income-earning opportunities, competition for labor, and weak social connections. In the March 2023 assessment, households reported that they had access to labor for an average of 20 days a month and earned an average of 87,000 SOS/day, for an average monthly income of 1,740,000 SOS. With this, a household would only be able to purchase 64 percent of the average minimum expenditure basket at the cost of 2,720,000 SOS.  

    According to the Somalia FSC, humanitarian food assistance reached 29 percent of the IDP population in Mogadishu (Banadir) in March 2023, contributing at least 25 percent of beneficiaries' minimum caloric needs. However, responses to FSNAU’s March 2023 household survey suggested more limited access to humanitarian assistance, with only 5 percent of surveyed households reporting having received in-kind food assistance in the three months prior to the survey, and only 12 percent reporting having received cash assistance. It should be noted that households likely under-report receipt of humanitarian assistance given their outstanding level of need. Even the level of assistance provision reported by the FSC falls significantly short of needs, and it is difficult to determine the extent to which humanitarians are able to target more recent IDP arrivals.

    The March 2023 assessment conducted in Mogadishu IDP settlements provided evidence that many households have only limited remaining options to cope with insufficient access to food. Around 27 percent of those surveyed reported engaging in emergency livelihood coping strategies – such as begging among the host community – within the last three months or exhausting their ability to do this in the past 12 months. A further 41 percent reported engaging in crisis-level coping strategies – such as selling productive assets, not sending children to Madrassa to save money, or sending household members to eat with other households – or exhausting their ability to do this in the past 12 months. As such, a sizeable share of the population is facing highly eroded coping capacity. 

    Access to clean water was found to be relatively good amongst displaced households in Mogadishu, with 98 percent of surveyed households reporting access to water from protected public standpipes. However, water shortages can still impact IDP households due to congestion and few water sources. Meanwhile, inadequate access to sanitation facilities remains of concern, with only around 7 percent of households reporting access to household latrines, and 90 percent reporting relying on inadequate communal or public latrines. 

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    Given insufficient income-earning amid above-average food prices and highly eroded coping capacity, many IDPs in Mogadishu are most likely facing food consumption gaps. Additional evidence is provided by the results of the March assessment, which found that all assessed food consumption indicators (Food Consumption Score, Household Dietary Diversity Score, Household Hunger Scale, and reduced Coping Strategies Index) were indicative of a significant share of the population experiencing food consumption outcomes indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes according to IPC thresholds. At least 20 percent are expected to be facing moderate-to-wide food consumption gaps, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes anticipated at the area level. 

    During the March 2023 assessment, GAM prevalence amongst children under five in Mogadishu IDP settlements was recorded at 20.2 percent, a decline from the 24.5 percent recorded in the 2022 deyr season, but still within the “Critical” range (15.0-29.9 percent) according to IPC thresholds. The prevalence of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) was recorded at 2.7 percent. Meanwhile, a 33.7 percent morbidity rate was recorded amongst the same age group, highlighting the severity of the nutrition challenges. The settlements also registered high mortality rates, emphasizing the urgent need for interventions to address these concerns. 

    Assumptions

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

    • While some new population displacement due to conflict or floods will likely occur, levels of population displacement to Mogadishu will likely be much lower than the high levels that have occurred in recent years due to drought. Additionally, forecast above-average rainfall is expected to restrict population movement due to challenges such as muddy roads.
    • Forecast above-average rainfall during the hagaa and deyr seasons is likely to cause flash floods in IDP settlements, re-displacing households and increasing incidence of water-borne diseases.  
    • Availability of casual labor opportunities (porterage and construction) is expected to be normal and follow the seasonal trends in Mogadishu, with average or slightly above-average daily wage rates.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Throughout the projection period, most Mogadishu IDPs are expected to continue depending highly on market purchases for their food, though food gifts from wealthier households in Bay and Lower Shabelle regions during the gu harvest are anticipated to offer some support during July and August. While declining prices of locally produced cereals will also improve purchasing power, prices of imported food commodities are expected to remain above average and income-earning opportunities will remain insufficient for most households to meet their needs. Given this and reduced provision of humanitarian food assistance, many IDPs will continue to face food consumption gaps, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes expected to persist throughout the projection period.


    Area of Concern: Addun Pastoral livelihood zone of Mudug and Galgaduud regions (Figure 9)

    Figure 9

    Area of concern reference map for central Addun Pastoral livelihood zone
    Area of Concern map as discussed in the section Area of Concern: Addun Pastoral livelihood zone of Mudug and Galgaduud regions.

    Source: FEWS NET and FSNAU

    Current Situation

    Addun Pastoral livelihood zone in the central and northeastern regions of Somalia has experienced five consecutive seasons of below-average rainfall, leading to widespread poor rangeland resources, restricted access to communal rangelands, reduced livestock assets, and significantly below-normal livestock productivity, value, and saleability. According to remote sensing data, below-normal vegetation conditions remain widespread as of mid-June. It will take around two to three seasons of good rainfall to restore normal conditions in the badly damaged rangelands of the Addun Pastoral zone. 

    Typically, livestock and milk sales generate over 80 percent of households’ annual income. Nearly all food, apart from milk, is purchased. Herd sizes decreased atypically during the jiilaal dry season and gu wet season in most areas in Addun Pastoral due to increased abortion, low birth rates, and increased distressed livestock sales. Due to the drought, poor households continue to face significant difficulty affording the essential inputs to sustain their livestock. While better-off households can afford to save some of their animals through hand-feeding and motorized migration, most poor households are unable to afford grain for hand-feeding and lack the means for motorized migration. As a result, poor households’ livestock holdings have significantly declined. Despite generally favorable selling prices for livestock, most poor households remain unable to access income from livestock sales due to extremely low herd sizes and limited numbers of saleable animals. 

    Livestock body conditions are currently near average, resulting in medium conception rates for all species (goats, sheep, and camel) during the 2023 gu season. However, given the impacts of the drought on livestock productivity in prior seasons, birthing rates of goats and sheep were low in the recent gu season, while birthing rates of camel were low to none. This has kept access to milk highly limited. 

    Conflict – including inter-clan conflict and clashes with insurgents – remains another key driver of acute food insecurity in the central regions. Increased levels of conflict in the first half of 2023 have caused significant population displacement, trade disruption, and loss of lives and assets, while also preventing households from accessing grazing areas. Additional displaced households joining IDP camps in Galkayo, Adado, and Dhusamareb towns have increased competition for limited labor wage opportunities. Additionally, households who are newly displaced from insurgency-controlled areas (in eastern parts of Galgaduud and Mudug) where the drought is severe are unregistered for humanitarian assistance and therefore cannot easily access humanitarian assistance or social support.

    According to UNHCR, Galgaduud and Mudug have seen the second and third highest regional totals of population displacement, respectively, in 2023 (after Sool Region). In total, about 196,000 people were displaced in Galgaduud and Mudug regions between January and May 2023. Nearly 90 percent of the displacement was due to conflict, nearly 5 percent was due to flooding, and the rest was due to drought. Nearly 53 percent of the displacement occurred in Galgaduud region with the remaining 47 percent occurred in Mudug region.

    Reports from the Somalia FSC supported by field information indicate that significant humanitarian food assistance has been received across all districts of the Addun Pastoral livelihood zone in recent months. In most of Addun Pastoral of Cadaado, Dhusamareeb, and Galkayo districts, assistance has been reaching, on average, 23 to 54 percent of the population in those districts each month during the March to May 2023 period. In addition, non-food humanitarian interventions such as related to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services and water trucking during the dry jiilaal period provided some relief to poor households. 

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    The prolonged impacts of five consecutive seasons of drought have led to low livestock assets, lack of milk for consumption and sales, non-existent to very low availability of saleable animals, and high levels of debt, severely restricting poor households’ ability to access adequate food and other essential items. Income from labor and self-employment opportunities (firewood and charcoal sales) are lower than typical due to conflict, drought, and high competition for income. Most poor households are currently relying on a mixture of self-employment activities and overstretched kinship/community support through gifts, borrowing, and loans. Given the very high levels of need, these sources are not sufficient for households to meet their minimum food and other essential needs, with many poor households facing moderate to large food consumption gaps. At the area level, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are currently assessed. While humanitarian assistance has likely prevented worse outcomes from emerging, a subset of the population that is not receiving sufficient assistance is likely in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    Assumptions

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

    • Levels of resource based conflict revenge actions within this livelihood are expected to escalate over the projection period, increasing constraints on access to rangeland resources and livestock migration, increasing trade disruptions, reducing population movement, and putting upward pressure on food prices due to unofficial taxation at checkpoints. 
    • No to very low livestock birth rates are likely between June and September, as rainfall failed during the 2022 gu and rainfall performed badly during the 202 deyr in this specific livelihood zone. While rainfall during the 2023 gu supported conceptions, this means that only sheep and goat kidding – likely at medium rates – will occur during the 2023 deyr between October and January. Camel calving levels will remain low to none until the 2024 gu
    • Due to low supply and stable demand, prices of local-quality goats are expected to remain above average throughout the projection period. The price of a local quality goat in Galkayo is projected to range from 2,428,000 to 2,895,000 SOS between February and September, 13-21 percent above the five-year average.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    During the July to September xagaa dry season, households will continue to lack milk for consumption and sales given low to no calving in the gu and xagaa seasons. Income from other income sources – including livestock sales, labor, and charcoal and firewood sales – will likely remain too low to compensate for reductions in humanitarian food assistance. As a result, households are expected to engage in damaging crisis- and emergency-level livelihood coping strategies, including withdrawing children from school, migrating the entire household, and begging for food and money. However, given very low livestock holdings, high levels of debt, and high competition for available income-earning opportunities, many households are expected to face widening food consumption gaps during the dry season. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to emerge at the area level in the absence of high levels of assistance.

    From October to January, pasture and water conditions will likely improve due to forecast above-average deyr rainfall in October to December. This will support ongoing improvements in livestock productivity and reproduction. Overall, medium birth rates of goats and sheep and associated improved milk production are anticipated in deyr season due to improved conceptions in prior recent seasons. The slight increase in livestock holdings and resumption of milk production will support limited sales of livestock and livestock products, increasing access to income, though income from these sources will remain below average. Overall, livestock assets are expected to remain significantly below baseline levels, and full recovery will take multiple good seasons. However, the seasonal increase in access to food and income from livestock and livestock production will reduce the number of households facing food consumption gaps. At the area level, it is expected that outcomes likely improve to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), though some poor households will likely continue to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes amid reduced assistance.


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

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Food Security Outlook June 2023 to January 2024: Food assistance needs remain high amid ongoing recovery from drought, 2023.

    1

    When describing crop production expectations compared to average, the five-year average is referenced unless otherwise noted. However, it should be noted that the five-year average has been influenced by multiple years of poor crop production outcomes due primarily to drought. As such, even average levels of crop production should be considered below normal as defined by a longer-term average.

    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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