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Food security likely to improve following October to December Deyr rains

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Somalia
  • October 2014 - March 2015
Food security likely to improve following October to December Deyr rains

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Over one million people will remain in Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4) through December 2014. The most food insecure people are in northern Gedo, Bakool, Hiraan, and the coastal areas of the central regions. The primary drivers of food insecurity in these areas are hot and dry conditions during recent seasons, the low supply of locally produced cereals, and disruptions to trade.

    • Food security is expected to improve between January to March 2015, particularly in pastoral areas. Expected improvement will come from improved livestock body conditions and production, the anticipated average to above-average Deyr harvest in January/February 2015, and income from agricultural labor opportunities. Some pastoral areas in the central and northern regions are expected to improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

    • In the event of severe river floods along the Shabelle and Juba Rivers, a strong possibility with heavy Deyr rainfall in the area and in the rivers’ catchments in the Ethiopian highland, food security outcomes in riverine areas are likely to deteriorate from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), if floods hinder agriculture and trade.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    In August, the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit-Somalia (FSNAU), FEWS NET, and partners projected that over one million people would face acute food insecurity and remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and higher phases through December 2014. Deteriorating food security since June has been the result of below-average crop production during the Gu harvest from June to August, reduced livestock production, decreased agricultural labor income, and continued conflict. In most areas, locally produced cereal prices remain are the highest they have been since 2011.

    • Between July and September, most parts of the country were dry.
      • In the Northwest, West Golis Pastoral and the Northwest Agropastoral livelihood zones received average to above-average July to September Karan rains which continued into the beginning of the Deyr rains in October.
      • In the Northeast, unusual light to moderate rains fell in September in East Golis Pastoral livelihood zone in Bari, Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone in Nugal, parts of the Hawd and the Nugal Valley in Sool Region, and East Golis Pastoral livelihood zone in Sanaag.
      • Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone and adjacent agropastoral and riverine livelihood zones in Lower Shabelle and Lower Juba Regions received well below-average July to September Xagaa rains. In contrast, near normal Xagaa rains fell in Adale District in Middle Shabelle and agropastoral areas of southern Bay.
      • Most southern and central regions were dry from July to mid-October, but there were some localized light to moderate showers in localized areas in Middle and Lower Juba, Gedo, and Bakool in early October (Figure 1).
      • Deyr rains with moderate to heavy intensity start during the first week of October in most northern regions.

    Pasture availability is below average in most parts of the country. However, early Deyr rains in the Northwest and the Northeast have already increased pasture and water availability. The eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a measure of green vegetation, was below average from July to September (Figure 2).

    • In the Northeast, due to early Deyr rains, pasture and water availability increased in parts of the Hawd and East and West Golis Pastoral livelihood zones. However, pasture conditions in most of Sanaag Region and the Sool Plateau in Sool Region remain poor. Water prices watering points in Sanaag have increased. A jerrycan (20 liters) of water increased from SOS 4,500 to SOS 5,125 from August to September in Garadag village in Sanaag. Pasture and water are still scarce in Coastal Deeh
    •  Pastoral livelihood zone still as this area has received less rain than nearby areas for the past two seasons. Pasture and water availability on the Sool Plateau are still below average, and water prices in the berkad-dependent areas of Xudun and Sarmaanyo in Sool Region increased from around SOS 5,000 to around SOS 8,000.
      • In the Northwest, due to early Deyr rains in September, pasture conditions improved, particularly in East Golis Pastoral and Karkaar-Dharor Pastoral livelihood zones. Both of these livelihood zones had well below-average April to June Gu rainfall.
      • In the central regions, pasture and water conditions deteriorated in all areas including Addun Pastoral, Hawd Pastoral, and Coast Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones between July and September. Deyr rains started in early October, increasing water availability and regenerating pasture, but they have yet to start in Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone.
      • In Hiraan, livestock were concentrated in the areas that had near average April to June Gu rainfall, but then strong July to September Xagaa winds led to faster than usual deterioration of pasture. Water availability is below normal in most pastoral areas. The driest areas are parts of the Hawd and Southern Inland Pastoral (SIP) livelihood zones in Beletweyne District. In these areas, water trucking is ongoing.
      • In the South, pasture conditions are mostly poor due to below-average April to June Gu rains and dry July to September Xagaa winds, which resulted in faster than usual depletion of pasture and water resources. However, in areas that received Xagaa rain showers, including Bay and Lower Shabelle Regions, pasture and water conditions have improved since August. Average browse and water availability are being reported. Pasture and water sources are most depleted in northern Gedo, the coastal plains and inland areas of Adale and Adenyabal Districts, and pastoral and agropastoral areas of Balad and Jowhar Districts in Middle Shabelle. In Lower Juba, as a result of abnormal livestock migration from Gedo Region and from Kenya, pasture and water availability rapidly decreased in September, resulting in increased water prices in rural areas. In Bakool, pasture and water availability remained limited until mid-October as some communal water catchments dried up during the July to September Xagaa dry season. However, the early onset of Deyr rains in early October has since increased the availability of pasture and water in Bakool.
    • Livestock body conditions, production, and value: Livestock body conditions in most parts of the country are poor to average. In the Northwest and the Northeast, livestock body conditions improved at the beginning of October due to unusual rains in late September increasing pasture and water access. However, body conditions remained poor in Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone in the Northeast, Guban Pastoral livelihood zone, and parts of Sool Region. In most pastoral areas of the central regions, Hiraan, Gedo, and rest of the southern regions, livestock body conditions deteriorated during the July to September Xagaa season. The body conditions of milking females from all species significantly deteriorated. Generally, the conception rate during the April to June Gu was low. Some localized goat and cattle abortions were reported in Gedo and Hiraan. In Lower Juba, particularly in Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone, female camels are currently lactating, and milk availability is average. However, in the rest of the pastoral areas in the South, milk availability is below average. However, in the North, goat milk availability is average due to a medium rate kidding in late September and in October.
    • Crop performance and land preparation:
      • In the Northwest, Karan rains supported crop establishment. Currently, an estimated area of 53,000 hectares (ha) is cultivated in Woqooyi Galbeed. About twenty percent of this land is under maize while 80 percent is under sorghum. The Karan crops are at different stages of development, but sorghum is mostly between the panicle-formation and grain-filling stages while maize crop at the flowering and milking stages. However, 10 to 15 percent of the area had to be replanted in late July, and these crops are at the vegetative stage.
      • In Lower Juba in Jamame District’s riverine area in August, pump-irrigated off-season maize and fruits were harvested. However, in general, below-average July to September coastal Xagaa rains resulted in an off-season cereal harvest nearly 30 percent less than originally anticipated. About 2,500 metric tons (MT) of sesame were harvested, less than was anticipated a month ago. In Lower Shabelle and Bay, the sesame harvest is already complete.
      • In the central regions, the cowpeas that had been dry planted during the dry season germinated in early October.
      • Generally in the South, land preparation started in both rainfed, agropastoral areas and riverine areas as average to above-average Deyr rainfall is expected. Plowing, canal rehabilitation, seed purchasing, and planning tractor hours are ongoing. Farmers in rainfed areas in Adale and Adenyabal Districts in Middle Shabelle, Bay, and Bakool Regions dry planted cowpea and sorghum, expecting a normal onset of Deyr rains in October. Land preparation and canal rehabilitation are ongoing in Lower Shabelle. Deyr season preparations have increased cash income for poor households through labor payments. The daily wage rate in Merka in Lower Shabelle is seasonally increasing. From August to September, it increased 11 percent. The increased wage rate resulted in increased labor-to-cereal terms of trade. In Merka in September, a day of work is able to buy 13 kilograms (kg) of white maize while in August it could only buy nine kg.
    • Sorghum and maize prices: In September in most markets, cereal prices were well above average and last year, despite some declines from August to September after the Gu harvest. In September, the white maize price in Qoryoley in Lower Shabelle was still 48 percent higher than last year. In all markets in Lower Shabelle, the September white maize prices were still higher than or close to March prices. In Baidoa in Bay Region, Beletweyne in Hiraan Region, and Belet Hawa in Gedo Regions, September red and white sorghum prices were both much higher than last year and their five-year averages. In Jamame in Lower Juba and Jilib in Middle Juba, September white maize prices were similarly higher than last year and their five-year averages. These high cereal prices were driven by reduced stocks, limited trade, and increased unofficial taxation.
    • Imported rice prices have remained stable since the beginning of the year. However due to reduced stocks by the end of the monsoon high sea winds in September, prices increased from August to September in rural areas that are distant from the ports and tarmac roads.
    • Livestock prices: Prices were high in September and October as the exports for the Hajj were underway and demand is higher at that time, following the seasonal trend. Unusually, livestock prices decreased sharply in September in Burao in Togdheer, a major market in the Northwest, and in Galkacyo in Mudug Region, a major market in the central regions. Livestock price decreases in Burao and Galkacyo were attributed to the reduced number of middle men involved in livestock trade. Traders are now much more likely to buy at smaller markets or at the farm gate and then take these purchases to the ports in Berbera and Bossaso, bypassing formerly important trading posts such as Burao and Galkacyo. This has eliminated some labor opportunities in these markets. However, high livestock prices in most pastoral areas mean most pastoralists are currently receiving some income from livestock sales.
    • In all crop-producing areas in southern Somalia the labor-to-cereals terms of trade (TOT) increased from August to September. However, in all regions the TOT are lower than last year. In Baidoa, the daily wage rate in September could buy 15 kg of red sorghum rather than 26 kg from a year before. In Bardhere in Gedo, the daily labor could buy 14 kg of red sorghum this September, while in September 2013 it could by 27 kg. Similar trends have been seen in Luuq in Gedo, Jilib in Middle Juba, Jamame in Lower Juba, Merka in Lower Shabelle, and Jowhar in Middle Shabelle.
    • Goat-to-cereal TOT in agropastoral areas in the South also were significantly lower in September 2014 than September 2013. In Dolow in Gedo, a local quality goat could be exchanged for 52 kg of red sorghum instead of 125 kg in September last year (Figure 3). In Elbarde in Bakool, a goat sale could only be used to pay for 26 kg of red sorghum rather than 100 kg in September last year. In Bakool and particularly in Elbarde, red sorghum availability has significantly reduced, and goat prices sharply decreased from May this year. Nonetheless, goat-to-imported-white-sorghum TOT were better than the TOT for locally produced red sorghum. Despite also significant decline of TOT between goat and white sorghum, a local quality goat could be exchanged for 50 kg of white Sorghum in September instead of 107 kg last year. Wanleweyne in Lower Shabelle, Beletweyne in Hiraan, and Qasaxdhere in Bay also saw reduced goat-to-cereal TOT. The lower TOT are attributed to increased cereal prices, limited cereal availability, the deterioration of livestock body conditions, and the reduced value of these livestock.

    Food security outcomes deteriorated in September. The number and extent of areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) increased, and the number of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and higher phases reach more than one million by September. Southern Agropastoral and Dawo Pastoral in northern Gedo are the most affected. Bay-Bakool Agropastoral Low Potential, Hiraan Agropastoral, and Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone in Middle Juba are also in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    However, in other areas, the Gu harvest did increase food consumption and access, primarily in some areas in Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, and Bay.


    The October 2014 to March 2015 most likely scenario is based on the following national-level assumptions:


    • El Niño is anticipated to result in average to above-average rainfall over Somalia during the October to December Deyr rains. The rains are likely to have a mostly normally timed start, but there may be areas where they are more poorly distributed over both time and space.
    • River flooding and flash floods are likely during the October to December Deyr rains in flood-prone riverine and agropastoral areas in the South.
    • The October to February Xays rains over coastal areas in the Northwest are likely to be near average.

    Crop production and agricultural labor:                                                                                                          

    • Agricultural labor demand is likely to be average to above average from October to December due to expected normal timing and progress of agricultural activities during the average to above-average October to December Deyr rains. With flooding likely in many flood-prone riverine areas along the Shabelle and Juba Rivers, agricultural activities are likely to be delayed in these areas. This may mean that agricultural labor demand in these areas will not seasonally increase until later in the year.
    • In the areas that flood, recession cultivation and off-season Deyr crop planting will likely occur in November or December. As a result, increased agriculture labor is likely in November and December, especially in riverine areas, and many areas will be unlikely to harvest until March.
    • Farmers in agropastoral areas of Bay, Bakool, Gedo, the Shabelles, and the Jubas will likely increase total planted area under cereals between October and December. This will be to compensate for low household cereal stocks and as a response to higher local cereal prices. Sesame and other cash crops will also be likely to have an above-average planted area, so cereal planting will be less prevalent in Lower Shabelle and Bay Regions.
    • The Deyr harvest in agropastoral areas will likely be near average in January/February.
    • Riverine areas along the Shabelle and Juba Rivers are likely to not harvest in flooded areas until March. A near average off-season cereal harvest is likely in these areas due to recession cultivation after the floods.


    • Between October and December, pasture and water availability are likely to increase, and as result, livestock body conditions will likely improve.
    • In October during the start of the Deyr rains, air temperatures will likely drop quickly. This means that livestock mortality from hypothermia is likely, particularly the areas where temperatures were unusually high between July and September. Some deaths from hypothermia have already been reported in Bakool.
    • Goat and cattle milk availability are likely to seasonally increase between October to December. However, availability will be below a typical year due to the current medium to low kidding, lambing, and calving rates. Camel milk availability in the central and northern regions are likely to increase from December through March as a medium rate of camels are expected to calve in December
    • A medium-to-high rate of camel and goat conceptions are likely during the October to December Deyr rains with enough pasture and water availability along with reduced distances between grazing and water points. However, cattle conceptions in November and December will likely be lower than usual with many females still milking or being too young to conceive this season.
    • Livestock prices are likely to decline from November through March, following the usual, seasonal trend during this period of low demand in export and domestic markets.

    Markets and trade:

    • Prices of locally produced maize and sorghum are likely to increase from October to February as stocks held by households and by trader are drawn down. However, green consumption will likely starts in January. When the Deyr harvest arrives in markets in February, prices will decline from February to March.
    • Trade restrictions are limiting trade to some markets in the Shabelles, the Jubas, Bakool, and Hiraan. Both locally produced and imported commodities will likely remain less available in these areas as traders are less able to serve these markets. Food prices are likely to remain high with a more modest decline during February and March during and after the Deyr harvest.
    • Rice prices are expected to remain stable due to ample global stocks and stable prices in most producing countries.
    • The seasonal, monsoon high seas winds ended in September, so imports are expected be seasonally higher from November through March. However, during the Deyr, dirt roads become impassible, so prices are unlikely to decline in rural markets until December. However prices of rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, sugar, and diesel in central markets and the more accessible town are likely to decline or remain steady through at least March.

    Humanitarian assistance:

    • Both food distribution and other modalities of assistance including cash transfers to improve access to food and safety net programming has been planned through December 2014. However, unless humanitarian access significantly improves, it is unlikely that all the planned interventions will be implemented by December and cover all the planned areas.
    • Humanitarian access will likely be seasonally reduced between October and December due to flooding and heavy rains. Humanitarian access to rural areas is likely to remain low both due to logistical matters and due to security concerns.


    • The government supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have intensified their offensive against Al Shabaab in Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba, Middle Juba, and Gedo. This is expected to continue, and these regions are likely to remain instable. There will be increasing instability in some areas. Continued conflict is likely to reduce trade and population movements, affecting agriculture and labor in these regions.
    • Trade blockages are likely to continue in Hiraan and Bakool through March. This will likely lead to very high commodity prices in these areas due to unusually low traded volume.
    • The conflict is likely to continue to constrain humanitarian access, increase loss of life and assets, and disrupt both trade and population movements. The conflict is likely to continue to result in displacement.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) such as Dawo Pastoral and Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone in northern Gedo, Bay/Bakool Agropastoral Low Potential livelihood zone in Bakool, Hiraan Agropastoral, Southern Agropastoral livelihood in Middle Shabelle, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zone in the central regions are unlikely to see significant improvement until January or February. In pastoral areas, food security outcomes are expected to improve between October and March, primarily as a result of increased livestock production.

    Between October to December, agricultural labor income will allow many poor households to purchase food in agropastoral areas. However, some livestock disease outbreaks and deaths from hypothermia area likely with the rains. The rains are also likely to increase malnutrition rates and the spread of water-borne diseases. In addition, river flooding will likely reduce agricultural labor demand in flooded riverine areas. As result, most areas are unlikely to move from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) before March. However, food access will likely improve after the Deyr crops become available in February.

    Food security outcomes in pastoral areas of the Northwest, the Northeast, the central regions, and Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through December. However, food security outcomes in Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone in the central and northern regions will likely improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from January to March as a result of increased milk availability and livestock herd sizes. Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Lower Juba will likely remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through March with no new shocks anticipated. Pastoralists in these areas will likely access to food and income from their livestock. Poor pastoralists in coastal areas of the northeastern and central regions will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as no kidding and calving are expected between now and December, and livestock herds remain as small as 30 goats in some cases. 50 to 60 sheep or goats would be more typical in these areas. However, livestock body conditions will likely improve between now and March.

    Riverine areas in Lower and Middle Shabelle are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Anticipated river floods will likely reduce incomes from agricultural labor, and morbidity from water-borne disease will also likely reduce the purchasing power of poor households through December. However, from January to March, food security outcomes are expected to improve, and the number of people who are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) will likely fall, while the number of people at None (IPC Phase 1) will likely increase even if the area classification does not change.

    In agropastoral areas in Woqooyi Galbeed, high amounts of rain fell from August to October, so there was additional planting and replanting of short-cycle maize for the Gu/Karan harvest in November. Participants in the October field assessment projected that around 57,500 MT of sorghum and maize may be harvested in November. Food security outcomes will likely improve in this area, and the number of food insecure people is likely to decrease through March 2015.

    For more information on areas of concern during this outlook period, please download the full report.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, October 2014

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, October 2014

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. October 1 to October 29, 2014 rainfall as a percentage of 1981 to 2011 rainfall using the African Rainfall Climatology-2 (ARC2) methodology

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. October 1 to October 29, 2014 rainfall as a percentage of 1981 to 2011 rainfall using the African Rainfall Climatology-2 (ARC2) methodology

    Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/Climate Prediction Cente…

    Figure 2. October 11 to October 20, 2014 Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from 2001 to 2010 mean

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. October 11 to October 20, 2014 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 red sorghum terms of trade (ToT) in Dolow, Gedo Region, June 2011 to September 2014, in kg of

    Figure 5

    Figure 3. Local quality goat to red sorghum terms of trade (ToT) in Dolow, Gedo Region, June 2011 to September 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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