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Food security likely to improve following October to December Deyr rains

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Somalia
  • October 2015 - March 2016
Food security likely to improve following October to December Deyr rains

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Despite expected above average October to December Deyr rains, over one million people will remain in Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4). The most food insecure people are in riverine areas of Lower and Middle Juba and Middle Shabelle and Guban Pastoral livelihood zone in Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed Regions. 

    • Food security is expected to improve between January and March 2016 in pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones. Expected improvement will be driven by increased livestock production, the anticipated above-average Deyr harvest in January/February 2016, and income from agricultural labor. Some pastoral areas in both southern 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 high risk with heavy Deyr rainfall both in the area and in the rivers’ catchments in the Ethiopian highlands, food security outcomes in riverine areas are likely to deteriorate from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis or above (IPC Phase 3 and 4), while floods hinder agriculture and trade.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    Based on Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), the Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS NET), and partners’ seasonal food security assessment in July 2015, 855 000 people were projected to remain acutely food insecure through December 2015.

    • Most parts of the country were seasonally dry during the July to September Xagaa season.
      • In the Northwest, some localized light to moderate rains fell during September in most areas. However, Guban Pastoral livelihood zone continued to remain dry since the end of the Gu rains in May.
      • The Northeast was dry during most of the July to September Xagaa season, but some light showers fell in September in parts of Coastal Deeh and Northern Inland Pastoral (NIP) livelihood zones in Eyl District in Nugaal Region, but there were no visible impacts on forage or water availability. However, some parts of East Golis and NIP in Qandala and Qardho Districts of Bari Region, there were moderate rains during September.
      • In the central regions, no rains or even showers were reported during the July to September Xagaa.
      • In the South, some moderate to heavier rains fell between mid-August and mid-September in Lower Shabelle, Lower and Middle Juba, and Bay. These rains helped increase forage growth and water availability. Some localized, light rains were also reported in Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone in Hiran. The rest of the South remained dry.
    • Deyr rains started early, during the first 10 days of October in some parts of the country. However, many parts of the country, particularly northern regions, still remain dry (Figure 1).
      • In the Northwest, moderate Karan rains fell in August and September in most parts of Northwestern Agropastoral and West Golis Pastoral livelihood zones in Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed Regions. Moderate Deyr rains were also reported in some parts of the Hawd and Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Togdheer and Sool Regions.
      • In the Northeast, very light rains with poor spatial coverage fell in northern Mudug and Nugaal. Thus far,  it has not rained in Bari.
      • In central regions, some moderate rains with typical distribution were fell in Cowpea-Belt Agropastoral, Addun Pastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones. These helped improve water and pasture conditions and availability. These rains also allowed planting of cowpeas.
      • In the South, localized, moderate July and August Xagaa showers in Lower Shabelle and Lower and Middle Juba were followed by moderate rains with typical temporal and spatial distribution. These early Deyr rains fell during the first 10 days of October in Lower Shabelle, Bay, and Bakool. The rest of the South has had less rainfall or no rainfall until later in October.

    While pasture and water resources are typically depleted during the Xagaa dry season, vegetation conditions as measured by Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) are currently below-average in many parts of the country. However, ground reports indicate average to above-average pasture and water availability, resulting from the preliminary and unusually early rains in late September and early October in pastoral and agropastoral areas in the Northwest, though not in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone. Pasture and water availability are similar in Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba, Middle Juba, and Bay. The eModis NDVI, which measures the conditions and vigor of the vegetation, indicate average to below average in most parts of the country, but with some areas in Lower Shabelle, Bay, and Middle Juba Regions being above average (Figure 2).

    • In the Northwest, the Karan rains received in July together with moderate rains during August to September in agropastoral areas, the Golis Mountains in Awdal, and Woqooyi Galbeed Region maintained average access to pasture and water and improved crop development. An exception is Guban pastoral livelihood that did not receive rains since last December to January Xays rains. In this area, rangeland conditions are far worse than in recent years, and unusual livestock deaths have been reported. Pasture and water conditions in the pastoral livelihood zones in Sanaag are also seasonally poor due to below-average rainfall received during the April to June Gu.
    • In the Northeast, pasture and water availability is low, which is typical during the July to September Xagaa dry season. Some localized rains that were received in pockets of Qardho and Qandala during September with little impact on pasture or water availability. Water is even less available than usual for the dry season in some areas, and water prices have increased in some inland areas. For example, in Rako village in Qardho District, the price of a 20-liter jerry can of water increased 50 percent from August to September and could be purchased in September for SOS 2,000 to SOS 3,000.
    • In the central regions and Hiiraan, most areas remained dry. High winds in these areas during the Xagaa accelerated the depletion of pasture and water resources. However, a few localized rains were reported in the pockets of Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone in Hiiraan in September, but the condition of pasture remains poorer than usual for this time of year.
    • In the South, pasture and water availability varied. The pasture and water conditions are typical to a bit better than usual for the areas received moderate Xagaa rains in Lower Shabelle, and Lower and Middle Juba regions in July and August. These rains were sufficient to replenish rangeland resources and allow crop growth. However, rangeland resources remain poor in quality in Bakool, Gedo, and Lower Shabelle where high, dry winds during the Xagaa dry season led to faster deterioration than usual.
    • In the South, the Deyr rains that fell in early October supported seed germination in both agropastoral and riverine areas.
    • Livestock body conditions, production, and values: Livestock body conditions vary across the country. In the Northwest, the livestock body conditions in Sool, Sanaag, and Togdheer tend to be poor due to poor availability and quality of rangeland resources during the July to September Xagaa. The poorest rangeland conditions and livestock body conditions are in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone. In other parts of Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed Regions, livestock body conditions are normal following the moderate Karan rains in August and September. In the northeastern and central regions, livestock body conditions are poor due to deterioration during the July to September Xagaa dry season. In the South, thanks to normal to above-normal April to June Gu rains, Xagaa showers, and unusually early rain in September, the livestock body conditions of all species are normal to good in Middle and Lower Shabelle, Middle and Lower Juba, and Bay. However, in the rest of the South, the livestock body conditions are poor.
    • Livestock conception, calving and kidding are minimal at this time of the year. Milk yields in most parts of the country are either low or non-existent as many livestock are dry as a result of poor rangeland resources and the lack of recent births. However, near average milk production was observed in both the Juba and Shabelle Valleys and in Bay regions in the South. It was also observed in Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone in Woqooyi Galbeed Region in the Northwest. Some normal livestock diseases with low mortality are reported in the Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Sanaag. Also, unusual cases of goat abortions were reported in East Golis Pastoral livelihood zone in Bari Region and in some areas in the central regions.
    • Crop performance and land preparation:
      • In the Northwest, average to above-average Karan rains in August and September allowed additional late planting and accelerated the development of the standing crops.
      • In the central regions, land preparation and planting is in progress for rainfed cowpeas.
      • In the South, planting started in September and continued through October. With above-average October to December Deyr rains, planted area was larger than last season. The off-season cash crop harvest is underway in riverine areas of the Shabelle and Juba Valleys. However, late Xagaa showers in August and September damaged some cash crops, including sesame and watermelon in Bay Region. Land preparation, canal rehabilitation, and early planting of maize in riverine areas and dry planting of sorghum in agropastoral areas are ongoing. These activities have increased the demand for agricultural labor, and as a result, both poor riverine and agropastoral households have increased their incomes.
    • Sorghum and maize prices: From August to September, in most markets in the south, cereal prices continued to decline. Most locally-produced cereal prices in September were below last year and their five-year averages. For example, in September, white maize price in Qoryoley in Lower Shabelle was 22 percent lower than last year, while red sorghum in Baidoa in Bay Region was 11 percent less than September 2014. Fresh supplies from the below-average Gu harvest and above-average Gu off-season harvest continue to enter markets in September and October.
    • However, in areas with more limited local production, conflict, the associated increase in unofficial taxation, prices are much higher. Maize and sorghum in Lugh in Gedo Region in September were SOS 12,250 and SOS 10,000 per kilogram (kg), respectively. In neighboring Baidoa, maize was only SOS 5,125 and red sorghum only SOS 5,500 per kg.
    • Locally-produced cereal prices in Northwest were high but stable from August to September during the peak of the lean season.  Traders are anticipating a below-average local Karan harvest in October/November, but some cereal imports from Ethiopia have contributed to price stability.
    • Imported foods such as sugar, wheat flour, and rice have declined in price or remained stable since the beginning of 2015. September prices were less or near last year’s prices. This has been attributed to ample supply on international markets and most stable exchange rates between both the Somalia shilling (SOS) and the Somaliland shilling (SLS) and major international currencies like the U.S. dollar (USD).
    • Livestock prices: Prices were seasonally high in September as the exports for the Hajj were underway and demand was seasonally high. Due to the dry Xagaa season, fewer livestock had the body conditions to be export quality, leading to higher prices. Generally, both goat and cattle prices grew from April to September, but September prices were mostly similar to a year ago and their five-year averages.

    In the agropastoral areas of southern Somalia, the labor-to-cereals terms of trade (TOT) increased from June to September, largely due to growing labor demand. In addition, in all regions labor-to-cereals TOTs are higher than last year and above their five-year average. This is attributed to increased demand for agricultural labor during the recent Gu agricultural season and the harvest and continued labor demand during the crop marketing season for processing, transportation, and other market-related activities. In Baidoa, for instance, a day of casual labor in September could buy 20 kg of red sorghum, an increase from 15 kg a year ago. In Jowhar in Middle Shabelle, the daily labor wage could buy 14 kg of white maize this September, up from 9 kg last year. Similar trends have been seen in Middle and Lower Juba, Lower Shabelle and Gedo Regions.

    Income from livestock sales in rural areas has also increased or remained stable over the past year with seasonally high livestock prices and lower stable food prices, improving access to food. Goat-to-cereal TOT in pastoral areas in the central and northern regions were similar in September to last year, but they were above their five-year averages. In September 2015 in Beledweyn in Hiiraan, a local quality goat could be exchanged for 96 kg of white sorghum, up from 85 kg in September 2014. Similarly, in Burao in Toghdeer Region, a goat sale could be sold to pay for 123 kg of red rice up from 117 kg in September last year.

    With below-average Gu agricultural production in July and August, followed the July to September dry Xagaa and intensified conflict and insecurity in much of the Southern, food security outcomes have deteriorated. A number of areas are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including Northwestern Agropastoral and Guban Pastoral livelihood zones in Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed Regions, Riverine Gravity Irrigation in Middle Shabelle, and Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone in Middle Juba and Hiiraan Regions, and Rabdhuurre District in  Bakool Region. However, Riverine Gravity Irrigation livelihood zone in Middle Juba improved to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) after the Gu off-season harvest in September and continuous need for agricultural labor since then. High demand for agricultural labor has also improved food security in agropastoral areas in the South.


    The October 2015 to March 2016 most likely scenario is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Climate: El Niño is anticipated to result in above average to average rainfall over south/central Somalia during the October to December Deyr rains. However, near average to below average Deyr rainfall is likely in most of the northern regions. There may be areas where the rains have poor spatial and temporal coverage.
    • River flooding is likely during the October to December Deyr rains in flood-prone riverine areas in the Juba and Shabelle Regions. Flash floods are likely in both agropastoral and pastoral lowlands during the heaviest rains.
    • The December to January Xays rains over coastal areas in the Northwest are likely to be near average in amount with temperatures not expected to be particularly high.

    Crop production and agricultural labor:                                                                                                 

    • Due to flooding, there is likely to be less demand in riverine areas for agricultural labor than usual, until flood waters subside in January/February.
    • In agropastoral areas, heavy rainfall though will increase agricultural labor demand and wages through the completion of the Deyr harvest in February.
    • Flood-recession cultivation and off-season Deyr crop planting will likely occur in late December or early January. As a result, overall, agricultural labor will be most needed in January, especially in riverine areas. With many areas unlikely to harvest until March, labor demand will continue through then in riverine areas.
    • In agropastoral areas, both cash crops and cereals will have higher planted area than normal.
    • The Deyr harvest in agropastoral areas will likely be above average in January/February.
    • An above-average, off-season cereal harvest, primarily of maize, is likely in March in riverine areas.


    • During the rains from October to December, rangeland conditions will improve and water availability will increase in South-Central Somalia, more than in other parts of the country. However, in the northern regions, water and pasture availability are likely to recover to normal levels.
    • As a result of more availability and better quality of rangeland resources, livestock body conditions will seasonally improve through January.
    • A medium rate of calving, kidding, and lambing is expected in October and November in both pastoral and agropastoral areas.
    • Milk availability is likely to seasonally increase through January in both pastoral and agropastoral areas. However, in riverine areas, milk availability decreases as livestock are migrated to wet-season grazing areas.
    • Livestock prices are likely to decline as is the seasonal trend, in November and December, now that export demand for the Hajj has ceased.

    Markets and trade:

    • Locally-produced maize and sorghum prices in southern Somalia increase from October to December during the agricultural lean season.  Stocks will be drawn down as additional households return to making market purchases after drawing down their own Gu stocks. However, these prices will likely decline from January to March as Deyr harvest restocks both households and markets, especially in agropastoral areas.
    • In areas that flood, staple food prices will likely sharply increase after floods, but as feeder roads reopen and markets are resupplied, they will fall more in line with surrounding areas.
    • In the Northwest, local cereal prices will remain stable near their current highs until Karan harvest in November. With expected below-average production in this region, they will decline less than usual after that.
    • In areas with trade restrictions due to conflict in the Shabelles, the Jubas, Bakool, and Hiiraan, both locally-produced and imported commodities will be less available. Prices are likely to remain higher while trade restrictions remain in place. Heavy Deyr rains are likely to further reduce trade and push prices up in these areas, as traders are unable to stock in anticipation of the rains in many of these areas.
    • As the monsoon winds ended in September, imported food and diesel will arrive in higher quantities at ports between now and April 2016. This will likely contribute to continued stability in prices and increased availability of rice, wheat flour, vegetable oil, sugar, and diesel through April. However, between October and January, some markets may have higher prices for imported commodities due to poor road access during the rains.

    Humanitarian assistance:

    • Humanitarian access will likely reduce seasonally from October to December due to flooding and heavy Deyr rains, especially preventing movement along feeder roads between rural settlements and trading towns.
    • Humanitarian access in South-Central Somalia remained limited due to ongoing conflict and many logistical challenges. Coverage of humanitarian needs in South-Central Somalia remains less than ideal, and some planned programs may not be able to be implemented due to insecurity and other access challenges.


    • Improved security is not expected in South-Central Somalia between now and March. Clashes between the government supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Al Shabaab are likely to continue to impede trade and population movements, agriculture, and access to markets for livestock, crops, and labor. Armed confrontations are likely to continue to constrict 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.
    • The most curtailed movement will likely be in Hiiraan, Bakool, and Diinsoor District in Bay Region. Food prices in these areas will remain high due to unusually low traded volume.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Areas currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) such as Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone in Rabdhuure District in Bakool Region, Riverine Gravity Irrigation livelihood zone in Middle Shabelle, and Guban Pastoral livelihood zone in Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed Regions are unlikely to see significant improvement in their food security until January or February. However, in Riverine Gravity Irrigation in Lower and Middle Juba Regions and Kurtunwarrey and Sablaale Districts in Lower Shabelle, food security will significantly deteriorate during expected flooding. In pastoral and agropastoral areas, food security outcomes are expected to improve between October and March, primarily as a result of increased livestock production and reproduction, increased households and market cereal stocks,  and the effects of the above-average Deyr cereal harvest on demand for agricultural labor and agricultural labor wages.

    Between October and December, in agropastoral areas in South-Central Somalia, increased agricultural labor incomes, slightly below-average cereal prices, slightly above-average livestock prices, and increased livestock herd sizes and milk production will allow many poor households to access food. However, some livestock disease outbreaks and deaths from hypothermia are likely during the rains. The rains are also likely to increase cases of water-borne and vector-borne diseases and thus, malnutrition prevalence. Food security outcomes will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in most agropastoral areas through March. However, in Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral livelihood zone in Bay, many households will move into None (IPC Phase 1) after the Deyr harvest, though the area is likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Conversely, river and flash flooding will likely cause displacement.  As arable land is underwater, agricultural labor incomes will reduce to nearly nothing in flooded riverine areas. Poor and even lower middle income households in riverine areas will likely move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Middle Shabelle Region and Kurtunwarrey and Sablaale Districts of Lower Shabelle. In some places, humanitarian access will allow responses to help households until labor income and access to land are restored. However, in Middle and Lower Juba through February 2016, households in flooded areas are likely to not receive assistance.  While food access will improve after the flood waters recede, during the floods, these are likely to be the most food insecure areas of Somalia.

    In pastoral areas of the northwestern, northeastern, and central regions, food security outcomes will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase2) through December. However, flowing continued gains in livestock production and increased access to water and pasture, food security outcomes in Hawd Pastoral and Nugal Valley Pastoral livelihood zones in the northern regions will likely improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from November to March. Milk availability and livestock herd sizes are likely to increase. Similarly, Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in Lower and Middle Juba and Lower Shabelle will likely remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through March with no new shocks anticipated. Pastoralists in these areas will likely access to food and income from their herds.

    Poor pastoralists in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone of the Northwest will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) but only with continued humanitarian assistance. No kidding or calving are expected between now and March. Due to the poor body conditions of livestock, unusual livestock deaths from hypothermia are expected at the beginning of the Xays rains in December. While herd sizes will remain small and inadequate to provide enough income for food access, livestock body conditions will likely improve between January and March as a result of improved pasture and water access following the December and January  Xays rains .

    Riverine areas in Hiiraan, Gedo, and most parts of Lower Shabelle Region are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March. Anticipated river floods will likely be more localized in these areas. However, floods will cause increased malnutrition prevalence due to increased morbidity from water-borne and vector-borne diseases and delayed planting through December. However, from January to March, food security outcomes are expected to improve as large-scale and widespread recessional cultivation will likely take place. The number of households who are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) will likely decline, and the number of households in  None (IPC Phase 1) will likely increase. However, the area classification is unlikely to change.

    In agropastoral areas in Woqooyi Galbeed, additional planting and replanting of short-cycle maize and sorghum for the Gu/Karan harvest in November took place in August and September. A September field assessment estimates that production, even though primarily of low-yielding, short-cycle grain varieties, could be up to 55 percent of 2014 and up to a third of the three-year average. Food security outcomes will likely improve in this area, and the number of people in Crisis phase (IPC Phase 3) is likely to decrease, moving the area to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March.


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

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, October 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, October 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Rainfall anomaly in millimeters (mm) from 2001-2014 mean (RFE2), October 1-10, 2015

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Rainfall anomaly in millimeters (mm) from 2001-2014 mean (RFE2), October 1-10, 2015

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

    Figure 2. eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from 2001-2010 mean, October 11-20, 2015

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from 2001-2010 mean, October 11-20, 2015

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 5


    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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