Skip to main content

Flooding disrupts gu crop production; delayed harvests anticipated in the south

  • Key Message Update
  • Somalia
  • April 2024
Flooding disrupts gu crop production; delayed harvests anticipated in the south

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In April, above-average April to June gu rains have replenished pastures and supported the normal onset of gu cropping activities in most areas, continuing recovery from the 2020 to 2023 drought. However, heavy rains in the south have triggered riverine and flash flooding, compounding the impacts of the severe 2023 deyr floods and sustaining high food assistance needs. In March 2024, the Somalia Food Security Cluster (FSC) reported that approximately 2.3 million individuals received food assistance – a 5 to 10 percent decrease from February. The population reached in March is only 50 to 55 percent of the total population that FEWS NET assesses to need food assistance to avert food consumption gaps and safeguard livelihoods. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are widespread across Somalia; however, over 4 million people continue to face eroded livelihoods, high debt loads, severely depleted assets, and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes in the worst drought and flood-affected livelihood zones in the south, central, and northwest regions and most settlements hosting internally displaced people (IDPs). In the flood-affected riverine areas of Gedo Region and some IDP settlements, households have extremely limited access to food and income, and food needs outpace the delivery of food assistance due to insufficient funding and poor humanitarian access, sustaining Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through May. 
    • The gu rains generally began early or on time in most parts of Somalia, with cumulative rainfall reaching 125 to 200 percent of the long-term average (1981-2010) in most southern, central, and northwest regions in April, according to preliminary CHIRPS data. In the northeast, however, delayed and below-average rains have stunted typical seasonal pasture replenishment. Extremely heavy rainfall in southern Somalia and the Ethiopian highlands has elevated river water levels and caused severe flash and riverine flooding in several riverine and agropastoral lowland areas in April. The most severely affected areas are Jowhar and Balcad districts of Middle Shabelle Region and parts of Hiiraan, Bay, and Lower Juba regions. The floods have reportedly affected nearly 125,000 people, resulting in population displacement, damaged shelters, inundation of agricultural fields, and destroyed irrigation and road infrastructure. Silted riverbeds, weak river embankments, and open breakages – amid atypically heavy rainfall – are driving a moderate to high risk of flooding through the rest of the gu rainy season. 
    • Favorable rains in most agropastoral areas are supporting healthy seed germination and normal agricultural labor opportunities. With the seasonal increase in agricultural labor demand, wage rates have increased by up to 28 percent between March and April 2024, and generally remain higher than last year and the five-year average. Forecasted above-average gu rains are likely to improve crop production prospects in agropastoral areas, particularly in the south. However, in flood-affected riverine areas of Middle Shabelle and Hiiraan, the flooding has delayed or suspended typical gu season cropping activities, limiting agricultural labor opportunities, decreasing wage rates by roughly 10 percent in April month-on-month, and damaging the recently planted gu crops and remaining standing deyr off-season crops. Residual water logging from the 2023 deyr floods is also expected to contribute to the delayed harvests. Riverine gu harvests are expected to be two to four weeks late.
    • In most pastoral areas, livestock body conditions and productivity are improving due to pasture and water resource regeneration associated with the gu rains, increasing market demand as pastoralists restock their herds. As a result, livestock prices have seasonally increased in April compared to March and are higher than last year and the five-year average in most areas. In the north and central regions, livestock prices increased by up to 14 percent month-on-month in April and were 10 to 40 percent above the five-year average; however, livestock births and camel milk availability have been delayed due to the lasting drought impacts. While milk prices are lower than last year, they remain higher than the five-year average due to low and delayed camel birthing, which is now expected to peak in June/July. Most pastoral areas are expected to sustain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes due to anticipated increases in livestock herd sizes, value, and milk production through September. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected to persist in the Coastal Deeh and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones of the central region, where livestock holdings remain significantly below baseline levels and livestock productivity and reproductivity have not recovered following the 2020 to 2023 drought.
    • According to FEWS NET/FSNAU market monitoring data, maize prices in the south were 20 percent higher in March than the five-year average due to the poor deyr harvests and the lasting impacts of the deyr floods, including damaged road infrastructure and disruptions to marketing activities, especially in the Shabelle and Juba regions. High maize prices are suppressing household purchasing power, limiting financial access to food. In March, a day’s labor purchased around 7 to 8 kilograms of maize, 10 to 12 percent less than the five-year average. In central and northern regions, maize and sorghum prices were stable but above average due to limited supply from the south, poor 2023 karan production in the northwest, and reduced imports from Ethiopia due to conflict-related supply route disruptions. In the northwest, sorghum prices are 22 to 63 percent higher in March than last year and the five-year average. However, in areas of the sorghum belt unaffected by floods (parts of Bay, Bakool, Gedo, Hiiraan, and Lower Shabelle regions), average to above-average off-season deyr sorghum harvests in March supported improved household access to food and income, decreasing household market dependence and sorghum prices.
    • In the south and central regions, insurgents increased the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in urban settlements and on trade routes connecting rural markets to regional capitals in the last month, limiting access to food and income for households in the worst-affected areas. This escalation has disrupted gu season cultivation activities, trade, and population movement, and led to significant loss of life and property. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Events Data (ACLED) Conflict Situation Update for March 23 to April 19, 2024, the number of political violence incidents (205 incidents) was stable compared to the previous month, however, the incidents during this period resulted in nearly 15 percent more fatalities (539 fatalities). This coincides with a decrease in government counter-insurgency operations, increasing the risk of the militants reclaiming previously lost territories and increasing the risk of civilian targeting. In the worst-affected areas of central Somalia, Hiiraan, and Shabelle regions, the spreading insecurity has prevented some farmers from accessing farmland, as well as limited market supply in some areas where poor households are increasingly purchase-reliant for food as deyr harvests begin to exhaust.
    • IDPs in southern and central regions and Laascaanod (Sool Region) continue to have limited access to income from agricultural and other unskilled labor opportunities due to high competition for limited income-generating opportunities. Local and imported food prices remain above average, resulting in poor households having limited purchasing capacity and minimal financial access to food. However, IDP households have depleted coping capacity and minimal assets, resulting in high reliance on humanitarian assistance. In Baydhaba, Xudur, Gaalkacyo, and Laascaanood IDP settlements, limited access to income amid reduced or insufficient humanitarian food assistance continues to drive Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through at least May 2024.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Key Message Update April 2024: Flooding disrupts gu crop production; delayed harvests anticipated in the south, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top