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Under half of the population in need will receive food assistance by late 2023

  • Key Message Update
  • Somalia
  • July 2023
Under half of the population in need will receive food assistance by late 2023

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In July, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes remain widespread as poor households across the country struggle to recover from the 2020-2023 drought. However, the beginning of gu harvesting is improving access to food and income and reducing the number of poor households facing food consumption gaps, with some agropastoral areas expected to see improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in August. In both agropastoral and pastoral areas, further improvement is expected during and after the October to December deyr rains, which are forecasted to be above average and will facilitate net gains in crop and livestock production. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist among displaced populations and in central coastal areas where the drought impacts were severe and the 2023 gu season performed poorly. Additionally, more displacement settlements will likely see deterioration to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) amid an anticipated scale-down in humanitarian assistance. Finally, flooding in riverine and low-lying cropping zones during the deyr season is likely to lead to crop losses, suspension of cropping activities, and rising local cereal prices, sustaining Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes.
    • Alongside the cessation of gu rainfall, river station gauge data from FAO SWALIM indicate that Juba and Shabelle river levels have receded to the long-term mean in June and July. Following the decline in river water levels, recessional cultivation started in June in riverine areas in Hiiraan, Middle Juba, Lower and Middle Shabelle and localized areas in Bardhere of Gedo. However, air bombardments in Buale and Jilib riverine areas of Middle Juba continued in June and July, forcing farmers to flee for their safety and allowing animals to attack the crop. While households in riverine areas await the off-season harvest in September, they are earning some income from harvesting activities in rainfed agropastoral areas. Additionally, harvests from agropastoral areas have replenished market stocks and reduced prices in many riverine areas in July. 
    • The July to September hagaa dry season commenced with generally normal dry conditions across most of the country in July. However, conditions are drier-than-normal in much of the coastal and adjacent inland southern areas that receive seasonal hagaa (July-August) showers, according to field reports and data from CHIRPS. Additionally, temperatures were above normal in northern coastal areas and in much of the south, with monthly average temperatures of up to 7 degrees Celsius above normal recorded in southern coastal areas. By the last dekad of July, vegetation conditions as measured by the Normalized-Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were below average across most of the southern and central regions of the country, and significantly below average in southern coastal areas. In contrast to earlier forecasts, the July to September hagaa showers in southern Somalia are now expected to be average to below average overall, though with average to above-average rainfall amounts likely in September. This will reduce support to long-cycle and recessional crops.
    • In July, gu harvesting is ongoing in most of the country. In south-central areas, nearly a third of main season crop production was lost due to river flooding in Gedo, Hiraan, Middle Juba, and Middle Shabelle regions and severe moisture stress in rainfed agropastoral areas of Hiiraan and central Somalia. However, gu crop production in the south-central regions was still slightly better than the five-year average (which includes several poor production seasons) and significantly better than production in gu 2022. Additionally, some riverine areas will benefit from a favorable flood-recession harvest in September, though above-average rainfall in September could reduce harvest prospects, depending on the timing and intensity of rainfall. Meanwhile, northwestern agropastoral areas experienced a prolonged dry spell during the gu season, followed by poor karan rainfall in the July-August period. As such, production of yellow maize is estimated at nearly one-third of the 2010-2022 average. The standing long-cycle sorghum crop also experienced severe moisture stress and most crops are wilted, with poor karan crop production likely in November. 
    • Following some improvement in birth rates and associated milk production among small ruminants during the 2023 gu season, lactating small animals have stopped producing milk in July, as is typical for the time of year. Additionally, though cattle and camel typically lactate and provide milk at this time of year, milk production from large ruminants remains below average and highly limited in most areas due to poor birth rates following the effects of the drought on conceptions in previous seasons. In July, birth rates of camel and cattle were none to low across most of the country; however, the southern regions experienced slightly better low to medium birth rates. As a result, poor households in most drought-affected areas are facing seasonally low and below-average levels of milk production, which is limiting access to food and income, especially in northern and central pastoral areas. While milk production is expected to improve during the deyr season alongside medium to high birth rates of small ruminants and low to medium birth rates of camel and cattle, access to milk will likely remain below average due to below-average herd sizes (except in some southern areas) and reduced birth rates among camels.
    • Staple cereal prices have largely remained stable or declined in July alongside the start of gu harvesting. In the Baidoa reference market for sorghum-producing areas, red sorghum grain prices averaged 8,000 SOS/kg in July, similar to last month, 15 percent less than the five-year average, and 59 percent less than last year. In the Qorioley reference market for maize-producing areas, white maize grain prices averaged 9,500 SOS/kg in July, similar to last month and the five-year average but 51 percent lower than the same time last year. According to data collected by FSNAU, on average across monitored markets, purchasing power for laborers improved slightly from June to July by an average of 5.7 percent, driven by overall declining staple cereal prices across markets despite a four percent decline in labor wage rates.
    • The Somalia Food Security Cluster (FSC) reports that 3.3 million people were reached with emergency humanitarian food assistance in July 2023. This is similar to the 3.2 million reached in June, following a gradual scale-down since more than 6 million were reached in September 2022. Each assistance distribution – mostly in the form of cash transfers – is reportedly providing households with the equivalent of approximately 80 percent of their minimum energy requirements. According to plans recently shared by the FSC, however, a further scale-down in assistance levels is planned for the coming months, with only around 2 million people likely to be reached with monthly assistance by the October to December 2023 period. This is similar to the number reached prior to the drought, and represents less than half of the estimated population in need of food assistance.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Key Message Update July 2023: Under half of the population in need will receive food assistance by late 2023, 2023.

    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.

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