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Below-average gu crop production expected amid dry spells and river flooding

  • Key Message Update
  • Somalia
  • May 2024
Below-average gu crop production expected amid dry spells and river flooding

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Following above-average gu rainfall in April, rainfall totals in May were mixed. In Lower and Middle Juba, Gedo, Hiraan, Galgaduud, Mudug, and Nugaal regions, moderate rainfall was received in early to mid-May. However, in Bay, Bakool, the Shabelles, and most central and northern regions, moderate to no rainfall was received throughout May. Below-average rainfall in May is atypical given that late April to early May is the typical timing of peak gu precipitation. However, pasture and water resources generally remain average to above average across most of the country, due to the heavy rainfall in April and significantly above-average rainfall during the preceding October to December deyr season. The exceptions to this are pastoral areas in parts of Bari, Nugaal, Sanaag, Togdheer, and Woqooyi Galbeed regions, where water availability has declined to below-average levels. 
    • Erratic rainfall in May exacerbates the already poor gu cropping conditions. Many farmers did not plant crops on time due to either residual 2023 deyr flood waters or heavy rainfall in April at the start of the gu season. Severe flooding in the riverine areas of Gedo, Juba, and Middle Shabelle also destroyed many standing crops and inundated cropland. Conversely, in many agropastoral areas of the south, central, and northwest, where flooding did not impact the start of the gu season, the May dry spells have suppressed crop development. The exceptions to this are Barava, Kurtunwarrey, and Sablaale districts of Lower Shabelle Region, where cropping conditions are more favorable and high river water levels are supporting irrigated cropping. While June gu rainfall is forecasted to be average, only crops that are at the vegetative stage will benefit in earnest. Overall, the 2024 main gu harvest will likely be delayed and below average. 
    • Staple food availability is broadly normal across Somalia, and cereal prices are stable or rising seasonally amid dwindling stocks during the April to June agricultural lean season. Sorghum prices in April were 5 to 25 percent lower than the five-year average in southern areas. This represents a notable deviation downward from FEWS NET’s price projections in February and is due to significant off-season sorghum production in southern agropastoral areas. However, in central and northern markets, prices remain above average as a result of the limited supply from southern Somalia and Ethiopia. Maize prices are 20 to 40 percent higher than the five-year average nationwide, in line with FEWS NET’s price projections, and attributed to reduced local deyr main season and off-season production following the late 2023 flooding. For both maize and sorghum, prices are expected to seasonally increase through June in the lead-up to the gu harvest.
    • The retail prices of imported foods, including rice, wheat flour, and sugar, remain stable in the port markets of Mogadishu, Bossaso, and Berbera, with minor decreases in inland markets. This stability is attributed to improved road conditions and the easing of flood-related disruptions to supply routes. Despite this, imported food prices are still higher than average due to elevated oil prices and rising international shipping costs, exacerbated by security concerns in the Red Sea and a surge in piracy incidents.
    • As previously projected, food security is improving in most pastoral areas with relatively better livestock body conditions amid enhanced pasture and water regeneration. Cattle and camel birthing began in May, and medium levels of births are expected in June. Furthermore, medium to high conception is occurring among small ruminants, which is expected to lead to medium to high kidding and lambing from October to December. Between June and September, food security in pastoral areas is likely to improve as livestock births, livestock value, and milk productivity increase. In most pastoral areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected, though Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are still likely in Coastal Deeh and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones in central regions, where herd sizes remain depleted from the 2020-2023 drought.
    • In most agropastoral areas, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected through September. However, the continued flooding and poor progress of the April to June rains have altered expectations for gu harvests, particularly in Riverine Pump Irrigation of Gedo and Riverine Gravity Irrigation livelihood zone of Middle Shabelle. In both areas, the limited gu production will not facilitate notable improvement in access to food, and amid already limited carry-over cereal stock, high food prices, and minimal agricultural labor income opportunities, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are now expected between June and September. 
    • In settlements hosting internally displaced persons (IDPs), IDPs continue to have minimal income-earning opportunities, high debt loads, and poor purchasing capacity to access food and essential non-food items. In central Somalia, heightened levels of conflict have driven new waves of displacement. Poor pastoral IDP households are reportedly selling more livestock than normal to access food and income, limiting normal seasonal increases in livestock herd sizes during the gu rains. Among IDPs in Dolow, gu flooding decreased access to normal income-generating opportunities, reduced engagement in cultivation, and increased food prices, severely limiting access to food for poor households. IDPs in Dolow are now likely facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in May, which are expected to continue through September. While improvement from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) was previously anticipated in several IDP settlements in June, continued barriers to accessing food and persisting food consumption gaps amid limited provision of humanitarian food assistance are expected to either sustain or drive Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in several IDP settlements (Baydhaba, Xudur, Dolow, Dhuusamareeb, Galkacyo, and Laascaanood) from June to September 2024. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Key Message Update May 2024: Below-average gu crop production expected amid dry spells and river flooding, 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.

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