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Tropical Cyclone Gati worsens the food security outlook in parts of northeastern Somalia

  • Key Message Update
  • Somalia
  • November 2020
Tropical Cyclone Gati worsens the food security outlook in parts of northeastern Somalia

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • At the mid-point of the 2020 deyr rainfall season in November, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely in several pastoral, agropastoral, and riverine areas of Somalia and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is now anticipated in part of Bari region. The impacts of Tropical Cyclone Gati in the northeast, additional flooding in the south, and the intensifying desert locust infestation are exacerbating food insecurity in affected areas. With a below-average deyr harvest anticipated in January and a forecast of below-average rainfall during the April to June 2021 gu season, food assistance needs are expected to rise through May 2021.

    • On November 22nd, Tropical Cyclone Gati made landfall in northeastern Somalia. According to NASA’s satellite-derived estimates, at least 10 cm (4 inches) of rainfall fell within two days, which is equivalent to the 2000-2018 annual average. The rapid accumulation of rain and strong winds caused flash floods in coastal and inland areas, especially in Iskushuban district of Bari region. OCHA estimates approximately 70,000 people were affected, including 15,000 people who were displaced to higher ground. The storm was the strongest to hit Somalia since records began fifty years ago, ranking as a category 2 hurricane. The intensification of Gati’s winds also broke records for the largest 12-hour increase of any tropical storm in the Indian Ocean.

    • The impacts of Tropical Cyclone Gati are still being assessed, but preliminary reports indicate livestock losses, destruction of household property, damage to water, road, and telecommunications infrastructure, and damage to shipping and fishing equipment are significant. Most poor households in northeastern Somalia were already struggling to meet their minimum food needs prior to the storm, due to large livestock losses during the 2016/17 and 2018/19 droughts and the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the frankincense and fishing industries. With the loss of more livestock and other assets, many affected households are expected to face widening food consumption gaps. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is likely Northern Inland Pastoral and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones in lower Iskushuban district of Bari through May. An increase in the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is likely in neighboring districts.

    • Outside of Bari region, the dissipating cyclone brought much-needed rainfall to the broader northeast and northwest. Due to the below-average deyr rains, pasture and water availability for livestock were increasingly limited, placing pressure on pastoral households’ livelihoods. However, pasture and water availability is now expected to improve and will support livestock health and milk production at a critical point in the production season. During the deyr, a medium to high level of sheep and goat births and a medium level of camel and cattle calving have been reported across the country.

    • Deyr crop production prospects are below average due to the impacts of excess rainfall and desert locust. In early November, heavy deyr rainfall expanded the extent of flooding in Shabelle and Juba riverine areas. Most affected poor households have inadequate food and income to meet their daily caloric needs, as the floods continue to limit recessional cultivation and suppress labor demand. Only about 10-15 percent of farmland is planted in Lower and Middle Juba and Middle Shabelle of Riverine Gravity Irrigation livelihood zone. Floods also occurred in several low-lying agropastoral areas in the South. However, field reports indicate cereal crops in Bakool, Bay, Lower Shabelle, and Riverine Pump Irrigation livelihood zone are in good condition. Desert locust has so far caused limited damage to cereal crops in the South, but cash crop losses may be significant.

    • The desert locust infestation is worsening in central agropastoral and pastoral areas. Damage from desert locust is highest in Cowpea Agropastoral livelihood zone, where the local cowpea harvest will be significantly below average. Some farmers replanted three times, but newly hatched hopper bands re-infested the crops in late November and complete crop failure is increasingly likely. Recent rains in central and northern Somalia are expected to create conducive conditions for further breeding and swarm development, presenting an escalating risk of additional crop and pasture damage as the deyr rains subside in December.

    • Staple food prices exhibited a rising trend across the country in October and November, though retail prices remained near the 2019 and five-year averages in most central and northern markets. In some parts of the South, however, heavy rainfall and insecurity contributed to a moderate spike in food prices. For example, flood-related disruptions to trade flows in Bardheere district of Gedo, Beletweyne district of Hiiraan, and Middle Shabelle led to a 10- 21 percent increase in cereal prices compared to October 2019 and a 13-28 percent increase above the five-year average. Prices will most likely remain above average until December, when market feeder roads re-open and normal transport movements resume. In Baidoa of Bay, an atypical price increase of 11 percent occurred from September to October due to movement restrictions imposed by the insurgents.

    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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