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Severe river and flash floods likely to reduce deyr harvests in January 2024

  • Key Message Update
  • Somalia
  • November 2023
Severe river and flash floods likely to reduce deyr harvests in January 2024

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In October and November, widespread areas in southern and central Somalia have experienced severe river and flash floods due to excessive rainfall. Rain gauge station data in Baidoa (Bay region) indicate that over 1,000 mm of rainfall have been received since the start of the deyr season in October, including 597 mm in October and 442 mm between November 1 and 27. This is estimated to be four to five times more than what is typical. The worst affected areas are riverine and low-lying agropastoral areas of the south—including Bardheere and Buurdhuubo and surrounding villages in the Gedo region, Beledweyne town in Hiiraan, Afamodow and Jamame in Juba, and localized agropastoral areas of Bay and Bakool regions, including large parts of Hudur district—where heavy rainfall and flooding have submerged villages and towns and driven significant population displacement. Meanwhile, most northern areas of the country received lower but still above-average amounts of rainfall, with some localized areas experiencing flooding. 
    • The extent and severity of flooding has reportedly been worse than in 1997, 2006, and 2009. This year, flood waters have reached larger areas, and the magnitude of destruction has been higher. According to UN OCHA reporting as of November 22, the deyr 2023 rainfall and floods have affected 1.7 million people, destroyed about 5,000 shelters, displaced nearly 700,000 people, and caused the loss of 55 lives. Two major bridges (Bardheere and Buurdhuubo) in Gedo region were destroyed, with significant impacts on trade. According to FSNAU field analysts and FEWS NET key informants, approximately 80 percent of riverine farms and 40-60 percent of agropastoral lowlands were inundated. Agriculture irrigation infrastructure was destroyed and many water pumps were either washed out or destroyed. While humanitarian actors have responded, needs far exceed reach, and levels of community support are reportedly lower than in prior flood years.
    • The October and November flooding has suspended typical main season deyr cropping activities in widespread riverine and agropastoral areas of the south. This has significantly reduced poor households’ access to income from agricultural labor and is expected to result in below-average main-season deyr cereal harvests in January 2024. However, a reduction in rainfall intensity in late November has facilitated the start of deyr off-season cultivation in most of these areas. During the January to March jilaal dry season, hotter-than-normal temperatures and dry northeastern monsoon winds will accelerate the recession of flood waters, supporting a wide range of recessional cultivation and sustaining high labor demand in flood-affected areas in the January to March period. Above-average off-season maize, sorghum, and sesame harvests are anticipated in February (cash crops) and March (cereals). This will drive improvement from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in riverine areas in the February to May period. However, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist in several settlements hosting flood- and conflict-affected displaced people.
    • Above-average deyr rainfall has replenished rangeland resources in most pastoral areas. This has in turn supported livestock productivity and reproductivity, with medium to high conception rates among small ruminants (goats and sheep) anticipated to support births and improve herd sizes in the March to May period. Overall, most pastoral areas are expected to see improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes during this time due to anticipated increases in livestock herd sizes, value, and milk production. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in the Coastal Deeh and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones of the central region, where livestock holdings will remain significantly lower than baseline levels. Meanwhile, an improvement from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes is also anticipated in many agropastoral areas due to the main season deyr harvest in January and the start of the next agricultural season around April; however, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist in the areas worst affected by prior poor rainfall and/or flooding.
    • Retail prices of locally-produced cereals (maize and sorghum) increased by 7-20 percent from October to November, on average, across all southern markets excluding Middle Juba where prices increased further, by 52 percent, according to market monitoring data from FSNAU/FEWS NET. These rapid price increases are attributed to flooding-driven losses of off-season gu harvests, driving atypically declining market stocks, as well as disrupted transportation and reduced supply to inland markets. As of November, local cereal prices remain above average in most markets across the country. Prices of red sorghum in the Baidoa reference market averaged 11,275 SOS/kg in November, 12 and 20 percent higher than the previous month and the five-year average, respectively, but still 35 percent lower than in November 2022. In contrast, prices of white maize in the Qorioley reference market declined by 5 percent from October to November to reach 8,875 SOS/kg, likely at least partially due to trade disruptions that prevented typical supply flows from this high production region to other areas. November prices are 22 percent higher than the five-year average but 9 percent lower than last year. 
    • In November, prices of imported staple food commodities such as rice and wheat flour remained stable or increased by around 5-7 percent compared to October in most southern markets. This is largely due to increased transportation costs and reduced market supply after heavy rains and flooding damaged road networks in most parts of the southern regions. Meanwhile, the availability and prices of imported food commodities are stable in most markets of the northern regions. Prices of imported food items are near average to above average across the country and are farthest above average in southern and some central parts of the country where flooding and associated damage to roads was significant. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Key Message Update November 2023: Severe river and flash floods likely to reduce deyr harvests in January 2024, 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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