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- Across most of Somalia, poor rural and displaced households continue to struggle to recover their livelihoods and assets in the aftermath of the historic 2020-2023 drought. Currently, at the end of the hagaa dry season, the availability of food and income from crop and livestock production is also at seasonally low levels in most areas as agropastoral households deplete food stocks and pasture dries up, affecting milk production and livestock saleability. Given below-normal livestock holdings and the expectation that many crop-producing households resorted to selling an atypically large share of their gu harvest to repay debts, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes likely remain widespread in the worst drought-affected pastoral and agropastoral areas. In Addun Pastoral and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones, where livestock holdings remain significantly below normal and where conflict and insecurity continue to restrict movement and livelihoods, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are assessed.
- The June to September karan rains in the north and hagaa rains in coastal and adjacent inland areas in the south concluded with below-average cumulative rainfall and poor distribution in most areas. In the Northwest Agropastoral livelihood zone, hot and atypically dry conditions have significantly impacted long-cycle sorghum varieties, especially in the Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed regions. A significantly below-average harvest is now expected in November. Meanwhile, in riverine areas in the far south, poor hagaa rainfall and high temperatures are also negatively impacting off-season crop production.
- Most of Somalia continued to experience extreme heat in September, with monthly average temperatures reaching 6-7 degrees C or more above normal in parts of the north and south. This had detrimental effects on rangeland resources across the country. In the north, localized light to moderate rainfall toward the end of September marginally improved pasture conditions and enhanced livestock access to water. However, in the central regions and many pastoral and agropastoral areas of Hiiraan region, persistently severe dry conditions continue, especially in the drought-affected agropastoral areas of Addun Pastoral and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones. In these areas, scarce rangeland resources are affecting livestock body conditions, production, and saleability, and migration options are limited. In the south, households in the drought-affected Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone of Hiiraan and Sorghum Agropastoral livelihood zone of Middle Shabelle have largely migrated livestock into riverine areas in order to cope with local water and pasture deficits.
- In riverine areas, flooding during the April to June gu season disrupted agricultural activities and destroyed crops. In worst-affected areas, many poor households did not harvest main-season gu crops and have been highly dependent on markets for food. As of September, however, the off-season cereal harvest has started in some areas, temporarily boosting households’ access to food and income. Nevertheless, off-season production levels are expected to be below normal due to the impacts of moisture stress, pests, and diseases on yields. Most riverine areas likely continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in September given the absence of stocks from the main season and the need for debt repayment. Given expectations for flooding, deterioration to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected during the October to December deyr season. Rising river water levels have been recorded in mid-to-late September, with localized flooding and crop damage already reported in parts of Jowhar district of Middle Shabelle.
- Households living in displacement settlements, many of whom relocated from drought-, conflict-, and flood-affected communities, face some of the highest levels of destitution in the country. They generally have very few remaining assets, limited community support networks, and face high competition for income-earning opportunities (mainly from daily wage labor), resulting in a high level of need for food assistance. In the Laasanood district of Sool region, displaced households and recent returnees face further, significant conflict-related disruptions to livelihoods, market supply, social services (health and education) and humanitarian access. While food assistance is currently preventing worse outcomes in several areas as of September, deterioration to widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes is expected across displacement settlements amid an anticipated scale-down in levels of food assistance starting in October.
- Levels of humanitarian food assistance are expected to scale-down further during the October to December period. Despite a net decline in the level of need following the end of the drought, FEWS NET assesses that the population in need of food assistance remains more than double the planned target of around two million people per month. At the same time, the EU – which has contributed a fraction of total funding for humanitarian assistance in Somalia – has announced a temporary suspension of funding for assistance programming provided by WFP in Somalia. This follows the results of a confidential UN investigation which found misappropriation of aid by gatekeepers at all 55 displacement sites in Somalia, with the greatest concern for the displacement sites in Baidoa, Banadir, and Gaalkacyo. While it is critical that all implicated parties take action to ensure the households most in need of aid receive it, FEWS NET’s analysis of household survey data collected by FSNAU in June does suggest that food assistance was still likely preventing more severe levels of acute food insecurity for many recipient households. There is high concern that the collective action of donors could result in further substantial reductions to the provision of assistance, leaving recipients at risk of widening food consumption gaps, especially in displacement settlements and riverine areas.
Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Somalia Key Message Update September 2023: Hagaa and karan rains worse than anticipated, reducing harvest prospects, 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.