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Somalia is experiencing its third consecutive below-average rainfall season since late 2020, which is worsening the current drought. Most of southern, central, and northeastern Somalia have received little to no rainfall since June, as the October to December 2021 deyr rains are delayed. Weather forecasts indicate a delayed start of the rains is likely to occur in November, but this will likely be inadequate to prevent significant crop and livestock production losses. Long-range forecasts for the April to June 2022 gu rains also suggest elevated chances of a fourth below-average rainfall season. Somalia last experienced a four-season drought in 2016/2017, which led to severe acute food insecurity.
Pastoralists in central, southern, and northeastern Somalia are encountering water and pasture shortages, rapidly weakening livestock body conditions, and declining livestock reproduction prospects. Many poor households lack adequate resources to cover the increased costs of protecting their herds. There are already reports of livestock deaths from starvation and disease in Jubaland and other areas, especially among cattle and sheep. Although the delayed rains will temporarily mitigate the situation, any improvement is likely to be short-lived and similar challenges are expected during the January to March jilaal dry season. Many pastoralists, especially poor households, will be unable to afford food and water for both their livestock and families.
Many farmers in agropastoral and riverine areas in southern and central Somalia have already exhausted their food stocks from the preceding below-average harvests. Due to the shortened length of the deyr growing season, cereal crop production is expected to be in the range of 50 to 70 percent below both the 10-year average and the 1995-2020 average. As a result, food and income from agricultural labor and the January/February harvest is expected to be insufficient to prevent the occurrence of moderate to large food consumption gaps or negative livelihoods coping strategies, such as accumulating higher debt and selling off unsustainable numbers of livestock.
Household purchasing power is rapidly declining due to the reduction of key income sources coupled with sharp increases in domestic and imported cereal prices. Due to the low supply of cereal stocks, maize and sorghum prices in many southern markets have risen 30-60 percent above the five-year average, approaching levels last observed during the 2016/2017 and 2010/2011 droughts. Imported rice prices in central and northern markets are also spiking due to high freight shipping costs, reaching 15-50 percent above average.
Food insecurity is projected to worsen significantly through May 2022, with many households experiencing widening food consumption gaps and erosion of their coping capacity. Reduced food and milk intake, low access to clean water, and systemic non-food factors are also likely to elevate acute malnutrition and mortality levels. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to become widespread. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to emerge in Juba Pastoral, Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones between November 2021 and March 2022. However, if the deyr rains perform more poorly than forecast, then Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would be possible in additional areas. A scale-up of humanitarian food assistance is urgently needed to save lives and livelihoods.
Rainfall performance: Most of Somalia is experiencing drought conditions and a delayed onset of the 2021 deyr rainfall season, driven by negative Indian Ocean Dipole and La Niña conditions. Nationally, Somalia's heaviest rainfall season occurs from April to June, known as the gu, while its secondary rainfall season, the deyr, occurs from October to December. Satellite-derived estimates show most of Somalia received less than 25 millimeters of rainfall from October 1st to 25th, which amounts to less than 30 percent of the 40-year average in key crop-producing areas (Figure 1). Moreover, the delayed onset of the deyr marks the third consecutive poor rainfall season in Somalia since late 2020, including the below-average 2020 deyr and below-average 2021 gu. The hagaa dry season from July to September 2021 was also exceptionally dry and hot. Only a few southern areas – including the Shabelle and Juba regions, southern Bay, and parts of Bari region – received localized light to moderate rainfall during the hagaa. As a result, most of northeastern, central, and southern Somalia have received little to no rainfall since May.
Due to multi-season drought, most rural households are entering the 2021 deyr after consecutive seasons of reduced food and income from crop and livestock production. Pasture and water resources have rapidly deteriorated due to prolonged, dry conditions since May, and off-season crop production in riverine areas between July and October was minimal. The delayed start of the deyr also raises the risk of low yield prospects for the deyr harvest in January, given that October is typically the peak rainfall month of the short, 12-week season. However, rainfall in the upper river catchments of the Ethiopian highlands is raising the water levels of the Juba and Shabelle Rivers, according to SWALIM river monitoring station data, which may soon support irrigated cultivation.
Only northwestern and parts of northeastern Somalia have received significant, recent rainfall. In the northwest, which receives the karan rains from July to September, total rainfall reached up to 50 percent above average in West Golis Pastoral, Northwest Agropastoral, and Guban Pastoral livelihood zones. Heavy rains also caused flash floods during this period, improving rangeland conditions and access to water. In October, the deyr has also brought light to moderate rainfall to parts of Togdheer, Sool, Sanaag, and Bari regions.
Livestock production: Numerous indicators of the viability of livestock production show alarming trends in pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones in southern, central, and northeastern Somalia. In many cases, poor households are entering the season with low herd sizes, as they have not fully recovered from the large-scale losses that occurred during the 2016/2017 drought. The current livestock production cycle is also particularly vulnerable to weather hazards since the hagaa dry season began earlier than normal in June and persisted through October. Late October and November mark one of the biannual peak periods for livestock births. The preceding seasons of poor rainfall, coupled with the delayed onset of the deyr rains, mean the survival prospects of newborn kids and calves and lactating livestock can rapidly decline.
Satellite-derived data and field reports corroborate very low pasture, browse, and water availability across most southern and central livelihood zones. According to the eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), green vegetation is significantly below normal levels in southern and central Somalia, dropping below 60 percent of normal in Bay, Bakool, and Hiiraan regions (Figure 2). Dry pasture is also limited. Water shortages are widely reported in southern, central, and northeastern Somalia, reducing access to clean water for people and placing strain on poor households’ daily expenditures since they must purchase water for their livestock. In locations where water is available via water trucking or boreholes, low supply and high demand are pushing water prices upward. The shortages are most acute in Nugaal, Mudug, and Lower Juba regions. For example, the cost of a 20-liter jerrycan in Xasbahalle village in Nugaal region in September was SOS 6,250, which is 47 and 105 percent higher than the same time last year and the five-year average, respectively.
These resource constraints have led to atypical livestock migration patterns in much of southern, central, and northeastern Somalia. Additionally, an influx of livestock from drought-affected areas of Kenya to southern Somalia has exacerbated local resource shortages. Longer migration and daily trekking distances in search of water and pasture strain livestock health, heighten grazing pressure on areas that still have vegetation, and increase the likelihood of localized, resource-based conflicts among pastoralists and between pastoralists and farmers. This has expanded to affect the Shabelle and Juba riverine areas, where river waters attracted significant inward migration and elevated water- and vector-borne livestock disease incidence.
Livestock body conditions generally range from below average to poor in northeastern and central Somalia, especially among lactating livestock, kids/lambs/calves, and sheep. The poorest livestock body conditions are reported in parts of Northern Inland Pastoral (NIP) livelihood zone and the central regions of Coastal Deeh Pastoral, Addun Pastoral, and Hawd Pastoral livelihood zones, where there are preliminary reports of sheep and goat deaths and miscarriages. In the south, livestock body conditions are poorest in Juba Pastoral livelihood zone (Figure 3), pastoral areas in Gedo region, and agropastoral areas in Hiiraan region. In these areas, the health of cattle – which are more vulnerable to drought than goats and camels — has rapidly declined, and there are reports of excess livestock deaths due to starvation and disease. However, livestock health is still relatively normal in other parts of the south, where water and vegetation were available more recently.
Overall, these factors do not bode well for livestock reproduction or the availability of milk for consumption and sales, though it is still a bit early in the deyr season to compare birth levels and milk availability against typical levels. Conception levels observed in the preceding seasons, coupled with the impacts of drought on livestock health, suggest births in late October and November are trending low to none in Juba Pastoral, Northern Inland Pastoral, central Addun Pastoral, central Coastal Deeh Pastoral, and Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zones, as well as agropastoral areas in Gedo and Hiiraan. Milk yields are both seasonally and atypically low in most of the country due to the timing of births and exacerbated by the drought impacts. The only area where cattle milk production is reportedly normal is Lower and Middle Shabelle, which received localized rains during the hagaa.Livestock production conditions in northwestern Somalia stand apart from the rest of the country since end-of-season gu rainfall was favorable, the karan rains were average to above average, and the deyr began on time. In general, vegetation greenness is above normal levels, dry pasture is also available, and water availability is adequate. However, there are some parts of Sanaag, Sool, and Togdheer regions where livestock body conditions vary from average to poor based on pasture and water availability. Normal opportunistic livestock migration is occurring within the northwest, but better resource availability has also attracted atypical in-migration from the northeast, placing extra pressure on local resources. There is also concern that conditions are conducive for desert locust breeding with the potential for damage to pasture. Nevertheless, at this time, camel, cattle, and goat milk production is seasonally normal in Guban Pastoral, West Golis Pastoral, Northwestern Agropastoral, and Togdheer Agropastoral livelihoods zones due to recent or ongoing low to medium birth levels.
Crop production: Most farming households in southern and central Somalia have already endured two-to-three seasons of below-average cereal harvests on the national level due to floods during the 2020 gu and the ongoing, multi-season drought. According to FSNAU’s estimates, maize and sorghum crop production was 15-25 percent below the 10-year average in the 2020 gu and 2020 deyr seasons and 50 percent below average in the 2021 gu season (Figure 4). The severity of production deficits has varied on the regional level, but the largest shortfalls occurred in marginal rainfed agricultural areas, riverine areas with poor river infrastructure, and conflict-affected areas. As a result of consecutive poor seasons, household food stocks from the gu harvest were generally already depleted by August, and the market supply of domestic cereals is lower than normal.
In September, regular labor demand for land preparation and dry sowing in rainfed agropastoral and riverine areas provided typical income for poor households. However, the delayed deyr rains subsequently impeded seed germination, and labor demand is now declining. Off-season harvesting, threshing, and storing activities are also ongoing in riverine areas. However, the off-season gu harvest is 33 percent below the ten-year average due to the impact of erratic rainfall, accelerated evapotranspiration, and inadequate irrigation on planting and crop development, according to FSNAU’s field assessment in September. The low harvest has significantly reduced household income from cereal and cash crop sales, though some households sold plants before maturity as fodder. Meanwhile, rising river water levels are gradually improving irrigation potential, prompting planting for the main deyr season. However, planting activities are constrained in riverine areas of Lower Juba, where insurgents restrict farmers from opening river breakages to fill desheks for flood recession cultivation.
In northwestern Somalia, the maize and sorghum karan harvest in Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone between late October and December is also assessed to be below average. The most recent estimate from the Ministry of Agricultural Development of Somaliland projected a loss of over 60 percent compared to the 2010-2020 average as of July, but prospects have since significantly improved. Revised production estimates will be available after the FSNAU preliminary deyr field assessment in November. Initially, farmers planted less land from April to June as a risk mitigation measure against the desert locust infestation and poor gu rains. However, the favorable karan rains from July to September alongside desert locust control measures encouraged farmers to expand and/or re-plant crops, which partially recovered their production prospects.
Markets and trade: Several seasons of below-average crop production in Somalia have led to a very sharp increase in maize and sorghum prices across Somalia. In the south, retail prices are approaching or have already reached levels observed during the 2016/2017 and 2010/2011 droughts (Figure 5). In September, the retail price of a kilogram (kg) of red sorghum in Baidoa, Bay region, and the retail price of a kg of white maize in Qoryoley, Lower Shabelle region, was 70-100 percent above the same period of last year and 60 percent above the 2015-2020 average. Prices are highest in marginally productive or conflict-affected areas, such as Bakool, Gedo, Lower Juba, and Hiiraan regions. In Xudur, Bakool region, and Belet Hawa, Gedo region, the price of sorghum has reached SOS 19,500 and SOS 20,000 per kg, respectively, which are among the most expensive prices in the country and 50-55 higher than September of last year.
Although sorghum and maize prices are similarly high in central and northeastern Somalia, the impact on household food access is less severe due to a local preference for imported rice from international markets. However, the price of most imported staple foods such as rice, wheat flour, sugar, and vegetable oil are also trending above last year and the five-year average across Somalia. This trend is mainly due to low global sugar, wheat, and vegetable oil stocks in international source markets and increased freight shipping costs. On average, retail prices for these products have increased by 8-28 percent compared to September 2020 and 15-50 percent above the five-year average in most markets. In the northwest, cereal imports from Ethiopia are mitigating the effect of the below-average karan harvest to stabilize sorghum and maize prices.
Above-average staple food prices and reduced income from agricultural labor have significantly reduced the purchasing power of labor-dependent households in southern Somalia. In Baidoa, for example, the labor-to-cereals terms of trade (the amount of cereal that a day’s labor wage can purchase) were equivalent to only 10 kg of red sorghum in September, compared to 18 kg last September and the five-year average of 17 kg. Similar trends are observed in Gedo, Bakool, Lower and Middle Juba, and Middle Shabelle regions.In general, livestock prices remain high due to low supply and high urban and export demand, which has protected the purchasing power of pastoral and agropastoral households who rely on livestock sales for income in most areas. In September, the goat-to-cereal terms of trade in central and northern regions were similar to September 2020 and near the five-year average in most monitored markets. In Iskushuban, Bari region, a local quality goat could be exchanged for 69 kg of rice compared to 67 kg last year, while in Dhusamareb, Galgaduud region, the sale of a local quality goat could pay for 41 kg of rice compared to 47 kg last year. However, above-average cereal prices are starting to outpace livestock prices in some areas that are most affected by drought or conflict. Compared to September 2020, the cattle-to-maize terms of trade dropped by 40-50 percent in Lower and Middle Juba and the goat-to-sorghum terms of trade fell by 20-35 percent in Bakool and Bay.
Conflict, insecurity, and displacement: Conflict continues to be a contributing factor to food insecurity, especially in southern and central Somalia. According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED) project and other sources, 2021 has witnessed an increase in civil unrest and political violence related to delayed presidential elections and a 40 percent increase in attacks carried out by al-Shabaab. Armed confrontations between state and non-state actors, clashes between clan militias, and remote attacks often involve violence against civilians. These incidents drive recurrent and protracted household displacement and frequently disrupt livelihood activities and damage households’ productive assets. Additionally, the tactics employed by insurgents in areas under al-Shabaab’s control undermine market and trade activities, impose additional costs on households and traders via illicit taxation, and restrict humanitarian access to food insecure populations.
Conflict and insecurity have been the most significant driver of new, recurrent, and secondary population displacement in 2021, according to data on population movements and displacement collected by the UNHCR-led Protection and Return Monitoring Network (Figure 6). Out of the 593,000 people that were displaced between January and September, 70 percent percent were displaced by conflict and insecurity, primarily in Banadir, Bay, Gedo, and Lower and Middle Shabelle regions. Drought-induced displacement has also occurred steadily throughout the year, amounting to nearly 17 percent of total displacement. In addition to the data available on monthly displacement movements, UNHCR reports that a total of 2.97 million people were internally displaced across Somalia as of September.
The impacts of conflict and displacement on food insecurity are protracted and widespread, but several recent events are of particular concern. In Xudur, Bakool region, and Buloburte, Hiiraan region, insurgents and allied militias have significantly intensified the use of physical and economic road blockades to restrict trade and humanitarian assistance flows between the main towns and nearby rural settlements. In Xudur, the economic siege displaced thousands of people in Bakool in April and contributed to a 30 percent month-on-month increase in the price of sorghum between April and July. In Guriceel, Galgaduud region, political conflict between the Somali National Army and a former allied militia group resulted in the displacement of 100,000 people in and around Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone in October. Although OCHA reported that displaced people started to return as of October 31, it is assessed that the disruption to food access, WASH services, and livelihood and nutrition assistance is significant. Inter-clan conflict over natural resources has also periodically disrupted pastoral livelihoods in Guriceel, Balanbal, and Xananburo of Galgaduud region and Luuq and Dolow of Gedo region, as well as riverine livelihoods in Beledweyne, Hiiraan region.
Political and economic tensions also marked a decision by the Somaliland authorities to forcibly displace over 7,250 people were from Laas Caanood and the surrounding areas of Sool region, according to UNHCR’s PRMN and OCHA. Nearly half of the deported people, or 3,000 of them, have already arrived in parts of Puntland such as Galkayo and Baidoa of Bay region. OCHA reports Somaliland authorities may force at least 4,400 additional people originating from the Federal State of Southwest Somalia to leave Ceerigaabo and the surrounding areas of Sanaag region in the near term. Given the forced nature of this displacement, the sudden loss of livelihoods will significantly reduce access to food and water for these displaced people.
Humanitarian food assistance: Large-scale humanitarian food assistance has continued to prevent worse food security outcomes among many rural and displaced households. According to the Somalia Food Security Cluster, an average of nearly 2 million beneficiaries received cash/voucher assistance monthly from July through September. The number of beneficiaries reached in July was the highest recorded in 2021, totaling 2.39 million, while August was the lowest, totaling 1.36 million. The level of food assistance likely mitigated the size of the food insecure population and severity of food insecurity in October at the household level, especially in the northwest. District-level distribution reports suggest food assistance delivery met the threshold for the IPC v3.0 humanitarian assistance mapping protocols, which flag locations where at least 25 percent of the population in a given area received assistance, in several locations across northwestern Somalia, parts of Bari region in the northeast, main towns in Hiiraan region, and government-controlled towns and villages in a few other parts of the south.
Current food security outcomes
Food insecurity is rapidly worsening in southern Somalia. Most agropastoral and riverine farmers have already endured three consecutive below-average harvests due to drought or floods, and many poor households finished their harvested food stocks earlier than normal in August. The delayed 2021 deyr rains have further suppressed income from agricultural labor, driven up cereal prices, and increased competition for off-farm income sources. The health of livestock is also declining, negatively affecting a secondary source of food and income for farmers. For southern pastoral households, the prolonged 2021 dry season has taken a severe toll and led to hunger-related livestock deaths, especially in areas that rely on cattle production and areas where the cross-border influx of livestock has placed more pressure on rangeland resources. Moreover, the impacts of recurrent drought and floods since 2016/2017 have eroded the coping capacity of both farmers and pastoralists, including their ability to purchase food on credit due to the difficulty of paying down existing debt. The recent increase in conflict and insecurity in the south, coupled with low humanitarian access to rural areas, is further exacerbating food insecurity. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes with households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) are likely occurring in the worst-affected livelihood zones, including Juba Pastoral, Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral, and several riverine areas along the Shabelle and Juba Rivers. In areas that are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, a rising share of the population is likely deteriorating to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
Similar dynamics are driving deterioration in food insecurity in central and northeastern Somalia, with the worst outcomes occurring in central Addun Pastoral and central and northeastern Coastal Deeh Pastoral and Fishing livelihood zones. While drought and rising food prices have reduced food and income sources and eroded coping capacity across these regions, pastoral households in these two livelihood zones have particularly low herd sizes, and there are reports of an increase in livestock deaths. In central Addun, inter-clan conflict dynamics have compounded the impacts of recurrent drought on livestock health and reproduction by limiting livestock migration options. In Coastal Deeh, where sheep constitute a significant share of livestock holdings and income from fishing has declined in the long term, sheep have been more vulnerable to drought impacts. Furthermore, poor households have had to increase livestock sales so that they can afford to purchase trucked water and food and pay down their debts. Low herd sizes, combined with the necessity of retaining female sheep/goats to ensure the sustainability of the herd, means that livestock sales to earn income for food and water constitutes a negative erosion of productive assets, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
For the time being, household food insecurity is less severe in northwestern Somalia due to recent favorable rainfall and the role that sustained food assistance delivery to this area played in rebuilding livelihoods over the past couple of years, although there are some exceptions. In general, adequate rainfall desert locust control operations have supported access to food and income from livestock production – especially camels – in most pastoral areas, though households still face difficulty meeting their essential non-food needs, indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, due to high imported food prices and below-normal herd sizes in some areas. Farmers in Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone are also currently accessing food and income from the green maize harvest and recent cattle calving cycle, leading to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. However, households in Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone – where there is only one annual harvest per year – lost a significant amount of food and income due to the below-average 2021 gu. In East Golis Pastoral livelihood zone of Sanaag, where herd sizes are low relative to neighboring areas, significant food assistance is likely preventing food consumption gaps and enabling Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes.
Many displaced and poor urban households in IDP settlements and main towns are also facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, based on the results of the 2021 post-gu household survey conducted by FSNAU and partners in July/August. Significant food assistance is likely mitigating the worse outcomes in Qardho IDP settlement in the northeast, indicative of Stressed (IPC Phase 2!). Displaced people face more difficulty accessing income-earning opportunities due to the lack of local social networks, and levels of acute malnutrition are chronically high due to disease and inadequate sanitation in IDP settlements. Surging cereal prices are placing increased strain on both displaced and poor urban households, who typically spend a high proportion of their income on food expenditures. The impact of multiple shocks – including drought, floods, desert locust, and COVID-19 – over the last several seasons has also diminished the availability of cash or in-kind gifts from their social networks. Recent, large-scale displacement from LaasCaanood, Ceerigaabo, and Guriceel are of particularly high concern due to the effect of a sudden loss of livelihood on household food access.
Based on the results of 35 SMART surveys conducted in June/July 2021 by FSNAU and partners, 1.2 million children under the age of five are projected to be acutely malnourished by the end of 2021, with nearly 213,400 of them severely malnourished. The prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) measured by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) or middle upper arm circumference (MUAC) is assessed to be Serious (GAM WHZ 10-14.9 percent) in most southern, central, and northeastern areas, as well as Northwestern Agropastoral and West Golis Pastoral livelihood zones in northwestern Somalia. However, due to elevated disease incidence (including measles and AWD) and reduced food intake, more severe Critical (GAM WHZ 15-29.9 percent) levels are likely in Banadir, Baidoa, and Galkacyo IDP settlements; riverine areas; agropastoral and pastoral areas in Bay, Bakool, and Hiiraan; and Juba Pastoral livelihood zone. Chronically high acute malnutrition levels across Somalia are driven by multiple factors, including poor access to clean water and sanitation, low immunization, low vitamin-A supplementation, and low coverage of health and nutrition services. Only a few areas in the northwest and northeast likely have lower Alert (GAM WHZ 5-9.9 percent) levels, mainly due to health and nutrition interventions.
The most likely scenario from October 2021 to May 2022 is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- Based on current rainfall, median performance in analog years with negative Indian Ocean Dipole and La Niña conditions, and the NMME, WMO, and ECMWF ensemble forecast models, FEWS NET’s science partners forecast that cumulative rainfall in the 2021 deyr season will most likely be over 40 percent below-average in southern and central Somalia. In northern Somalia, rainfall performance is forecast to be mixed, with deficits occurring in Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone and parts of the northeast. Currently, the deyr rains are forecast to be fully established in November. However, close monitoring is required as the timing of rainfall onset and magnitude of seasonal rainfall deficits are difficult to predict precisely.
- Based on the NMME precipitation anomaly forecast, FEWS NET’s science partners forecast the December/January xays showers in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone will most likely be near average with hotter-than-normal temperatures.
- Due to below-average deyr rainfall, drought conditions will likely persist and worsen during the January-March jilaal dry season, especially in southern and central Somalia. However, the severity of dry conditions is likely to be near normal in Northwestern Agropastoral and West Golis Pastoral livelihood zones, which received average karan rainfall this year.
- Based on the analysis of historical analog years with similar climatic conditions, FEWS NET’s science partners forecast that the transition from La Niña to ENSO neutral conditions in early 2022 is most likely to result in below-average rainfall during the April to June 2022 gu rainfall season. However, uncertainty exists given the long-term nature of this forecast.
- The deyr rains in northern Somalia are currently conducive to desert locust breeding, and, according to FAO’s Desert Locust Watch, there is still a risk that some swarms in northeastern Ethiopia, the Gulf states, or western Asia could migrate to northern Somalia to breed. However, dry conditions in northeastern Ethiopia and ongoing aerial control operations in northern Somalia will likely lower the scale of damage to green pasture and crops compared to last year.
- The deyr cereal harvest in southern agropastoral areas in January will be significantly below average due to delayed, below-average rainfall and pest incidence. Based on net cereal production in past poor rainfall seasons, FSNAU and FEWS NET’s preliminary projection is that the harvest will be 50-70 percent below the 10-year and 1995-2020 averages. Some farmers may plant drought-tolerant cash crops (e.g., sesame, cowpeas) to offset cereal losses, but the cash crop harvest is also likely to be below average. As a result, labor demand for weeding and harvesting will most likely be low through February, with a slight recovery for land preparation and planting is expected in March/April for the gu season.
- The main deyr cereal harvest in riverine areas and the off-season deyr harvest in March/April will most likely be below average due to locally poor rainfall, the likelihood of crop damage from seasonal floods, and the likelihood that a hotter-than-normal jilaal dry season will reduce flood recession cultivation. The risk of flooding is driven by unrepaired river breakages and weak river embankments, which can cause flooding even during a poor rainfall season.
- Although livestock body conditions are expected to improve in November/December following the delayed onset of deyr rainfall, very dry conditions during the jilaal dry season are expected to significantly affect livestock health from January until the onset of the gu rains in April, especially in south-central Somalia. Water, pasture, and browse shortages will most likely be significant and widespread during this period, limiting the utility of livestock migration and driving up the cost of trucked water. In the worst-affected areas, these factors will likely elevate livestock mortality.
- Based on current livestock herd sizes, breeding cycles, and expected drought impacts, medium to low levels of goat and sheep kidding/lambing are anticipated to peak in November and in April/May (in northern Somalia, lambing only occurs in the gu). Meanwhile, a low to medium level of camel and cattle calving is expected during the deyr in northern Somalia, while only low cattle and camel calving is expected in south/central Somalia during the deyr. In southern and central areas where water and pasture/browse shortages are acute, there is an elevated likelihood of livestock miscarriages and an elevated likelihood that pastoralists will cull young livestock to preserve the health of female livestock.
- Anticipated rainfall and livestock births are expected to support a seasonal increase in milk availability between October and January and in April/May, though production levels will vary. Milk production will likely be near average in livelihood zones where herd sizes are near normal levels and in northern livelihood zones that received karan and timely deyr rains. Milk production will likely be at least moderately below average in areas with low herd sizes, elevated livestock mortality, or high levels of livestock migration, especially in parts of southern and central Somalia, including riverine areas.
- Based on FEWS NET’s price analysis for the main reference markets of Baidoa and Qoryoley, retail maize and sorghum prices – the main staple foods produced in the south – are projected to remain well above the five-year average through May 2022 due to low market supply. In Baidoa, sorghum is projected to range from 55 to 75 percent above average, peaking at around 12,445 SOS (USD 0.50) in May 2022 (Figure 7). In Qoryoley, maize is projected to range from 72-100 percent above average, peaking in May 2022 at around 14,000 SOS (USD 0.56). In northern and central Somalia, sorghum prices are also expected to remain above average, though the below-average karan harvest in the northwest and some cross-border imports from the Somali region of Ethiopia are expected to mitigate the severity of these price increases.
- Based on global supply levels and high freight shipping costs, the imported food prices – including rice, the main staple food in central and northern Somalia – are likely to remain moderately above the five-year average.
- According to FEWS NET’s integrated analysis, the agricultural daily labor wage is likely to remain below average in most agropastoral areas through May 2022, driven by the impact of poor rainfall on labor demand for weeding and harvesting. FEWS NET projects that the labor wage in Bur Hakaba of Bay, for example, will drop by as much as 25 percent below the five-average. At the onset of the deyr and gu rains, opportunities for work in urban areas will also periodically be constrained by seasonal declines in road accessibility and construction/market activity.
- The health and saleability of individual livestock will continue to limit household income from livestock sales, even though retail livestock prices – especially goats – are expected to remain favorable due to low market supply, high urban and export demand, and a seasonal increase in demand during Ramadan (April 2022). Based on FEWS NET’s price analysis for the reference markets of Galkacyo, Burao, and Baidoa through December 2021, the price of a local goat is projected to range from 20 to 50 percent above average in northeastern and central Somalia and 10 to 20 percent above average in northwestern and southern Somalia. In 2022, prices will decline during the dry season and then rise after March.
- Household purchasing power measured by the labor-to-cereal terms of trade (ToT) is expected to trend below average through May 2022, driven by low labor demand and high cereal prices. In most central and northern areas, the goat-to-rice ToT is expected to be near average, as above-average goat prices are expected to keep pace with above-average cereal prices. However, southern markets with very high maize and sorghum prices will see a decline in the goat-to-cereals ToT. Meanwhile, households that sell cattle for income are likely to see a decline in the cattle-to-cereal ToT, given that the retail cattle price is more sensitive to the impact of drought and insecurity on supply/demand dynamics.
- Given current tensions surrounding the delayed presidential election, civil unrest and political violence are likely to continue to rise into and beyond November depending on the length of time the election is further delayed, or if the outcome of an eventual vote is not considered credible. Related violence is likely to be high in opposition areas such as the state capitals of Hirshabelle, Jubaland, and Puntland. In Hirshabelle and Gedo, there is a risk that armed conflict among the Somali national army (SNA) forces, aligned with clan militias, could create a security vacuum into which al-Shabaab would move to capture more land, resulting in population displacement and loss of assets and lives.
- Al-Shabaab will likely continue to carry out sporadic attacks in Mogadishu and throughout south-central Somalia at least at levels observed in 2021, with the goal of disrupting election-related activities and the anticipated transition of AMISOM forces to the new African Union security mission by December 2021. Al-Shabaab will likely also continue to restrict humanitarian access and hinder general population movement and trade using illegal roadblocks.
- According to information from the Somalia Food Security Cluster and OCHA, funding and district-level plans for humanitarian food assistance delivery have not been fully secured or confirmed. Based on this information, this scenario assumes no food assistance delivery will occur from November through May.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to become widespread across Somalia through May 2022, while Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to emerge in Juba Pastoral, Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones between November 2021 and March 2022. Without planned and funded humanitarian food assistance, the likelihood of a three-to-four season drought in the context of protracted conflict will lead to significant reductions in household food and income sources, erode resilience and coping capacity, and elevate acute malnutrition and mortality levels. Rising acute malnutrition is of particular concern in Bay, Hiiraan, and Bakool regions; riverine areas; Juba Pastoral livelihood zone; and IDP settlements in Baidoa, Mogadishu, and Galkacyo, where Critical (GAM WHZ 15-29.9 percent) levels are already expected. These projected food security outcomes are contingent on the forecast that rainfall in November and December will partially regenerate rangeland resources and support crop germination and development, particularly in Somalia’s more productive, rainfed areas (western Bay, Lower Shabelle, and Middle Shabelle regions). However, the season requires close monitoring since it is difficult to precisely forecast rainfall distribution and the magnitude of rainfall deficits. If the deyr rains perform more poorly than forecast, then food security outcomes will likely be more severe than projected. Past trends in Somalia show that food insecurity can rapidly worsen due to rainfall failure, and the current surge in maize and sorghum prices and increase in livestock mortality demonstrate the potential that a more severe outlook could materialize.
In most pastoral areas, poor pastoral households will likely have food consumption gaps or use livelihood coping strategies indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3). The number of households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected to rise in areas of high concern, such as central Addun Pastoral, Hawd Pastoral, Northern Inland Pastoral, and East Golis Pastoral of Sanaag livelihood zones. In the worst-affected areas of Juba Pastoral and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones, the population threshold for Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will likely be reached between November and March. The anticipated deyr rains are expected to be minimally adequate to support the livestock birth and milk production cycle and mitigate excess livestock mortality until January. However, the subsequent dry season from January to March is expected to bring water shortages and low pasture and browse availability. Consequently, it will be difficult for poor pastoral households to afford food and water for both their livestock and their families. Many pastoralists will face difficult coping decisions such as selling off their livestock at lower values, migrating longer distances that risk further weakening their livestock, or culling young livestock to preserve the health of mothers. Household purchasing capacity is expected to be lowest and/or excess livestock mortality is expected to be highest in areas where herd sizes are already low, herds are mainly composed of cattle or sheep (which are more vulnerable to drought-induced starvation or disease), or conflict restricts market access.
In most rainfed agropastoral areas and irrigated riverine areas in south-central Somalia, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected. Moreover, the number of households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected to rise in marginal agricultural areas, areas with higher levels of conflict, and riverine areas with inadequate irrigation infrastructure, such as Southern Rainfed Agropastoral livelihood zone in the Juba regions and riverine areas in Middle Shabelle, Hiiraan, Lower and Middle Juba, and Gedo. In the worst-affected area of Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral livelihood zone, the population threshold for Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will most likely be reached between February and May. Only a few areas will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), either due to locally better crop production prospects or locally higher livestock holdings. The anticipated deyr rains are expected to occur too late to permit full recovery of crop production prospects due to the short length of the growing season. Historical trends suggest cereal and cash crop production will be lowest in marginal agricultural areas. Meanwhile, rising river water levels suggest farmers in riverine areas will have a longer period of crop cultivation but still experience significant crop losses due to the poor start of the season, localized floods, and faster rate of evapotranspiration during the dry season. Diminished food stocks, labor income, and crop sales income from the 2021 deyr season will have a significant impact on most farming households, who are facing their third or fourth consecutive poor production season. Poor households will be more severely affected given that they have smaller plots and low livestock holdings to sell, and other income-earning opportunities (e.g., off-farm labor, fishing) are inadequate to cover the cost of exorbitant food prices. These factors will be compounded by the impacts of conflict and insecurity on livelihood activities and trade.
In rainfed agropastoral areas in northwestern Somalia, food security outcomes will evolve differently than other agropastoral areas. In Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone, which has only one annual gu harvest in July/August, livestock production and labor income will likely remain inadequate to cover the cost of above-average food prices. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are projected to persist until the next gu harvest, with a rising number of households likely to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone, the below-average karan harvest supplemented by seasonal cow milk and fodder production is expected to sustain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes until approximately February. After these food and income sources are depleted, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected from February until the next gu harvest. In addition to below-average 2021 harvests, cattle calving during the 2022 gu season is expected to be below normal due to the timing of the reproduction cycle. The reduction in these two major income sources means poor households will be unable to cover the cost of above-average cereal prices without eroding their cattle holdings, despite a slight boost in labor income from land preparation and planting for the gu crop production season in March/April.
Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected across Somalia’s 14 largest IDP settlements, and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely in Somalia’s main urban centers. Displaced households and poor urban households are expected to have difficulty earning sufficient income to cover their minimum food needs due to rising staple food prices. Both populations have limited income sources and spend a high share of their income on food, rendering them vulnerable to price shocks. In addition, many IDP households rely on assistance from urban and rural kin and humanitarian food assistance. Without confirmed food assistance in the projection period, coupled with a reduced ability of kin to provide assistance during a period of drought and high food prices, then IDP households are at risk of widening food consumption gaps.
Impact on food security outcomes
Souther n a nd central Somalia
Failure of the deyr rainfall season, with little to no rainfall in November /December
Agropastoral areas would likely experience a significantly below average to failed deyr harvest due to severe crop moisture stress, as farmers lack the resources to salvage their losses with drought-resistant crops. Riverine areas with inadequate irrigation infrastructure would also have lower harvests. In pastoral areas, deterioration in livestock health would be more widespread and more severe, leading to wider occurrences of excess mortality between November and April with limited livestock conceptions for the next season. A significant increase in drought-related destitution and displacement would be likely, especially among pastoralists. An increase in the severity of food security and size of the acutely food insecure population would be likely, and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would be possible in additional areas, especially during January-March jilaal dry season.
Average rainfall during the April to June 2022 gu season
The timing of an average 2022 gu rainfall season would occur too late to significantly improve projected food security outcomes through May, as the negative impacts of the below-average deyr season would have already manifested in significant food and income losses. However, it would likely begin to gradually improve food security conditions by replenishing pasture and water resources, supporting livestock conceptions for the 2022 deyr season, and boosting agricultural labor demand for the 2022 gu. Since household herd sizes would still be low and the gu harvest would not occur until July/August, significant emergency food assistance would still be required to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. However, the rains would better support livelihoods interventions such as seed/input distributions or livestock restocking.
Southern and central Somalia
Prolonged delays to the presidential election or election outcomes that lead to higher levels of conflict
Escalating political tensions and violence would primarily impact Mogadishu, but also affect other opposition areas in southern and central Somalia. Increased displacement, casualties, loss of livelihood assets, market and trade disruptions, and lapses in the provision of security services would be likely, compounding the impacts of concurrent drought. In a worst-case scenario, all markets, Mogadishu port, and airports would be closed, food prices would escalate, and trade movements between the port town and southern regions would be suspended. Under this scenario, significant population movement/displacement out of Mogadishu to other areas of relative safety is likely. A significant increase in the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) would be expected.
For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.
Current food security outcomes, October 2021
Source: FEWS NET and FSNAU
Seasonal calendar for a typical year
Source: FEWS NET
Source: Climate Hazards Center, University of California Santa Barbara
Source: FEWS NET and USGS
Source: FEWS NET
Source: FSNAU and FEWS NET
Source: FEWS NET and FSNAU
Source: data from UNHCR’s Protection and Return Monitoring Network
Source: FEWS NET and FSNAU
To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.