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Below-average Deyr production and high local cereal prices expected

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Somalia
  • November 2016
Below-average Deyr production and high local cereal prices expected

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through
  • Key Messages
    • Food security outcomes throughout Somalia are likely to be worse than previously expected, following significantly below-average Deyr rainfall. Of greatest concern are poor farming households in southern and central Somalia and poor pastoralists in the northeast. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely by May 2017. If the 2017 Gu season is below average, as currently forecast, further deterioration in food security is possible.

    • Rainfall in October and November was 50-70 percent below average across most of Somalia. In many areas, vegetation conditions are the worst on record and January Deyr harvests are likely to be significantly below average. 

    • A second consecutive below-average crop harvest is expected to put upward pressure on local staple cereal prices. Already, sharp price increases have occurred in Baidoa and Qorioley between October and November. In addition, poor crop production will likely lower agricultural labor opportunities and wage labor income.

    Current Situation

    Rainfall in October and November was 50-70 percent below average throughout much of Somalia (Figure 1).  In October, the month in which the majority of Deyr rainfall is typically received, most areas remained dry while isolated areas received only 10-25 millimeters (mm). In late November, light to moderate rainfall was received in most southern areas, including Lower and Middle Juba, Lower and Middle Shabelle, and parts of Bay, Gedo, Mudug, Galgaduud, and Hiran. Similarly, moderate rainfall was received in large parts of Northwest Agropastoral, Guban Pastoral, Hawd Pastoral, and West Golis Pastoral livelihood zones in the northwest in November. In these areas, rainfall has partially replenished water resources and is expected to support some pasture regeneration and crop development. Conversely, little to no rainfall was received in central or northeastern regions in October or November. 

    As a result of significantly below-average rainfall, vegetation conditions are the worst on record in many areas and water availability is significantly below average (Figure 2). In northeastern regions, where drier than normal conditions have persisted throughout 2016, livestock body conditions are poor and atypical livestock deaths have been reported. Herd sizes are estimated to be 30 percent below baseline levels. In central regions, where camels are commonly held, no atypical livestock deaths have yet been reported, although livestock migration to other areas is ongoing. In southern regions, recent rainfall has partially replenished pasture and water resources and livestock body conditions are slightly improving. 

    Planting occurred in high-production areas and isolated rain-fed areas of southern and central Somalia, but some crops have wilted from lack of rainfall. Little to no planting has been observed in Dolow and Luq of Gedo, Jamame, Badhadhe, Afmadow, and Kismayo of Lower Juba, Buloburte and Beletweyn of Hiran, and Rabdhurre and Tayeglow of Bakool. Based on key informant information and recent FEWS NET field visits, it is estimated that only 30-40 percent of average cultivation took place. In areas where planting did occur, some crops have wilted from lack of rainfall.

    In Central Agropastoral livelihood zone, planted cowpeas are at the end of the seed-filling stage, but moisture stress is causing crop damage. In the Gravity Irrigated Riverine livelihood zone of Middle and Lower Juba and Jowhar District of Middle Shabelle, many farmers have deliberately flooded their farms with river water in order to cultivate. However, this planting took place later than normal and crops are expected to reach maturity one to two months later than normal. The deliberate flooding of farms in these regions is further limiting water availability in areas downstream.

    As limited planting has taken place, agricultural labor opportunities are significantly below average, estimated at only 30-40 percent of normal. Consequently, agricultural wages are declining more than is seasonally normal. In Qansaxdhere market of the Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral livelihood zone, wages in November were 26 percent lower than November of last year and 20 percent lower than the five-year average. 

    Likely due to poor production prospects, staple cereal prices have increased in recent months. Between October and November, the price of sorghum in Baidoa of Bay increased 50 percent and the price of maize in Qorioley of Lower Shabelle increased 23 percent. November prices in both markets are also higher than November of last year and the five-year average. Imported commodity prices, though, remain stable in most markets.

    Livestock prices have generally followed seasonal trends, although slightly atypical price decreases have taken place in recent months. In most markets, the price of goats has decreased 10-30 percent between October and November. In Lower and Middle Juba, the price of goats has also declined 23 percent from last year and 33 percent from the five-year average.

    Ongoing conflict in Galkacyo, Abudwaq, and Elbur Districts continues to drive population displacement and disrupt the normal movement of people and commodities. Political tension is further increasing alongside the ongoing parliamentary election.

    Updated Assumptions

    In view of recent events, some of the assumptions used by FEWS NET to project the most likely scenario for October 2016 to May 2017 have been updated below. As additional information on the impacts of poor Deyr season is still being received, a more thorough analysis will be conducted in December to update expected food security outcomes through May 2017.

    • FEWS NET’s assumption in early October was that October to December Deyr rainfall would be 10-25 percent below average. However, rainfall in October and November was 50-70 percent below average. Even if rainfall is average in December, given that only minimal rainfall is typically received in the final month of the season, rainfall amounts are likely to remain low in terms of total mm.  
    • In October, it was assumed that pasture and water resources would seasonally improve alongside Deyr rainfall. However, rainfall has been insufficient for pasture regeneration in most areas. The exception is in southern areas where recent rainfall has slightly improved conditions, although improvements are expected to be short-term. In all areas, conditions are likely to further deteriorate through March, causing low livestock production and reproduction. Livestock prices are expected to decrease below typical dry season prices and atypical livestock deaths are likely throughout the outlook.
    • Deyr production is estimated to be 30-40 percent of the recent five-year average, based on observations from recent FEWS NET field visits and key informant information. 
    • Current forecasts indicate that the April to June 2017 Gu rains will be below average.
    • The Kenyan Government has announced that it will extend the deadline for the closure of Dadaab refugee camp to May 2017. As a result, fewer refugees than previously expected are likely to return to Somalia throughout the outlook period.

    Projected Outlook Through

    Between November and January, food security is expected to atypically deteriorate among poor households, most of whom rely primarily on the sale of livestock products, crops, and agricultural labor to earn income to purchase food. Agricultural labor demand is likely to remain below average through at least January in southern and central Somalia. With few income-earning opportunities, most poor households in agropastoral livelihood zones are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In southern pastoral regions, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes will likely persist during this time, as livestock body conditions and productivity are improving slightly with recent rainfall and subsequent pasture regeneration. In Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone, where little to no rainfall has been received this season and atypical livestock deaths have been reported, households have very low income and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persists. 

    From February to May, food security is expected to deteriorate throughout Somalia. Food insecurity will be the most severe in agropastoral areas of southern and central Somalia where many poor households will not harvest any crops. With limited labor opportunities, little to no household harvests, and likely high staple cereal prices, food insecurity is expected deteriorate significantly and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely. Furthermore, if the 2017 Gu season is below average, as currently forecast, a third consecutive below-average season is likely and further deterioration in food security is expected. A more thorough analysis will be conducted in December to update expected food security outcomes through May 2017.


    Figure 1

    Food security outcomes, October 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar For A Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3

    Rainfall as a percentage of normal, October 1- November 25, 2016, compared to 1981-2010 mean, CHIRPS

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 4

    One-month water availability anomaly in October 2016, compared to 1982-2014 average

    Source: NASA/FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an 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 over the next six months. Learn more here.

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