Presence Country
Alert

Severe food insecurity in Somali Region likely to deteriorate further given lack of food aid

August 3, 2017

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

[1] In Ethiopia’s Somali Region, a food security Emergency is ongoing following a severe drought over the past year. This drought has resulted in very large livestock losses which have sharply reduced households’ access to food and have driven large-scale displacement. Serious human disease outbreaks are also ongoing. FEWS NET rapid assessments and other field reporting indicate high levels of acute malnutrition, excess mortality among children, and a heavy reliance on emergency food aid, especially in Dollo, Korahe, Afder, and Jarar Zones, where the drought has been most severe. Field reports indicate that food assistance delivery has been interrupted in Dollo and Korahe Zones, and even in areas where assistance delivery continues, the amount of aid provided is inadequate to fully address emergency needs. This suggests that food security outcomes could deteriorate further over the coming weeks, to extreme levels, if additional assistance is not provided quickly.

Rainfall over the Horn of Africa was below average over the last year with significant impacts on food security across much of the sub-region. Ethiopia’s Somali Region is one area that has been especially dry, with large areas experiencing Extreme or Exceptional Drought (Figure 1). This drought, and its impacts on pasture and water availability, has resulted in significant declines in household livestock holdings due to both distress sales and deaths. While food prices remain generally stable and some safety-net transfers have occurred, the magnitude of these livestock losses has sharply reduced households’ access to food by limiting income from both livestock/milk sales and, given the deaths of pack camels, other income-generating activities, like charcoal and firewood production.

As of June, the worst-affected households were classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), meaning that they faced large gaps in meeting their basic food needs or that these gaps were imminent given recent asset stripping. This lack of food has driven large-scale displacement and the concentration of households in IDP camps. It has also, in combination with serious outbreaks of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) and measles, contributed to atypically high levels of acute malnutrition. Excess mortality among children has also been reported from the worst-affected areas. In Somali Region, almost no emergency food assistance has been provided since the conclusion of the fourth round of food aid distributions in June, in part due to a lack of funding. Supplementary feeding (TSF and BSF) is being provided in some areas, but there are concerns related to funding and the timeliness of delivery after August. 

While April/May rainfall has modestly replenished water sources, pasture, and browse, and forecasts for the upcoming October-December rainy season are positive, the outlook for pastoralist food security in Somali Region is still very concerning. Households have few, if any, livestock to sell and given the lack of camel and goat conceptions during the past two seasons, milk availability will remain very low during 2017 and herd sizes will increase very slowly, even if the October to December rains are good. To quantify the impact of the drought on local households, FEWS NET conducted a Household Economy Approach (HEA) Outcome Analysis, using the recently updated baselines for Somali Region. This analysis indicates that, even with safety-net transfers, approximately 2.7 million people will require emergency food assistance in Somali Region during the July-December period. Of this total, roughly two-thirds will face survival deficits (see note above) of more than 20 percent, indicating Emergency (IPC Phase 4). During the July-September dry season, areas of particular concern include the Afder Pastoral (AFP), and Lowland Hawd Pastoral (LHP) livelihood zones, where poor households are projected to face survival deficits which approach 50 percent - the threshold for Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) [2]  (Figure 2). During the October-December Deyr rainy season, some improvements in pastoral areas are expected. Though emergency food assistance needs will persist in these areas (especially in the Harshin-Degahabur East Pastoral Zone [HDP]), the worst food security outcomes during this period will likely occur in agricultural and agropastoral areas, including the Shabelle Riverine, Liban Agropastoral, and Dawa-Ganale Riverine livelihood zones (Figure 3).

Given the severity of current and projected food security outcomes, and continued delays in the provision of emergency food assistance, poor households in the worst-affected pastoral areas may already be moving into Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) and levels of acute malnutrition and mortality may rise further. An immediate resumption of emergency food distributions is critically needed in Dollo, Korahe, and Afder zones, alongside a continuation of nutrition, health, and WASH programming. Once assistance resumes, it should continue through at least early 2018. At a regional level, food assistance planning should consider that the population in need of emergency food assistance that is suggested by the FEWS NET outcome analysis is significantly larger than current food assistance delivery plans.

Appendix

The following addendum provides additional information on the IPC scale and the distinction between household and area classification, especially as it relates to more extreme food security situations.

  1. The IPC has two different reference tables, one of which is used to classify the food security of households and the other of which is used to classify the food security of an area. The full IPC manual can be found here.
  2. The IPC defines Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5 on the Household Reference Table) as when a convergence of available evidence indicates that “Even with any humanitarian assistance, [the] household group has an extreme lack of food and/or other basic needs even with full employment of coping strategies.” One indicator of Catastrophe is a “survival deficit” of >50 percent based on Household Economy Outcome Analysis meaning that households can access less than 50 percent of kilocalories needed for survival.
  3. The IPC defines Famine (IPC Phase 5 on the Area Reference Table) as occurring when, in a specific area, the following three criteria are all met: more than 20 percent of households are classified as facing Catastrophe, the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children under 5 (GAM) exceeds 30 percent, and the Crude Death Rate exceeds 2/10,000 people/day.
  4. It is possible to have households which meet the criteria listed under bullet number 2, and are therefore classified as Catastrophe, but not have an ongoing Famine. This could be because the proportion of households classified as Catastrophe is less than 20 percent. Alternatively, the proportion of households classified in Catastrophe could be greater than 20 percent but levels of acute malnutrition and mortality may remain below the Famine threshold.
  5. Currently, available data does not indicate that a Famine is occurring in Ethiopia’s Somali Region. However, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is widespread and the recent FEWS NET Outcome Analysis, along with field reports from Dollo and Korahe Zones, indicate that some households may move into Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in the absence of emergency food assistance provision. 

[1]This document is a revision of an Alert initially released on July 19, 2017. This revisions aims to correct the following issues: 1) 4th Round food assistance deliveries in Dollo and Korahe occurred in June, not May, 2) A computational error was corrected, reducing the size of deficits in KGP zone, and 3) more information was provided on projected October-December outcomes.

[2] Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, or IPC, describes acute food insecurity at the household level and area level.  At the household level, Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) is described as: “Even with any humanitarian assistance, household group has an extreme lack of food and/or other basic needs even with full employment of coping strategies.” For additional information please see the appendix.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.