Somalia flag

Presence Country
Food Security Outlook

A fifth consecutive below-average season likely; Famine (IPC Phase 5) risk continues

October 2017 to May 2018

October 2017 - January 2018

February - May 2018

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
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
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
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
Concentration of displaced people
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.
Partners: 
FSNAU

Key Messages

  • Food security needs are nearly double the five-year average in Somalia, with an estimated 2,444,000 people currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and 866,000 in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Widespread food insecurity is driven by three consecutive poor seasons that led to well below-average production and large-scale livestock losses, which have reduced household access to food and income. Sustained humanitarian assistance has prevented more extreme outcomes in many areas, though persistent drought threatens recovery of normal livelihoods, and further deterioration in food security is likely through May 2018.

  • Rainfall in October, the start and peak month of the Deyr season, was erratically distributed and approximately 50 percent below average in most areas. Rainfall in November and December is not expected to significantly improve crop prospects. Furthermore, a below-average April to June 2018 Gu season is likely, and if this forecast comes to fruition it will mark the fifth consecutive poor season in Somalia. Below-average production and limited regeneration of pasture and water is expected throughout the outlook period. 

  • Humanitarian assistance plans beyond January 2018 are not yet known and while humanitarians plan to reach 3.2 million people a month through January, funding is insufficient to fully implement these plans. Critical levels of acute food insecurity already exist and data show outcomes can deteriorate sharply following poor seasons, in the absence of assistance. Even in a scenario of continued assistance at current levels, Famine (IPC Phase 5) remains possible. In a worst-case scenario of very poor Deyr rainfall through December and the protracted absence of assistance, Famine (IPC Phase 5) is likely. Large-scale assistance is needed throughout 2018 to prevent the loss of lives and collapse of livelihoods.

Famine (IPC Phase 5) likely in the absence of assistance

Data from the 2017 post-Gu assessment indicated that Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persisted in many areas of Somalia in July/August. Since then, sustained assistance has prevented further deterioration in food security in many areas, though persistent drought threatens recovery. Although rainfall in October of this year has been slightly better than rainfall in October 2016 (Figure 1), totals are still well below average (Figure 2). Furthermore, a below-average April to June 2018 Gu season is likely, and if this forecast comes to fruition it will mark the fifth consecutive poor season in Somalia. Below-average production and limited regeneration of pasture and water is expected, and further deterioration in food security is likely. Even in a scenario of continued assistance at current levels, Famine (IPC Phase 5) is possible in worst affected areas. In a worst-case scenario, characterized by very poor Deyr rainfall through December and the extended absence of humanitarian assistance, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely. Of greatest concern are Bay/Bakool agropastoral and Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zones, between March and May 2018.

According to the IPC, a Famine (IPC Phase 5) has occurred when at least 20 percent of households in a given area have an extreme lack of food, the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence, as measured by weight-for-height z-score, exceeds 30 percent, and mortality, as measured by the Crude Death Rate (CDR), is greater than 2 per 10,000 per day. Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) is when a household group has an extreme lack of food and/or other basic needs even with full employment of coping strategies. Starvation, death, and destitution are evident.

In Northern Inland Pastoral, food security deteriorated between the 2016/17 Deyr and 2017 Gu. It is likely large-scale humanitarian assistance prevented more extreme outcomes, as over 20 percent of households reported humanitarian assistance as their key source of food. Despite this, many households faced large food consumption gaps, most notably in the northwestern part of the livelihood zone where nearly 10 percent of surveyed households reported a Household Hunger Scale (HHS) of 6. HHS is an experiential indicator and a strong proxy of diet quantity, and an HHS of 6 is indicative of an extreme lack of food. In Bay/Bakool agropastoral livelihood zones, food insecurity was extreme immediately after the failed 2016/17 Deyr, but improved notably by mid-2017. It is expected improvements were largely due to the influx of humanitarian assistance between surveys (Figure 3). Despite this, nutrition and mortality outcomes among Baidoa IDPs were still near the Famine (IPC Phase 5) thresholds: GAM (WHZ) 29.4% (25.1-34.2) and non-trauma CDR 1.62/10,000/day.

According to IPC protocols, humanitarian assistance must be planned, funded, and likely to be considered in food security projections. Humanitarian assistance plans for 2018 are not yet known and in a worst-case scenario of continued very poor Deyr rainfall and a complete absence of humanitarian assistance, Famine (IPC Phase 5) is likely. Extreme levels of acute food insecurity already persist in many regions and in the absence of assistance, it is expected many pastoral households in worst-affected areas would be forced to sell their remaining livestock to purchase cereal, resulting in higher levels of pastoral destitution, and farmers would have minimal stocks or income and face very high staple food prices. Food security would further deteriorate, evidenced by data which show outcomes can deteriorate quickly, in the absence of assistance, following a very poor season.  

Despite the lack of evidence on 2018 humanitarian assistance delivery plans, trends suggests humanitarian assistance will likely continue in 2018. Emergency assistance has been delivered in Somalia monthly in 2017 in response to persistent drought, and it is likely assistance will be provided at some level for continued response in 2018. However, Famine (IPC Phase 5) remains possible even in a scenario of continued assistance at current levels. Extreme outcomes were observed in 2017 even in the presence of humanitarian assistance, and two additional poor seasons will further erode households’ capacity to cope. Given the possibility of Famine (IPC Phase 5) remains, continued large-scale assistance is needed throughout 2018 to prevent the loss of lives and livelihoods.

National Overview

Current Situation

Following three consecutive poor seasons that led to well below-average production and large-scale livestock losses, households across the country have reduced access to food and income and face food consumption gaps. According to data from the July/August 2017 post-Gu assessment, most areas had a Food Consumption Score (FCS) indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4). The Household Hunger Scale (HHS), which is an experiential indicator and a stronger proxy of diet quantity, indicated Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in many areas. However, a severe HHS, indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4), was observed among IDPs in Dhusamareb and rural households in Northern Inland Pastoral, where some households reported an extreme lack of food. Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), as measured by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ), was ‘Critical’ (>=15%) in 20 out of 31 populations groups surveyed. FEWS NET and Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit-Somalia (FSNAU) estimate approximately 2,444,000 people are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and 866,000 people are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). 

Between July and September, the dry Xagaa season was ongoing in most areas, with the exception of the few regions that typically receive small amounts of rainfall. August to September Karaan rains in the Northwest were average to above average, and atypical light rainfall was also received in the Northeast. Rainfall supported crop development in Northwestern Agropastoral livelihood zone, where the area planted was roughly 20 percent above average. In southern coastal areas, Xagaa rainfall was light to moderate in most parts of Lower and Middle Shabelle, Lower and Middle Juba, and southern Bay. Water levels also increased in the Shabelle and Juba Rivers during this time, due to heavy precipitation in the Ethiopian highlands, and levels are now near average. However, water levels were well below normal in mid-2017, and this led to reduced area under cultivation for off-season Gu production. As a result of this and below-average Xagaa rains, the August/September off-season Gu harvest in riverine areas was below average.

Rainfall in October, the first month of the Deyr season, was below average and erratically distributed (Figure 5). In most of Bakool, parts of the South, and along the Ethiopian border, 25-75 mm of rainfall were received. Little to no rainfall has been received in the rest of the country. Typically, around 50 percent of Deyr rainfall occurs in October, making this the key month of the rainy season. This year, though, less than 50 percent of normal rainfall has been received in most areas in October, signifying a very poor start of the season.

As a result of the poor start to the Deyr season, and the cumulative impact of the past below-average seasons, pasture and water resources are well below normal (Figure 6). Dry pasture is generally available, though amounts are low. In northern areas, rangeland improved somewhat with Karaan rainfall and flashfloods from the Golis Mountains, but improvements were short-lived given very high temperatures. Similarly, pasture availability improved in Bay, Lower and Middle Shabelle, and Lower and Middle Juba with Xagaa rainfall, but atypical livestock migration to these areas led to the rapid depletion of that pasture. In central areas, pasture is extremely limited due to little to no rainfall.

Water shortages have been reported in many areas and water prices are well above average in southern areas, with the highest prices observed in areas relatively far from rivers: In Afmadow, the price of a 200-liter drum of water in September was 204 percent above average. Water prices are also above average in northern areas, but relatively less so: In Northern Inland Pastoral and Hawd Pastoral, prices are roughly 40 percent above average.

Cropping activities for the Deyr season are occurring at lower than normal levels, and cropping conditions are poor in most areas. In the Cowpea Belt and agropastoral areas of Bay and Bakool, seeds germinated following light to moderate rainfall in late-September/early-October, but crops are currently experiencing moisture stress as little to no rainfall has been received in late October. In other rainfed production areas of the South, seed germination has not occurred given limited rainfall. Irrigated planting has taken place along both the Juba and Shabelle Rivers, and seeds have germinated and are at the vegetative stage. However, the area planted is lower than normal as some households cannot currently afford the high irrigation costs. 

Local staple cereal prices remain above average in most areas. In Baidoa of Bay, the retail price of a kilogram (kg) of red sorghum was 7,700 Somali Shillings (SOS) in October, 39 percent higher than last year and 44 percent above the five year average. In Qorioley of Lower Shabelle, the retail price of a kg of maize in October was 6,125 SOS, 24 percent above last year and 43 percent above the five-year average (Figure 7).  Local cereal prices in central and northern regions are also above average, as poor national production has reduced trade flows to northern markets. Although prices are above average, they have not increased to levels observed in 2011. It is expected this is due to consistent, large-scale humanitarian assistance and lower international food prices that act as a price ceiling.

The prices of imported commodities such as rice, wheat flour, diesel, fuel, sugar, and vegetable oil were generally stable in most main markets due to ample global supplies. However, prices are somewhat above average due to depreciation of the Somali and Somaliland Shillings.

Livestock herd sizes are well below baseline levels in many areas of the country due to distress sales and livestock deaths. Livestock body conditions are average to below average in most parts of the country. In northern pastoral areas, livestock body conditions improved in September due to greater access to pasture and water following August to September rainfall. Additionally, livestock have greater access to pasture and water as herd sizes are lower than normal, reducing competition for resources. Conversely, in most central and southern areas, livestock body conditions deteriorated between July and September. Livestock births and conception rates are lower than normal in nearly all areas of the country, and milk availability is below average due to low livestock births. The exception to this is Lower Juba, particularly in Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone, where female camels are currently lactating and milk availability is near average.

Livestock prices increased slightly in northern regions during the Xagaa season due to slightly improved body conditions and low livestock supplies on markets. Conversely, in most southern and central regions, livestock prices have generally declined over the same time period, driven by below-average livestock body conditions and above-average market supply as better-off households sell livestock to finance planting.

In most crop-producing areas of southern Somalia the labor-to-cereal terms of trade (ToT) are lower than last year and below the five-year average due to above-average staple cereal prices. In Baidoa, the daily wage rate in September could buy 13 kg of red sorghum, down from the five-year average of 17 kg. In Bardhere of Gedo, the daily wage rate bought 8 kg of sorghum in September, half of the five-year average of 16 kg. Conversely, ToT are average to above average in Lower Juba, Middle Juba, and Middle Shabelle due to near normal labor and maize prices. 

The goat-to-local cereal ToT are also well below average in most southern regions, driven by both above-average cereal prices and below-average livestock prices. In Luq of Gedo, the sale of a local quality goat bought 63 kg of red sorghum in September, significantly lower than the five-year average of 106 kg (Figure 8). In Hudur of Bakool, a sale of a goat purchased 52 kg of sorghum in the same month, down from a five-year average of 102 kg. In central areas, although the key staple consumed is imported rice and prices are stable, below-average ToT are driven by low livestock prices. In Galkayo of Mudug, the sale of local quality goat bought 55 kg of rice compared to the five-year average of 74 kg. Similarly, in Dhusmareeb of Galgadud, the sale of a goat brought 35 kg of red rice, down from the five-year average of 47 kg. By contrast, the goat-to-rice ToT in most northern pastoral areas was stable or increased slightly, due to both stable rice prices and near average livestock prices. 

An estimated 1.1 million people were internally displaced across Somalia before the 2016/17 drought and according to the UNHCR-led Protection and Return Monitoring Network (PRMN), an estimated 1.4 million additional people were displaced between November 2016 and October 2017, including 948,500 people (68 percent) due to persistent drought. Of the 242,000 people displaced during the July to September Xagaa season, over half were due to drought.

Ongoing conflict is another key driver of displacement (Figure 9). Of the above-mentioned individuals displaced between July and September, 45 percent were displaced due to conflict. In many southern and central regions, conflict has increased compared to last year. Inter-clan conflict in Afgoye, Merka, and Dhusamareeb has resulted in the loss of human lives and forced people to flee their homes. This in turn has resulting in the loss of assets among some households and the abandonment of fields. Insurgents and allied militias also continue implementing road blockades, restricting trade flows and humanitarian access to some southern and central regions.

In September, nearly 1,500 measles cases were reported, keeping the outbreak at epidemic levels. In the same month, 650 cases of AWD/cholera were reported, a sustained decline in the number of cases reported monthly in 2017. Over 100 cases of AWD/cholera were reported in the first two weeks of October.

Following the failure of the 2016/2017 Deyr rains, large-scale humanitarian assistance has been delivered in many areas of Somalia. According to the Food Security Cluster (FSC), humanitarian assistance reached an average of 2.6 million beneficiaries a month between August and October (Figure 10), similar to the number of beneficiaries reached monthly since March 2017. The percentage of households who reported receiving assistance during the post-Gu survey was much lower than the percentage indicated by the FSC, though there were some livelihood zones where post-Gu data did corroborate the existence of large-scale assistance, including Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone.

Ongoing humanitarian assistance is preventing more extreme outcomes in many areas, including in Bay and Bakool agropastoral livelihood zones, Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone, and parts of Hawd and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones, where Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) persists. In the northeast of Northern Inland Pastoral, where data from the post-Gu assessment indicated Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes exist, and humanitarian assistance is playing a significant role, Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) are still likely. In other central and northern pastoral areas where assistance levels are relatively lower, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present in a few areas where production has been more favorable and livestock body conditions and herd sizes are allowing for relatively normal food access, namely in Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone.

Assumptions

The October 2017 to May 2018 most likely scenario is based on the following national-level assumptions:

  • The mid-October IRI/CPC ENSO forecast indicates the most-likely scenario is for La Niña conditions during the Deyr rainy season, driving below average rainfall. Rainfall through October 25 has been 50 percent below average in most areas according to CHIRPS preliminary data. An analysis of historical rainfall data indicates that when October rainfall is 30 percent or more below average, there is a high likelihood total seasonal rainfall will be 30 percent or more below average. Based on this analysis and an analysis of historical production data, January/February Deyr production is expected to be less than 70 percent of average.
  • Due to the above-mentioned climatological drivers, the December to January Xeys rains in East Golis and Guban Pastoral livelihood zones are also forecast to be below average.   
  • The April to June 2018 Gu rainy season is forecast to be below average. Although the October IRI/CPC forecasts ENSO neutral conditions during this time, science partners at NOAA and USGS indicate that climatic conditions will likely still drive dryness over the Horn as the La Niña dissipates. Given the long-term nature of this forecast, uncertainty exists.  
  • The November/December Gu/Karan harvest in the Northwest will be below the five-year average despite above-average area under cultivation, as a high proportion is being sold prematurely as fodder.
  • Below-average rainfall in southern and central agricultural areas throughout the outlook period is likely to reduce agricultural labor activities, including in riverine areas, and ultimately result in lower than normal income. This is due to a reduction in both the number of days available for work and lower wage rates, which historical data indicate decline towards the end of poor seasons.  
  • Pasture and water resources will likely remain below normal throughout the outlook period, though livestock are expected to migrate in normal patterns. This is due to the expectation that rainfall will be sufficient to regenerate pasture and water somewhat in all areas, and competition for resources will be lower than normal given reduced herd sizes.  
  • Livestock body conditions are expected to be below average throughout the outlook period. Low conception rates and low kidding and lambing are likely across the country, except in Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone of Hargeysa, and Southern Inland Pastoral and West Golis Pastoral livelihood zones, where medium births are likely.
  • Milk availability will be seasonally higher in November/December and April/May, but total volumes available will remain significantly lower than normal in most livelihood zones as a result of low rates of kidding and calving.
  • Livestock prices are expected to follow seasonal trends, but remain average to above average in northern pastoral areas.  This will be driven by continued low market supplies as pastoralists hold back selling remaining livestock. In southern and central areas, livestock prices will also follow seasonal trends but remain somewhat lower than the five-year average, due to poor livestock body conditions and continued distress sales.
  • Based on FEWS NET’s price projections in Baidoa and Qorioley, it is expected local cereal prices in southern markets will follow seasonal trends, but remain above average throughout the projection period. Prices are unlikely to approach levels observed in 2011, though. This is due in part to planned and funded assistance through December, the likelihood of some assistance continuing beyond that, and lower international food prices which will act as a price ceiling. In Qorioley, it is expected a kg of maize will not exceed 8,500 SOS and in Baidoa it is expected a kg of sorghum will not exceed 9,800 SOS.
  • Local cereal prices in the Northwest are expected to decline in November with the Gu/Karaan harvest, but remain above average throughout the projection period.  
  • Imported commodity prices are expected to remain stable throughout the projection period, though at prices slightly above the five-year average as the Somali and Somaliland Shillings are both expected to further depreciate slightly.
  • According to the Food Security Cluster, humanitarian partners plan to reach an estimated 3.2 million people per month between November 2017 and January 2018. This assistance is not fully funded, and it is expected assistance will reach less beneficiaries than targeted as a result. Additionally, beneficiaries reached in 2017 were occasionally under targets. Assistance in 2018 is not yet planned or funded. Despite this, past trends suggests that deliveries of food aid will likely continue in 2018, and it is therefore assumed assistance will continue at a national level, though at lower levels than delivered in 2017 due to expected funding constraints. Also due to funding constraints and lack of plans, it is also recognized that assumptions on the level of assistance to individual regions cannot yet be made.
  • Although incidences of cholera/AWD declined sharply after June, the forecast below-average Deyr and Gu seasons are likely to trigger an increase in the number of cases to above normal rates. Similarly, the measles outbreak is expected to persist.
  • Given the forecast for two additional poor seasons and ongoing conflict, only a small percentage of IDPs will likely return home during the projection period. Based on past displacement trends, it is expected that upwards of 240,000 additional people could be displaced between now and May 2018. 

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Extreme food security outcomes will persist in many areas of Somalia as two more below-average seasons are forecast. Agricultural areas will again experience below-average production and lower than normal labor opportunities, limiting ability to purchase sufficient food. In pastoral areas, with another year of poor pasture and water and already poor livestock body conditions, households are unlikely to rebuild herds and will have limited livestock to sell to purchase their basic food needs.

In most areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected throughout the projection period. Concern for Addun Pastoral livelihood zone is growing, given that little to no rainfall has been received in this area in October and livestock body conditions are very poor, limiting households’ ability to sell livestock to purchase food. Concern is also high for Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone of Hiraan, and Hawd Pastoral and Coastral Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones. In these areas, poor households have lost significant numbers of livestock or experienced several seasons of well below average production and currently have limited sources of income with which they can purchase needed food. Areas of highest concern include Bay/Bakool agropastoral areas, Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone, and Guban Pastoral livelihood zone, which will be discussed in the below area of concern sections. In riverine livelihood zones, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected throughout the projection period as production will be below average but sufficient to meet households’ minimal consumption needs. In Juba Cattle Pastoral, Southern Inland Pastoral, West Golis Pastoral livelihood zones, and Wooqoyi Galbeed of Northwest Agropastoral livelihood zone, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected through January, where livestock herd sizes and body conditions are relatively better and expected to allow households to sell sufficient livestock to purchase their basic food needs. However, outcomes will deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from February to May.

Although it is likely assistance will continue in 2018 at some level, insufficient evidence is available to determine if assistance is likely to improve the phase classification at the livelihood-zone level. Even in a scenario of continued assistance at current levels, Famine (IPC Phase 5) is still possible, as households coping capacity will further erode as they face two additional poor seasons. In the event of a protracted absence of humanitarian assistance, Famine (IPC Phase 5) is likely. Large-scale assistance is needed throughout 2018 to prevent the loss of lives and collapse of livelihoods.

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.

About Scenario Development

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.

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.

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