Issued: March 15, 2017
Risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists in Somalia
· In January, FEWS NET and FSNAU released joint statements on deteriorating food security in Somalia and the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in a worst-case scenario in which the April to June 2017 Gu season performs very poorly, purchasing power declines to levels seen in 2010/11, and humanitarian assistance is unable to reach populations in need. In the most likely scenario, though, agropastoral areas of Bay/Bakool and Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone are expected to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, and associated risk of increased mortality, through September.
· The April to June Gu season is currently forecast to be slightly below average. Terms of trade in southern regions are expected to decline significantly, and may be only slightly better than 2011 levels. Terms of trade in northern regions will be slightly more favorable, given stable rice prices.
· Humanitarian access is relatively better than in 2011 and humanitarian partners are present in previously inaccessible areas of southern Somalia. Humanitarian partners distributed emergency assistance to over 1,079,000 beneficiaries in February, reaching over 50 percent of the need in many areas of Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone and 35 percent of the need in Baidoa, two areas of high concern.
· An estimated 2,912,000 people will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phases 4) acute food insecurity between now and the peak of the agricultural lean season in June. Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed to save lives and livelihoods.
· The ongoing drought has led to high levels of internal and external displacement. According to recent reports by UNHCR, an estimated 256,000 people are newly displaced within Somalia, the majority of whom are in Mudug, Bay, and Banadir (Mogadishu). People have also sought refuge in Dolo Ado camp in Ethiopia, where the over 4,100 Somalis have arrived since January 2017.
· The scarcity of safe drinking water has led to an outbreak of AWD/cholera. According to WHO, there have been 10,571 cases reported and 269 deaths since January 2017. Nearly half of all cases where reported in Bay, and the majority of these cases were in Baidoa town where crowding of newly displaced households is likely exacerbating the outbreak.
· FSNAU plans to conduct SMART surveys in Bay Agropastoral, Northern Inland Pastoral, Bakool Pastoral livelihood zones, Baidoa IDPs and Mogadishu IDPs in early April. The results of these integrated surveys will update the malnutrition, mortality and food security status of these areas.
In January, FEWS NET and FSNAU warned of rapidly deteriorating food security in Somalia and the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in a worst-case scenario where the 2017 Gu season performs very poorly, purchasing power declines to levels seen in 2011, and humanitarian assistance is unable to reach populations in need.
It was these factors, alongside persistent high levels of acute malnutrition, which led to Famine (IPC Phase 5) in 2011. Conditions in early 2017 compared to early 2011 are mixed (Figure 1). International wheat and rice prices are lower and the prices of these imported commodities are expected to remain stable and act as a price ceiling on maize and sorghum prices, but terms of trade are still expected to deteriorate significantly, and may be only slightly higher than in 2011. Humanitarian access is relatively better, though, and humanitarian partners are present in previously inaccessible areas of southern Somalia. Although there remains a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5), it is not the most likely scenario given current humanitarian access and the expectation of only slightly below average Gu rainfall. In a worst-case scenario where humanitarian assistance is unable to reach populations and need and the Gu rains are more below average than currently forecast, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely. Of highest concern are agropastoral areas of Bay and Bakool and Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone.
In agropastoral areas of Bay and Bakool, many poor households did not harvest crops during the Deyr season and have few livestock to sell to fund cereal purchases. Furthermore, high cereal prices are restricting normal food access. Internal displacement to Baidoa town has increased significantly over the past three months. The scarcity of safe drinking water has led to the outbreak of AWD/cholera in these regions, exacerbated by the overcrowding of newly displaced populations. The prevalence of acute malnutrition was at ‘Critical’ levels in December and has likely further deteriorated in recent months. In the event that the Gu season is significantly delayed or poorer than currently forecast, production will be well below average and food security will further deteriorate. Humanitarian access is relatively better compared to 2011, but there remain inaccessible areas in Bay and Bakool. Food insecurity is expected to be severe for those who cannot be reached by humanitarian assistance. In a worst-case scenario where large-scale assistance is not delivered and the Gu season performs poorer than expected, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be expected.
In Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone, pastoralists are expected to be able to access some food through borrowing and credit, and food security will likely improve minimally after the Gu rains, when livestock body conditions improve and allow for the sale of a few goats. Large-scale humanitariain interventions are also ongoing in this livelihood zone and likely to continue through at least June. Food consumption gaps are expected to remain throughout the scenario period, though, and herd sizes will decline sharply due to atypical deaths and high sales. In the event that the Gu rains perform much worse than currently forecast, additional livestock deaths are expected and some pastoralists would lose their entire herd. Famine (IPC Phase 5) is possible in a worst-case scenario where the Gu rains fail, leaving pastoralists without livestock to sell, and humanitariain actors are unable to distribute large-scale assistance to those in need.
FSNAU plans to conduct SMART surveys in early April in Bay Agropastoral, Northern Inland Pastoral, and Bakool Pastoral livelihood zones, and among Baidoa IDPs and Mogadishu IDPs. The results of these integrated surveys will update the malnutrition, mortality, and food security status of these areas.
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