Quarterly Brief - Focus on Post Gu Season Early Warning

Issued: June 25, 2012

Based on the results of the rapid preliminary Gu season field assessment carried out in June 2012 and monthly monitoring of food security and nutrition situation, FSNAU projects a total number of people in a food security crisis is likely to remain unchanged in the second half of the year. This forecast will hold under the conditions of continued humanitarian support (cash and food), which was extended to 3.4 million people in January-April this year. The impact of the assistance is seen in improved access to food, social safety nets and household incomes to allow for restocking of livestock, as well as the overall improved nutrition situation in the country.

However, the food security situation is going to deteriorate in the agropastoral areas in the South where below average Gu rainfall in most of the rain-fed farming areas suggest an inevitable shortfall of Gu harvest. Below average to poor harvest is expected in all rain-fed regions of the Sorghum Belt, inclusive of the major sorghum producing region of Bay, which normally accounts for almost two-thirds of the total sorghum production of the country. This prospect is particularly concerning for poor farmers in parts of crop-dependent agropastoral areas in the South (Bay, parts of Juba, Shabelle, Bakool and Gedo), who normally derive about 4-6 months of cereal supplies from the Gu season. A meagre crop production is also likely in the agropastoral zone of Central following erratic and below normal Gu rains combined with pest infestation, which will have implications on the food access of households in this livelihood.

Concerns remain also about sheep/goat pastoralists along the Indian Ocean coastline of the central and northern zones and a western part of the coastal areas (Awdal and W. Galbeed regions) in the Gulf of Aden, which received poor to no rainfall. However, the food security situation is likely to continue improving in most of the other livelihoods of the country, including most pastoral areas and Mogadishu. Therefore, anticipated decrease in the numbers of population in crisis in parts of these livelihoods will counterbalance the increases in agropastoral areas in South-Central.

Given the above forecast, continued humanitarian support is of utmost importance, particularly in the context of prevailing Very Critical nutrition situation in southern Somalia, which is expected to remain unchanged in most parts of the region. The exceptions are Lower Shabelle and the Mogadishu urban population where some improvements are likely in the second half of the year. The northern and central regions are expected to remain in Serious-Critical nutrition phases. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are likely to remain in a Critical-Very Critical nutrition phase in most settlements. The major contributing factors of the current high malnutrition levels in Somalia include low milk availability due to limited livestock holding among the poor stemming from the effects of past droughts; disease incidences associated with consumption of unsafe water and lack of health care services; and chronic long-term challenges such as poor child feeding and care practices.

Thus, the major assumptions of the current outlook of sustained food security crisis include:

  • projected below average cereal harvest in agropastoral areas in the South
  • improving situation in most pastoral areas given favourable livestock prices, anticipated increase in herds and milk production, and high export demand
  • increased humanitarian access in South-Central to moderate the impact of the Gu harvest shortfall
  • relative stability of cereal prices and of the minimum cost of living in the context of increased flow of food due to humanitarian interventions and a functional Mogadishu port
  • further improvements in terms of trade between cereals and goats or for labour wages under the conditions of continued humanitarian support

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