FSNAU-FEWS NET Food Security and Nutrition Quarterly Brief with a Focus on the 2020 Jiaal Impact and Gu Season Early Warning

Issued: May 9, 2020


·       The 2020 Jilaal (January-March) dry season was mild in terms of continued availability pasture and water for livestock in most parts of the country due to average to above-average 2019 Deyr (October-December) season rainfall. There were also localized light to moderate, off-season rains in many parts of Somalia during February and March, which has intensified further since the onset of the 2020 Gu (April-June) in mid-April covering most parts of the country (Maps 2 and 3).

·       Moderate to heavy precipitations in the upper catchment of the Juba and Shebelle rivers in the eastern Ethiopian highlands and intensified rainfall within Somalia since mid-April have caused riverine flooding in Bardhere of Gedo region and some parts of Middle and Lower Juba.  Flash floods were reported in Qardho town in Bari region. According to OCHA, as of 5 May, over 200,000 people have been affected by flooding, of whom 70,000 have been displaced and 16 killed, in 19 districts across Somalia. Heavy rains caused flash floods in northern regions and riverine flooding along the Juba River in the south. Continue availability of pasture and water across most parts of the country have improved conditions for livestock production and reproduction. 

·       While damages thus far remain moderate and localized, according to the latest information from FAO, Desert Locust continues to pose a risk to current Gu season crop production and it may also threaten pasture availability and crop cultivation across Somalia through the following 2020 Deyr (October-December) season.

·       Despite favorable rainfall conditions, current Gu season production is expected to be 15 to 25 percent lower than average due to the likely cumulative impact of flooding and Desert Locust.

·       Data from obtained from the Somalia Nutrition Cluster indicates a 13 percent increase in monthly new admissions of acutely malnourished children between January and March 2020 compared to the first-quarter average monthly admission for 2016-2019. This can be attributed to sporadic disease outbreaks (acute watery diarrhea-AWD/cholera and measles outbreak), and worsening of the food security situation in many areas.

·       Data obtained from UNHCR indicates that an estimated 126,000 people were displaced between Jan and March 2020, mainly because of insecurity (76%), mostly affecting Lower Shabelle, Bay, Galgaduud and Gedo regions. Other major reasons for population displacement include lack of livelihood opportunities (17%) and drought (4%).

·       Somalia's population is currently experiencing multiple shocks: Desert Locust upsurge that started in late 2019 and continues to threaten the food security and livelihoods of pastoralists and farmers in many parts of the country; riverine and flash floods during the current Gu (April-June) season that affect the food security, livelihoods and safety of farmers and people living in flood-prone, populated areas; the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is having severe health and socio-economic impacts both in Somalia and globally; and the extended impact of previous shocks (flooding, drought, displacement, etc.) on livelihoods.

·       From January to March 2020, the provision of food assistance in Somalia declined. However, the level of food assistance has increased in April 2020. The average beneficiaries reached monthly from January to March was 0.9 million, compared to 1.6 million reached in April.

·       Somalia confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on 16 March.  As of 8 May 2020, according to Somalia’s Ministry of Health and Human Services, Somalia has a total of 928 cases and 44 deaths.

·       Some of the measures taken by the Government of Somalia and Somalia’s trading partners to curb the spread of COVID-19 are beginning to have economic impacts. As the spread of COVID-19 continues and measures aimed at containing its spread remain in force, this is likely to have further negative impact on the overall economy and food security outcomes in Somalia.  Movement, trade and travel restrictions within Somalia and with Somalia's neighbors and trading partners and in countries with large Somali diaspora populations are expected to remain in effect up to June 2020. Disruptions to economic activity will be severe. The assumptions informing the most likely scenario for food security outcomes from April through September 2020 include:

o   A 30 to 50 percent decline in livestock exports is expected during the peak export period between April and early August 2020 (the lead up to and during Ramadan and Hajj festivities)

o   A 30 to 50 percent decline is expected in external remittance flows into Somalia

o   Imported food prices are anticipated to increase by 20 to 30 percent

o   Income among poor urban households and IDPS is expected to decline by 20 to 30 percent, due to declines in casual labor income, petty trade, and remittances

·       It is assumed that movement, trade, and travel restrictions within Somalia and its major economic partners and in countries with significant Somali diaspora population will be eased by July 2020. As a result, the resumption of economic activities is anticipated by July, but the recovery will likely be gradual. Prolonged economic impacts on the Somali economy and food security outcomes will persist through at least September 2020

·       An estimated 2.7 million people across Somalia are expected to face Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 or higher) outcomes between April and June without sustained humanitarian assistance. An additional 2.9 million people are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), bringing the total number of people facing acute food insecurity to 5.6 million (Map 7). These numbers are expected to increase further between July and September 2020, when 3.5 million people are expected to face Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 or higher) outcomes and an additional 2.9 million people are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2), bringing the total number of people facing acute food insecurity across Somalia to 6.4 million (Map 8). Areas of highest concern include urban IDP settlements, Riverine Pump and Riverine Gravity, and Guban Pastoral livelihood zones, where it is likely that some of the most vulnerable poor households will deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4)

·       Humanitarian assistance must be scaled up through September 2020 to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes for up to 3.5 million people.  Livelihoods support is also required for people that are Stressed or worse (IPC Phase 2 or higher).

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