Weather shocks, desert locust, and COVID-19 economic contraction lead to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes

Issued: November 16, 2020

  •  Acute food insecurity is expected to remain high in Somalia through May 2021, driven by the varying impacts of localized floods and below-average rainfall, a worsening desert locust infestation in central and parts of southern Somalia, and the economic contraction linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. In late 2020, the population facing food consumption gaps indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes is likely to reach 2.1 million. In early to mid-2021, the acutely food insecure population is likely to rise over 2.5 million due to the impact of consecutive, below-average rainfall seasons on crop and livestock production. Sustained humanitarian food assistance is required to prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes and protect livelihoods.
  • The October to December 2020 deyr rainfall season is performing better than previously forecast in central and parts of southern Somalia, but cumulative rainfall in the North and much of the South is below 55 percent of the 30-year average. The rains will mitigate crop losses in southern agropastoral areas and benefit livestock production in south-central pastoral areas, but the likelihood of a third consecutive season of flooding will erode crop production in riverine areas. In the north, livestock production conditions are still favorable but pasture and water will likely become scarce during the January to March 2021 jilaal dry season.
  • Desert locust hatching and band formation are widespread in central Somalia and swarms are present in Hiiraan, Bay, Bakool, and Middle and Lower Shabelle regions. Significant damage to germinating crops has been reported in these areas, including Cowpea Belt Agropastoral and Bay Bakool Low Potential livelihood zones. Due to the presence of swarms and reports of breeding in the South at this stage of crop development, as well as the likelihood of erratic rainfall at the end of the deyr season, crop and pasutre losses from desert locust will be higher than last year. On the other hand, aerial control operations in the Northwest are reducing local swarms. Pasture losses in the North remain localized, permitting opportunities for livestock migration.
  • Urban and displaced households across Somalia, as well as pastoral households in East Golis Pastoral livelihood zone who heavily rely on frankincense exports, are most affected by the economic contraction linked to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic led to a temporary decline in staple food imports and livestock and frankincense exports, curtailed remittances to households and small and medium businesses, and increased unemployment in urban areas. According to the latest World Bank economic forecast, Somalia’s economy is expected to rebound in 2021 due to a dollarized economy, low fuel prices, recovery in remittances, and fiscal reforms. However, poor households with limited coping capacity and high vulnerability will likely continue to struggle to meet their minimum food and non-food needs.
  • FEWS NET’s analysis of historical rainfall performance indicates that waning La Niña conditions will most likely result in below-average rainfall during the April to June 2021 gu season. Due to the cumulative impacts of multiple weather shocks and persistent desert locust infestation, coupled with the ongoing recovery from the 2020 economic contraction, food assistance needs are expected to rise through at least May 2021. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in many northern pastoral areas, riverine areas, and several agropastoral areas, as well as in most urban areas and IDP settlements. On the household level, it is likely that some worst-affected households will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

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