SOMALIA* (9 February)

Torrential rains in mid- October caused the worst floods in decades, resulting in an estimated 2 000 deaths, 250 000 displaced persons, serious damage to housing and infrastructure and crop and livestock losses.

The heavy rains that persisted until early January adversely affected the 1997/98 secondary ”Deyr” crops, normally accounting for some 20 percent of the annual cereal production, which had been planted just before the floods occurred. Worst affected areas are the main southern agricultural parts, along the Juba and Shebelle rivers, particularly Baidoa, Q/dhere, Dinsor, Bardere, Jilib, Jamame, Sablale, K/Warey, Brava, Kismayo, Xagar and Afmadow where crop losses are estimated to be around 80 percent. With a recession in water levels, extensive replanting began in December but the outcome is uncertain. For the country as a whole, preliminary estimates indicate that production will be less than half the expected normal level. This is the fourth year of below-average harvest. The floods also resulted in losses of household cereal stocks from the 1997 main “Gu” season. Production of that season was also poor due to dry spells. Aggregate cereal production in 1997/98 is provisionally estimated at 269 000 tonnes, some 7 percent lower than last year’s below-average level. Import requirements for the 1997/98 marketing year (August/July) have been revised upward to 330 000 tonnes, of which about 115 000 tonnes will need to be covered by food aid. However, only a few pledges have been made to date, amounting to 15 000 tonnes.

While the floods alone resulted in losses of livestock estimated at 35 500 animals, an outbreak of Rift Valley fever combined with other animal diseases, occurring since December 1997 in north-eastern Kenya and southern areas of Somalia is reportedly causing losses of large numbers of animals, mainly camels and goats.