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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 27-June-2017


  1. Unfavourable prospects for upcoming 2017 “gu” season harvest due to below-average and erratic rainfall

  2. Severe pasture and water shortages in most pastoral areas affecting livestock conditions

  3. Access to food increasingly constrained for most households

  4. About 3.2 million individuals estimated to be severely food insecure

Unfavourable prospects for upcoming 2017 “gu” season harvest due to below-average and erratic rainfall

The April-June “gu” rainy season has been characterized by a delayed onset, poor rainfall amounts and erratic distribution over most cropping areas. In the Lower Shabelle Region, the main maize-producing area, cumulative seasonal rainfall was about 50 percent below-average and, according to FAO’s Agricultural Stress Index (ASI), drought conditions are currently affecting up to 85 percent of the crop land (see ASI map). In the “sorghum belt” in Bay Region, rainfall amounts were near-average, but precipitations were unevenly distributed in time, with delayed onset and early cessation. Here, ASI indicates that up to 55 percent of the crop land is affected by drought. As “hagaa” coastal rains in July-August are not expected to support the development of late-planted crops which have been affected by dry conditions in June, a yield recovery of the “gu” crops, to be harvested by August 2017, is highly unlikely.

Agricultural activities have been affected by the depletion of productive assets, lack of seeds and other agricultural inputs, protracted and widespread insecurity as well as large-scale population displacements. Between November 2016 and May 2017, about 740 000 persons were displaced due to the drought or drought-related factors.

Production prospects are generally unfavourable and may lead to a third consecutive reduced cereal production, after the poor “deyr” harvest gathered last January and the reduced 2016 “gu” output.

Severe pasture and water shortages in most pastoral areas affecting livestock conditions

In pastoral areas, where pasture and water availability were affected by the poor October-December “deyr” rains, a harsh “jilaal” dry season, with 10-25 percent higher than normal land surface temperatures, had a further negative impact on rangeland resources. Subsequently, the “gu” rainy season performed poorly, with the most severe rainfall deficits recorded in central Galgaduud, Mudug and Middle Shabelle regions, where the cumulative rainfall between April and mid-June was 60-80 percent lower than the long-term average. In these areas, current pasture conditions are significantly below average (see Vegetation Condition Index map). Although recent rains in May supported some pasture re-generation, these improvements are limited and will be short-lived as the rains did not continue into June and the “xagaa” July-September dry season is about to start. As a result of the persisting pasture and water shortages, livestock body conditions are poor, with low milk productivity and birth rates. In the areas most affected by drought, herds are estimated to have shrunk by 40 to 60 percent since December 2016 due to mortality and distress sales.

Access to food increasingly constrained for most households

Prices of locally-produced maize and sorghum surged by about 80 percent in the last quarter of 2016 in the main markets of the south. In the capital, Mogadishu, prices remained firm in recent months due to ongoing food assistance operations. In Marka and Baidoa markets, located in the key-producing Lower Shabelle and Bay regions, prices of maize and sorghum declined by about 15 percent in January-February following the “deyr” harvest, but the trend was reversed in the following months, as they surged by 25-30 percent in April-May. In May, overall prices of coarse grains in central and southern Somalia were up to twice their levels of 12 months earlier.

Prices of livestock in May where significantly lower than 12 months earlier in most markets of the country as a result of deteriorated body conditions. By contrast, prices of milk are at high levels due to reduced local supply. In Galkayo, one of the main livestock markets in the Horn of Africa, located in the Mudug Region, prices of goats and camels in May were 25 and 45 percent, respectively, lower than 12 months earlier. Similarly, in Middle Juba Region, prices of goats in May 2017 were less than half compared to the level of May 2016. In Hiraan, Lower Juba and Mudug regions, May prices of milk were 20-50 percent above their year-earlier levels.

As a result of declining livestock prices and increasing cereal prices, terms of trade for pastoralists sharply deteriorated over the last 12 months. For example, the equivalent in maize of one medium-size goat declined in Middle Juba from 97 kg in May 2016 to 30 kg in May 2017. In Mogadishu, unskilled labour wages rates sharply decreased over the last 12 months as the sustained immigration from drought-affected rural areas resulted in increased competition for available labour opportunities. Here, the maize/labour terms of trade declined by about 65 percent over the same period, indicating severe food access constraints also for urban consumers.

Food security situation further deteriorated in recent months

The already dire food situation further deteriorated in recent months due to the impact of the harsh dry season and to the poor performance of the “gu” rainy season on food availability and access in pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihoods.

Currently, 3.2 million individuals are estimated to be facing crisis and emergency food insecurity conditions, 10 percent more than in February, when the caseload escalated to 2.9 million due to the failed “deyr” rainy season. The food security situation has significantly deteriorated in central Nugal, Galkayo, Mudug, Galgadud, Hiran and Bakool regions, where “gu” rains were particularly poor. These regions, classified in February 2017 as IPC Phase 3: “Crisis”, are currently classified as IPC Phase 4: “Emergency”.

Despite access constraints due to insecurity, humanitarian assistance has been substantially scaled up during the first quarter of 2017, reaching approximately half million people in January, 1.1 million in February and nearly 1.8 million in March, mitigating overall food insecurity and averting IPC Phase 5: “Famine” in the worst affected areas.

To respond to the needs of the crisis-hit herders and farmers, FAO aims to assist 840 000 individuals in 2017, appealing for USD 160 million. As of May 2017, USD 99 million (62 percent of the requirement) were funded.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.