GIEWS Country Briefs

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Reference Date: 15-July-2014


  1. Unfavourable prospects for the upcoming 2014 “gu” season harvest due to below-average and erratic rainfall

  2. Recent escalation of conflict in parts resulted in large population displacements and heavily constrained the movement of goods and services

  3. Prices of cereals surging in most markets

  4. Food security conditions are anticipated to worsen in the post- “gu” period

  5. Adequate response and a close monitoring of the food security situation is warranted

Unfavourable prospects for the upcoming 2014 “gu” season harvest due to below-average and erratic rainfall

The 2014 “gu” (April-June) rainy season started in late April in most central and northeastern (Puntland) regions, with a delay of about three weeks. In southern regions, rains began earlier than usual in late March in parts (including Bay, southern Gedo and Lower and Middle Juba), allowing for early planting of sorghum and cowpea crops. However, during the whole month of April, precipitation was well below average and erratic in southern regions, affecting crops in the crucial establishment phase. During the first two dekads of May, rains resumed in most parts of the country but had an early cessation in the last dekad of the month. As a result, between the last dekad of May and early June, the peak of the rainfall season and crucial for crop development and pasture regeneration, most of the southern regions (Shabelle, Hiran, Bakool and large parts of Gedo), parts of central regions (most of coastal Deeh pastoral and Cowpea Belt agro-pastoral livelihood zones), and northwestern regions (Awdal and most parts of Woqooyi Galbeed) largely remained dry.

Overall, most of the rains fell in the first two dekads of May with poor spatial and temporal distribution. The rains were characterized by heavy storms lasting a few hours and were highly concentrated in time. The stormy rains led to high runoff and low moisture recharge which could not sustain optimal crop growth nor replenish the groundwater resources adequately.

Due to poor rainfall performance during the cropping season, in June the FAO Vegetation Health Index highlighted poor vegetation conditions in most of the croplands of the “sorghum belt” (Gedo, Bay, Bakool and Hiran regions), in key maize growing areas of Lower and Middle Shabelle and in several pastoral and agro-pastoral areas both in the north (parts of Sanaag, Toghdheer, Sool and Wooqoi Galbeed regions) and in the centre/south (parts of Hiran, Lower Shabelle, Bakool, Gedo, and Middle Juba regions).

As a result, the 2014 “gu” harvest, normally carried out end-July through August, is expected to be below average, also due to the escalation of conflict in parts of Lower and Middle Shabelle, Hiran, Bakool and Gedo, where land preparation was hampered by the temporary displacement of many farmers.

Due to the anticipated reduced main “gu” harvest the 2014 aggregate cereal production is forecast to remain around the poor level of the previous year.

Food prices surging following reduced availabilities, poor crop prospects and insecurity

Prices of locally produced coarse grains sharply increased in recent months following the early depletion of stocks from the below-average 2013/14 secondary “deyr” cereal output, serious disruptions in markets and trade activities caused by intensified conflict in southern and central regions and unfavourable prospects for the upcoming 2014 “gu” harvest. For instance, in Marka, located in the important maize producing region of Lower Shabelle, wholesale prices of maize increased by 34 percent from March to June; similarly, sorghum prices in Baidoa and Beletweine markets, located in the sorghum belt, rose by 50 percent over the same period. In the capital Mogadishu, prices of maize and sorghum increased between March and June by about 75 percent. June prices of maize and sorghum were up to 55 and 86 percent higher than one year earlier, respectively, also due to the scaling back of humanitarian assistance operations, partly caused by access constraints due to insecurity. Prices of imported rice were stable in recent months at around the same levels of a year earlier, due to low prices on the international market and improved functioning of main entry ports.

Worsening food security due to high prices, conflict and poor production prospects

The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in June is estimated at about 860 000, including over 200 000 children under the age of five years.

Based on ongoing field monitoring activities, the food security situation is projected to deteriorate in the post-“gu” period (July-December 2014) as a result of poor crop prospects, armed conflict and associated displacements and trade disruptions, as well as high cereal prices.

The worst-affected areas where acute food insecurity is most likely to deteriorate from Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 2 (Stressed) to IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) include parts of Bakool (agro-pastoral and urban), Gedo ( agropastoral) , Hiran (agro-pastoral, riverine and urban), Lower Shabelle and the “Cowpea Belt” in central Somalia. Phase 3 (Crisis) acute food insecurity is also likely to persist in parts of the Middle Shabelle (riverine) and Middle Juba ( agro-pastoral) regions, in the coastal areas of central Somalia and in the parts of Northeast affected by the 2013 cyclone. In addition, of particular concern are urban populations in some of the main towns of the Bakool (Hudur), Hiran (Bulburte) and Lower Shabelle (Qorioley) regions.

FAO agricultural/livelihood support

In the framework of the agricultural/livelihood support, FAO in Somalia i) supports the diversification of communities’ livelihood strategies through the distribution of productive inputs and post-harvest equipment; the implementation of Cash-for-Work activities; the establishment of Farmer/Pastoral Field Schools and the support to the targeted households in enterprise creation with the organization of the establishment of business associations. In addition, FAO ii) aims to increase the communities’ food production in a sustainable manner and in case of chronic pressure or shocks it supports their ability to restore/maintain their productive capacity. This is achieved through the support of local seeds and farm tools’ productions, livestock re-stocking; fishing fleet renewal and seeding/reseeding of degraded rangelands pastures with the establishment of tree nurseries. In the same framework, FAO iii) enhances the producer organizations’ capacity to sell their produce and obtain better prices in the local markets by facilitating the access of producer groups to credit facilities and iv) facilitates the communities’ access to knowledge and support services for productive activities mainly through the establishment of pests and diseases surveillance and response systems including vaccination, treatment and vector control activities.

As of early July, the 2014 UN Appeal “Strategic Response Plan for Somalia”, launched in December 2013, has received only 28 percent of the USD 933 million requested, with a shortfall of USD 676 million.

Relevant links:
 As of Jul 2014, included in the list of "Countries Requiring External Assistance for Food"
 Cereal Supply/Demand Balance Sheet
 Food Price Data and Analysis Tool
 Earth Observation Indicators
 Seasonal Indicators
 Vegetation Indicators
 Precipitation Indicators
 Graphs & Data
 NDVI & Precipitation
 Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) Reports & Special Alerts: 2008, 2005, 2001, 1999, 1999, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1997, 1997
From FAO:
 FAO Country Profiles

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