GIEWS > Data & Tools > Earth Observation
GIEWS - Global Information and Early Warning System

Country Briefs


Reference Date: 07-April-2023


  1. Famine expected to be averted due to scaled up humanitarian assistance

  2. Between April and June 2023, about 6.5 million people (almost 40 percent of total population) is expected to face severe acute food insecurity

  3. Lack of pasture and water resulting in widespread livestock deaths

  4. Dismal 2022 cereal production

  5. Prices of cereals declining between December 2022 and February 2023

Famine expected to be averted due to scaled up humanitarian assistance, but food security situation remains dire

Although famine was projected between April and June 2023 for rural communities in Baidoa and Burhakaba districts in Bay Region and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baidoa town and Mogadishu, it is currently expected to be averted due to scaled up humanitarian assistance. In addition, the October‑December rains, despite being below average, had a better performance compared to the recent rainy seasons.

However, the food security situation remains dire and, at national level, about 6.5 million people (almost 40 percent of the total population) are projected to face severe acute food insecurity between April and June 2023. This figure, about 65 percent higher than a year earlier, includes about 4.4 million people in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis), 1.9 million in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) and 223 000 in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe).

The high prevalence and severity of food insecurity are due to prolonged drought, which began in late 2020 and caused severe crop and livestock losses. The impact of the drought on households’ food security has been compounded by prolonged conflicts and hikes in international prices of wheat and fuel caused by the war in Ukraine.

Herd sizes at very low levels due to widespread animal deaths

Prolonged drought conditions have significantly affected rangeland resources in southern agropastoral areas and central‑northern pastoral areas. The below‑average October‑December “Deyr” rains were insufficient for a complete regeneration of rangeland resources, which entered the January‑March “Jilaal” dry season at below‑average levels (see Vegetation Health Index map). As a result, rangeland depletion has been faster than normal, resulting in significant pasture and water shortages.

Although the “Deyr” rains supported some improvements in livestock body conditions and benefited the reproduction of small ruminants, herd sizes remain at very low levels. After widespread animal deaths, with more than 3.8 million heads of livestock estimated to have perished between July 2021 and April 2022, herd sizes are currently between 30 and 70 percent below average.

With the April‑July “Gu” rainy season forecast to be poor, animal numbers and availability of livestock products are expected to remain at very low levels.

Dismal 2022 cereal production

Harvesting of the 2022 secondary “Deyr” crops was completed in February 2023 in central and southern regions, where it typically accounts for about 40 percent of the total annual cereal output. The performance of the rainy season in terms of rainfall amounts and distribution was better than forecast and the recent rainy seasons, but seasonal rains and hence cereal production were still below average.

Last year, both the “Karan” harvest, gathered in November 2022 in northern regions, and the major “Gu” harvest, gathered in July in central and southern regions, had a very poor performance as inadequate amounts and erratic distribution of seasonal rains severely constrained yields.

Aggregate 2022 cereal production is estimated at 138 000 tonnes, the second lowest output on record.

Land preparation for the planting of the 2023 “Gu” season crops is underway in central and southern regions. If April‑June precipitation amounts will be at below‑average levels as indicated by the forecasts, it would represent the sixth consecutive poor rainy season.

Prices of cereals declining between December 2022 and February 2023

Prices of locally produced cereals declined between December 2022 and February 2023 with the “Deyr” harvest. Prices of sorghum decreased by 10‑45 percent, while prices of maize dropped by 5‑15 percent. Prices of sorghum and maize in February where up to 40 and 25 percent, respectively, below the high levels of one year earlier. In the capital, Mogadishu, by contrast, prices were just 5 percent lower on a yearly basis, as the presence of the drought‑displaced communities boosted local demand.

In Burao market, one of the main livestock markets in the Horn of Africa, prices of goats in February 2023 were 17 percent lower than one year earlier, mainly as a result of the deterioration of body conditions due to consecutive poor rainy seasons. Prices of cereals declined more steeply, and sorghum prices in February 2023 were 25 percent lower on a yearly basis. As a result, the livestock‑to‑cereal terms of trade for pastoralists improved by 10 percent between February 2022 and February 2023. However, these limited food access gains are largely potential, as pastoral households are engaged in repopulating their herds and have few animals to sell.

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.

This brief was prepared using the following data/tools:
FAO/GIEWS Country Cereal Balance Sheet (CCBS)
FAO/GIEWS Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Tool

FAO/GIEWS Earth Observations for Crop Monitoring
Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)