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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 13-September-2022


  1. Famine expected in absence of urgent humanitarian assistance due to unprecedented multi‑season drought

  2. Severe pasture and water shortages resulting in widespread livestock deaths

  3. Poor 2022 “Gu” main season harvest

  4. Prices of domestically produced and imported cereals at exceptionally high levels

Famine expected in absence of urgent humanitarian assistance due to unprecedented multi‑season drought

In August 2022, an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis was conducted focusing on the Bay Region and the results indicate that famine is expected to occur between October and December, if humanitarian assistance is not urgently scaled up. Famine is expected for rural communities in Baidoa and Burhakaba districts and newly arrived internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baidoa town.

At national level, about 6.7 million people (41 percent of the total population) are projected to face severe food insecurity over the same period. This figure includes about 4.2 million people in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis), 2.2 million in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) and 300 560 in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe) in the context of an anticipated scaling down of planned humanitarian food assistance deliveries in late 2022.

The famine projected in Bay Region and the overall deterioration of the food security situation that occurred in 2022 mainly reflect the failure of the April‑July “Gu” rainy season, which exacerbated the drought which began in late 2020. Assessed as the most extensive and persistent in 40 years, the drought caused severe and widespread crop and livestock losses and its impact on households’ food security has been compounded by the prolonged conflict and the hikes in international prices of wheat and fuel caused by the Ukraine war.

As meteorological forecasts point to a poor October–December “Deyr” season rainfall, food security conditions are expected to deteriorate. Food and livelihood assistance needs to be urgently scaled up in addition to critical assistance in nutrition, WASH and health in order to avert a famine in Bay Region, the collapse of rural livelihoods, increased destitution and widespread hunger leading to mass population displacements from rural areas across the country.

Severe pasture and water shortages resulting in widespread livestock deaths

Prolonged drought conditions are significantly affecting rangeland resources in southern agropastoral areas and centralnorthern pastoral areas, where the failure of the April July “Gu” rainy season hampered the regeneration of rangeland resources and the recharge of water sources.

The severe shortage of pasture and water led to widespread animal emaciation, low birth rates adversely affecting milk production and the death from starvation of about 3 million animals since mid2021. As a result, herd sizes have significantly declined, a source of particular concern as livestock numbers were already on a declining trajectory since the beginning of the drought.

As rangeland conditions were at extremely low levels at the start of the JulySeptember “Hagaa” dry season (Vegetation Condition Index Map) and the forthcoming October–December rainy season is forecast to be poor, additional livestock losses are expected in the coming months, especially during the January-March “Jilaal” dry season.

Poor 2022 “Gu” main season harvest

The 2022 main “Gu” (AprilJune) season crops, harvested last July and normally accounting for about 60 percent of the country's total annual cereal output, have been severely affected by poor seasonal rains. Cereal production is estimated at 59 900 tonnes, including 10 200 tonnes of offseason crops to be harvested in late September/early October. This output is 50 percent below average, making the 2022 “Gu” the fifth consecutive season with a reduced cereal production. Crop failures are reported in several areas, including the two districts of Bay Region where famine is expected.

In southern keycropping areas, cumulative precipitation amounts in April were about half the longterm average, hampering planting operations and resulting in germination failures. Farmers also faced difficulties accessing agricultural inputs and labour as high food prices drained households’ finances. Although aboveaverage rains in early May reduced moisture deficits and allowed planting and replanting of failed crops, crop prospects did not significantly improve as the rains were late and lasted only a couple of weeks. As of midJune, in both Lower Shabelle Region, the main maize producing area, and in the “sorghum belt” of Bay Region, up to 85 percent of cropland were affected by severe drought (ASI map).

Prices of domestically produced and imported cereals at exceptionally high levels

Prices of locally produced maize and sorghum increased since mid2020 due to an unprecedented succession of five poor or failed harvests. Prices of sorghum and maize in July were at record high levels in most markets, including the capital, Mogadishu, up to three and two times their yearearlier values, respectively. In Mogadishu, prices of imported wheat in July were more than 50 percent higher than 12 months earlier, due to high international prices.

In Baidoa, one of the two districts where famine is expected, prices of sorghum soared by more than 30 percent between May and July as seasonal patterns were compounded by expectations of a particularly poor performance of the cropping season. In July, prices were at record high levels and more than twice their yearearlier values.

Livestock prices declined significantly over the past several months as the prolonged drought had a negative impact on livestock body conditions. In Burao market, one of the main livestock markets in the Horn of Africa, prices of goats in July were 20 percent lower than one year earlier. By contrast, prices of sorghum in July were about 25 percent higher than 12 months earlier due to insufficient supplies. As a result, the livestock to cereal terms of trade for pastoralists have deteriorated over the last year, with the equivalent in sorghum of one goat in Burao declining from almost 100 kg in July 2021 to about 60 kg in July 2022.

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