Rapid Results Drought Response Plan: Somalia 2016/17

Rapid Results Drought Response Plan: Somalia 2016/17
Jan 2017

FAO’s Rapid Results Drought Response Plan addresses the most time-sensitive needs of rural families across Somalia. In 2016, Somalia’s two main rainy seasons were poor, both Gu (April-June) and Deyr (October-December). Drought has been declared across the country: from the north’s largely pastoral arid lands, down through the central and southernmost breadbaskets. By December 2016 – following the poor Deyr rains – conditions worsened, with most of the country experiencing severe to extreme drought. The Jilaal dry season follows from January to March 2017. This is the driest and hottest time of year in Somalia. During these harsh months, rural families rely on remaining water and pasture from the preceding rainy season, and food and income from the preceding harvest. This Jilaal, however, pastures, wells and grain stores will be largely barren.

Farmers and pastoralists have most to lose when the rains fail: their food sources, income and assets. The two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall in 2016 created a domino effect of losses. First, insufficient Gu rains in the southern breadbasket led to a 49 percent drop in cereal production compared to an average year. In some areas, production failed entirely – leaving farmers without food, income, as well as seeds to plant for the next season. In turn, low cereal stocks and water supplies triggered price hikes, further diminishing households’ purchasing power. The second season of poor rains during Deyr will have similar knock-on effects on crops in the first part of 2017, but will impact families more profoundly as losses compound losses. When farmers lose a cereal harvest, there is a six-month time gap between that failed harvest and when the next season’s crop matures.

Similarly, pastoralists have become increasingly vulnerable. The rains were insufficient to replenish animal feed and water sources. High livestock losses are reported from north (Somaliland and Puntland) to south (Bay, Bakool, Gedo, Middle Juba and Lower Juba). The surviving animals are weak, more susceptible to disease, less productive and less valuable. In turn, pastoralists are increasingly unable to provide for their families. When animals’ body conditions deteriorate, they supply less milk and meat. They are also worth less when sold or traded for other food items – commonly cereals. In a traditional pastoral household, livestock represent a family’s lifetime savings, most valuable productive asset and main currency. When lost, the poorest families have little, if anything, to fall back on.

Families need urgent support to make it through the harsh dry months of Jilaal, and make the most of the upcoming Gu rains. Acute food insecurity, which currently affects 5 million Somalis, is expected to spike during Jilaal. Nearly 1.4 million people are estimated to be in ‘Crisis’ (IPC Phase 3) or worse between January and May 2017, up from 1.1 million in late 2016.

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