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Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Post Gu ‘12 - Technical Series Report No VI. 48

Source:  Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit
Country:  Somalia



The findings of the FSNAU, FEWS NET and partner post-Gu 2012 seasonal assessment results indicate continued improvements in food security and nutrition situation in Somalia. During a famine year of 2011, over 4 million people, or more than half of the population of Somalia were facing an acute food security crisis. In the post_Gu 2012, an estimated 2.12 million people, or 28 percent of the country’s population, remain in acute food security crisis (IPC Phases 3 and 4) for the August to December 2012 period. This indicates a 16 percent reduction from the beginning of the year. 53.7 percent of the food insecure are classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in urban and rural areas, 7.9 percent are classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in urban and rural areas, and 38.4 percent are IDPs in a food security crisis. In addition, an estimated 1.7 million people in rural and urban areas are classified in Stressed phase (IPC Phase 2). The improved situation is attributed to sustained humanitarian interventions over the last twelve months, improved food stocks at the household and market levels following an exceptional January 2012 Deyr harvest, improved milk availability and higher livestock prices in most pastoral areas of Somalia. Despite the decrease of the population in need, the total remains among the world’s largest. Lifesaving humanitarian assistance remains necessary between now and December to help food insecure populations meet immediate food needs, protect livelihoods, and build resilience.

According to the assessment findings, the August/ September Gu harvest is significantly below average due to a late start of rains, poor rainfall totals, and pest outbreaks, among other factors. However, food stocks from last season’s exceptional Deyr harvest helped to mitigate this shortfall and overall production for the 2012 calendar year is slightly above the annual average for the years of 1995-2011. Low cereal prices, high casual labor wage rates, and high livestock prices over the past six months have also contributed to reduced food insecurity by significantly strengthening the purchasing power of poor agropastoral households. In pastoral areas, households have also benefited from record livestock sales prices, robust livestock exports, and increasing livestock holdings, which have resulted in improved milk availability. This improved access to milk, among a variety of other factors, has driven a 27 percent reduction since January in the number of children requiring nutrition treatment. Currently 236,000 children are acutely malnourished, of which 70 percent are in the South.

While conditions have improved considerably since last year, the food security crisis has not ended. In the southern and central agropastoral areas, the below average Gu harvest, the continued need for cash to pay down debts, and low livestock holdings are keeping most southern and central agropastoral areas in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis). Other areas of concern include coastal areas and the coastal plains along the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in the northern and central regions.

According to the consensus-based climate outlook concluded on the 32nd Forum of Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook on 29-31 August 20121 a mild El Niño is forecasted during October - December period. Overall, an El Niño is expected to have positive impact on Somalia as this phenomenon is associated with average to above average October to December Deyr rains. However, these rains are not always well distributed and therefore, cropping conditions could vary greatly over the rainfed, agropastoral areas. In addition, riverine areas are likely to experience flooding as a result of heavy rainfall and increased river levels. During the moderate 2006-07 El Niño, Deyr rains caused flooding, which disrupted production and markets, especially in the Juba Valley.

International food prices have risen and will likely have an impact on prices in Somalia between now and December, especially for wheat and sugar. Over the past three years, wheat and wheat product imports have averaged 63 percent of Somalia’s food imports in grain equivalent terms. Prices for local maize and sorghum, the staple foods consumed by the poor, are likely to rise seasonably over the coming six months, but will be substantially lower than 2011.

The epicentre of Somalia’s humanitarian crisis remains in the South, largely due to the long-term effects of drought and famine, and the short-term effects of this year’s poor Gu rainy season. Efforts to meet immediate needs are essential to prevent further deterioration of food security. Assistance to help food insecure populations meet immediate food needs, protect their livelihoods, build their resilience, and improve food access remain necessary in Somalia between now and the Deyr harvest in January.

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