Above-average temperatures continued to drive harsher- and drier-than-normal conditions during the Jilaal dry season in March. Gu rainfall typically starts in late March to April, but tropical cyclone Idai drove moisture away from the East Africa region, resulting in delayed or suppressed rainfall across the region. As a result, cumulative April-June Gu rainfall is now most likely to be below average. This is likely to exacerbate Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes from April to June, including in northern and central pastoral and agropastoral areas and in Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral and Southern Agropastoral of Hiiraan livelihood zones.
Significant pasture deterioration and water scarcity have been observed in northern and central pastoral areas. Water trucking is currently the main water source, even in many parts of the South, and prices ranged from SOS 6,000 to 10,000 per 20 liters in March, or twice the five-year average. Poor households are financing water purchases through credit, adding to high debt levels. Although medium levels of kidding and lambing are underway, livestock body conditions are relatively poor across species and milk production has atypically declined. Some goat and sheep abortions have been reported. Should the Gu rains be further delayed or poor, households would be likely to cull offspring to save productive females, which would reduce household herd sizes and delay recovery to baseline.
In agricultural and agropastoral areas, food access is expected to deteriorate significantly through the end of the agricultural lean season in June, driven by below-average labor demand. In the South, the drying of the Shabelle river in downstream areas has caused the suspension of nearby irrigation activities and cash crop farming. However, the riverine sesame harvest is ongoing, providing some income to poor households. Poor and middle households in northwestern agropastoral areas have already exhausted their stocks and are entirely dependent on market purchases to access food. Some Gu rainfall would partially replenish water sources and allow households to shift expenditures from trucked water to food.
Food assistance needs will remain high through June as the pastoral and agricultural lean seasons progress. Food consumption gaps are likely to widen, and employment of negative coping strategies is expected to intensify, since funding shortfalls may prevent full implementation of planned food assistance. Of greatest concern are Northern Inland, Hawd, East Golis (Sanaag), and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones in northern and central regions; Guban Pastoral, Northwestern Agropastoral, and Togdheer Agropastoral in the northwest; and agropastoral areas in Bakool, Bay, and Hiiraan regions. The population of poor households experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes would likely increase should Gu rainfall be further delayed or more than 30 percent below average.