Somalia Situation Report, 5 Mar 2020
- Response to locust damage 15 times more expensive than prevention
- Average to above average Gu rains expected in most parts of Somalia
- Preparedness necessary to minimize AWD/cholera risk in the upcoming Gu rainy season
- Prospects for humanitarian access remain limited
4.1M # of food insecure people
1.3M # of people in emergency and crisis
2.8M # of people in stress
1M # of children projected to be malnourished
2.6M # of internally displaced persons
New desert locust swarms predicted
The desert locust infestation in Somalia, like in several Horn of Africa countries, remains alarming. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the locusts are continuing to breed in the northeast of Somalia and new swarms are expected to form in coming weeks as the hoppers become immature adults, start flying and becoming voracious. In northeast Somalia, several generations of hopper bands are already present and will be laying eggs soon as the Gu’ (AprilJune) rains approach. While the locust upsurge is rapidly developing, its current impact on food security has been limited and localised so far. In the case of agricultural areas, most crops had already been harvested or were in later stages of maturity when the locust swarms passed through, thereby limiting losses. In pastoral areas, rangeland resources were well above average following abundant October–December seasonal rains, which has helped to offset the effects of locust damages thus far by replenishing pasture.
Average to above average rains expected in April to June
Rainfall forecasts for the Gu’ 2020 period indicate a strong possibility of average to above-average precipitation in most parts of Somalia. These Gu’ rains are expected to maintain rangelands and support planting activities.
However, they could enable a new wave of breeding and further spread of the locust pests. Pasture losses are expected in areas where swarms land, although rainfall in coming months is likely to partially continue offsetting the impact. Nonetheless, if the desert locusts continue to multiply, this offsetting effect will be drastically reduced.
Analysis by FAO shows that the most significant food security impact will be felt by households in areas where swarms pass through and cause damage, especially those that are reliant on cropping activities and are already facing acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2+) due to existing high vulnerability and the effects of expected crop losses. On 27 February, FAO and the Somali Government released the “Desert Locust Crisis – Somalia Action Plan” which requires US$32.2 million to implement through July 2020.