UN says over 4.2M people in Somalia need humanitarian assistance

The Deyr rainy season has predominantly under performed so far, contrary to the average to above-average projections. Areas in the north-east are particularly affected, with reports of limited or no rainfall. Humanitarian organizations are reporting that some pastoralist communities in Puntland (Bari region) have begun migrating due to water shortages. These areas had already been adversely affected by recent climatic shocks (drought and Cyclone Sagar). Puntland’s Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency (HADMA) has appealed for early interventions to avoid a worsening of the humanitarian situation.

Rainfall performance was mostly poor in the first two weeks of November, according to the FAO-led Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) unit. In October, most areas recorded limited rains. In Puntland, no rainfall was reported in most of Bari, Nugaal and northern Mudug. Light showers were reported in pockets of Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone and in pockets of Gaalkacyo district in Mudug. In the south, light rains were reported in many areas. Moderate rainfall was reported in some areas of Juba Pastoral zone, in Southern Inland Pastoral and Sorghum High Potential Agropastoral livelihood zones in Middle and Lower Shabelle.

Preliminary outlook

Based on the FSNAU and FEWS NET’s preliminary Deyr 2018 assessment in November, below-average, poorly distributed rainfall and high pest incidence are expected to result in below-average Deyr cereal production. Production will likely be 60 to 70 per cent of the average in most southern areas, but significantly below-average in low potential, agropastoral areas in the north. However, early-planted, pump-irrigated maize production will likely be normal. Carried-over Gu stocks, the Deyr harvest, normal livestock production, and favourable terms of trade are expected to sustain Minimal (IPC 1) and Stressed (IPC 2) outcomes across most of the southern areas, but agro-pastoral livelihood zones in Bay and Bakool are likely to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC 3) by February 2019.

In most central agro-pastoral areas, Deyr crops experienced widespread germination failure or severe moisture stress in the early stages. As a result, a below-average cowpea harvest is anticipated. In Northwestern agropastoral zones, FSNAU and the Ministry of Agriculture of Somaliland estimate that the 2018 Gu/Karan seasonal cereal harvest was 78 per cent below the seven-year average, which is worse than previously projected, due to below-average rainfall, above-average temperatures, and high stalk borer and quelea bird presences. Poor Deyr crop and fodder production is also likely. Though the current food security situation will largely be maintained, Crisis levels (IPC 3) are now expected in the Togdheer Agro-pastoral livelihood zone by February next year.

Pasture and water availability is limited in some northeastern and central pastoral areas. A medium level of livestock births occurred, but some newborns may not survive the Deyr, and the upcoming Jilaal dry season. Body conditions, milk production, and livestock value may deteriorate quicker than previously anticipated. Given the already unsustainable livestock holdings, poor pastoral families’ access to food and income are likely to decline through April 2019. Crisis (IPC 3) is expected in the Northern Inland Pastoral, Addun Pastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral and Fishing livelihood zones, with Emergency (IPC 4) expected in the Guban Pastoral livelihood zone.

In November, markets across Somalia remained well-supplied with local cereals due to the recent (September/October) off-season harvests and the release of Gu carry-over stocks by middle-income to high-income households. In October 2018, maize and sorghum prices were up to 42 percent below the five-year average, and up to 50 percent below October 2017 prices in most southern markets. Prices are expected to remain below average through April 2019 mainly due to the availability of carry-over stocks, which will offset the shortfalls expected from below-average Deyr production and serve to stabilize market supply.

Humanitarian assistance has been instrumental in preventing worsening food insecurity in many areas, particularly where people’s assets have been depleted due to the prolonged drought. The Food Security Cluster was reaching, on average, two million people every month between July and September, with cash/vouchers or in-kind assistance. The majority received cash/vouchers. The number of beneficiaries in September was the second highest this year, with 2.1 million people reached.

4.2 million people will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2019

Over 4.2 million Somalis, a third of the total population, will require humanitarian assistance and protection services in 2019, according to the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO). Compared to the 2018 HNO, the number of people in need has reduced by 34 per cent, from 6.2 million people in 2018 to 4.2 million in 2019.

Of the total number of people in need, almost two thirds are children and over 60 per cent – or 2.6 million people – are internally displaced persons (IDPs), who often live in difficult circumstances, are often the most vulnerable and in need of multiple basic services. The most vulnerable groups, including female-headed households, children, the elderly, people with disabilities and marginalized communities, are particularly at risk and face specific protection concerns.

This reduction is a result of three factors. Firstly, the 2017 Deyr rains were better than anticipated and the 2018 Gu rains were well above average, leading to an overall improvement of the humanitarian situation. In addition, substantial humanitarian resources in 2017 and 2018 allowed for a sustained humanitarian response in the areas hardest hit by the drought and the flooding associated with the 2018 Gu season. Secondly, the reduction is also due to a more focused approach in defining needs, that now includes, in addition to people in Crisis (IPC3) and Emergency (IPC4), only those in Stress (IPC2) phase who are the most vulnerable and living in the most difficult circumstances. And finally, the calculation of the number of people in need is now based on vulnerability criteria by identifying focus populations and priority geographic areas. This is a shift from previous years, when the total number of people in need was obtained exclusively from the FSNAU assessments, and the focus on people in need revolved around climatic factors and food/nutrition needs.

The HNO reflects a shared understanding of the Somali humanitarian situation and was developed in wide consultation with federal, state and regional authorities, humanitarian partners as well as the affected communities. It will inform the collective response planning, resulting in the 2019 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). It draws from evidence-based assessments, including multi-sector needs assessment, which echoed consultations with affected communities. Based on the HNO analysis, aid agencies will continue to prioritize life-saving assistance, particularly targeting vulnerable women, men and children, while focusing on resilience building at the community level in 2019. They will also step up medium to longer term investments in reducing risk and vulnerabilities, complementing development, recovery and resilience initiatives such as the Recovery and Resilience Framework (RRF) and the National Development Plan (NDP) to address the underlying causes of recurring crises.