Somalia - Intensifying drought will likely result in deyr crop failure and livestock losses

30.11.2021 491 views

The *deyr *rains have largely failed since October, causing alarm for the deterioration of food security conditions in Somalia. Intensifying drought has led to water shortages, a high likelihood of crop failure, and atypically high levels of livestock migration and deaths. Households face both a significant decline in income derived from crop and livestock production and a sharp increase in water and staple food prices, resulting in steep declines in household purchasing power. There is very high concern for a rapid rise in the size of the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) between November and March, especially in southern and central rural livelihood zones and IDP settlements. A scale-up in humanitarian food assistance beyond currently planned levels is urgently needed to save lives and livelihoods.

Rainfall has performed worse than previously assumed. According to CHIRPS remote-sensing data, rainfall during the October 1-November 25 period ranged from 55 to 70 percent below the 40-year average in southern, central, and parts of northern Somalia. Rainfall totals rank among the driest on the 40-year record in Lower and Middle Juba, Gedo, Mudug, Nugaal, and southern Bari regions. Although the NOAA/CPC's forecast models project light to moderate rains in the next two weeks, these will be inadequate to support recovery in cropping and rangeland conditions. Additionally, many natural water sources have dried up, pushing the price of potable water from manmade sources well above normal. The price of a 200-liter water drum jumped above the five-year average by 45 percent in Gaalkacyo, Mudug Region, 70 percent in Jilib, Middle Juba Region, and 172 percent in Garowe, Nugaal Region, in October.

Due to low supply, staple cereal prices continued to trend exceptionally high in October, reaching levels comparable to those recorded during the 2016/2017 and 2010/2011 droughts. In the two main source markets in the south, including Baidoa in Bay Region and Qoryoley in Lower Shabelle Region, the price of a kg of sorghum and maize were 70 percent and 60 percent above the five-year average, respectively. Imported food prices such as rice and wheat flour are also high due to increased demand amid the low maize and sorghum supply, high shipping and fuel costs, global supply factors, and the localized inflation of the Somali Shilling in the northeast. The price of a kg of red rice, for example, ranged from 25-45 percent above the five-year average in various northern and central markets, including Hargyesa, Ceerigaabo, Garowe, Gaalkacyo, and Dhusamareeb.

In southern and central agropastoral areas, households are highly likely to see their cereal and cash crop harvests fail. Rainfall has been inadequate to support normal crop development, and even if the coming rains support some growth, crops are unlikely to reach maturity by January. Agricultural labor demand is significantly below normal, though some labor-dependent households in Bay Region benefitted from a temporary spike in demand in October due to moderate rainfall before dry conditions resumed. As a result, the agricultural labor wage is below normal in most monitored markets, significantly reducing household income to purchase food. In Ceel-garas in Bakool Region, the daily agricultural labor wage was around 35 percent below last year and the five-year average in October.

In pastoral areas, households face increasing difficulty affording food and water due to significant reductions in income from livestock production. This trend is expected to worsen during the January-March jilaal dry season even further. Severe pasture and water shortages -- especially in southern and central Somalia -- have led to the emaciation of livestock body conditions, which has rendered them unsaleable or saleable at very low values. Milk production, which usually peaks at this time of year, is also well below normal given the declining health of milking cattle and goats across Somalia and camels in Gedo and central regions. There are multiple reports of atypically high livestock deaths from hunger and disease in the worst-affected areas of Lower and Middle Juba, Mudug, Galgaduud, and Gedo regions.

In riverine areas, crop production prospects are slightly less dire since some irrigated and flood recession cultivation is ongoing. The Juba and Shabelle Rivers are well below average and significantly below flood risk levels -- especially in the Juba regions -- but adequate to support irrigation in Gedo, Hiiraan, and the Shabelle regions. Additionally, some farmers have opened river breakages to facilitate flood recession farming in these areas. However, weak and open river embankments led to inundation and the destruction of 1,000 hectares of off-season crops in Balad and Jowhar districts in Middle Shabelle. An exception is Kurtunwarrey and Sablaale districts in Lower Shabelle, where the river is mostly dry since insurgents are deliberately diverting river water to their farms, further limiting water availability downstream.

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