Due to the combined effects of widespread and severe flooding, Desert Locust infestation, socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and the cumulative impacts of previous shocks, up to 2.1 million people across Somalia are expected to face food consumption gaps or depletion of assets indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3)1 or worse outcomes through December 2020 in the absence of humanitarian assistance.
In addition, 849 900 children under the age of five are likely to be acutely malnourished through August 2021. Sustained and large-scale humanitarian assistance and government support are currently preventing more severe outcomes in many areas. Desert Locust continues to pose a serious risk of damage to both pasture and crops at least until the end of 2020. The 2020 Deyr (October-December) rainfall season is likely to be below average to average across the country, which could lead to drought and trigger a worsening of the humanitarian situation if the 2021 Gu (April-June) season rainfall is also delayed or performs poorly.
These findings reflect the outcome of the 2020 post-Gu seasonal food security and nutrition assessment conducted across Somalia during July and August 2020. The assessment and the subsequent analyses were jointly led by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU, a project managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET, a project funded by USAID) with the active participation of Government institutions, UN and NGO partners.
The 2020 Gu season exhibited erratic performance. The rains started as early as late March in many parts of Somalia, then intensified and expanded in April, with heavy rain leading to riverine and flash floods. However, rainfall in May was widely below average. Severe riverine and flash floods in April and early May caused significant population displacement and damage to property, infrastructure, farmland, and crops. Atypically heavy rain since July led to further riverine flooding and flood-related damage. Overall, however, the Hagga/Karan (July-September) rains have been mostly favorable in agropastoral and pastoral livelihood zones.
2020 Gu cereal production in southern Somalia is estimated at 74 000 tons. This is 40 percent lower than the long-term average for 1995-2019. The main factors for below-average 2020 Gu cereal production include: recurrent and severe flooding, erratic rainfall and a prolonged dry spell, insecurity and conflict. The Desert Locust infestation has been mostly confined to northern and central Somalia, causing damage to crops, fruit trees and pasture. In the northwest, 2020 Gu/Karan cereal harvest expected in November is estimated at 22 500 tons. this is 45 percent below the 2010-2019 average, mainly due to erratic rainfall and Desert Locust.
Carryover water and pasture from the 2019 Deyr season supported livestock through the dry 2020 Jilaal (January-March) season. Although some Desert Locust damage occurred in northern and central regions, heavy 2020 Gu and Hagaa/Karan rains have moderated the impact and replenished pasture and browse across Somalia. As a result, current pasture, browse and water availability across most of Somalia is adequate to support livestock at least through the start of the 2020 Deyr season rainfall in October. Favorable pasture and water conditions since late 2019 have led to positive growth in livestock holdings, especially in the South. However, livestock holdings and milk production remain below normal in most northern and central regions. Pasture and water availability will likely decline towards the end of the year due to the anticipated below-average Deyr season rainfall.
In pastoral livelihood zones, the favorable 2020 Gu rainfall season had positive impacts on the food security and livelihoods of most pastoral households. However, some poor pastoral households in northern and central Somalia will continue to face moderate to large food consumption gaps as they have limited livestock holdings to cope with current and anticipated shocks through the end of 2020. In agropastoral livelihood zones, erratic rainfall, the extended dry spell, and Desert Locust led to significant reductions in household stocks and income from the 2020 Gu season cereal harvest and agricultural employment. As a result, some poor agropastoral households will face moderate to large food consumption gaps through the end of 2020. In riverine livelihoods of southern Somalia, devastating floods since April 2020 destroyed farmland and crops and caused population displacement, leading to significant crop losses and the loss of income from agricultural employment.
Consequently, a significant proportion of poor households in riverine livelihoods will face moderate to large food consumption gaps through the end of 2020.
Internally displaced persons (IDPs), a majority of whom are poor and live in urban areas in desperate conditions, have limited livelihood assets and coping options and rely more heavily on external humanitarian assistance. As a result, a significant proportion of IDPs continue to face moderate to large food consumption gaps. Some of the urban poor across Somalia who struggle to make ends meet also continue to face moderate to large food consumption gaps.
For both groups (i.e. IDPs and urban poor), the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 was a factor, associated with a decline in remittances, increased food prices, and a decline in employment and other income-earning opportunities in urban areas.
Despite multiple shocks in 2020, high levels of sustained humanitarian assistance and government support have played a critical role in stabilizing and preventing worse acute food insecurity outcomes in Somalia. According to the Somalia Food Security Cluster, an average of 1.85 million people received food assistance monthly from April to August. Approximately 400 000 people also benefitted from government-led rural and urban safety net programmes.