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Somalia: Drought - 2015-2019

Status
Ongoing
Countries
Somalia
Disaster types
Drought

The 2015-2016 El Niño phenomenon had a severe impact on vulnerable people in Somalia - it worsened an already widespread drought in Puntland and Somaliland with a devastating impact on communities and their livelihoods, increasing food insecurity, cash shortages and resulting in out-migration and death of livestock. Those affects are now emerging in other areas of the country, specifically in Jubaland in the south. Somaliland and Puntland have experienced below average rains for up to four seasons, spanning two years, and affecting nearly 1.4 million people. (OCHA, 28 Nov 2016)

The humanitarian situation in Somalia is rapidly deteriorating and famine is a strong possibility in 2017. This comes only six years after a devastating famine led to the death of more than a quarter of a million people – half of them children. The severe drought is a result of two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall, more in some areas. In the worst affected areas, large-scale crop failure and high levels of livestock deaths are occurring. Malnutrition and drought-related diseases are on the rise, so are displacements, including to Ethiopia. Increasing competition for resources such as water is already increasing local tensions and could trigger further inter-communal conflict. Over 6.2 million people-half the population-are in need of humanitarian assistance. The situation of children of Somalia is particularly grave. (OCHA, 17 Feb 2017)

As of 31 May 2017, there had been an estimated 739,000 drought displacements since November 2016...More than 480,000 of the displaced, or 65 per cent, are under the age of 18. Moreover, people under 5 years old represent more than one-quarter (195,000) of all those displaced — and are the most at risk of malnutrition and disease. (UNHCR, 31 May 2017)

3.2 million people are severely food insecure. This situation is expected to persist throughout 2017 given the high likelihood of a third consecutive poor harvest in July. Access to food is relatively better than previously projected due to large-scale humanitarian assistance...102,263 people have been treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) since January. SAM admissions have increased by more than 50% since 2016. The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU)’s post-Jilaal 2017 survey indicates a high prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (15% to 30%) in the Bay, Bakool, Sool, Sanaag, Bari and Nugal regions, as well as in Baidoa and Mogadishu IDP camps. (OCHA, 16 Jun 2017)

While the latest FSNAU assessments show a decrease of the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance from 6.7 million to 6.2 million people, the threat of localized famine countered by scaled-up humanitarian response is as relevant today as it was in the first months of this crisis. The Gu harvest will provide temporary relief for some communities in terms of food availability, but the harvest is reduced due to poor rains and access to food remains constrained. Prices will remain elevated through at least early 2018. Malnutrition, one of the leading indicators of the crisis, has reached emergency levels in a number of locations in southern and central Somalia, primarily, though not exclusively among displaced populations. Overall, some 388,000 acutely malnourished children are in need of critical nutrition support, including life-saving treatment for more than 87,000 severely malnourished children. Nearly 895,000 internally displaced people due to drought and conflict rely almost exclusively on assistance for basic services and life support. Major AWD/Cholera and measles outbreaks are also of continued concern. Through robust humanitarian assistance and the modest benefits from the underperforming Gu rains, the situation has stabilized but remains of serious concern at emergency levels. Whereas there is a modest decline in the number of people in need, there is an increase in the number of persons in the emergency-phase (IPC 4) compared to the previous assessment. When the threat of famine was announced in February, the number of people in need stood at 6.2 million. (OCHA, 31 Aug 2017)

Humanitarian partners are closely following what could become another failed rainy season in a context of continued risk of famine and deteriorating humanitarian indicators. According to the October Rainfall Update for Somalia by the FAO-managed Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM), the Deyr 2017 rainy season, which usually runs from October to December, kicked off in the last week of September in the north eastern areas and second week of October in southern and central regions. Many places in Bay, Bakool, Gedo and Middle Juba received rains at the start of the season. (OCHA, 30 Oct 2017)

Food security is expected to improve for agricultural and agropastoral households in January with the Deyr harvest. In both areas, though, improvements will be short‐lived and many households will face food consumption gaps through mid‐2018. In a worst‐case scenario of an extended absence of assistance, Famine (IPC Phase 5) remains possible, and continued large‐scale assistance is needed throughout 2018 to protect lives and livelihoods. (FEWSNET, 30 Dec 2017)

Food security has improved significantly in many of the areas worstaffected by the 2016/17 drought, as a result of large-scale humanitarian assistance and improvements in seasonal performance. Most areas of the country are currently Stressed (IPC Phase 2), though Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes exist in some areas and among IDP populations. Between July and September, in the absence of continued humanitarian assistance, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely in riverine livelihood zones and northern and central Somalia. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is likely in Guban Pastoral livelihood zone. (FEWSNET, 30 Jun 2018)

The record levels of rainfall seen during the April – June Gu rainy season have ushered in hopes of the substantial replenishment of water resources, and the restoration of cropland and livestock numbers across many areas of Somalia. The latest food security outlook by the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) and the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) reports that food security will improve significantly in many of the areas worst-affected by the 2016/17 drought, as a result of improvements in seasonal performance supported by large-scale humanitarian assistance. However, the magnitude and intensity of the rains, coupled with the subsequent flooding, has aggravated vulnerabilities. Vulnerable communities, still recovering from the adverse effects of protracted drought, are among those who have been most severely affected by flooding. (OCHA, 05 Jul 2018)

Due to the above-average rains in the first half of 2018 and sustained humanitarian assistance, the number of people facing severe food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 and above) has decreased by 52 per cent from 3.1 million in September 2017 to 1.5 million in September 2018. However, the IPC Phase 2 caseload remained virtually unchanged, with a reduction of only 0.6 per cent. Due to the mid-2018 Gu rainy season, total cereal production exceeded the long-term average (1995-2017) by approximately 17 per cent and is 58 per cent higher than the five-year average (2013-17). Favourable rainfall between April and June 2018 also improved pasture and water availability for livestock and bolstered market conditions in some areas. Notwithstanding the relative improvement in food security outcomes since the end of the 2016/17 drought, similar gains were not observed with respect to malnutrition, which is influenced by several factors, including healthcare, clean water, proper sanitation and good hygiene practices. Malnutrition rates across Somalia remain very high and, in 2019, nearly 1 million children will be acutely malnourished, including more than 177,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. (OCHA, 20 Jan 2019)

The combined impact of the initial, and potentially complete, failure of the 2019 Gu’ rains (April-June), which followed a poor 2018 Deyr season (October-December), and abnormally hot, dry conditions during the 2019 Jilaal season (January-March) has caused widespread crop failure and accelerated decline in livestock productivity, rapidly pushing communities in the worst-affected areas into food insecurity crisis phase, or worse. The signs of crisis, such as irregular pastoral migration coupled with deteriorating livestock body conditions and reduction in milk production, increased displacement due to drought and increases in drought-related disease, are already widely observed. Out of 5.4 million expected to be acutely food insecure by July, 2.2 million will be in severe acute food insecurity conditions (IPC 3 and above), a 40 per cent increase from January this year. (OCHA, 20 May 2019)

Two years after the prolonged 2016/2017 drought destroyed livelihoods and displaced almost one million Somalis - but also triggered a massive and successful scale up in humanitarian response to avert famine - severe climatic conditions, combined with other persistent drivers of humanitarian crisis, armed conflict, protracted and continued displacement and a spike in evictions of internally displaced persons are again pushing Somalia towards a major humanitarian emergency. (OCHA, 12 Jul 2019)

The Horn of Africa (HoA) (including northeast Uganda) is currently experiencing a prolonged drought, largely as a result of below average precipitation from the seasonal short rains (April-July) and long rains (October-December). Prevailing dry conditions across the region have led to the deterioration of farmland and pastures, loss of livestock, sharply increased food prices, and reduction of the availability of water in large areas of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. At the regional level, the number of severely food insecure people has increased to approximately 12 million, in large part as a result of the drought. Pre-existing protection, health, WASH, and shelter needs have been also been exacerbated. The humanitarian needs of the region’s growing displaced population are of particular concern. (ACAPS, 22 Jul 2019)