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Food security improving, nutrition situation remains worrying
The results of the post-Gu food security and nutrition assessment by FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) confirmed that the overall food security situation in Somalia has improved. This is as a result of above-average performance of the April to June Gu rains and sustained humanitarian response. The results indicate that the cereal harvest is projected to be the best since 2010. For pastoralists, there has been a marked improvement in pasture, water availability and increasing herd size. The outlook for the coming Deyr rains was also positive with average to above average rains forecast.
However, the total number of people in need still exceeds levels prior to the onset of the drought crisis in 2016. This is driven by the increase in internal displacement that occurred during the drought as people in inaccessible, rural areas sought assistance in populated areas humanitarians could reach. The total number of internally displaced Somalis is estimated to be 2.6 million.
An estimated 4.6 million people, including 2.5 million children, continue to require humanitarian assistance. Of these, 1.5 million are in crisis or emergency. Communities that lost most of their livestock during the 2016-2017 drought and those affected by conflict, as well as this year’s devastating floods and cyclone, will take longer to recover. The internally displaced are the most vulnerable and in dire need of immediate and long-term assistance.
Humanitarian partners have continued to provide life-saving support and alongside livelihoods interventions to people in need. Food security partners reached 1.9 million people per month between February and July.
Meanwhile, the results of 30 separate nutrition surveys between June and July have indicated that the overall nutrition situation has marginally improved due to a combination of improved food security, reduced disease outbreaks and sustained humanitarian interventions. According to FAO-FSNAU, an estimated 294,000 children are acutely malnourished, of which nearly 55,000 are severely malnourished. The surveys show that the overall level of acute malnutrition is serious (median GAM of 14 per cent), which is an improvement from critical compared to the 2017 post-Gu assessment (median GAM of 17.4 per cent). Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) prevalence is critical (more than 4 per cent) only among Mogadishu IDPs and in Guban pastoral livelihood area in western Somaliland.
Of major concern is the increasing crude death rate (CDR) of over one per cent in three out of 33 population groups surveyed, as well as the under-five mortality rate (U5MR). The situation is predicted to worsen between August and October due to the limited availability of public health and nutrition services.
The Gu seasonal nutrition assessment among IDPs shows critical prevalence of GAM (more than 15 per cent) in seven out of 15 locations surveyed, as well as among rural livelihoods population groups. The seven locations include Bossaso, Gaalkacyo, Garowe and Qardho settlements in Puntland, Baidoa settlements in South West State, Doolow settlements in Jubaland and settlements in Mogadishu (Banadir region). The combination of critical GAM rates accompanied by a crude death rate of over one per cent indicate a particularly serious emergency among the IDPs in the nation’s capital.