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Somalia, East Africa: Hunger Crisis 2021 - Operations Update n° 1 (MDRSO011)

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Situation overview

At the launch of the emergency appeal, the following numbers of the affected population were reported nationwide:
Out of a population of 12.3 million in Somalia, 5.6 million people were estimated as food insecure and a fifth of the population, 2.8 million people, could not meet their daily food requirements. Several areas across the nation have shifted in the severity of food insecurity levels, either from severe (IPC2) to crisis (IPC3), or from crisis to emergency (IPC4), and the latest assessment carried out by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit–Somalia (FSNAU) projects that the food insecurity is expected to further deteriorate.

This prognosis and the high level of emergency needs highlights the urgent and critical need for further funding to be able to appropriately and timely respond to critical needs and mitigate the impacts of the expected prolonged drought conditions. To date, the Emergency Appeal, which seeks CHF 8.7 million, is only 7% funded. Further funding contributions are very urgently needed to enable the Somalia Red Crescent Society, with the support of the IFRC, to respond quickly to the very large humanitarian needs.

Without sustained humanitarian assistance, the number of people classified as Crisis (IPC3) and Emergency (IPC4) nationally is expected to rise from 2.2 million (July-September) to 3.5 million (October-December). An additional 3.7 million people are expected to become Stressed (IPC Phase 2), bringing the total number of people facing acute food insecurity to 7.2 million between October and December . The food insecure population is expected to remain elevated until at least January 2022 , with some projections stating the consequences of food insecurity will carry on through mid-2022 . The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is predicting a high likelihood that failure of upcoming rain seasons will lead to an additional 500,000-1,000,000 additional people in Somalia in need of humanitarian assistance.

The main drivers of acute food insecurity in Somalia include the compounding effects of poor and erratic rainfall distribution, flooding, desert locust infestation, socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, and conflict.

Poor rains and extended drought over multiple seasons have had a major impact on rural livelihoods and food security in Somalia. The Gu’ rain season, April to June, ended early in 2021, with a poor rainfall performance in many parts of Somalia even though there were heavy rains and flooding in parts of the country in late April and early May. On 1 May 2021, the Government of Somalia declared a National Emergency due to the drought situation and called for support in responding to the humanitarian crisis. The start of the June to August hagaa rains, which are localized to southern Bay and southern coastal districts, began with low intensity in late June and have been below average.

The latest weather forecasts for the rest of 2021 and early 2022 indicate a greater likelihood of below-average rains in most of Somalia, and average rainfall in Sool, Sanaag, Bari and Nugaal. The deyr rains (late September-early December) are expected to be delayed by 1-3 weeks. Below average hays rains in December to January are considered likely in north-western Somalia, and below-average rainfalls for the 2022 gu season (March-April) are also considered likely. Furthermore, warmer than average temperatures are expected for October through December. These forecasts are consistent with regional forecasts, indicating the increased probability of La Niña and negative Indian Ocean Dipole events, both associated with below-average rains in East Africa.

Mild to moderate drought conditions are foreseen to persist across the country in the coming months. Dry conditions will contribute to the likelihood of crop losses and deterioration in pasture and water availability in some areas. The combined impact of drought and floods are likely to exacerbate the already critical food security situation in Somalia.
In addition to weather shocks, food availability and access are constrained by conflict in southern and central Somalia, uncertainty over the parliamentary and presidential elections, and rising staple cereal prices linked to low domestic production and high global food prices.