SOMALIA: Food Security Assessment Unit report 1998.12.15

SOMALIA: Food Security Assessment Unit report 1998.12.15


FSAU - Food Security Assessment Unit

Food Security Highlights

Southern Somalia - November 1998

This is the second issue of a new series of FSAU Highlights. The analysis was mainly performed by the FSAU Field Monitors during the Training Workshop held in Merka from 28th November to 3rd December, 1998 and using information gathered through the r egular monthly monitoring reports

Overall Summary Since the end of the Gu season in July, field information has identified a deteriorating situation of key indicators including market prices, displacement and crop production. While the rains which did fall during the month of November brought some relief , the overall trend and outlook into the first quarter of 1999 is poor especially in the rainfed areas. Rains came late, were less than normal and poorly distributed. Vegetation has responded well, however the benefits are considered to be short-lived. Climatical forecasts predict little or no rainfall in December - not enough to benefit rainfed farming com munities, but will provide supplementary moisture for irrigated crops and continued grazing and water for livestock. The areas of most concern continue to be Bay, Bakool and the rainfed areas of Hiran and Gedo. Three consecutive poor harvest, combined with on going conflict and reduction in alternative income sources has resulted in continued vulnerability .



In general the food security situation is Normal. However of particular concern is Sakow district, where there is a severe shortage of local cereals. Rains were late and irregularly scattered, crops are at knee - high stage and if there are no additiona l rains there will be a significant reduction in sorghum production. November floods damaged around 3,100 ha of crop (maize inter-cropped with beans and sim sim).

Livestock production is normal, however tickborne diseases are common in the area and suspected cases of Camel 'Anthrax' were observed in Hagar District. There are many IDPs from Sakow who have settled on the West bank of Juba river in Nusdunia and there
are fears that malnutritional and related diseases will increase.


Rains started late (early November) and have been scattered and irregular. Traditionally rains are expected until mid December.

Water availability

In both rainfed and irrigated areas water availability was normal, except Badadhe which was below normal.


Until late October, pasture and grazing condition was poor due to the late Deyr 98, but it has improved by the rains which came in early November.


Generally livestock condition was normal. However there has been a problem of ticks as well as a suspected outbreak of Camel 'Anthrax' in Hagar District, which is relatively normal at this time of the year.


Crops are at an early stage of development - knee high. Due to the late and inconsistent rains, production in the rainfed areas will be significantly reduced. Rainfed farms account for about 50% of the area cultivated.

Sporadic stalk- borer attacks were observed as well as rat attacks in the riverine areas. There have been some changes in the cropping patterns with a move from maize to sim sim. In Sakow agricultural activities were interrupted by the clan fighting. Th is has negatively affected the planted area.

Income Opportunities

There has been exceptionally high charcoal production from the areas surrounding Kismayo. This production has increased as a result of a reduction of other employment and food production opportunities.

Displacement /Migration

Displacement was normal except in Sakow where clan fighting forced a movement of IDPs to the west Bank of the Juba river. Other IDPs from Bay Region have moved to Bualle, Hagar and Jilib due to the poor food situation in Bay region, combined with the per sisting conflict.

Market Prices

Market prices of local cereal crops increased in the month of November due to the low food supply and activity in the market.

Health And Nutrition

Although the global health and nutritional status is close to normal, there is a fear of malnutrition and out-break of diseases in Sakow due to insecurity. Access to health facilities is also limited due to security and road conditions. Similarly water bo rne and related diseases are observed to be high in Hagar and Badhadhe districts due to lack of clean water for human consumption.


Inter-clan fighting in Kismayo and Sakow has resulted in insecurity in these areas but the rest of the region is normal.



In general, food security is normal. The effects of floods have been partially off set by off-season crops and external aid. For instance, substantive irrigated areas have been farmed following canal rehabilitation.

Deyr l998/9 season was late with scattered distribution of rain. The overall amount of rain was enough to make the crops germinate and to enable crop establishment. The duration of the rains, however, was shorter than normal. If additional rains which no rmally are expected in December fail to come, about 60% of the rainfed crops will be lost. Irrigated crops will also be affected and a reduction of yield is predicted.

Banana exportation has stopped and therefore employment opportunities are fewer than previous years.

Animals are in good condition at the present, but due to short duration of rains, pasture and water will be depleted soon.

The failure of crops in the rainfed and parts of irrigated areas will worsen the food security situation of poor agro-pastoralist because of, currently:

S Limited sources of alternative income; S The income received from coping mechanisms tends to be low since the labour supply is
high and therefore competition is high; S Livestock production also declined,

and it is projected that:

S The agricultural job opportunities will decline from December to the next cropping season (April - May);

In this situation many subsistence farmers will remain without food stocks and alternative sources of income at least up to harvest of the Gu' 1999 season.


Deyr 1998/99 rains started late throughout the Shabelle Valley. The rains were randomly distributed in most areas. The amount of rainfall received was sufficient for crop germination and establishment in most of the two regions.

Water Availability

At present there is access to water for both livestock and human consumption.


The rains regenerated and improved pasture and grazing conditions which had been deteriorating since October. However, pastoral areas in Middle Shabelle and coastal areas of the two regions reflected poor pasture. If no additional rains are received in December the pasture condition will deteriorate which will have a negative impact on livestock condition and production.

Livestock Conditions

The condition of most animals is normal for this time of year. High milk production was noted. Normal seasonal migration to the pastoral in-lands had been observed.

Crop Production

In this 1998/99 season, the cropped area in both Middle and Lower Shabelle was 113,000 ha. Out of this 53,200 ha were rainfed maize/sorghum of which 60% is likely to fail if there is no additional rains received. Irrigated maize is about 60,000 ha which is in normal condition. An average crop production will be expected, however, it may be subjected to irrigation water shortage. Further canal rehabilitation activities would increase the area under cultivation in coming seasons.

Job Opportunities

Agricultural activities (mainly weeding) are the only job opportunities in the regions, however even this has started to decline. Banana plantations provide fewer job opportunity because of lack of export potential. Both rainfed and irrigated farming fo od economy groups have diverted their efforts to collecting bush products by cutting trees and burning them for charcoal, all these activities contributed to the degradation of the environment. Already sand dunes have started to encroach agricultural lan ds and main roads.


IDPs from Bay and Bakool have arrived in Wanleweyne area. Also extensive floods in September in Jowhar and Bakool has created waves of IDPs in the Middle Shabelle Region. (refer FSAU Flash - 19 November, 1998).

Market Prices

Prices of locally produced food items such as maize, sorghum and beans are on the increase. Their supply condition is scarce. Prices of imported food commodities have been stable but now showing a downward trend.

Health and Nutrition

The nutritional status isnormal for this time of year. Beside malaria, there have been no other disease outbreaks reported. However if the Deyr crop fails, a deterioration of nutritional status will take place due to lack of food and limited income. Heal th services are provided due to a number of INGO's activities in the region. In Mogadishu, signs indicate that there is a normal nutritional situation for this time of year.


Security situation is normal.



In general, food security is below normal in rainfed areas, due to late scarce rains and IDP influx from Bay and Bakool.

Deyr rains were late, less than normal and, not uniformly distributed . Rains were received in the last dekad of October and continued until mid November. Food shortages are being reported in, rainfed and agro-pastoral food economy groups in Gedo and Hir an. Livestock condition is below normal despite the improved pasture in late November. Water availability is scarce in the rainfed areas. Food prices have gone up in both Hiran and Gedo.


Deyr rains were delayed, poor, and not uniformly distributed. Hiran received 70- 120mm while Gedo recorded 60-100 mm.

Water Availability

Deyr rains were poor, therefore resulting in reduced water availability in areas distant from the main rivers.

Pasture And Grazing

Pasture and grazing conditions are normal even though the rains were poor and not even uniformly distributed, with the following exceptions. In Hiran grazing for cattle is poor. In the northern parts of Gedo (Lugh, Dolow, Bullohawa) pasture is also belo w normal.

Livestock Condition

Livestock condition is generally reported to be normal. Milk production from cattle in Hiran is below normal due to the poor rains received. In the southern part of Gedo, camels face serious typanosomiasis causing reduction of milk production .

Livestock in the northern part of Gedo have already migrated towards Bay/Bakool due to shortage of pasture/ grazing and poor rains received.


In the irrigated areas the cereal crop situation is normal with normal harvest expectations. In contrast, rainfed crop establishment is poor and even with continued good rain the harvest prospects are poor. It should be noted in these areas that only 20%
of the agro based population are dependent on irrigated while 80% are rainfed.

Income Opportunities

Income opportunities are normal with the exception of the IDPs in Lugh, Dolow and Bullohawa.

Displacement/ Migration

In the recent weeks there are more IDP's coming into Gedo region (mainly from Bay and Bakool). There are also movements within Gedo from rainfed to riverine areas (especially Lugh, Dolow and Bulo/hawa districts) . Migration and displacement is normal in Hiran.

Market Prices

In November cereal prices increased 30% in Hiran and 65-70% from October. In Gedo, low supply and market activities of other commodities were also in short supply with associated high prices.

Health And Nutrition

The are signs of increased malnutrition in Gedo, especially in Lugh and Burdubo wiith acute global malnutrition rate of 50%. In Bardera the nutritional situation among the displaced is deteriorating, while in Hiran indications of increased malnutrition a re appearing mainly in the agropastoral food economy group. There were no major disease outbreaks. The IDP's in Gedo are at a high risk of communicable diseases.


General security situation is good and calm in both Hiran and gedo Regions.



In general, the Food Security outlook is poor. Most rains were concentrated in the short period of November 15 - 18 followed by a long dry spell which has continued up until the first week of December. Unless additional rains are received the rainfed far mers (which make up the majority of the population) will have a lower than normal harvest.

In this Deyr season the major crops grown are sorghum and maize and have reached knee high level. No diseases or pests have been reported, however the crops are suffering from moisture stress.

Water is adequate except in ElBarde district on the border of Ethiopia and Somalia. The same applies for pasture.

Cattle and goats are healthier than camels, which are reported to be affected by pneumonia - normal for this time of year.

Employment and income opportunities are lower compared to normal.

Prices for the most important cereals were relatively high compared to normal. Some IDPS have returned back to Huddur, Wajid, (Bakool) and Qansadhere (Bay). All roads which connect Baidoa to other areas were closed. The security situation in Bakool is rel atively calm at present.


In the major parts of Bay and Bakool regions the rains of the Deyr season started late. In Bakool only light showers were received which resulted in the failure of crops to germinate. November rains were well distributed in general except in El Barde, and
Rabdhure (Bakool) and Dinsor (Bay) where rains were poorer than normal.

The rains intensified during the short period from 15 - 18 November and have been followed by a dry period which has continued into the first week of December.

Normally rains continue through to mid December. If they do not, then there will be widespread crop failure. As at the first week of December indications are not optimistic for continued rain.


In general Bay and Bakool farmers practice dry planting with rainfall being the limiting factor to crop production. Normally the major crop in the Deyr season is "ratoon" sorghum. However due to the almost complete failure of the Gu season, there were no plants from which to ratoon and farmers were forced to plant (dry planting). New planting requires more moisture distributed over a longer period of time, therefore increasing the risk of crop failure.

This year in Bay and Bakool short cycle maize cultivation has increased dramatically. The reasons are: to prevent bird damage and the hope of a green harvest. Shortage of sorghum seed has also been mentioned as a reason why farmers are using maize.

Estimated areas of cropped land and production in Bay and Bakool are 100,000ha (30,600Mt) for sorghum, and 1,950ha maize (390Mt). The maize could be consumed in the green stage if there is no more rain.

Water Availability

Compared to the last deyr 97/98 when there was exceptionally high rainfall, the water availability is reported to be less. However, current levels are normal except in El Barde district in Bakool where there is a severe water shortage for humans and live stock. Pastoralist have moved to Ethiopia in search of water and grazing.

Pasture and Grazing

Pasture and grazing are reported to be normal except in the border areas with Ethiopia (El Barde). In the rest of the regions pasture availability will be reduced if there are no further rains.


Livestock condition for cattle and goats is all normal. There have been a few cases of camel diseases reported.


In Bay region the opportunities for employment in agriculture are limited. Production of charcoal in Bay and collection of construction poles and firewood from Bakool have increased. The collection of honey is common. With all these activities the major constraint is road accessibility and security, especially in Bay region.

IDPs and returnees

In Huddur, since the RRA took control, many of the former inhabitants have returned. In Qansadhere some people have returned to the area to plant crops. The main reason for leaving the area is food shortage.

Market prices

The price of the most important cereals (Sorghum and Maize) is higher than normal. In Bay markets 100,000Sosh. per 50kg bag was the average in November, while in Bakool there was no sorghum at all. Maize from Ethiopia was 120 -125,000Sosh.per 50kg bag
On November, 27 two WFP convoys arrived in Huddur and Tieglow. This has immediately decreased the prices of food items.

Health and Nutrition

There have been reported nutritional and health problems in Bay and Bakool due to food shortage, especially in Wajid of Bakool as well as in Qansadhere and Berdale in Bay region. Lack of health facilities in Bay and Bakool was also the main reason for th is problem.


Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 15:16:05 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: SOMALIA: Food Security Assessment Unit report 1998.12.15

Editor: Ali B. Dinar,