SOMALIA: Food Security Highlights January 1999.2.11

SOMALIA: Food Security Highlights January 1999.2.11

FSAU - Food Security Assessment Unit

Food Security Highlights January 1999

FSAU has expanded its monthly monitoring capacity and is currently receiving reports from 55 districts from Somaliland, central and southern Somalia. These reports provide qualitative information on 24 food security indicators as well as narratives on th e current situation as compared to normal. More detailed district reports are available from the FSAU upon request.

General Water for livestock and human consumption has become critical in many regions especially Bay, Bakool and Gedo as well as extending into parts of central Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland. The combination of climatic conditions, insecurity and poorly maint ained water sources has resulted in increasing pressure on boreholes and wells which are functional. In addition the cost of water has become prohibitively high in the Northeast and Northwest Somalia, due in part to the livestock ban.

In the months of December and January, both WFP and CARE have been successful in distributing food aid to many of the worst affected areas. FSAU monitors have reported that prices for cereals have temporarily stabilised in areas where food aid has been d istributed. Food Aid combined with emergency water and seed distribution interventions are required to prevent further displacement, and even larger food aid requirements in the future. The SACB is considering possible interventions following the FSAU a lert.

FSAU will carefully monitor climate predictions for the period April to June as this will be the critical period for both agricultural and pastoral communities throughout the country. At the time of writing there was concern that the coming season will b e drier than normal. More detailed predictions will be available by the middle of February.

Rainfall No rainfall was reported for the month of January. This is normal for this time of the year.

Water Availability Over the last month water accessibility has deteriorated in all areas except for those communities located close to rivers. FSAU has carried out assessments in Somaliland and Puntland and a "Flash" was issued on 28 January 1999. In general, water issues
highlighted for the North are also applicable to parts of southern and central Somalia.

Pasture and Grazing With the exception of a few riverine areas, pasture and grazing is reported to be below normal. The premature end to the deyr rains has caused increasing pressure in grazing areas.

Livestock Over the last month, there has been a deterioration of livestock condition and production throughout all regions except Lower Juba. Migration is also reported to be higher than normal for this time of the year. Whether locally or regionally, animals are
forced to move greater distances in search of water. The distance between water and pasture is increasing. This situation is not expected to improve until the rains arrive. A compounding factor is insecurity. For instance, from Sakow, reports indicat e that there is looting of animals and water points are 'insecure'.

Crop Conditions In many areas the deyr harvest began in January. Parts of Hiran, Middle and Lower Shabelle report favorable production for irrigated crops. In Lower Juba, the deshek crops are reported to be normal whereas rainfed crops are poor. As anticipated the mai n sorghum producing areas of Bay and Bakool have reported almost total crop failure.

During the last week of January and the first week of February, FSAU monitors conducted the crop harvest assessment and a full report will be available by the third week of February, after a workshop which will analyse data and summarize the results.

The issue of seeds for the coming Gu season is critical. FSAU and its partners have prepared a "Flash" which outlined the urgency and anticipated needs for the most vulnerable groups. A combined effort by all agencies and donors is needed to reduce the risk of yet another crop failure. Income opportunities Income and employment opportunities are limited in all regions. There have been few opportunities created with the onset of the harvest in Hiran and Middle and Lower Shabelle, however this is minimal compared to the oversupply of labour and will only be for a short term. The decline of the banana industry has compounded the situation in Lower Shabelle, and in Bay and Bakool where agricultural labour is normally a significant factor contributing to household income, is this year, almost nil.

Continued abnormally high collection and sale of bush products and charcoal production is reported from many regions and districts.

Displacement The level of IDPs to Juba valley, though still on the rise, is at a relatively lower rate compared to the previous months' movement. High insecurity in Sakow has also resulted in large numbers of displaced to Jilib and Bu'ale.

Markets A slight reduction in cereal prices has been noted in areas which have either begun to harvest or have received food aid. Otherwise cereal prices continue to soar while livestock prices are steadily dropping. The livestock/food terms of trade are increa singly favorable for pastoralists, mainly due to the effects of the import ban by Saudi Arabia on the traditional supply areas - Somaliland, Puntland and central Somalia.

Health and Nutrition

According to the nutritional surveillance network, there were no alarming reports from Mogadishu, Middle and Lower Shabelle, Lower Juba and Hiran. Reports of a worsening situation from Middle Juba regarding IDPs is being monitored closely. In Gedo the co nditions of IDPs is causing concern and Bay and Bakool food shortages are resulting in increasing cases of malnutrition. FSAU will conduct a nutritional assessment in Qansaxdhere in mid February.

Puntland A preliminary assessment was carried out in early December and the report indicated that serious shortages/ inability to access water for livestock and human consumption. Recommendations included support to operate and maintain boreholes. The Puntland g overnment is monitoring the situation and has requested assistance from the SACB. Anecdotal evidence suggest that in central Somalia, pastoralists are suffering from poor income and difficult access to water. A local committee in Galkayo is acting to he lp communities.

Somaliland Under the co-ordination of the National Committee for Drought Preparedness and Prevention (NCDPP) in Somaliland, a drought assessment mission was carried out in early January 1999. Participants included ministerial, UN and NGO representatives from Somalil and, with an active role by the FSAU.

While drought is not an accurate description of the current situation, real difficulties in accessing water are occurring for poorer pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in certain areas of Somaliland. Reasons include:

* the livestock ban - lower purchasing power * higher than normal livestock levels during 1998 - increasing pressure on water and range resources * unfavourable rainfall distribution * low water storage capacity due to past conflict - destruction of storage facilities * lack of maintenance of water storage facilities

As a result of the above factors, the mission found that abnormally large movements of pastoral people and their livestock have moved in search of water and pasture. Similarly, abnormally large numbers of cattle, owned by the Agro-pastoralists have been m oving.

Assessments are currently being undertaken in order to define and plan for appropriate water interventions.


Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 13:02:45 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: SOMALIA: Food Security Highlights January 1999 1999.2.11

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,