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.
Somalia is experiencing the negative impact of abnormally performing Gu’ rains (April – June) which follow a poor 2018 Deyr season (Oct-Dec), and unusually dry conditions during the 2019 Jilaal season (Jan-Mar). Except the 2018 Gu’, every rainy season since late 2015 has been below average, leading to increased vulnerability and decreased coping ability. The 2019 Gu’ is the second consecutive below-average rainy season, in a country still recovering from the prolonged drought in 2016-17.
The 2019 Gu’ started late throughout the country and in most areas resulted in cumulative below-average rainfall. At the same time, in some parts of the country heavy rains received in a short period resulted in flooding and significant damage to planted crops, land and other resources critical for agriculture and livestock production. While the rains in late May and early June eased drought conditions, improved water availability and supported the livestock sector to some extent, they will not be sufficient for suistainable agricultural production. (See State by State Analysis on page 13 for further details).
Rain received generated pasture growth, albeit late, improving livestock body conditions and some animals, mainly sheep and goats, are conceiving. However, the benefits will not be realized before early October. Poor pastoralists who have small herds have accumulated substantial debts and will therefore face large food consumption gaps in the coming months. For crop growing areas, the delayed start of Gu’ rains have significantly affected planting and germination. The overall Gu’ season cereal harvest is projected to be 50 per cent below average. Due to exhausted food stocks, reduced income from agricultural labour and poor harvest prospects, poor agro-pastoral families and farmers in most parts of the country are also expected to face food consumption gaps until late 2019.
Using recent data, the FAO-led FSNAU and FEWS NET projected a sharp increase in food insecurity with the number of people acutely food insecure estimated to each 5.4 million by July, 2.2 million of these in severe acute food insecurity conditions (IPC 3 and above), an increase of almost 30 per cent compared to the projection of February. In addition, over 60,000 people have been displaced by drought since the beginning of the year. Severe acute malnutrition rates among children are increasing rapidly, mainly among internally displaced persons (IDPs). This, coupled with a serious lack of access to clean water, is heightening the risk of outbreaks from water-borne diseases, exacerbating existing fragilities.
As a result of decades of climatic shocks and conflicts, over 2.6 million people are internally displaced, mainly in urban areas. Despite efforts to achieve durable solutions, the capacities of host communities are overstretched, and the situation could worsen if additional people displaced by the impact of drought and conflict move to urban areas. Minority clans and marginalized communities were the groups most severely and disproportionately affected by previous droughts and is highly likely that they will also bear the brunt of the 2019 drought, which will need to be factored into the humanitarian response.
Additional and front-loaded financial resources are urgently required to launch an immediate response. By the end of June, the 2019 HRP is 38 per cent funded. Assistance has reduced, including in critical WASH, health, nutrition and food security interventions in several drought-affected areas and urban centres receiving internally displaced persons (IDPs). The Food Security cluster, for example, is reaching only 1.2 million people with life-saving food assistance per month in the first half of the year, down from an average of two million between July and December 2018. This is less than 50 per cent of the 2019 HRP target and only 26 per cent of the number of targeted in this plan.