CUMULATIVE SHOCKS AGGRAVATE HUMANITARIAN NEEDS
More than 1.3 million people food insecure and 849,000 children face acute malnutrition
Somalia continues to face a dire humanitarian situation, with an estimated 5.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. This is attributed to cumulative shocks, including erratic 2020 Gu season, widespread and severe seasonal flooding, desert locust infestation, socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 and protracted conflict -and flood-related displacement.
According to the 2020 Post Gu Seasonal Food Security and Nutrition Analysis for September (FAO/FSNAU), an estimated 1.3 million people are facing Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 or higher) outcomes through September 2020, even in the presence of humanitarian assistance. This number is expected to increase to 2.1 million people through December 2020, in the absence of humanitarian assistance. An additional 2.5 million people are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), bringing the total number of people experiencing acute food insecurity to 3.8 million. In addition, 849,900 children under the age of five years face acute malnutrition over the next 12 months (September 2020 to August 2021), including 143,400 likely to be severely malnourished.
The 2020 gu season exhibited erratic performance, with rains starting as early as late March in many parts of Somalia, then intensified in April, with heavy rain leading to riverine and flash floods through September, impacting food security according to FSNAU. The 2020 Gu harvest in southern Somalia is reportedly 40 per cent lower than the long-term average for 1995-2019, mainly due to successive and severe flooding, erratic rainfall, a prolonged dry spell and protracted insecurity/conflict. In northwest regions, the 2020 Gu/Karan cereal production (harvest expected in November) is estimated at 45 per cent lower than the average for 2010-2019, mainly due to erratic rainfall.
The current and projected levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition in Somalia remain high although both the magnitude and severity are lower compared to earlier projections. This is in part due to support provided by the Government and large scale and sustained humanitarian assistance that have prevented the worsening of food security and nutrition outcomes across many parts of Somalia. According to the Somalia Food Security Cluster, an average of 1.85 million people received food assistance monthly from April to August. Approximately 400,000 people also benefitted from government-led rural and urban safety net programmes. In April, the Government enacted a 20 to100 per cent tax exemption on imported food commodities in order to mitigate the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on the population.
Humanitarian needs are likely to increase in 2021 due to the influence of a La Nina that is currently developing (75 per cent chance through February 2021). Potential drought conditions will likely develop as a result of below average 2020 deyr (October to December), a harsh 2021 dry jilaal (January to March) season and a possible delay and/or poor performance of the 2021 gu (April to June).
Food Security partners have recommended sustained support through December 2020 to address the urgent needs of the people who are likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4), and livelihoods for people in Stressed or worse (IPC Phase 2 or higher), who are likely to slide into Crisis or Emergency when they are unable to cope with shocks. Urgent nutrition and health support is required to address the needs, including for areas with high prevalence of acute maternal malnutrition. Desert locust hazards threaten to increase the acutely food insecure population in late 2020
A desert locust infestation since January continues to pose a serious risk of damage to both pasture and crops at least until the end of 2020, according to FAO. In February, the Somalia's Agriculture Ministry declared the locust invasion a national emergency and a major threat to the country's fragile food security situation. The infestation has been mostly confined to northern and central regions, causing significant damage to crop (cereals and vegetables) and fruit trees, especially in Togdheer and Woqooyi Galbeed. The heavy 2020 gu season rainfall in April through mid-May and hagaa/karan rains in July-September however moderated the impact and replenished pasture and browse across most regions.
FAO and the Federal Government have surveyed 380,000 hectares between January and September in Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug, and sprayed 73,097 hectares with bio-pesticides. Despite ongoing control operations, the latest FAO forecasts indicate that the situation remains critical with immature adult locust populations persisting in the northeast and northwest regions. Cross-border movements by several swarms have been reported between Ethiopia and northwest Somalia. Control operations are being scaled up with increased aerial capacity, vehicles and additional biopesticide stock delivered. The Somalia locust response requires US$56.9 million of which $49.6 million has been received.
At least 167,000 people displaced by floods in September
Seasonal hagaa flooding since July has resulted in the displacement of nearly 342,000 people, inundated 294 villages and destroyed property and about 15,000 to 20,000 hectares of assorted crops, mainly in in rural areas along the Juba and Shabelle river valleys, according to the UNHCR-led Protection and Return Monitoring Network (PRMN) in Somalia. Of the total displaced, around 167,000 people have been displaced since 1 September, mainly in Wanla Weyne (~93,000) in Lower Shabelle, Jowhar (~41,000) in Middle Shabelle, and Belet Weyne (~28,000) in Hiraan regions. On 27 September, nearly 15,000 people were displaced, and more villages afflicted in in Jowhar District of Middle Shebelle, according to PRMN. According to community leaders, those affected have moved to higher grounds to escape the floodwaters that have submerged houses, damaged boreholes/wells, and destroyed farmlands. The flooding situation continues to affect access to food and livelihoods and is likely to disrupt planting and harvesting for an already food insecure population.
According to FAO SWALIM, the river levels have reduced slightly in the upper reaches but remain above the high flood risk levels at Belet Weyne and Bulo Burto along the Shabelle, due to continuing moderate to heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands, where River Shabelle originates. The flooding pattern along the Shabelle river has been changing gradually from dry periods, to three seasons (gu’, deyr and hagaa) flooding, evidently showing the effects of climate change in the region.
The IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Center (ICPAC) forecast for October projects moderate rainfall in parts of Southern Somalia and moderate to heavy rains in parts of Puntland and central regions. Significant heavy rainfall is expected in Hiraan, Bakool, Galgaduud, Mudug, Nugaal and southern parts of Sool region, with flash floods occurring in parts of Bari, Nugaal, Sool and Sanaag areas. Light to moderate rains are also expected across the northern parts of the country. With forecast below average 2020 deyr season (September to December) rainfall, the risk of flooding is expected to be low, but flooding may still occur during the season and could cause additional damages. People living in flood-prone areas along Shabelle and Juba rivers have been urged to remain vigilant as authorities and partners plan mitigation and response measures. In 2019, deyr floods displaced over 370,000 people in the riverine areas.
Partners scale-up COVID-19 response
The Government has continued the gradual reopening of different sectors of the economy, following a decrease in the number of reported COVID-19 cases. Health partners including the Federal Ministry of Health (MoH) have however reported gaps in the geographic coverage of COVID-19 testing, with some districts reporting no confirmed cases in September due to lack of testing capacity. Therefore, analysis of the trends is not conclusive. As of 14 October, the MoH confirmed 3,864 COVID-19 cases with more than 3,000 recoveries and 99 deaths.
The resumption of domestic and international flights since August, has boosted the crucial air transport in the country, enabling the movement of aid workers and delivery of supplies. Schools continue with the phased reopening since August amidst challenges related to social distancing, physical space and prevention. According to Education Cluster Partners at least 900,000 face masks and 16,728 digital thermometers are needed to support the safe reopening of schools for the 900,000 children targeted under the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP). Risk communication and community engagement has been strengthened through Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster partners, covering more than one million people (42 per cent of 2.6 million IDPs) since August. The Logistics Cluster has also transported over 34 tons of COVID-19 related cargo to various parts of the country.
Insecurity, lack of access, funding and operation challenges remain a major constraint for response. The U$256 million humanitarian component of the Somalia COVID-19 CPRP launched in April is only 31 per cent ($78.5 million) as of 14 October.