Tropical Cyclone Gati aggravates humanitarian situation in Puntland
The humanitarian situation in Somalia has been aggravated by Cyclone Gati which made a landfall in Bari region, Puntland on 22 November. Moderate to heavy rainfall associated with the cyclone together with some heavy storms have affected nearly 200,000 people displacing 42,000 people mainly in Iskushuban district. The cyclone caused the death of nine people and disrupted livelihoods by destroying fishing gear, killing livestock, and flooding agricultural land and crops. The storm comes against the backdrop of existing compounded impact of the triple threat of COVID-19 pandemic, floods, an unprecedented desert locust upsurge which further deepened overall food insecurity within the country.
According to FAO-SWALIM, the unusual heavy rains in the area also led to immediate and short-term recharge of subsurface water sources and pasture growth especially in Somaliland which has had a prolonged dry period since September 2020. However, these rains are not enough to cater to the water deficit in the area. The forecast calls for light to moderate rains in most parts of the Southern regions. IGAD Climate Prediction & Application Centre (ICPAC) predicts drier than usual conditions likely to be recorded over most parts of Somalia, warning these conditions pose some risk to livelihoods. Farmers, pastoralists, and all stakeholders are advised to take appropriate measures to mitigate the impact of these drier than usual conditions.
Seasonal Deyr rains (October – December) have been erratic in Somalia starting late in most parts of the country. However, the rains have caused widespread flooding resulting in displacement, suspected deaths and destruction of key infrastructure including roads, houses, and farmland, according to humanitarian partners. At least 73,000 people have been affected by the Deyr rains and floods, mainly in Banadir, Jubaland, Hirshabelle, Galmudug and South West region since 23 October. Those affected include more than 53,000 IDPs and members of the host community in Baidoa town, in South West State, whose living conditions were already dire. The Deyr floods follow the Hagaa season (June-September) riverine and flash floods, which affected over 545,000 people in Hirshabelle, South West and Jubaland states.
Surge of desert locust infestation emerges in southern Somalia
The infestation of desert locust continues to spread in the Southern parts of Somalia. This follows warning in mid-November by FAO. In Banadir region, locusts were spotted hovering in parts of Dayniile and Kahda. Local farmers have reported that locusts have destroyed pastures, trees, and gardens that had just began to grow. In Jubaland State, the situation is worsening, with more than 20 villages and pastoral areas surrounding Dhobley and Afmadow district affected. In South West State, Swarms of locusts have been reported in Lower Shabelle and in the Bay region. An estimated 200 hectares of farmland have been destroyed in Afgooye-Marka. In Puntland, immature and mature swarms of desert locusts are present in many areas where breeding is ongoing due to favorable weather conditions following recent rains. It is projected that the hatched swarms will start hovering around areas with vegetation in search of food depending on direction of wind. In Hirshabelle State, huge presence of newly hatched locusts have been spotted in Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle regions.
In response, ongoing desert locust surveys and control operation for both land and air have been scaled up, while resources including aircrafts, vehicles, equipment, biopesticides, insect growth regulators and staff have been strategically positioned in various parts of the country. In Jubaland, as a response to fight against the locust infestation, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture contributed 140 backpack sprayers and PPE kits and 280 liters of pesticide to the Jubaland Ministry of agriculture and irrigation. Response has been ongoing throughout the month of November in five districts in Gedo region and four districts in Lower Juba.
According to FAO, control efforts in Puntland, Galmudug and the southern states are targeting the remaining mature adult swarms and the newly emerged hopper bands. From the beginning of 2020 to mid-November, 96,932 hectares have been treated, of which 38,192 were treated by air. This intervention has protected 204,964 metric tonnes of cereals over one season and saved US$61.5 million in incomes. FAO is also providing spray equipment and chemicals to farmers to protect their crops. To support livelihoods, 24,300 households have been reached with livelihood package southcentral Somalia and Somaliland. Of $56.9 million required for the locust response, FAO has received $50.4 million.