humanitarian situation in Somalia has become increasingly fragile towards the end of 2016, especially in the northern regions. Drought conditions are deepening in Puntland and Somaliland, and have expanded to southern and central regions, including Gedo, Hiraan, Galgaduud and Lower Juba. The Deyr rainy season, which usually extends from October to December, has so far been poor, and high temperatures combined with limited amounts of rain in October 2016 that have led to drought conditions in most of Somalia, ranging from moderate to extreme. During the month of October, most regions registered less than half of the usual rainfall. Crop and pasture losses are widespread, and water shortages common. Substantial increases in water prices are being reported in the majority of regions, with price hikes of as much as 66 per cent in Xudur, Bakool region, and 58 per cent in Laas Caanood, Sool region. No significant rainfall is expected in the coming weeks and the drought conditions are likely to intensify until the next rainy season expected in April 2017.
Water levels in Juba and Shabelle rivers are below normal for this time of year due to limited rain in the Ethiopian highlands. Water levels are expected to decline further, putting further stress on communities dependent on irrigation for growing crops.
Two out of five Somalis are already acutely food insecure and prospects for the Deyr season cereal production is bleak, with crop failure expected in many areas. A scale-up of humanitarian assistance is required to prevent further deterioration of the situation.
If it continues at current levels, with around 1.6 million people reached per month, the number of people who will be in ‘crisis’ or ‘emergency’ is likely to increase, potentially to a drastic scale. A 20 per cent increase in number of people who cannot meet their daily food requirements was already registered in September 2016, up from 935,000 to 1.1 million in six months, according to the FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU).
The nutrition situation has also deteriorated with over 320,000 acutely malnourished children in need of urgent nutrition support, including treatment for more than 50,000 who are severely malnourished and far more vulnerable than any other group. Water shortages may also trigger further outbreaks of water borne diseases.
This follows a major outbreak of AWD/Cholera in the region in early 2016, with Somalia hit most severely, at a scale not seen in recent years. More than 13,600 cases of AWD/Cholera were registered from January to September 2016, up from 5,300 registered cases in 2015.
On 12 November 2016, the President of the Federal Government issued an appeal to all Somalis and the international community for support to drought stricken communities throughout the country. Appeals have also been issued by authorities in Jubaland (2 October), Puntland (5 October), and Somaliland (17 November).
The impact of the drought and the demand on humanitarian resources has been further magnified by a number of emerging crises, including an increase in conflict-related displacements and refugee returns from Kenya.