UN warns of food insecurity in Somalia amid threats

About 2.1 million people in Somalia face acute food insecurity between October and December due to the combined effects of severe flooding, desert locust infestation, socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and the cumulative impacts of previous shocks, the UN warned on Wednesday.

According to assessment results by Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), which was managed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about 849,900 children under the age of five are likely to be acutely malnourished through August 2021.

“From October to December, food insecurity is expected to deteriorate among poor households with limited livestock or low capacity to cope with harvest losses,” says the report which was launched in Mogadishu.

However, the UN said based on recent and anticipated livestock births, favorable livestock prices and demand, and stable imported food prices, crisis outcomes are expected to be less widespread than previously projected.

The UN said more than two million people across Somalia are expected to face food consumption gaps or depletion of assets indicative of crisis or worse outcomes through December in the absence of humanitarian assistance.

According to FSNAU, sustained and large-scale humanitarian assistance and government support are currently preventing more severe outcomes in many areas.

It said desert locust infestation which has been mostly confined to northern and central Somalia, causing damage to crops, fruit trees and pasture, continues to pose a serious risk of damage to both pasture and crops at least until the end of 2020.

The report says the 2020 Deyr (October-December) rainfall season is likely to be below average to average across the country, which could lead to drought and trigger a worsening of the humanitarian situation if the 2021 Gu (April-June) season rainfall is also delayed or performs poorly.

FSNAU said the 2020 Gu cereal production in southern Somalia is estimated at 74,000 tons, which is 40 percent lower than the long-term average for 1995-2019.

It cited recurrent and severe flooding, erratic rainfall and a prolonged dry spell, insecurity and conflict as the main factors for below-average 2020 Gu cereal production.

“Despite multiple shocks in 2020, high levels of sustained humanitarian assistance and government support have played a critical role in stabilizing and preventing worse acute food insecurity outcomes in Somalia,” FSNAU said.