Poor distribution of rains is likely to prolong drought and drive food security emergency in Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia, food security experts warned in a report released on Friday.
The monthly report by donor-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net), the early warning system that monitors food insecurity warned that a major food security emergency is also expected to continue in the Horn of Africa into early 2018, following very poor performance of the March to June Gu/long rains, the second consecutive below-average season in many areas.
“The impacts of very poor Gu/long rains seasonal performance will drive large humanitarian assistance needs, despite the likelihood of some limited improvements with the rainy season in late 2017,” FEWS Net said
According to FEWS Net, improved humanitarian access in Somalia, and urgent, sustained assistance in Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia, is needed to mitigate very high levels of acute malnutrition and the threat of loss of life.
The report says the start of the March to June rains was delayed by 10 to 40 days across the Horn of Africa, and cumulative totals between March 1 and May 31 were less than 70 percent of average in much of central Somalia, southeastern and southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya.
The report says the regeneration of pasture and water resources for pastoralists has been well below normal in southeastern Ethiopia, central Somalia, and northern Kenya, and July harvest prospects are very poor in most areas of southern Somalia.
“These factors are likely to sustain high humanitarian assistance needs across the Horn of Africa, and drive a continuation of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity in southeastern Ethiopia and Somalia, ” the report says.
According to FEWS Net, famine is possible in a worst-case scenario in Somalia in which there is a significant interruption in current food assistance in worst-affected areas.
“Improved humanitarian access in Somalia, and urgent, sustained assistance in Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia, is needed to mitigate very high levels of acute malnutrition and the threat of loss of life,” says the report.
The report says large areas of southeastern Ethiopia and Somalia will continue to face emergency outcomes through early 2018, while much of the rest of the Horn of Africa remains in crisis into early 2018.
The drought is having a significant impact on typical agricultural and pastoral livelihood activities. Harvest prospects, regeneration of pasture and water resources, and improvements in livestock body conditions are being severely limited by this year’s very poor seasonal performance.
The report says sustained, well targeted, and timely assistance throughout the Horn, along with increased humanitarian access in southern Somalia, is required to mitigate extreme levels of acute food insecurity expected into early 2018.