The Somali Region, also known as the Ogadenia after the dominant clan in the region, has been the site of two major wars (fought between Ethiopia and Somalia), numerous clan clashes, and frequent occurrences of drought. The region remains one of the poorest in Ethiopia with natural and human-made disasters disrupting the economies and severely impacting the food security and livelihoods of the people.
The food security situation in most parts of Somali Region (especially in the Shebelle zones receiving deyr rains in October/November) is below normal to poor, with the situation in some districts already considered as a near emergency. The main factors for the poor food security situation are the poor performance of the deyr rains in 2018, the anticipated poor Gu rains in April/May this year, and market-related problems. The worst affected population groups include: the Riverine populations of Kelafo, Mustahil, Adadle, Gode, And Berano districts of Shebelle zone. The harvests from short cycle crops (wheat, barley, and maize, Sesame, Sorghum) depend on the good performance of the karan rains in the remaining weeks of the season.
The current disruption in the economy and market systems will soon be coupled with drought. The deyr (short) rainy season that normally occurs from early October to late December was poor performance to fully regenerate pasture and replenish water sources. Somali pastoralists entering into the four month (January to April) dry period, known as jilaal, will face hardships beyond what they have experienced in previous years. Already cut off from their normal trading routes and migration patterns, the impending drought will have devastating consequences on the lives and the livelihoods of pastoralists. As pasture and water become less and less attainable and internal movement remains difficult the livestock/food security situation will become critical.
With food prices high and livestock prices low, the cost of obtaining food becomes double for pastoralists. Pastoralist cannot sell their livestock (at fair value) or afford essential food commodities. With poor terms of trade, already vulnerable households are forced to sell their assets to buy food, greatly lessening their ability to cope with any future economic shocks. Without assistance, many households will not manage the upcoming Jilaal dry season
Unless immediate action is taken, livelihoods will be lost and the ability of the population to cope with the current community conflict and any other future economic shocks will be undermined. Despite a slight easing in trade restrictions and movement, the conflict in the Somali & Oromia communities has severely limited the population’s access to commercial food (and food aid). Pastoralists are relying more heavily on their livestock (milk and meat) than normal which will negatively impact the pastoral livelihood base, especially for those whose livestock holdings are already low. Where food is available in the market places their prices remain disproportionately high for the average consumer. Compounding the ill effects of the conflict is the poor rainy season which will likely be followed by an earlier than normal dry season and will considerably impact food security throughout the zone and the region.