Somalia Food Crisis Seen Easing After `Exceptional' Crop

Somalia’s food crisis is easing after an “exceptional” harvest in the past season, while humanitarian assistance is still needed to stave off hunger in the region, the Famine Early Warning Systems network reported.

About 2.12 million people will experience “acute food security crisis” from August to December, 16 percent less than at the beginning of 2012, the U.S.-funded provider of food- security warnings wrote in a statement on its website dated Aug. 29. Food stockpiles after the country’s secondary, or so-called Deyr, harvest in January will help offset “significantly below average” output in the main harvest currently under way. Total production for 2012 will be “average,” FEWS said.

“The improved situation is attributed to sustained humanitarian interventions over the last 12 months, improved food stocks at the household and market levels following an exceptional January 2012 Deyr harvest, and improved milk availability and higher livestock prices in most pastoral areas of Somalia,” FEWS said. “Despite these improvements, lifesaving humanitarian assistance remains necessary.”

The number of children requiring nutrition treatment has dropped 27 percent since January, in part because of improved availability of milk, FEWS said. About 236,000 children are “severely malnourished,” with 70 percent of those in the south of the country, FEWS said.

A possible mild or moderate El Nino, a warming of Pacific Ocean waters that affects global weather patterns, may benefit growers in Somalia because the phenomenon may bring average to above-average rains from October to December, FEWS said. Still, El Nino may cause flooding if rains are too heavy, according to the report.

Rising international food prices, especially for wheat and sugar, may impact Somalia by the end of the year, FEWS said. While prices of maize and sorghum are likely to rise seasonally in the next six months, they may remain “substantially lower than in 2011,” according to the report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Whitney McFerron in London at wmcferron1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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