Food Security Outlook

Access to water and pasture improves following the July through September rains

October 2014 to March 2015
2014-Q4-1-2-DJ-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The near-average Karan/Karma rains between July and September helped replenish pasture and water resources in most rural areas with the exception of the southeastern pastoral border area (livelihood zone 3B) and the rural Obock area, where there was a poorer distribution of rainfall.

  • Based on forecasts for normal to below-normal Xays/Dadaa rains between October and March, there should be a slight improvement in the food security situation, with households in southeastern pastoral border areas and rural areas of Obock facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity. 

  • Households have been resorting to nonsustainable coping strategies to meet their food needs since reductions in food assistance took effect in 2013. 

National Overview

Current situation

The food security situation across the country is mixed, with certain areas getting beneficial Karan/Karma rains (between July and September) and others getting very little rainfall. Rainfall totals for the Karan/Karma rainy season were near-average in practically all parts of the country with the exception of the Obock area and the southeastern pastoral border area, where there was a poor spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall. The current Xays/Dadaa rainy season (between October and March) in coastal areas got off to a slow start, more than two weeks late.

Pastoralists in rural areas of Obock and the southeastern pastoral border area are currently facing severe livelihood deficits after several seasons marked by rainfall deficits and steady depletions of their assets from year to year. Livestock are in weakened physical condition and animal-based sources of food and income are severely eroded. Elsewhere, pastoral households in northwestern and central pastoral areas where there was more plentiful rainfall are benefiting from the new pasture growth and better water access in these areas. The physical condition of livestock has improved and there is more frequent milk consumption.

According to the seasonal food security assessment conducted by FEWS NET in September-October 2014, most pastoralists in rural areas are having problems with their sources of food and income. However, in general, the situation appears to be more or less unchanged from 2013, except in the Obock area. Approximately 40 percent of the rural population has a poor food consumption score (FCS), compared with 42 percent in 2013. The average since 2012 with a poor FCS has been 38 percent.

There are food consumption deficits as a result of the erosion in sources of food and income from livestock production, mainly in rural areas of Obock and the southeastern pastoral border area. Poor households are eating at least three meals a day, but their diet, based mainly on cereals, oil, and sugar, is providing very little dietary diversity.  

Income from the production and sale of charcoal and firewood makes up 13 percent of the budgets of rural households. Food-insecure households in rural pastoral areas, particularly in Obock and the southeastern border area, are ramping up activities associated with the production and sale of charcoal to make up for losses of income from the sale of livestock, as well as for reductions in food assistance. The pursuit of less stable, nonsustainable activities has expanded since last year.

Pastoralists have exhausted their coping strategies and are facing food consumption deficits that can no longer be covered by food assistance from the World Food Programme. Support and assistance from city dwellers have increased by approximately 50 percent since last year. Urban households are sending larger remittances of food and cash to their families in the countryside to make up for any shortfalls, which is putting a heavy burden on their incomes. Current levels of food assistance are inadequate to meet the needs of poor households. Food insecurity in rural southeastern pastoral border areas and rural areas of Obock has reached Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Food security in northwestern and central pastoral areas and southeastern roadside areas is Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

Assumptions

Projections of food security outcomes for October 2014 through March 2015 are based on the following assumptions:

  • The Xays/Dadaa season between October and February in coastal areas should be near-to-below-normal in terms of the amount and distribution of rainfall. These rains will bring relief to nomadic populations in coastal areas by improving pasture and water availability, but their effects on livestock productivity (milk production and sales proceeds) will not be visible until January 2015.
  • Current levels of food assistance, which is not expected to change, should cover approximately 40 percent of the drought-stricken rural population between October and March. This scaled-back assistance will likely continue to affect food access and, thus, household food consumption.
  • There will likely be a continued large flow of assistance from urban households to households in rural areas.
  • The seasonal rise in livestock prices in conjunction with the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca) and the Feast of Aïd Al-Adha in October, fueled by the large demand for exports, will be followed by a decline in prices as of January with the slowing of demand.
  • The first cases of malaria will make their appearance sometime around December (which is a normal seasonal phenomenon). The expected light to average rainfall activity will not contain the spread of this disease.
Most likely food security outcomes

Some pastoral households are considered to have a “poor” food consumption score, with diets based mainly on cereals, oil, and sugar. In addition, the sharp cutback in food assistance will limit their food access. This poor food access will keep global acute malnutrition rates above 15 percent. However, scaled-up tree cutting activities and support from urban areas will fill the void created by low food distribution quotas.

Forecasts for the Xays/Dadaa rainy season between October and March are predicting average to below-average rainfall. Food security conditions are expected to be similar to present conditions or slightly improved, depending on the area and livelihood zone in question. There will be better pasture and water availability as of January 2015, which will improve the physical condition of livestock, particularly in northwestern, central, and southeastern areas, though herd size will remain rather small.

With a near-normal season, food security for poor households should slightly improve starting in January in the southeastern pastoral border area. However, households in rural areas of Obock will likely continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity through March 2015. The near average, and in some cases above-average, Karan/Karma rains (between July and September) in northwestern pastoral areas improved conditions in these areas, but food access is still precarious. Only continued food assistance will prevent a further deterioration in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) levels of food insecurity currently faced by area households. Food security outcomes in most central and southeastern roadside areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March 2015. 

For more information on the analysis for the areas of concern, please download the full report.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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