Alert

A late start to main season rains threatens crops and labor demand

August 2013

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Not mapped
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
National Parks/Reserves
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
Not mapped
Concentration of displaced people – hover over maps to view food security phase classifications for camps in Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda.
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.

Summary

The 2013 June to September rains began poorly in parts of East Africa. While rainfall has improved in recent weeks, precipitation would need to continue through the remainder of the season, and in some cases, last longer than usual, in order for cropping to recover. If this does not occur, reduced crop production is likely, particularly in Sudan. The impact on food security would extend beyond the drought‐affected areas, especially because the affected areas of Sudan are the “grain‐basket” of the sub‐region.

Situation

In large areas of eastern and central Sudan, northwestern Ethiopia, and southwest Eritrea, rainfall totals to date are 20‐50 percent below average (Figure 1). This dryness delayed planting, reduced planted area, and forced farmers to switch to shorter cycle, lower‐yielding varieties. Forecasts for the rest of the season suggest average rains, which may be insufficient in quantity and length to mitigate the season’s poor start. National governments and their humanitarian partners should begin contingency planning in the event that the current season does not fully recover.  

The delay was most severe in eastern Sudan, where rains began 30‐40 days late. Area planted is reportedly 30 percent below average and crops are doing poorly. In Qadarif, the most productive state in Sudan, satellite imagery indicates that rainfall and vegetation conditions are at their lowest level since at least 2001. These areas produce 60 percent of Sudan’s sorghum (Table 1), are important sources of  employment, and provide grain to Eritrea and border areas of Ethiopia. Significantly reduced crop production would affect food availability, income, and prices throughout the sub‐region. Recent flooding in Sudan (Figure 1) has damaged seedlings, spoiled recently planted seed, and could delay planting and weeding, further reducing planted area and crop yields.  

In Ethiopia, dryness has been concentrated in western Tigray, a surplus sorghum‐producing area and an important source of labor opportunities for poor households from neighboring areas. This area, along with adjacent areas of Amhara, produces more than 60 percent of Ethiopia’s sesame crop, an important source of export earnings. Below‐average rainfall over the remainder of the season would reduce sesame production and agricultural labor demand.  However, current crop conditions and short‐term rainfall forecasts are better than in Sudan, lowering the risk of acute food insecurity in this region and neighboring areas that supply labor. Below‐average rainfall also occurred over cropping areas of Eritrea but no information on crop conditions is available.

FEWS NET will continue to monitor seasonal performance. An upcoming joint assessment (FEWS NET, FAO, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation) in eastern Sudan will provide more detail on conditions and prospects for 2013 harvests.  

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, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics