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Above-average Karan/Karma rains to improve food security for pastoralists in the Northwest

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Djibouti
  • August 2014
Above-average Karan/Karma rains to improve food security for pastoralists in the Northwest

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Projected Outlook through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) levels of acute food insecurity among poor pastoralists in Obock, Northwestern, and Southeastern Pastoral livelihood Zones have persisted during August.  A total of 90,000 people are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3!), in rural areas of the country. A succession of three poor seasons in the Obock region, reduced access to humanitarian assistance and limited labor opportunities, in the northwestern, southeastern, and Obock pastoral areas has sustained heightened levels of food insecurity. 

    • The August to October outlook points to further deterioration in food security for poor households in areas that are not Karan/Karma-dependent, particularly the Obock region and the Southeastern Pastoral Livelihood Zone. However, for poor households in the Northwest Pastoral Zone, measured improvements are anticipated in September through December, following an upsurge in seasonal rains starting in late July. However, reduced access to humanitarian assistance, coupled with slow recovery of livestock productivities is likely to moderate the recovery. 


    Current Situation
    • The performance of the July to September Karan/Karma rains has varied across livelihood zones. The Karan/Karma rains are the most important rains in the Northwestern Pastoral Zone, contributing an estimated 70 percent to total annual rains in the northwest. Overall cumulative rains have been above the long-term mean in the Northwestern Pastoral Livelihood Zone in Tadjourah (Figure 1) and parts of the Central Pastoral Livelihood Zone. The highest amounts of rainfall occurred from late July, through mid-August.
    • In contrast, dekadal and cumulative rains have been well below average in the severely drought-affected northeastern Obock pastoral areas (Figure 2). Cumulative rains have been 50 to 70 percent of average from June through mid-August.  Although the July to September Karan/Karma rains account for less than 10 percent of total annual rainfall in the Obock pastoral region, the more significant October to February Heys/Dadaa as well as the 2014 March to May rains were all well below average, culminating in a succession of three poor seasons (Figure 3).
    • Karan/Karma rains have been below average in the southeastern pastoral areas including parts of Ali Sabieh, Arta and Dikhill,.  However, deficits were less pronounced than in the northeastern Obock pastoral areas.  The deficits in the southeastern areas are tempered by relatively more favorable rains in 2013, even though the more significant October to February 2014 Heys/Dadaa rains were below average in most of the southeast. 
    • Below-normal rainfall for the remainder of the Karan/Karma season through September is likely.  The areas of most concern are the Obock pastoral areas and the Southeastern Livelihood Zone.  Successive poor seasons, especially in Obock, have caused extensive depletion of pasture, browse, and water resources. The combination of poor rains and high atmospheric temperatures has accentuated severe deterioration in household food access because of an extended period poor crop and livestock production.
    • The prices of key food commodities including sorghum, rice belem, and wheat flour have remained fairly stable in Arta, Djibouti, Dikhill, and Tadjourah markets, through June 2014 and remained consistent with their respective five-year averages.  However, the price of sorghum flour has been consistently higher than the five-year average, in Ali Sabieh market. The atypical price trend is attributed to progressive reduction in rail transport subsidies from the source market (Dire Dawa, Ethiopia), to the destination market (Ali Sabieh) through 2014.  The high price trends have severely constrained purchasing capacities for poor households in Ali Sabieh who have limited access to alternative markets.
    • Food insecurity for poor households in the Obock region, the Southeast, and Northwest Pastoral Zones is compounded by reduction in humanitarian assistance.  Although 82,000 people were earmarked for assistance, only 28,000 received food during August, because the World Food Program’s (WFP) pipeline deficit has persisted since June 2013.  Deteriorating food insecurity in northern Obock, in particular, is of serious concern because the impacts of successive poor seasons and reductions in humanitarian assistance are compounded by lack of access, due to insecurity. It is likely that food security outcomes worsened substantially, subject to confirmation at the end of August, when results from the multi-agency, cross-sectoral Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment (CFSVA) become available.

    Projected Outlook through December 2014

    Anticipated normal to above-normal rains during October to December, motivated by a 65 percent probability of an El Niño event occurring, provide optimism for measured recovery. The October to December rains are the first three months of the October to February Heys/Dadaa seasonal rains, predominant in the coastal areas, situated in Obock and the Southeastern Pastoral Livelihood Zone.  Although significant pasture and browse regeneration and recharging of water resources are anticipated throughout the Heys/Dadaa-dependent areas, recovery may be tenuous because the two to three successive poor seasons resulted in distress livestock sales and increased indebtedness among poor households.  Subsequently, productive capacities are unlikely to recover to pre-drought levels.   

    Nevertheless, improved livestock and crop production is likely to provide increased opportunities to access labor income, reduce the opportunity cost of spending long hours searching for water, and also improve household disposable income because poor households will no longer need to purchase water.  Improvements in livestock body conditions, productivity, and value are likely to ease the pressure on declining terms of trade, especially among pastoralists in the northwest.  It is anticipated that acute food insecurity could improve from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), in the Northwest Pastoral Livelihood Zone, toward the end of 2014.

    Figures Food Security Outcomes, August, 2014

    Figure 1

    Food Security Outcomes, August, 2014

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 2

    Seasonal calendar of typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Pluviométrie cumulée dans le Nord-ouest en 2014, par rapport à la moyenne historique

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Pluviométrie cumulée dans le Nord-ouest en 2014, par rapport à la moyenne historique

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Figure 2. Pluviométrie cumulée dans le nord d’Obock en 2014, par rapport à la moyenne historique

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. Pluviométrie cumulée dans le nord d’Obock en 2014, par rapport à la moyenne historique

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Figure 3. Prix de farine de sorgho au marché de Ali Sabieh

    Figure 5

    Figure 3. Prix de farine de sorgho au marché de Ali Sabieh

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 6

    Source:

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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