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October to February Xays/Dada rains cease early

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Djibouti
  • February 2014
October to February Xays/Dada rains cease early

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  • Key Messages
  • Current situation
  • Updated assumptions
  • Projected outlook through June 2014
  • Key Messages
    • The October to February Xays/Dadaa rains started on time and were mostly normal through early January. However, they then ceased, starting the coastal dry season over a month earlier than usual. This is likely to cause early deterioration of water and rangeland resources and deepen food insecurity.
    • Many households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only due to the presence of humanitarian assistance, but the amount of food aid is declining. With a longer than usual dry season and few unused coping mechanisms, by April, some areas are likely to fall into Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • Most rural areas are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) right now, but Northwest Pastoral and Southeast Pastoral-Border livelihood zones could enter Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by April.

    Current situation
    • The later October to March Xays/Dadaa rainfall was well below normal in coastal areas. Despite a normal start of these rains and decent distribution through December, quantities substantially fell and both spatial and temporal distribution became highly uneven in January/February. In addition to dry conditions, temperatures along the coast have been colder than normal. Cool temperatures have increased the prevalence of pneumonia in livestock.
    • Staple foods prices including for wheat flour, rice belem, and sorghum were stable from December to January across the country. However, the sorghum flour price increased in Ali Sabieh over 50 percent from December to January, the highest it has been since 2010. The increase was due both to rising demand due to the decreasing volume of food aid and due to increased cost of transportation. Traders in this area had taken advantage of trial trains servicing the Djibouti Ville-Dire Dawa portion of the railway since September 2013. However, they have returned to more usual transportation methods with higher costs. In recent years, staple food prices have been fairly stable, but they have never declined since the price spike of 2008.The market remains the major source of food providing 60 percent of food.
    • Since May 2013, the volume of food aid provided by the World Food Program (WFP) has fallen by more than half. With sharing still common in most communities, food assistance is much less significant a source of food for many households than it was in the past. The percentage of food sources from kinship support and neighbors increased from less than one percent of food in May 2013 to 12 percent in February 2014. Only five percent of food in February was reported to come from own production of livestock and livestock products like milk.
    • Overall, expenditure patterns have not changed much since the last survey in September 2013. In February, rural households had total daily average expenditure of DJF 475 DJF (approximately USD 2.70) with an average expenditure per person of 85 DJF (approximately USD 0.50). 76 percent of total expenditures were for food purchases. 67 percent of households spent more than 75 percent of their expenditures on food. This highest percentage of households spending more than three quarters of their expenditures on food was found in the Northwest (82 percent), the Southeast (68 percent), and the central areas (63 percent). Food expenditure increased in Tadjourah Region and in the Southeast in Ali Sabieh and Arta Regions. The coping strategy index (CSI) also increased from September to February in almost all regions. Obock and Dikhil Regions had the highest CSI while it was lowest in Tadjourah.
    • Food consumption, as measured using the Food Consumption Score (FCS), deteriorated from May to February. Indeed, households with “poor” consumption, defined as a score of less than 28, increased from 19 percent of households to 46 percent. Milk, pulse, and vegetable consumption declined since May 2013.  In Obock Region, the number of households with “poor” consumption increased from 45 percent in May 2013 to 87 percent in February 2014.
    • The majority of rural populations in Central Pastoral livelihood zone and Southeast Pastoral-Roadside livelihood zones are currently stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, Southeast Pastoral-Border livelihood zone, Northwest Pastoral livelihood zone, and Obock Region are in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only due to the continued presence of humanitarian assistance. Without assistance, these areas would be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Updated assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for January to June 2014.

    Projected outlook through June 2014

    In February and March, the population of Northwest, Southeast, and Central Pastoral livelihood zones will continue to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) only with the presence of the continued but reduced level of food assistance. Despite the positive start to the coastal rainy season in October/November, rainfall in the Southeast has not fully regenerated pasture and browse resources. As the dry season starts, access to water sources for both human and livestock use will be increasingly limited, especially in the border areas. From April to June, food security will deteriorate as livestock body conditions decline and bush products become harder to find. By May, an early lean season will set in. With decreasing amounts of food aid still being shared among many households, food access will decline. People in Southeast Pastoral-Border livelihood zone, Obock Region, and Northwest Pastoral livelihood zone will enter Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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