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Poor rainfall causes a deterioration in food security

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Djibouti
  • July 2014
Poor rainfall causes a deterioration in food security

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Projected outlook through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Following the early end of the Diraac/Sougum rainy season in April, lack of rainfall and high temperatures during the month of July have weakened water resources and pasture in rural areas. The increasing loss of livestock has begun to severely erode pastoral livelihoods.  

    • Lack of rain has displaced populations to localities that have better water availability. This displacement is causing the depletion of reservoirs and overgrazing in certain areas. Humanitarian assistance coverage in rural areas continues, but remains insufficient to meet needs. 

    • With the current lean season, limited resources such as grazing and water are running out. Most pastoral households are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!), and most non-pastoral households currently face Stress (IPC Phase 2). If the Karan/Karma rainy season performs poorly, the food security situation will remain precarious.

    Current Situation

    Conditions in July are the result of ongoing rainfall deficits in the Tadjourah region since last December. The Obock region has been most affected by dry spells during the July to December Karan-Karma rainy season. Favorable rainfall was reported in the last week of July in outlying areas of Dikhil (Bondara, As-Eyla, Balambaley, and Cheiketi), but resulting improvements in food security were limited.  

    Elevated temperatures during the May to August hot season have depleted pasture and water resources in rural areas. There are reports of water shortages in rural areas of Obock and wells are beginning to run dry as local populations increase dependence on well water to meet their needs.  Even with existing water conservation systems, depleting resevoirs have limited household access to water. Wells in Adaillou locality, for example, are beginning to run dry and borehole water levels Essallou borehole are depleting. Limited pasture in Tadjourah has forced nomads from Margoyta and Wabeita to migrate to Madgoul and Dorra areas where there is better water availability in dams and reservoirs. These population movements are straining limited water resources in reservoirs and have led to overgrazing. Grazing resources remain extremely limited in Ali Sabieh from Ali-Addeh District to Holl-holl. The Mewled and Assamo areas currently have the best pasture conditions compared to the rest of the southeast. Livestock body conditions have worsened as a result of poor vegetation and limited pasture availability.

    The drastic deterioration of livestock body conditions in the Weima and Mabla areas of Tadjourah have caused female animals to birth prematurely and reports indicate the loss of livestock in the Mounkour and Daimoli areas of the Northwest. Rainfall deficits in both Obock and Tadjourah have triggered population movements to the outskirts of local capitals, where there is better access to water and other resources. Households in Makarassou have moved to Randa, while households in Garbanaba have gone to Galhela in the MABLA district. Milk availability and income from livestock products has declined.

    Staple food prices in Djibouti’s cities increased in July, which is typical for the month of Ramadan, and price increases were not significant enough to affect food access during this period. However, current staple food price levels remain prohibitive for poor urban and rural households, who remain highly dependent on imported foods to meet their needs.

    Food aid distributions from the World Food Program continues to reach rural areas, despite significant reductions in targeted households. In addition, cash programs in more than ten rural areas in the Ali-Sabieh region since the beginning of the lean season in June have mitigated a more severe deterioration in food security. Nevertheless, current humanitarian assistance remains insufficient to meet needs of the food insecure population and poor households have increased reliance on in-kind zakat support during the month of Ramadan in July, which is a common practice across the country.

    Pastoralists are dependent on livestock resources and pasture and water deficits have resulted in a significant decline in food and income sources.  Households in northern Obock, Northwestern Pastoral, and Southeastern Pastoral Borderside zones remain in Crisis (Phase 3) with food assistance. Most pastoralists in the two central pastoral livelihood zones face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity.

    Projected outlook through December 2014

    Food security has continued to deteriorate country-wide since May and is not expected to improve for the next few months. The rainfall outlook for the rest of the Karan/Karma season (July-September) forecasts near-normal to below-normal. Population movements are likely to accelerate between August and September, either from rural to urban areas in search of better accessibility and opportunities, or across international borders in search of better pastures and water resources. With the earlier than usual end of the Diraac/Sugum rains, reductions in food assistance, limited market access and job opportunities, households in the Northwest, the Southeast, and northern Obock are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) through December. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity will continue at least through December for pastoralists in the two central livelihood zones.  

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar of 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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