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Failure of the Heys/Dadaa rains

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Djibouti
  • March 2013
Failure of the Heys/Dadaa rains

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Most households in areas especially hard hit by the failure of the Heys/Dadaa rains are experiencing Crisis acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3). There is mounting strain on their livelihoods and normal sources of food and income will continue to fail to meet household food consumption requirements. 

    • High staple food prices are beyond the purchasing power of poor households. Market prices in non-coastal areas hinge on the availability of food assistance. 

    Current Situation
    • Rainfall levels in coastal areas as at the end of the Heys-Dadaa rainy season (October through March) were below-normal (50 to 75 percent below average). The Diraac/Soughoum season got underway in the last week of March, producing heavy rainfall in just about all parts of the country.
    • The price of wheat flour rose compared to the three-year average in most markets, in Ali Sabieh, Dikhil, and Obock by 10, 11, and 21 percent, respectively, and slightly (4 percent) above the three-year average in Djibouti City. These price hikes on most markets are closely correlated with the availability of food assistance. Chronic drought conditions and the inadequacy of food assistance, due to the large influx of households increasingly affected by asset losses, are limiting the effectiveness of sales of provisions distributed under food assistance programs. P prices remain high; all of which is weakening the purchasing power of poor households.
    • Rural populations in pastoral livelihood zones in the Northwest, low and high plateau areas of central Djibouti, and southeastern areas along major roadways are currently classified in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity due in part to their improved access to resources such as water, as well as their diversified sources of income (animal products), and their physical access to urban areas. Households in southeastern border areas and rural areas of Obock are facing Crisis food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) after a string of poor rainy seasons and the depletion of their assets. With the end of the high-debt period, urban areas with chronic food insecurity problems are classified as have Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity.

    Updated Assumptions
    • There is a high probability of continuing outbreaks of animal diseases throughout the outlook period.
    • ECMWF and NOAA forecasts are predicting below-average rainfall levels for the Diraac/Soughoum season. However, the start of the season in the last week of March was marked by heavy rains.

    Projected Outlook through June 2013
    • Continuing food assistance will keep households in northwestern pastoral areas in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity during the first half of the outlook period. Water access is becoming increasingly limited with reserves in reservoirs beginning to dry up. According to discussions with local authorities, there will be a steady decline in herd size, with losses estimated at between 45 and 50 percent compared with the norm. Such losses are due, in large part, to recurrent droughts, further aggravated by animal diseases like pneumonia. Though malaria is not an endemic disease in Djibouti, reported peaks in transmission rates in the Agna, Ourguini, and Boukbouto areas are heightening the vulnerability of local populations to food insecurity risks. With the heavy rains marking the start of the Diraac/Soughoum season, the continuing pressure from displaced populations from the Obock area, and the increasingly frequent sharing of food assistance, the food security situation of local pastoralists will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes for the entire outlook period.
    • Southeastern pastoral border areas are suffering from the recent string of poor rainy seasons producing 50 to 75 percent below-average levels of rainfall, according to estimates by the ECMWF. Water access will become increasingly limited, particularly in the areas of Sankal and Kabah-Kabah. The Diraac/Soughoum season, which generally produces intermediate levels of rainfall, has just gotten underway, with reports of heavy downpours in certain parts of the area (Holl-Holl). The same string of droughts affecting local populations is also steadily weakening the condition of livestock. According to local authorities, herd size will decline by more than 80 percent during the outlook period, compared to normal. Local livelihoods are under increasing pressure and normal sources of food and income from animal products will continue to fail to meet household food consumption requirements. Deliveries of food aid cannot keep pace with the influx of IDPs in these areas (nomadic populations from across the sub-region). The resulting increasingly frequent recourse to mutual assistance and sharing in local communities is contributing to the instability in household food consumption. Employment opportunities are limited to the selling of charcoal, which is a nonsustainable source of income. With the lean season starting up in May, households in southeastern pastoral border areas will continue to face Crisis food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) throughout the outlook period.
    • The mountainous central part of the country has gotten no rainfall and the last Karan/Karma season was also extremely poor. Though there is still good water access, although conditions could deteriorate in the second half of the outlook period with the beginning of the lean season. The combined effects of seasonal animal diseases like pneumonia and of the weakened condition of livestock will continue to sharply affect productivity and reproductive performance and reduce herd size. To mitigate losses to their livelihoods, pastoral populations will continue to share their food with their livestock. This region has not progressed in the same way with the help of humanitarian programs as in northwestern pastoral areas, which have been and are still getting year-long deliveries of aid with the influx of nomads and IDPs settling outside local cities in these areas. Local populations are currently classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and will be facing Crisis food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) by the second half of the outlook period.
    • Poor households in Djibouti City are beginning to rebuild their livelihoods after the end of the debt collection period for their large seasonal expenses between July and October. They will more than likely continue to be classified in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food security outcomes through the month of May.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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