Food Security Outlook Update

Seasonal rains prevent deterioration of food security conditions

May 2013

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
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
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
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • The good Diraac/Soughoum rains in most rural areas are helping to stabilize food security conditions for local populations the start of the annual lean season.

  • Pastoral livelihoods in coastal areas have been severely impacted by the failure of the Heys/Dadaac rains. In spite of the current rainfall activity in these areas, local households are facing Crisis levels of food insecurity (Phase 3, IPC 2.0). 

Current Situation

  • The current Diraac/Soughoum season began two weeks late with two days of heavy downpour. There was some rainfall activity in just about all parts of the country, but certain localized areas saw only sporadic rainfall. This season normally accounts for 25 to 50 percent of total annual rainfall, significantly affecting the livelihoods of nomadic populations. While current rainfall performance in most rural areas of the country is average, the Northeast (the Obock region) is reporting a rainfall deficit of as much as 50 to 80 percent.
  • There is a visible improvement in pasture availability and water access in rural areas. The construction of new infrastructure (dams, reservoirs, etc.) is helping to better conserve natural resources like water.
  • The main dietary staples are rice, wheat flour, and sorghum. Prices were stable between March and April, except for the rise in the price of sorghum flour on all markets in the interior of the country. The Ali-Sabieh market was the sole exception, where its price fell by 30 percent. Trends in sorghum flour prices in most markets or, more specifically, in the Ali-Sabieh region, the site of the refugee camp, are highly dependent on the availability of food assistance. In fact, the only food grain included in recently distributed food rations was rice. Normally, households receiving food assistance will sell part of their grain rations (sorghum and wheat flour) on the local market, which lowers the price of these items.
  • In spite of the improvements during the current rainy season, pastoralists in southeastern border areas and the Obock region are still facing Crisis levels of food insecurity (Phase 3, IPC 2.0) due to the previous string of poor seasons and poverty levels, as measured by their asset/livestock holdings. In fact, local populations in these areas have been especially hard hit by the drought conditions which have been depleting their capital assets for the past decade.
  • With the availability of better resources and the improvements engendered by the current rainy season, food security conditions in northwestern pastoral areas, southeastern main corridor areas, and the central part of the country are classified as Stressed (Phase 2, IPC 2.0).

Updated Assumptions

The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely food security scenario for the period from April through September 2013

Projected Outlook through September 2013

  • Available resources from previous rainy seasons (the Karan/Karma and Diraac/Soughoum seasons) and the existence of water conservation systems (dams, reservoirs, etc.) in certain areas are producing Stressed food insecurity outcomes (Phase 2, IPC 2.0) for households in northwestern pastoral areas, southeastern main corridor areas, and the central region of the country. Moreover, as of July, the combined effects from conditions during the lean season and from average levels of Karan/Karma rains forecast is likely to maintain food security outcomes in Stressed for these areas for the remainder of the projection period.

Southeastern pastoral border areas and rural areas of the Obock region have seen only scattered light rainfall activity since the beginning of the current Diraac/Soughoum season. Water access is limited and pastoral livelihoods are eroded from drought conditions, with virtually no rainfall, and severe poverty levels as measured by livestock ownership. Local populations are highly dependent on remittances of food from urban areas, whose importance is second only to outside food assistance. Households in these areas are currently experiencing Crisis levels of food insecurity (Phase 3, IPC 2.0) will probably continue for the remainder of the projection period, given the beginning of the annual lean season (May through September) and its harsh effects on food security, such as accompanying heat (curtailing income-generating activities such as the sale of charcoal) and lack of water access.

  • Conditions in central mountain areas were greatly improved by the week-long Diraac/Soughoum rains, resulting in better water availability, particularly in the Day and Goda regions. However, since these rains were so short-lived, food security conditions for local populations remain Stressed (Phase 2, IPC 2.0). The situation could further deteriorate as of July with the below-average rainfall forecast for the remainder of the season and the onset of the lean season, outcomes but will continue to be classified as Stressed.
  • Food security conditions for the poorest households in urban areas most affected by chronic poverty and a lack of job opportunities are Stressed (Phase 2, IPC 2.0). Their situation will start to deteriorate by July with the beginning of the high-spending season (associated with Ramadan and Aïd). However, even with the usual expected hardships at that time of year, the food voucher program scheduled to run from July through September could retain outcomes as Stressed for the remainder of the projection period. 

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

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 approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

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