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Food security improving in rural areas

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Djibouti
  • September 2012
Food security improving in rural areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated food security outlook through December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • In most of the country’s pastoral areas, food security conditions are improving due to the arrival of good Karan/Karma rains (July‐September) and due to favorable terms of trade for pastoralists. Forecasts for the rest of the season predict that the good rains will continue, which could improve food security.

    • Food security conditions for urban poor households are expected to remain critical during the coming months due to ongoing increases in staple food prices, aggravated by school costs as the academic year begins. Food insecurity is currently at the Stressed level (IPC Phase 2) and is expected to remain at that level through the scenario period.

    • Staple food prices are beginning to climb. There is currently a global trend, which Djibouti's staple food prices are expected to follow, towards rising costs for cereals, sugar, etc. due to the United States' drought and poor harvest forecasts in Russia. Food expenses make up the largest share of total household expenditures for poor households, and therefore rising food prices could negatively affect purchasing power.

    • In Ali Sabieh (Assamo region), conditions are not improving at the same rate observed in most other rural regions. Resident populations in this region were negatively affected by the rains, and displaced persons are overwhelming local populations. This group will continue to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least December.

    Updated food security outlook through December 2012

    National Overview

    The 2012 Karan/Karma rains were good, despite beginning two weeks late in July. These rains regenerated pastures and forage, resupplied water resources, and improved livestock productivity. Due to the above-average rainfall, food security is beginning to improve in the country’s rural areas. Access to natural resources (water and pasture) has improved considerably. Water reservoirs that had previously dried up due to successive rainfall shortages now have a water supply sufficient for at least one year. The physical condition of livestock is also improving. In most of the livelihood zones, milk production will increase once goats give birth.

    Water levels have risen overall and reservoirs (Kurtimalay, Magdoul, etc.) were filled by the recent rains. However, the severe rains have also caused populations in some areas, who were already weakened by the drought, to suffer livestock and asset losses.

    The Heys/Dada rains are forecast for the end of September in the coastal zones and are expected to make natural resources (water and pasturage) more available. ICPAC is predicting normal rainfall in Djibouti between September and December, except in the south and central regions. In these areas, rainfall is likely to be normal to above-normal, which could positively affect food security in the coastal, pastoral zones.

    Food security in the northwestern and southeastern pastoral areas is better than it was in August 2012. However, the improvement is not yet significant and populations in these zones are still in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Food access is still difficult for poor households, due to the effects of the chronic drought and a lack of productive assets among poor households. However, with the improvements in water availability and pasture in the northwestern pastoral area, the zone may move to the Stress level (IPC phase 2) beginning in October, where it should remain through at least December. The southeastern pastoral area, which has fewer livestock resources and benefited less from the Karan-Karma rains, is in a more difficult position and will find it harder to recover in October. Populations in this zone will remain in Crisis (IPC phase 3) until the end of the year. In the city of Djibouti, urban poor households are at the Stress level (IPC Phase 2) where they are expected to stay despite the end of the food coupon program and forecasts of higher staple food prices.

    The price of fresh vegetables rose drastically in September and almost doubled for some buyers. The consumer price index for “Food Products, Beverages and Tobacco” recorded a 1.6 percent price increase compared to the previous month and a 3.2 percent increase compared to three months ago. The scarcity of fresh vegetables on the market was tied to Ramadan and factors connected with the Ethiopian market. Since Djibouti imports almost all of its food needs, international price increases for certain food products are certain to affect Djibouti's national markets.

    If the international situation does not improve in the coming months as forecasts indicate, food prices on Djibouti’s markets may rise even higher. This would affect household purchasing power given that food makes up a large share of household budgets. Finally, livestock prices are still high due to the recurrent drought that has weakened animals and decreased their productivity.

    The number of malnourished children and pregnant/lactating women has not stopped growing since the second quarter of 2012. According to data collected by the national nutrition program, the nutritional status of children under the age of five years has deteriorated. At the national level, malnutrition is growing by about 12.50 percent per quarter. This increase applies to all stages of moderate and severe malnutrition, and immediate action is needed to deal with the upsurge in malnutrition cases. The Dikhil health district, where average GAM prevalence is 10 percent, is currently seeing the most cases according to the Ministry of Health. The Dikhil health district alone recorded over one-third of all cases (36.21 percent), followed by the Ali Sabieh region (21.30 percent) and the Tadjourah region (20.75 percent).

    WFP food aid, in partnership with the government, the UN and some NGOs, continues with 67,000 recipients through the General Distribution program for drought victims and 23,500 refugees in the Ali Addeh and Holl-Holl camps in the south, in the Ali Sabieh region. Support also continues for children under the age of five years and pregnant/lactating mothers who are moderately malnourished in supplemental feeding centers at all operating health centers. In the city of Djibouti, the food coupon program that served about 15,000 poor households in the most vulnerable neighborhoods of Balbala during the hunger season (July to September) will end in the first week of October.

    According to the most likely scenario, improvement is expected for the northwestern pastoral area beginning in October and lasting until the end of the scenario period. For the southeastern pastoral area, conditions will stabilize but there will be no significant improvement. Finally, the situation in urban areas could deteriorate with the end of the food coupon program in Balbala, high prices predicted for staple foods, and low incomes that will greatly affect household purchasing power.

    Northwestern Pastoral Area

    Good rainfall substantially improved pasture and water availability and boosted livestock productivity in the northwestern pastoral zone. Pregnant goats will give birth near the end of December, which at that time will have a tangible effect on livestock income and food.

    To date, staple food prices have been stable in the zone, given the availability of food aid programs currently underway. Consequently, households in this region are classified as in Crisis (IPC phase 3) until October, when they will then be Stressed (IPC phase 2) for the rest of the scenario period.

    Southeastern Pastoral Area

    Pastoralists in the southeastern pastoral zone are seeing their food security improve after the good rains, which renewed pastures and made water more available. However, the improvement has not yet had a significant effect on households or their food security. The physical condition of the livestock is such that households cannot yet benefit from animal products for their own consumption or to generate income.

    Additionally, in some zones, especially the Assamo region (Ali Sabieh), rains were severe, causing some resident populations already weakened by successive droughts to lose their assets. Consequently, an increasing number of displaced households, coming from the Hajin and Aishea regions of Ethiopia, are being reported in this zone. After less than three months, about 190 households were present and arrivals continue. Households from this zone who cannot meet their basic food needs, and who depend entirely on outside food aid, are now being included in WFP's aid program for those affected by drought.

    Forecasts predict normal to above-normal rainfall in October, which will have a favorable effect on pastoralists who are in Crisis (IPC phase 3). However, this group will remain at the Crisis level throughout the scenario period because they have seen successive years of severe drought and have lost their possessions.

    City of Djibouti

    Urban households in the city of Djibouti are at the Stressed level (IPC Phase 2). This is due to their weak purchasing power, which is becoming increasingly weaker with rising food and kerosene prices and very high unemployment, especially among day-laborers. Poor urban households find it difficult to meet their daily food needs because at this time of the year, expenses are high due to the holidays, which deplete their savings, and the new school year is starting, which requires additional expenditures. In addition, the end of the food coupon program in Balbala, in the neighborhoods most vulnerable to food insecurity, will further stress food insecurity. However, the situation will be mitigated by small income-producing activities that will resume as consumers return from vacation and as construction and port sector activities recover.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    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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