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Much delayed Diraac/Soughoum rains likely to limit food access during the lean season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Djibouti
  • April 2015
Much delayed Diraac/Soughoum rains likely to limit food access during the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • A deterioration of food security is expected in the Southeast Pastoral Border Zone and in rural Obock region, due to limited pasture regeneration following an early end to the October-March Heys/Dadaa rains and a significantly delayed start to the March-May Diraac Soughoum rains. In these areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected between July and September despite continued interannual assistance. 

    • Prices for major imported staple foods, such as rice, wheat, and sorghum, remain stable on most markets, and are expected to remain stable through September, except for seasonal peaks during Ramadan. 

    • Despite poor rainfall performance, most pastoral households are expected to remain in either Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between April and September due to continued income from daily labor, sale of livestock, charcoal production, remittances, and continued interannual food assistance. 

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    Most rural areas of Djibouti are currently facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity, following below-average rainfall during the latter half of the Heys/Dadaa rainy season (October to February). The current Diraac/Soughoum season (March-May) typically contributes between 25 and 50 percent of total annual rainfall, but these rains have not yet started in most rural areas. Improvements in pasture and water availability reported at the beginning of this year are being limited by the poor performance of Heys/Dadaa seasonal rains and the delay of the current Diraac/Soughoum season. In some areas, particularly the Southeast Pastoral Border Zone, livestock products such as milk are becoming more limited than usual.

    Major construction projects such as the Djibouti-Ethiopian railway and the construction of ports and an airport are helping to improve the living conditions of rural populations, especially in Southeast Pastoral Roadside, Central Pastoral, and Northwest Pastoral Livelihood Zones. Indeed, incomes increased compared to previous years, allowing better access to a more varied diet and improving food consumption at the household level. However, the most isolated areas such as rural Obock or Southeast Pastoral Border Zones do not have significant access to these additional sources of income.

    In Northwest Pastoral Zone, households have better access to natural resources, with the availability of infrastructure as reservoirs, dams, etc. that conserve water and allow the improvement of the condition of livestock. However, these resources may be insufficient in some areas with the competition and the excessive use. Households in this area are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. 


    The projected food security outcomes for the April to September 2015 scenario period are based on the following assumptions:

    • Cumulative rainfall for the remainder of the March to June Diraac/Soughoum season is likely to be near average, according to USGS.
    • Prices of basic commodities, such as wheat, sorghum, and rice will continue to be stable, due to normal supply of essential food commodities in most markets monitored, apart from in June and July, when prices will increase seasonally due to Ramadan.
    • Food aid should continue from April to September, with about 60 percent of the population receiving assistance during the lean season.
    • From May, informal activities such as petty trade, on which the poorest households depend, will decline through the scenario period, as in a typical year, as extreme temperatures set in with the onset of summer.
    • Assistance from the urban areas may decline sharply from July, with the heavy expenses due to the month of Ramadan, and saving for school fees expected before school begins in September.
    Most likely food security outcomes

    Over the coming months, food security is expected to deteriorate as food and income sources will decline in pastoral areas due to below-average Heys/Dadaa rains and the yet to begin Diraac/Sougoum rains, which will reduce pasture and browse availability, and in turn, livestock productivity. Coupled with seasonal decreases in access to food and income during the lean season, food security will likely deteriorate, particularly in Southeast Pastoral Border Zone and rural Obock Region, which will likely face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between July and September. The nutritional situation is also likely to deteriorate during the lean period with elevated admission rates in health centers. By contrast, pastoralists in Southeast Roadside and Central Pastoral zones will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity between April and September. 

    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.


    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Résultats actuels de la sécurité alimentaire, avril 2015

    Figure 2

    Résultats actuels de la sécurité alimentaire, avril 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3


    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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