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Near-average rainfall improves food security in parts of Djibouti

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Djibouti
  • January - June 2015
Near-average rainfall improves food security in parts of Djibouti

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Food security has improved compared to previous years in most rural areas of the country, primarily due to seasonal rainfall in late 2014 helping to improve livestock production, pasture regeneration, and water access. Forecasts for the Heys/Dadaa season indicate that the rainfall will be at normal levels, which could improve access to rural resources, and providing better food security for rural livelihoods.

    • Although herd sizes are below historically normal levels, improved water and pasture have improved terms of trade for pastoralists. Households in the Southeast Pastoral Roadside and coastal Central areas will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity, supported by adequate seasonal rains, improved livestock productivity, and diversified sources of income. 

    • Due to below-average rainfall for much of 2014, rural populations in Southeast Pastoral Border, Northwest Pastoral, and Central Pastoral zones are expected to be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity through June 2014.


    National Overview
    Current situation

    The month of January is typically characterized by Heys/Dadaa seasonal rains, which are the main rains for coastal areas. Although this is a good season for milk production, the cooler weather tends to be accompanied by an increase in livestock disease (e.g. pneumonia). As these seasonal rains have been near average, water and pasture availability is good and dairy products are available. The food security situation in major parts of rural areas remains better than in the recent past since December 2014.

    The Karan/Karma rains performed normally in most areas, but were below average in the Southeast Pastoral Border zone. The average performance of the Karan/Karma and the normal Heys/Dadaa rains have improved food security and ensured availability of resources, such as pasture and water, in major parts of rural areas. Livestock continues to move to the Heys/Dadaa grazing areas near the coastal plains following recent rainfall in that area.

    Discussions with key informants suggest that livestock production is somewhat better compared to last year, even though animal products such as milk availability is mostly limited to household consumption mainly in Southeast Pastoral Border zone. In the Northwest Pastoral Southeast Pastoral Roadside zones, pasture and water remain at their normal levels. Livestock body conditions have improved since October 2014 and animal sales continue to be favorable for pastoralists, as it generates an average income. Improved livestock body conditions and better access to income and animal resources have significantly improved rural households’ food consumption compared to 2013. In most areas of the country, the prices of major staples (flour, rice and sorghum) remained stable compared to last month in major markets.

    Infrastructure projects are providing additional income to some households in Southeast, Northwest and Central areas, with the construction of major projects, such as the Djibouti-Ethiopian railroad, new salt mines and the ports in Tadjourah and Ras Siyan (Obock), as well as Biidley (Ali Sabieh) airport. However, the more isolated regions such as rural Obock or Southeast Pastoral Border Zones do not benefit from these new sources of income.

    Since 2008, all rural areas of the country have received WFP food aid, but the level of distribution varies at the community level. This assistance is monthly and Northwest Pastoral and Southeast Pastoral Border Zone are those that have the largest quotas. Due to a lack of resources, since the beginning of 2014, food assistance was halved and recipient areas were reduced.

    As a result of improved livestock body conditions and production due to improved 2014/15 rainfall, increased household consumption and sale of milk, normal income-earning opportunities for household members in urban areas, and income from infrastructure projects, households in the Southeast Pastoral Roadside and Central zones are meeting their basic food and livelihood protections needs, resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and (IPC Phase 1!) acute food insecurity outcomes. Due to poor rainfall and limited food and income sources, rural Obock is facing Stressed (IPC Level 2) and the Southeast Pastoral Border zone is facing Stressed (IPC Level 2!), with humanitarian assistance preventing worse outcomes in this last area.  

    Assumptions

    The projected food security outcomes from January to June 2015 are based on the following assumptions:

    • Rainfall forecasts indicate the high likelihood for the coastal Heys/Dadaa rains (October to March) to be near normal. These rains will increase water and pasture availability, giving respite to nomads in the coastal areas of Obock and Tadjourah.
    • 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 of the monitored markets.
    • Food aid should continue at normal levels from January to June, with about 40 percent of the population receiving assistance.
    • Remittances from family and household members in urban areas to rural areas are likely to continue at their normal levels and to be an important source of income for poor rural households.
    • From May, informal activities such as petty trade on which the poorest depend will decline between January and June, as in a typical year, as extreme temperatures set in with the onset of summer.
    • Malaria (which is typical for the season), will continue until April and the average rainfall expected will result in typical case loads.

    The month of January is typically characterized by Heys/Dadaa seasonal rains, which are the main rains for coastal areas. Although this is a good season for milk production, the cooler weather tends to be accompanied by an increase in livestock disease (e.g. pneumonia). As these seasonal rains have been near average, water and pasture availability is good and dairy products are available. The food security situation in major parts of rural areas remains better than in the recent past since December 2014.

    The Karan/Karma rains performed normally in most areas, but were below average in the Southeast Pastoral Border zone. The average performance of the Karan/Karma and the normal Heys/Dadaa rains have improved food security and ensured availability of resources, such as pasture and water, in major parts of rural areas. Livestock continues to move to the Heys/Dadaa grazing areas near the coastal plains following recent rainfall in that area.

    Discussions with key informants suggest that livestock production is somewhat better compared to last year, even though animal products such as milk availability is mostly limited to household consumption mainly in Southeast Pastoral Border zone. In the Northwest Pastoral Southeast Pastoral Roadside zones, pasture and water remain at their normal levels. Livestock body conditions have improved since October 2014 and animal sales continue to be favorable for pastoralists, as it generates an average income. Improved livestock body conditions and better access to income and animal resources have significantly improved rural households’ food consumption compared to 2013. In most areas of the country, the prices of major staples (flour, rice and sorghum) remained stable compared to last month in major markets.

    Infrastructure projects are providing additional income to some households in Southeast, Northwest and Central areas, with the construction of major projects, such as the Djibouti-Ethiopian railroad, new salt mines and the ports in Tadjourah and Ras Siyan (Obock), as well as Biidley (Ali Sabieh) airport. However, the more isolated regions such as rural Obock or Southeast Pastoral Border Zones do not benefit from these new sources of income.

    Since 2008, all rural areas of the country have received WFP food aid, but the level of distribution varies at the community level. This assistance is monthly and Northwest Pastoral and Southeast Pastoral Border Zone are those that have the largest quotas. Due to a lack of resources, since the beginning of 2014, food assistance was halved and recipient areas were reduced.

    As a result of improved livestock body conditions and production due to improved 2014/15 rainfall, increased household consumption and sale of milk, normal income-earning opportunities for household members in urban areas, and income from infrastructure projects, households in the Southeast Pastoral Roadside and Central zones are meeting their basic food and livelihood protections needs, resulting in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and (IPC Phase 1!) acute food insecurity outcomes. Due to poor rainfall and limited food and income sources, rural Obock is facing Stressed (IPC Level 2) and the Southeast Pastoral Border zone is facing Stressed (IPC Level 2!), with humanitarian assistance preventing worse outcomes in this last area.  

    Most likely food security outcomes

    From January to March 2015, normal rainfall is forecast for the coastal Heys/Dadaa season. Natural resource availability, including pasture and browse conditions and water availability, are expected to improve, particularly in the coastal grazing areas. As a result, the food security situation in the coastal grazing areas is expected to improve.

    Depending on the region and livelihood zone, food security conditions are likely to remain the same or slightly better than current conditions until May. The availability of pasture and water will be better and will improve the livestock body conditions, especially in the Northwest, Center, and Southeast Pastoral Roadside zones, although herd size continues to be low compared to normal.

    Despite the low access to food aid and the acceleration of charcoal use, job opportunities created by rural construction sites, and assistance, support from the relatives in urban centers, will keep households in southeast pastoral roadside and part of central zones areas at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.

    With high malnutrition rates, poverty in terms of assets with a lack of food sources and income sources and limited access to the diversification of incomes, vulnerable households in Southeast Pastoral Border and Northwest Pastoral Zones will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with continued food assistance preventing a further deterioration of the food security situation. Rural Obock will be in a situation of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity through June.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Food Security Outcomes, January 2015

    Figure 2

    Current Food Security Outcomes, January 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source:

    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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