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Southeast border pastoralists and urban households still in Crisis

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Djibouti
  • October 2012 - March 2013
Southeast border pastoralists and urban households still in Crisis

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Around 70,000 vulnerable populations in rural areas are currently at Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity, and household food deficits in many areas of the northwest and southeast are met by WFP’s food assistance programs. ​

    • During the October 2012 to March 2013 scenario period, households in the Northwest pastoral zone will maintain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity, supported by continuous food assistance and improved livestock productivities. Although the Karan/Karma rains were generally favorable, dependence on food assistance remains high and more than 60 percent of household food supply is still provided by food assistance.

    • In the Southeast pastoral border livelihood zone, households are marginally able to meet minimum food needs only through accelerated depletion of livelihood assets and adoption of unsustainable coping strategies such as charcoal sales. Households in this zone are expected to remain at Crisis levels (IPC Phase 3) throughout the Outlook period. Households in the Central pastoral livelihood zone and the Southeast roadside sub-zone are expected to remain at Stressed levels through the scenario period. 

    • In urban areas of Djibouti City, food insecurity is driven by high prices of basic commodities during a time of year when expenses are high. Poor urban households are expected to remain at Crisis levels of acute food insecurity until the end of the year and to return to Stressed levels from January to March, as household expenditures on non-food items seasonably decline.


    National Overview
    Current Situation

    Around 70,000 vulnerable populations in rural areas are currently at Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity, and household food deficits are met by WFP’s food assistance programs. Staple food prices are stabilized largely due to the availability of food assistance programs and government policies. The Northwest pastoral livelihood zone currently has sufficient resources in terms of availability of water and pasture, following good rains during the Karan/Karma season (July-September). However, while environmental resources are currently satisfactory in some areas (Madgoul, Malaho), they may not be sufficient in the coming months during the long dry season (October-March) due to increased competition for resources, particularly water, following in-migration from deficit areas (Moussa Ali, Sisten). 

    Although the Karan/Karma rains mostly benefit the Northwest area, they also typically provide some benefit to the western parts of the southeastern livelihood zones. This year, however, rains were insufficient to regenerate pasture or provide sufficient water for pastoralists in the southeast.  

    Meat prices have increased from 800 to 1200/1400 DJFR over the last four months. Consequently terms of trade are positively affected for pastoralists, but the impact is not yet significant since herd sizes are lower than average, and body conditions are still improving. Pastoralists are expected to sell later in the season as conditions continue to improve, along with terms of trade.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    During the scenario period, households in the Northwest pastoral zone will maintain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity, supported by continuous food assistance and improved livestock productivities (Figures 2 and 3). In the Southeast pastoral border livelihood zone, households are marginally able to meet minimum food needs only through accelerated depletion of livelihood assets and adoption of coping strategies such as charcoal sales. Households in this zone are expected to remain at Crisis levels (IPC Phase 3) throughout the Outlook period (Figures 2 and 3). Households in the central pastoral livelihood zone are in the Stressed phase and are likely to remain at the same level for the rest of the scenario period. In urban areas poor households will remain at Crisis levels of acute food insecurity during the first three months of the scenario period due to high unemployment (48 percent), high staple food prices, and depletion of resources due to successive celebrations and payment of school fees at the beginning of the school term. Stressed levels are expected to return January to March, as household expenditures on non-food items seasonably decline.

    Northwest pastoral livelihood zone

    Current Situation

    Northwest pastoral livelihood zone received average to above-average rainfall during the important Karan/Karma rains (June-September), ranging between 75-200 percent of normal, though some localized areas such as Dorra had rainfall deficits of 50-75 percent. Vegetation conditions across the zone are mostly near normal. However, water scarcity has persisted in a number of locations including Moussa Ali, Sisten, Ayla Addou and Margoyta.  Although the rains were generally favorable, dependence on food assistance remains high and more than 60 percent of household food supply is still derived from food assistance. Livelihoods are not self-supporting after a succession of poor seasons, though livestock body conditions and productivity have improved following the good recent Karan/Karma rains. Admissions to health centers remain high and increased in the second quarter of the year compared to the first. Households in this livelihood zone are classified in the Stressed phase of acute food insecurity.

    Good rains have led to substantial improvements in the availability of pasture and water, with 25,000 m3 of water conserved in dams, which is benefiting places such as Madgoul and Malaho regions. This is a greater volume of water than in the past, as water was previously conserved in small wells. The water is estimated to last for close to one year for both households and livestock. However, the influx of households into Madgoul and Malaho from locations that had rainfall deficits (Moussa Ali, Sisten, Ayla Addou, and Margoyta) could accelerate depletion of water and pasture. In addition, growing scarcity of water is being experienced in some areas. Access to water is limited in most of Dorra sector, including Mounkour and Daimoli, where households are walking more than nine km to access water. Around 200 households from seven different localities have migrated seasonably from the center of the region of Obock (Assassan) to Assageila (Silalmahe) and Ayla Addou area with their livestock to profit from improved grazing resources.

    Assumptions
    • Food assistance will continue during the scenario period with 60-70 percent of the population in the Northwest pastoral zone receiving food assistance. This will cover 55 percent of household food needs.
    • Ad hoc assistance by the government or local NGOs (around 50kg of cereals, 25 Kg of sugar, 20 liters of oil, per household) is likely to take place in the last week of October during the feast of Eid Adha.
    • Continued sharing of food aid among households will compensate for food gaps among some households.
    • Heys/Dada rains (October to March) are expected to be average.
    • During the January to March period, income from livestock sales will slightly increase. In addition, livestock exports to Saudi Arabia (mostly coming from Somalia) should increase the price of livestock and improve terms of trade for pastoralists. Although income will be better than last year, it will be below-average due to low herd sizes following livestock losses during past droughts.
    • The Karan/Karma rains have benefited cattle productivity and August-September was the conception period for goats. Goats will kid from December-January and milk availability will increase at this time, increasing income from milk sales. Increased availability of milk is expected to improve household milk supply by about 15 percent.
    • The sale of salt, transported using camels, from Lac Assal to the Ethiopian market (Eildar) will begin in December and continue through March. The sale of salt is generally used to generate income to purchase sorghum.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Nutritional status will slightly improve with the end of the lean season and the continued support of supplementary feeding programs at health centers. Food security will thus improve throughout the scenario period, though households will maintain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity, supported by continuous food assistance and improved livestock productivities. Although the recent rainy season was good, household-level food security is not recovering as quickly as it would in a normal year given the successive poor seasons. 

    Southeast pastoral border livelihood zone

    Current Situation

    The Karan/Karma rains have led to slight improvements in availability of pasture, browse and water, in the southeast border sub-zone, where grazing resources are mostly favorable.  Intense rains in some areas such as Bidley sub-region destroyed vulnerable household assets such as livestock, houses. However, vegetation conditions are near normal. Ali-Sabieh is an exception, and received 50 -75 percent of normal rains. Due to shortages of browse, goats are consuming the Aday plant, which is more suitable for camels.

    Despite the good rains, some households still face severe water shortages and household members are walking up to two hours such as in Kabah-Kabah.

    There is no milk in the Border sub-zone, compared to about three liters per household in a normal year. The few existing goats have conceived and are likely to kid in about three months’ time and this should improve milk availability for pastoral households.

    Assumptions
    • Food assistance will continue during the scenario period for 90 percent of the population in the southeast pastoral livelihood zone. This will cover 70 percent of household food sources. It is the main source of food for households in this area through the scenario period.
    • There is an increased likelihood of normal to above normal Heys/Dadaa rains as indicated by ICPAC’s probability forecast.
    • Ad hoc assistance (around 50kg of cereals, 25 Kg of sugar, 20 liters of oil, per household) is likely to take place in the last week of October during Eid Adha.
    • The celebration of Eid (October) will result in high cattle sales at very high prices.
    • Food prices in the Border area sub-zone are likely to increase with the decline in food aid from October through March, as occurs in a typical year. Food assistance coverage will decline from 80 percent to 60 percent compared to the lean season.
    • Household income from the sale of livestock will increase due to improved pasture resulting from favorable Karan/Karma rains coupled with expectation of normal to above normal Heys/Dadaa rains. The physical condition of livestock should improve, along with pastoral terms of trade. Also, livestock exports to Saudi help to increase the price of local livestock. However, the contribution of livestock to overall food sources is lower by about 30 percent compared to a normal year due to successive years of drought that have led households to sell more of their livelihood assets, lowering production from remaining livestock herds.
    • Throughout the scenario period, the sale of charcoal will remain a significant source of income. Charcoal production is likely to increase from November to March, especially for households in the Border side sub-zone, because the cooler weather allows for more strenuous work.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Although food sources should increase during the scenario period as compared to the current period, following favorable Karan/Karma rains and anticipation of good Heys/Dadaa rains, household food access during the scenario period will be lower than during a typical year. Households are prioritizing food needs at the expense of other important needs such as health, clothing and education. Nutritional status will tend to improve slightly during the scenario period with the end of the lean season and the continued support of supplementary feeding programs at health centers. During the January-March period, increased incomes, as compared to the current period, will lead to less dependence on food aid. Nevertheless, livelihood productivity will not meet household food needs. Households in the border sub-zone are expected to remain at Crisis levels (IPC phase 3) throughout the Outlook period. Food needs for these households will largely be met through food assistance and charcoal sales.

    Djibouti city

    According to a recent assessment by DISED (the National Statistic Service) on poverty in urban areas, the unemployment rate is falling, but still stands at 48 percent of the population. However, the middle class is also shrinking due to an extended period of reductions in household purchasing power due to rising inflation and unprecedented food and non-food prices. Consequently, the ability of the urban population to bridge food gaps for vulnerable households in the pastoral livelihood through remittances is diminishing. In addition, the Eid festival in November will require additional resources at the household level. Other events such as Ramadan, September Eid and school expenditures have depleted household reserves and coping capacity is limited, given the high cost of the expenditure basket versus the limited income. In addition, the food voucher program implemented in the most vulnerable areas of the city ended and is not expected to continue during the scenario period.

    Malaria, which typically begins in late October, will continue through April, further weakening the poorest households who are more susceptible to the disease. Poor urban households are expected to use coping strategies such as focusing on food expenditures at the expense of other essential non-food expenditures such as health, hygiene, provision of water and livestock production. Urban households in Djibouti City are anticipated to remain at Crisis (IPC phase 3) levels of food insecurity during October-December, and Stressed (IPC phase 2) during January-March.


    Events that Might Change the Outlook

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    Northwest pastoral/Southeast pastoral

    A sharp increase in price level of basic food commodities.

    • It could make households vulnerable in terms of food security. The dependence of the market remains high, despite the importance of food aid. Households will lose a source of food which would degrade the access to household nutrition. Also, it could erode the benefits of livestock productivity, cause a decline in terms of trade and reduce purchasing capacities leading to increased household food insecurity.

    Southeast pastoral

    A poor Heys/Dadaa season

    • This could reverse anticipated improvements in livestock productivity and food security during the scenario period and cause marked income and food gaps resulting in substantial decline in household food security.

    Northwest pastoral

    Poor Ethiopian cropping season

    • Commodity flows would be restricted, leading to heightened food prices, and causing a considerable decline in purchasing capacities.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, October 2012

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, October 2012

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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