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Crisis levels of food insecurity to continue in the southeast and Obock through December 2015

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Djibouti
  • July 2015
Crisis levels of food insecurity to continue in the southeast and Obock through December 2015

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through December 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity are anticipated to persist through December poor households in the Southeastern Pastoral and Obock pastoral areas, as the lean season intensifies, following a succession of two poor productive seasons that have weakened household productive capacities. 

    • The impacts of poor seasons have reduced household food access, which is increasingly constrained by limited labor opportunities, inadequate humanitarian assistance that is accentuated by expanding needs, coupled with few alternative coping strategies. 

    • Additional monitoring of Djibouti City is needed based on reports of increased numbers of children admitted to nutrition treatment centers. 




    Southeastern Pastoral Zone and Obock Pastoralists

    • Accelerated depletion in browse and water sources, after poor March to May 2015 Diraac/Soughoum rains, coupled with below-average October 2014 to February 2015 Heys/Dadaa rains.
    • Pastoral households are likely to lose a proportion of livestock if current depletion in grazing resources continues through the June to September lean season, unless increased livestock sales continue.

    Southeastern Pastoral Zone and Obock Pastoralists

    • Poor pastoral households are adopting severe coping strategies earlier than usual, including increased sale of productive assets, such as livestock.
    • While income from the sale of productive assets may finance immediate food purchases, future productive capacities will be compromised by erosion of assets.


    Projected Outlook through December 2015

    The 2015 lean season is expected to be more severe than usual, particularly in the Southeastern pastoral and Obock areas following an early start to the lean season in May, rather than June, which is expected to continue through September. The early start to the lean season was due to below-average October 2014 to February 2015 Heys/Dadaa rains and an early end to the March to May 2015 Diraac/Soughoum rains. An early end of the March to May 2015 Diraac/Soughoum rains and below-average October to February 2015 Heys/Dadaa rains. Figure 1 illustrates the well below-normal cumulative rainfall in the southeastern (Borderside) zone, in Al Sabieh, from January through early July. Vegetation began depleting earlier than normal, in May, in southeastern pastoral areas and most parts of Obock, outside the northern coastal areas. Temperatures in June and July remained characteristically high, accelerating the depletion in pasture, browse, and water sources. While the July to September Karan/Karma are less important than the Diraac/Soughoum rains in the Southeastern pastoral and Obock areas, these rains are expected to start on time, but with totals likely to be average to below-average, and unlikely to bridge current deficits. Some late rains in pastoral areas in the Central Pastoral Zone in Tadjourah and Dikhill have resulted in near-average total 2015 rainfall. 

    The World Food Programme and the food security cluster (FAO, UNICEF, and key government ministries) conducted food security and nutrition assessments in May 2015 across most of the country. Preliminary results suggest acute food insecurity remains a concern in the southeastern and Obock pastoral areas. However, parts of Obock and Tadjourah were inaccessible to enumerators and the food security of poor households could not be evaluated. Some of these areas normally have limited access to humanitarian assistance, labor opportunities, and lower household livestock holdings.

    While an estimated 80,000 people (including 2,000 refugees from Yemen) are targeted for humanitarian assistance, a larger number is also accessing food through widespread re-distribution due to increased needs, especially in the Southeastern and Obock pastoral areas. According to the food security cluster analysis, the household diet for most poor households is limited to cereals, oil and sugar, with little or no protein and micronutrients. An estimated 36-39 percent of the population in Ali Sabieh (Southeastern Pastoral Zone) and Obock are estimated to have poor food consumption and 75-79 percent have poor dietary diversity, underlining the precarious food security situation of poor households in these two areas, in particular.

    UNICEF and partners in the food security cluster conducted nutrition assessments in May for a sample size of 1,238 children, aged six to 59 months, using the Middle Upper Arm Circumference measurement criteria. The results suggest that Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence in the Southeastern pastoral areas in Al Sabieh and Obock were 24.5 and 31 percent, respectively, which are above the national GAM national average of 11.5 percent. Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) was found to be 6.1 and 6.8 percent, respectively, compared to a national average of 3.5 percent. The UNICEF and cluster assessment also found admissions to SAM and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) treatment centers were highest in Obock pastoral areas and the high density Balbala informal settlement areas in Djibouti City, which accounts for close to 35 percent of the country’s population. About 67 children were admitted to SAM treatment centers in June as compared to 25 in May in Obock, while 129 were admitted in Balbala in June, as compared to 83 in May. The increase in numbers admitted in Balbala, potentially reflecting a seasonal increase in malnutrition during the summer lean season and demonstrating that that close monitoring of urban food insecurity is needed.

    The prices of major food commodities including wheat flour, rice, and sugar and kerosene have remained mostly stable during June as compared to May, attributed in part to an increase in food remittances to poor households from the Gulf States and wealthier households during Ramadan. However, stable market prices are undergirded by a market structure where a few large traders set commodity prices above equilibrium levels, masking underlying fluctuations in supply and demand. Pastoral purchasing power is decreasing as livestock body conditions and milk production decline, earlier than normal, particularly in the southeastern and Obock pastoral areas, while increased livestock sales are occurring.

    Crisis levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) are expected to continue through the end of the lean season in September, in the southeastern and Obock pastoral areas. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to continue through most of 2015 due to poor cumulative seasonal rains, resulting in limited milk output and reduced livestock productivity, coupled with a seasonal reduction in labor opportunities (as wealthier employers depart for holidays from June through August), and the absence of viable alternative coping strategies. However, a combination of humanitarian assistance and increased remittances to poor households, at least during the Ramadan season, is likely to prevent a further deterioration in food security outcomes. Other areas of the country are anticipated to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Cumul de pluviométrie dans la Zone sud-est frontalier, 1er janvier au 10 juillet 2015

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Cumul de pluviométrie dans la Zone sud-est frontalier, 1er janvier au 10 juillet 2015

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 3


    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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