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Food insecurity is expected to rise through the lean season

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Djibouti
  • June 2013
Food insecurity is expected to rise through the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through September 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Acute food insecurity is anticipated to be accentuated among poor households in the Southeastern (Borderside) and Obock pastoral areas through September. Little recovery after scanty March to June Diraac/Soughoum rains, following similarly poor Heys/Dadaa rains, a shortfall in humanitarian assistance, and reduced labor opportunities will likely maintain Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity for poor households. 

    • Food insecurity among poor households in Djibouti City’s urban centers of Balbala, Radiska, and Baulaos is anticipated to heighten but remain within Stressed levels (IPC Phase 2), following a substantial decline in labor opportunities. However, food vouchers for poor households are expected to narrow the gap in purchasing capacities to some extent.





    • Significant reduction in availability of labor for poor households, as key employers travel to Somalia, Ethiopia and abroad for the summer break coupled with high temperatures that constrain income-generating activities.
    • Labor opportunities are expected to narrow significantly and progressively through the end of the lean season in September, in both urban and rural areas.

    Southeastern (Borderside) and Obock pastoralists


    • Depletion of pasture, browse and water has accelerated, following a succession of poor seasons (Diraac/Soughoum in March to June, and Heys/Dadaa in October to December).
    • Key grazing resources are anticipated to deteriorate faster than normal due to poor regeneration during the past rainy seasons coupled with a lengthy lean season through September.

    Projected Outlook through September 2013

    The projected outlook points to worsening acute food insecurity from July through September 2013, also coinciding with the lean season. The March to June Diraac/Soughoum rains have ended, signaling the onset of the lean period, characterized by heightened temperatures and progressive water scarcity. The seasonal rains resulted in significant improvements in grazing resources and livestock conditions in the Northwestern and Central pastoral livelihoods. However, the impact of Diraac/Soughoum rains in improving livestock body conditions and milk output in the Southeastern Borderside and northeastern Obock pastoral areas was limited by brevity and lowered cumulative rainfall.

    Sorghum, wheat and rice prices were near normal in most markets across the country during June. However, increased demand for food during the July-August Ramadan and Eid holiday period is likely to exert pressure on food and water prices, compromising the purchasing capacity of poor households in both urban and rural areas.

    Of growing concern are the dwindling labor opportunities due to seasonal movement out of Djibouti to Somalia, Ethiopia and abroad, by a significant proportion of the main employers. While such movement is normal and expected, shrinking income-generating opportunities will have a greater adverse impact among poor households because of a combination of the poor performance this season in the southeast and northeast, high temperatures restricting construction and transportation of salt, coupled with a WFP food pipeline shortfall. Less than 50 percent of normal food quantities will be distributed to poor households, at least through July, widening household food gaps substantially.

    Favorable March to June Diraac/Soughoum rains in the northwest and central pastoral livelihoods have resulted in significant regeneration of pastures and browse and replenishing of water points. Although poor households have access to milk, households are expected to sell higher quantities than usual to finance purchases of cereals and oil in order to compensate for gaps in the humanitarian assistance. Poor households are likely to maintain Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) through September, because household food consumption will be met without resorting to adverse coping strategies, though upheld by on-going humanitarian assistance.

    Southeastern (Borderside) and Obock pastoral areas  

    Poor households in the pastoral areas of the Southeastern (Borderside) and Obock areas are anticipated to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity through the outlook period. The impacts of the Diraac/Soughoum rains are unlikely to have any observable benefits on households. Milk output is just half a liter per household, available to children and the elderly only. Current milk production is not expected to last beyond June. Preliminary results from food and nutrition security assessments conducted by Djibouti’s Food Security Cluster in May suggest that Global Acute Malnutrition rates are over 20 percent (10 percent higher than a comparable period in 2010, SMART survey) and Severe Acute Malnutrition rates are similarly above emergency thresholds.

    Acute food insecurity is anticipated to increase through the lean season due to a reduction in humanitarian food assistance (previously 1,100MT to current 600MT) following a pipeline shortfall that is expected to continue through July. However, now up to 80 percent of the total population will be targeted (compared with usual 60 percent), consistent with lean season practice. An estimated 18,000 refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia residing in Ali Sabieh in the southeast, have created additional demand for water and food, straining limited resources. Increased humanitarian assistance during July to August for Ramadan and Eid, principally from the Gulf countries, may mitigate the food shortfall to some extent, but will not bridge the gap due to limited income-generating opportunities and more restricted purchasing power.

    Poor urban households, predominately in Balbala, Djibouti City:

    Nearly 55 percent of Djibouti City’s urban population residing in Balbala, are likely to remain in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity through September. However, the Stressed Phase is undergirded by a food voucher program that is targeted to poor households, though in reality spread thinly across non-targeted households. Underlying current levels of acute food insecurity are high levels of chronic insecurity that remains intransigent, due to the narrow set of livelihood options at the disposal of urban households. Subsequently, a small shock, such as a price spike, in urban centers has the capacity to cause sudden deterioration in food security a large proportion of 70 percent of the country’s population, emphasizing the need for close monitoring of poor households.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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