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Mostly below-average seasonal rains and depleted vegetation compound food insecurity

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Djibouti
  • May 2014
Mostly below-average seasonal rains and depleted vegetation compound food insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Projected Outlook through September 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Poor pastoralists in the Southeast Pastoral Borderside livelihood zone, Obock Region, and Northwest Pastoral livelihood zone are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). A further reduction in humanitarian assistance during May, below average March to May Diraac/Sugum rains, and constrained labor opportunities have accelerated the decline in household food security.
    • Diraac/Sugum rains have been below average in the Southeast, Obock and southern Tadjourah. Extensive degradation of pasture, browse, and water has reduced crop and livestock productivity, compounding impacts of reduced humanitarian assistance and constrained work opportunities.

    Current Situation
    • Pronounced dryness characterized most of April through the first dekad of May, in the Southeast Borderside and Obock areas.  Cumulative rainfall was less than 50 percent below normal in April, closely following mediocre October to February Xays/Dadaa rains, in those areas.  Scanty rains were reported in some locations including Dora, Adgeno, AssaGuela, AssaEyla, Guistir and Arta during the first week of May. However, the rains had limited impact in regenerating vegetation.
    • Vegetation has deteriorated markedly in areas that reported significant rainfall deficits, especially in the Southeastern Pastoral areas, and southern part of the Central Pastoral Zone around Tadjourah, and Obock.  Figure 1 shows significantly below-average vegetation throughout 2014 in Obock.  Data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) also indicated that atmospheric temperatures were one to two degrees higher than normal during April in those areas.
    • Below-average seasonal rains during the Xays/Dadaa rains in January and Diraac/Sugum rains from March through early May, coupled with above-average atmospheric temperatures in April, has precipitated an early start to the lean season in the Southeast Pastoral Borderside, southern areas of the Central Pastoral Zone, and Obock Pastoral Region, following accelerated depletion of pasture, browse and water resources.  
    • Sorghum, wheat flour, and rice prices remained largely stable through April, as compared to March, in most Djiboutian markets, with exception of Ali Sabieh market.  The stability of food prices in the country includes prices in the capital city, Djiboutiville, which is home to roughly70 percent of the nation’s population.  Rice prices in Djiboutiville remained at DJF 140 from February through April, while sorghum retailed at DJF 200 from January through April. Stability in food prices provides some limited respite to declining income-generating labor opportunities, as the lean season begins.
    • The price of rice and sorghum increased by 3 and 2 percent respectively, retailing at DJF 150 and 180 respectively, between March and April in Ali Sabieh market.  The increase in the sorghum prices is attributed to continued reduction in rail transport subsidies from the Dire Dawa (Ethiopia) source market to Ali Sabieh. While fairly marginal, the rise in rice and sorghum prices is significant because Ali Sabieh market is the source market for the highly food insecure poor pastoral households in the Southeastern Pastoral Borderside livelihood zone.
    • As anticipated, WFPs reduced food rations by 50 percent, in addition to earlier reductions in targeted beneficiaries under the general food distribution and Food for Work programs.  Less than 30 percent of the population that was targeted prior to June 2013 has access to humanitarian assistance in May 2014. The reductions are attributed to severe pipeline shortfalls that are estimated to persist until September, contingent upon a United States Government pledge for food assistance.
    • Poor households in the pastoral livelihoods in the Southeast Borderside, Obock, and parts of the Northwest are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).  The halving of food rations during May, consecutive below average seasons in some of these areas, little or no milk output, and lowered income generating opportunities have eroded purchasing capacities of poor households.  Poor households are unable access food needs without adopting irreversible coping strategies, including increased charcoal production.  As early as December 2013, even before a succession of two below-average seasons, rates of child malnutrition had surpassed the World Health Organization’s emergency thresholds in these three areas suggesting high vulnerability to food security shocks. For example, in Obock region, GAM prevalence as defined by weight-for-height Z scores was 25.7 percent (95% CI: 19.8-32.6 %), and a severe acute malnutrition (SAM) prevalence of 5.7 percent (95% CI: 3.7-8.6 %).

    Projected Outlook through September 2014

    Poor pastoralists in Southeast Pastoral Borderside, Obock Region, and Northwest Pastoral livelihood zone are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through August, at least, contingent upon an improved food pipeline in September, increased labor opportunities after the July to August lean period, and increased crop and livestock production following the expected near-normal rains during the July-September Karan/Karma season  However, it is not anticipated that acute food insecurity levels for poor households in these areas will move to Emergency (IPC Phase 4).  Enhanced food transfers and remittances during Ramadan in July and August are likely to mitigate such deterioration.


    Figures Figure 1. Comparaison des conditions de la végétation en Obock, eMODIS, du 1er janvier au 10 mai 2014

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. Comparaison des conditions de la végétation en Obock, eMODIS, du 1er janvier au 10 mai 2014

    Source: USGS

    Calendrier saisonnier pour une année typique

    Figure 2

    Calendrier saisonnier pour une année typique


    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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