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A recent FEWS NET survey in Dollo Zone of Somali Region suggests food security and nutrition outcomes have improved significantly in areas worst affected by drought in 2016 and 2017. These improvements are largely due to improvements in seasonal performance, continued humanitarian assistance delivery, and declines in disease outbreaks. Currently, worst-affected areas such as Dollo Zone and much of southeastern Somali Region are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), with humanitarian assistance preventing a further deterioration among some populations, particularly IDPs.
While the risk of a deterioration beyond Emergency (IPC Phase 4) has declined, continued humanitarian assistance is needed through at least September, in order to sustain improved outcomes and offset seasonal declines in food access during the June to September dry season. Starting in October, improvements in livestock productivity, particularly from camels, should begin to drive longer-term improvements in food security.
More than one million people are displaced in Ethiopia, most of whom have been displaced by conflict starting in September 2017 and many of whom are displaced along the Oromia-Somali regional border where conflict has been reported to be most severe. In the near-term, this displacement is driving large-scale, multi-sectoral assistance needs. Disruptions to households’ ability to engage in their typical livelihoods activities, such as seasonal cultivation and raising of livestock, are likely to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, particularly in far western Somali Region and in southern SNNPR.
The 2018 Belg (March to May) rains performed very poorly over most northern Belg-producing areas, leading harvests to be as much as 40 percent below average and delayed by one to two months. Areas worst affected include eastern Amhara and southern Tigray. Meanwhile, Belg harvests are improving food security outcomes in SNNPR, and the onset of Kiremt (June to September) seasonal rainfall has been near to slightly above average over most Kiremt-receiving areas of the country.
Gu seasonal performance in southeastern pastoral areas
The 2018 Gu/Genna rains performed very well across most of southern and southeastern Somali Region between March and May, with an early start of 10 to 20 days in some areas and cumulative rainfall exceeding 130 percent of average (see Figure 1). Areas where seasonal rainfall performed particularly well include large parts of Jarar, Dollo, Liben, Gode, and Afder zones, as well as most pastoral and agropastoral areas of southern SNNPR, and far southern and eastern Oromia.
Above-average rainfall throughout the season has contributed to significant improvements in the availability of pasture and water for livestock in most southeastern pastoral areas. Field assessments conducted by FEWS NET in Dollo Zone in May 2018, alongside partner reports from other areas, suggest pasture and water availability has improved in areas of Somali Region worst-affected by drought in 2016 and 2017. Ponds in the lowlands of southern Oromia, SNNPR and Somali Region were fully replenished, which has improved the availability of water for both livestock and human consumption. However, heavy rains resulted in flash floods in most western and eastern zones of Somali Region, as well as in Bale Zone of Oromia. These floods have resulted in loss of life and the displacement of limited numbers of people.
Livestock body conditions and productivity have improved, particularly compared to conditions observed in mid-2017. Large numbers of goat and camel conceptions were reported during the above-average 2017 Deyr season, and many goats gave birth during the 2018 Gu season and are now milking. Meanwhile, as the 2018 Gu rains performed well, no camel abortions and deaths are being reported, and births and milking are expected to begin during the upcoming 2018 Deyr season. Still, livestock herd sizes remain much lower than normal in worst-affected areas, limiting improvements in total household food access due to increased livestock productivity. Several additional seasons are needed for households to begin rebuilding their herds.
Belg seasonal performance in northern and southern Belg rainfall-receiving areas
The 2018 Belg (February to May) rains performed well in most southern areas of Ethiopia, but were well below average and poorly distributed over time in most northern Belg rainfall-receiving areas. Cumulative 2018 Belg rainfall was 2-30 percent above average between March 1 and May 31 in most Belg rainfall-receiving areas of SNNPR, and central and eastern Oromia, according to CHIRPS rainfall estimates. This rainfall was sufficient in terms of quantity and distribution in order to support the development of maize and root crops. However, in eastern Amhara and southern Tigray, cumulative rainfall was 15 to 45 percent below average, according to CHIRPS rainfall estimates, and was very poorly distributed over time with extended dry spells during much of the season. Indications of poor performance of the Belg season in northern areas are likewise reflected in vegetation remote sensing products, such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which indicates below-average conditions across much of northern Ethiopia. However, excessive and above-average Belg rainfall across much of Oromia and SNNPR Regions has resulted in flash floods and landslides in parts of Gedio, Sidama, and Guraghe Zones of SNNPR, and West Arsi and Kelem Wollega Zones of Oromia, leading to population displacement and damage to some planted crops.
Crop conditions are poor in northeastern Amhara and southern and southeastern Tigray, following very poor performance of 2018 Belg seasonal rainfall. Planting of Belg crops (such as barely, wheat, teff, and lentils) was delayed following poor seasonal performance early in the season, and field reports, alongside official estimates from the NDRMC and Amhara and Tigray Regional Bureaus of Agriculture, suggest area planted in Belg crops is as low as 65 percent of normal, and possibly lower in Tigray. Due to delayed planting and poor seasonal performance, harvests of Belg crops are expected to be delayed by as much as one month, in August instead of late June/early July.
By contrast, in southern Oromia and SNNPR where the Belg rains performed well, area planted was near normal and crops (maize, haricot bean, sweet potato and other root crops) are in good condition. Crop development in Belg-producing areas of SNNPR and western and southwestern Oromia is progressing very well, with most crops at either the vegetative or flowering stages. Overall maize crops are in good condition over southwestern and western Ethiopia, and WRSI values for both grains and long-cycled maize crops are well above 150 percent of the long-term average. Sweet potato plants suffered moisture stress due to the absence of Sapie rains in January 2018 in SNNPR, but improved later in February with the start of Belg rainfall. As a result, sweet potato crops have improved starting in March and April. This rainfall also facilitated land preparation for Meher short-cycle crops like barley, wheat, teff, and pulses.
Fall Army Worm (FAW) infestations have been reported in all zones of SNNPR, including infestations on more than 18,574 hectares of maize crops, according to the NDRMC. Control efforts are underway in an attempt to prevent further spread of the infestations to larger areas. The total area infested by FAW during the 2018 Belg is approximately 31 percent of the area affected by FAW infestations during the Belg in 2017.
Diraac/Sugum (March to May) seasonal performance in northern pastoral areas
The March to May 2018 Diraac/Sugum performed poorly in most northern pastoral areas of Afar, and were characterized by a late start of season, below-average cumulative rainfall, and an early end of seasonal rainfall. The onset of the Diraac/Sugum rains was delayed by approximately two weeks, followed by improvements in rainfall in April 2018, but rainfall was much lower than normal during the end of the season in May 2018. Overall, cumulative seasonal rainfall was approximately 10 to 30 percent below the long-term (1981-2010) average, according to CHIRPS rainfall estimates. In some areas, particularly northern Afar, rainfall was even lower. Although seasonal rainfall has contributed to some improvements in water and pasture availability compared to the previous dry season, these improvements were lower than normal. According to NDVI, vegetation conditions are below average in most areas of Afar. Despite below-average performance of the Diraac/Sugum rains, livestock body conditions have improved with recent improvements in pasture and water availability. In turn, livestock have continued to conceive and give birth, and there is no abnormal migration reported at this time.
Kiremt (June to September) seasonal performance to date
As of late June, seasonal rainfall has performed well in most Kiremt-receiving areas of the country, except in parts of northern Ethiopia. The onset of Kiremt rainfall has been generally on time in most areas, and cumulative rainfall totals range from near average to more than 200 percent of average, particularly in central areas of the country, according to ARC 2.0 rainfall estimates. However, rainfall has not yet started in some northern areas of the country, such as eastern Amhara. So far, no major flooding associated with Kiremt rainfall has been reported. Although data is limited on current levels of area planted in crops, most long-maturing Meher crops are planted in May and planting of short-maturing crops continue in June and July, and planting is underway in most Meher-dominant areas.
Markets and Prices
Staple food prices remained stable or increased slightly between April and May 2018, with maize prices near their 2017 levels and sorghum and wheat above May 2017 levels by approximately 20 to 50 percent. Wholesale maize prices were generally stable between April and May 2018, with fluctuations of between -5 and 7 percent across most of the 18 markets for which price data was available from the Ethiopian Trading Businesses Corporation (formerly the Ethiopia Grain Trade Enterprise). Prices were also similar to or slightly higher than their prior year levels in May 2017, and were 15 to 30 percent higher than the recent five-year average. Wholesale sorghum prices were also generally stable, with fluctuations of -5 to 5 percent between April and May 2018 across most of the nine markets for which data was available. Compared to prior year levels, sorghum prices are approximately 15 to 40 percent higher than in May 2017, and are approximately 15 to 30 percent higher than the recent four-year average. Meanwhile, wheat grain prices increased slightly on all markets monitored, approximately two to eight percent, and prices are approximately 25 to 60 percent higher than in May 2017, and 25 to 40 percent higher than the recent five-year average. Wheat prices are higher than in prior years largely due to devaluation of the Ethiopia Birr (ETB) in late 2017, which led to price increases for many imported commodities, of which wheat grain is one.
Livestock prices have improved in many southeastern areas of Ethiopia, particularly compared to prices observed in early 2017. In the nine markets for which price data was available in Somali Region, goat prices have increased to near or above pre-drought levels observed in mid-2016 (Figure 2), and in May 2018 are 30 to 90 percent higher than in May 2017. May 2018 prices were also 20 to 45 percent higher than the recent three-year average. Prices for camels have improved since hitting a three-year low in March-May 2017. These improvements in livestock prices are due to improved seasonal performance during the 2017 Deyr/Hageya and 2018 Gu/Genna seasons, improvements in pasture and livestock body conditions, and lower than normal supply on local markets, which have increased livestock prices.
Health and Nutrition
Based on data from the Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit (ENCU) of the NDRMC, the number of children treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) nationwide increased by nearly four percent between February and March 2018, the most recent month for which data is available. Of the approximately 31,066 children admitted to TFP programs in March 2018, approximately 30 percent were in Somali Region, signaling continued concern for nutrition outcomes in Somali Region. Between February and March, TFP admissions increased by approximately 12 percent in SNNPR, five percent in Somali Region, five percent in Oromia, seven percent in Tigray, and 16 percent in Gambella. TFP admissions remained stable in Afar, and decreased by approximately four percent and one percent in Amhara and Benishangul-Gumuz, respectively. The number of admissions in Oromia was the lowest reported since January 2017.
There were approximately 717 total cases of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) reported nationwide between January 1 and May 31, 2018, according to UNICEF, down from a peak of more than 14,000 cases in March 2017 alone. This has likely contributed to improvements in nutrition outcomes reported in areas worst affected by drought in 2016 and 2017. However, concerns about water and sanitation in cotton-producing areas near the Awash River in Afar are driving increased concerns about new cases of AWD in Dubti woreda of Afar.
According to UNCHR, as of May 31, 2018, the total number of registered refugees and asylum seekers in Ethiopia was 920,262. Nearly half are from South Sudan, slightly more than one quarter are from Somalia, 18 percent from Eritrea, and nearly five percent from Sudan. In May 2018, approximately 4,436 refugees entered Ethiopia, bringing the total new arrivals in 2018 to approximately 29,211, the majority of which were from South Sudan, and most of whom entered through Gambela Region. This brings the total number of South Sudanese refugees to approximately 443,352 who have entered Ethiopia since December 2013. On the other hand, the number of refugees fleeing Somalia have fallen compared to last year, and the total number of Somalia refugees in Ethiopia at the end of May was approximately 255,943.
Conflict continues to drive significant displacement, particularly along the Oromia-Somali border. More than one million people in Ethiopia are displaced as a result of conflict, according to the 10th Round (March-April 2018) of the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix, most of whom have been displaced due to conflict since September 2017 and a large share of whom are displaced in areas near the Oromia-Somali regional border. The National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) and partners estimate that approximately 818,250 people have been displaced due to inter-communal violence near West-Guji (Oromia) and Gedeo (SNNP). Of these, approximately 642,152 people are displaced in Gedeo zone as of June 22, 2018, and 176,098 people are displaced in West Guji. Field reports indicate that displacement of populations has led to disruptions to household engagement in Belg and/or Meher seasonal agricultural activities.
Update on delivery of assistance
Humanitarian assistance continued to be delivered into May 2018 through the JEOP, WFP, and NDRMC. The 2018 Humanitarian and Disaster Response Plan (HDRP) estimated a total of 7.88 million people in need of food assistance during 2018. Dispatches of the 1st Round of 2018 assistance were underway, as were distributions in some parts of the country. Based on the most recent information available, distribution of the 1st round of assistance is 82 percent complete. Delays in provision of assistance are reported due related to heavy rainfall that led to flooding in some areas and delays associated with re-targeting of the 2018 HDRP. Distribution of 1st Round assistance is 90 percent complete in JEOP-assisted areas, 95 percent completed in NDRMC areas, and 64 percent complete in Somali Region. In some areas such as Dollo Zone, communities and key informants indicated that households are receiving roughly one full ration of assistance once every two months. NDRMC, JEOP, and WFP have already begun food dispatches for the 2nd Round. Overall, funding for the HDRP currently stands $351 million, or approximately one-third of the overall funding requested in the HDRP appeal. At current levels, funding is reported to be sufficient to cover four rounds of food distribution in 2018.
Current food security outcomes
In Ethiopia, humanitarian assistance needs remain higher than normal, particularly due to the continuing impacts of drought in 2016 and 2017 in southeastern Ethiopia. In southern and southeastern pastoral areas of the country (most parts of Somali, southern Oromia, and southern SNNPR), two above-average seasons in late 2017 and early 2018 have driven large-scale improvements in pastoral resource availability, improved livestock productivity, livestock to cereals terms of trade, and have contributed to some increases in household income from the sale of livestock and livestock products. Still livestock herd sizes remain well below normal, limiting the ability of households to substantially increase their access to food and income from these sources. Based on the results of a representative food security and nutrition survey conducted in Dollo Zone in September/October 2017, in the absence of emergency food assistance provided by the government and partners, it is likely that more than 20 percent of households would have experienced extreme food insecurity, the GAM prevalence would have exceeded 30 percent, and mortality would have increased significantly (see Lowland Hawd Pastoral Area of Concern section for additional detail). Improvements in access to food and income, coupled with continued large-scale humanitarian assistance and the reduction in cases of AWD, have led to large-scale improvements in food security and nutrition outcomes. In June 2018, many areas of Somali Region, including Dollo, eastern Jarar, Korahe, Afder, and Liben zones are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), although humanitarian assistance continues to mitigate a deterioration of outcomes among many populations, particularly IDPs.
In the rest of Ethiopia, large-scale displacement as a result of conflict – primarily along the border between Oromia and Somali regions, is disrupting many households’ access to their typical sources of food and income. The latest estimates suggest more than one million people have been displaced, many of whom are likely facing difficulty meeting their basic food and livelihoods protection needs. In addition, the delay in Belg harvests in northern Ethiopia is leading to a prolonged lean season and an extension of assistance needs in Belg-dominant areas of eastern Amhara and southern Tigray. In addition, Kiremt-dominant areas are entering the lean season in June, and poor households in many areas of eastern Oromia (West Hararghe, for example) and Kiremt-dominant areas of eastern Amhara (Wag Hamra) face seasonal food consumption deficits during this time. In June, these areas are classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Meanwhile, food security among most households in Belg-dominant SNNPR is improving in June, as Belg harvests, following good performance of the seasonal rains between March and May, are improving household access to own-produced crops. In western Ethiopia, most areas will continue to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.
The most-likely scenario for June 2018 to January 2019 is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- Kiremt (June to September) rainfall is likely to be average tending to above average in terms of cumulative amounts over major Kiremt rainfall-benefiting parts of Ethiopia, based on global, regional and national climate forecasts.
- Heavy rainfall is likely to result in flooding, particularly in July/August, when the Kiremt rains reach their peak. Areas particularly prone to flooding include the upper and lower catchments of Awash, Lake Tana catchment (in Rebe, Gumara and Megech Rivers), Borkena and Kemissie, Kobo, Baro-Akobo, and Omo-Gibe catchments and plain areas. Flooding is expected to temporarily displace households, damage crops, and livestock, and potentially limit humanitarian access to some flood-affected areas.
- Karan/Karma (July to September) rainfall in northern Somali Region and in Afar is expected to start on time and be above average tending to average in terms of total cumulative rainfall.
- Deyr/Hageya (October to December) rainfall in southeastern Ethiopia is likely to begin on time and to be above average in terms of cumulative totals.
- In southeastern pastoral areas, availability of pasture and water will last longer than usual, but will continue to deteriorate through the dry season. This will lead to some deterioration of livestock body conditions, although severe impacts, such as livestock deaths and increased livestock abortions, are not expected. Based on an assumption of above-average Deyr/Hageya rainfall between October and December 2018, pasture and water availability will begin to improve starting in October. During this time, camels and goats will conceive and give birth, and milk production from both species will improve, although herd sizes will remain much lower than normal.
- In northern pastoral areas, pasture, browse and water availability is expected to improve to normal levels starting in July following expected above to near-average Karan/Karma rainfall between July and September. Livestock body conditions, conceptions, births, and milking will be near normal for all livestock species during the outlook period.
- Belg production is likely to be below average overall, with significantly below-average production likely in northeastern Amhara and southern Tigray, and near-average harvests expected in SNNPR.
- National Meher production is likely to be average, based on forecasts for above-average rainfall and generally favorable progress of the Kiremt rains to date.
- In riverine agropastoral areas of southeastern Ethiopia, harvests following Gu/Genna rainfall are likely to be delayed following significant flooding. However, starting in September, harvests of flood recession crops are expected to be above average.
- Fall Army Worm infestations are expected to continue and are likely to cause reductions in Belg, long-cycle sorghum yields and Meher maize yields in some areas.
Markets and trade
- Staple food prices on most major national markets are expected to remain at seasonal highs through the June to September season, when national demand is usually at its highest level and cereal supply is at its lowest level. Wheat and sorghum prices are expected to remain above average and near their levels observed in 2017, while maize prices are expected to remain higher than last year and above their seasonal averages. With the anticipated average Meher harvest starting in October, the supply of cereals will increase and prices are expected to decline seasonally as market supply improves and household demand decreases.
- The Government of Ethiopia will continue to implement wheat price stabilization policies, including continued subsidies of wheat imports, through at least the end of September 2018.
- Based on anticipated average to above-average Kiremt rainfall, agricultural labor opportunities are likely to be normal for planting, weeding, and harvesting in Kiremt rainfall-receiving regions of Oromia, SNNPR, Amhara, Gambela, Benshangul- Gumuz and Tigray.
- In general, other household income, like petty trading and social support of both in-kind and cash, are expected to slightly improve during the October to January 2019 period following a likely average Meher harvest.
Conflict and displacement
- Conflict is expected to continue during the scenario period and will likely lead to displacement, although it is difficult to estimate with precision the magnitude of these increases in the displaced population. Flooding during the scenario period will also likely lead to increase numbers of displaced households, although this displacement will likely be more temporary and lower in magnitude than that caused by conflict.
Safety nets and humanitarian assistance
- PSNP transfers are taking place later than normal and will be carried out through August 2018.
- Humanitarian assistance delivery is expected to continue between June and September 2018. Based on field assessment findings in Dollo Zone, beneficiary households in Somali Region are expected to continue receiving half rations on a monthly basis (or a full ration once every two months) through September. Elsewhere in Ethiopia, assistance distributions are expected to occur on a near-monthly basis as per the HRDP plans.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Most pastoral and agropastoral areas of southeastern Ethiopia, including Dollo, Korahe, and eastern Jarar, and Afder and Liben Zones will continue to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between June and September 2018, as households continue to face food consumption gaps or face difficulty meeting their minimum food needs without resorting to unsustainable strategies. During this time, the number of households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will likely increase beyond current levels, although humanitarian assistance will continue to play an important role in helping many households to protect food consumption. In the absence of assistance, a substantial number of households would begin to face larger food consumption gaps and the size of the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) would grow further, although likely not reaching 20 percent of the population of the zone. Starting in October, the number of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes is likely to decrease substantially as households begin to access increased levels of camel milk and are able to begin accessing increased amount of income from the sale of livestock. However, due to continued low livestock holdings among poor households and IDPs, it is likely that at least 20 percent of households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Between October 2018 and January 2019, these areas are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). However, most parts of Afder, Liben, and Shabele Zones will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between October 2018 and January 2019, although some households will continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. On the other hand, parts of Borena and parts of Bale are likely to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) since Deyr/Hageya rainy season is expected to bring subsequent improvements from October onwards.
In the lowlands of central and eastern Oromia, the lowlands of Waghimra Zone of Amhara, and Tekeze River catchments of Tigray, June to September is the lean season for these areas of the country. Poor households have already exhausted their stocks from the 2017 Meher harvest and households begin to depend more heavily on market purchases in order to access staple foods. During this time, households will have access to agricultural labor opportunities (planting and weeding), and will continue to access some income from non-agricultural labor activities, although recent increases in the cost of construction materials has constrained construction labor demand. During this time of the year, poor households in some areas typically face seasonal food consumption gaps, and thus will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), while food security in other areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Starting in October, Meher harvests will improve household access to own-produced foods and in-kind and cash income from harvest labor. As a result, many households in these areas will improved to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between October 2018 and January 2019.
In Belg-dependent areas of eastern Amhara, harvests are expected to occur one to two months later than usual, in August, following the significantly delayed onset and generally poor performance of the Belg rains in 2018. As a result, households are currently unable to access own-produced foods as would normally occur, and they continue to rely on markets in order to access staple foods, at a time when agricultural labor income is also below normal due to poor performance of the season. As a result, the lean season is being prolonged and households are facing difficulty meeting their basic food needs. Between June and early August, poor households in this area will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). However, as Belg harvests begin in August and households begin to access own-produced foods during the 2018 Meher harvest starting in October, food security in these areas will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), as poor households will be able to meet their minimum food needs but will forgo essential non-food needs. On the other hand, in the Meher-dependent eastern half of Tigray and Amhara regions are likely to remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September. With expected near-average production from the Meher season, household access to food and income will improve further, and most poor households will face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity.
In Afar and Sitti Zone of Somali Region, the overall performance of the last two to three consecutive rainy seasons has been near average over these mostly pastoral areas, but March to May 2018 rainfall was below average. However, Karan/Karma (July to September) rainy season is expected to be average and will result in improvements in pasture, browse, and water availability beginning in August. Moreover, livestock conceptions are likely to increase between September and October 2018. However, income earned from other sources, such as causal labor, construction, salt mining, and self-employment, is expected to remain low. Thus, poor and very poor households in Sitti Zone and central and northern parts of Afar Region are projected to remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity through September and will move into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) for the remaining of the scenario period as staple food prices start to decline following Meher harvests in late 2018.
In the western half of the country in western and central Oromia, western Amhara, Tigray, SNNPR, as well as Gambela, and Benshangul Gumuz regions, poor households are expected to be able to maintain adequate access to food and income throughout the scenario period. Forecasted average Kiremt rainfall is likely to lead to average 2018 Meher production and further improvements in access to pasture for livestock, which will contribute to normal milk yields and livestock prices. As a result, these areas are expected to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between June 2018 and January 2019.
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Current food security outcomes, June 2018
Source: FEWS NET
Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
Source: FEWS NET
Source: USGS/FEWS NET
Source: Somali Region DPPB
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.