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Assumptions for Quarterly Food Security Analysis

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • East Africa
  • April 2015
Assumptions for Quarterly Food Security Analysis

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  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Performance
  • Regional Trade and Price Dynamics
  • Cross-Border Conflict and Displacement
  • Key Messages
    • Food security is expected to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in several counties in the Greater upper Nile States of South Sudan by April, particularly in areas where insecurity continues to limit the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

    • A late start of rains in Uganda, bimodal areas of northern Tanzania, Belg cropping areas in Ethiopia, parts of Kenya, and a likely late start in other areas of the eastern Horn of Africa have led to delays in land preparation and planting and in delays to the recovery of rangeland resources. This is prolonging pastoral lean seasons in some areas and delaying the expected increase in agricultural labor demand.

    • As lean seasons start by April or May, food insecurity is likely to deepen for many households and additional households are likely to become food insecure in conflict-affected areas in Sudan, in marginal, Belg-producing agricultural areas in Oromia, Tigray, and Amhara Regions in Ethiopia, agropastoral and riverine areas in southern Somalia, in unimodal Karamoja region in Uganda, in bimodal northern Tanzania, and in many areas of South Sudan. 

    • Mostly near-average Season A harvests from December to February in Rwanda and Burundi have helped stabilize food prices and increased household food access from both own production and markets. However, some areas will see deteriorating food security during the April to May minor lean season, moving into Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    FEWS NET’s Food Security Outlook reports for April to September 2015 are based on the following regional assumptions:

    Seasonal Performance
    • The February-to-May Belg rains in the northeastern highlands, central and eastern Oromia, and SNNPR in Ethiopia are expected to be near average in terms of cumulative rainfall and to start late. More frequent and longer dry spells are expected during the season.
    • In Tanzania, the March-to-May Msimu rains are expected to be near average to below average in the unimodal southern, eastern, and central parts of country and to end normally between May and June.
    • The March-to-May rains in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and northwestern Tanzania are likely to be near average in terms of cumulative rainfall with a near normal timing of their start (Figure 1).
    • The March-to-May rains in the eastern Horn of Africa are likely to be near average to below average in terms of cumulative rainfall, especially over eastern Kenya and southern Somalia, and will also have a late start and erratic distribution (Figure 1).
    • In Yemen, the March-to-November rains will have near average cumulative rainfall in both unimodal and bimodal areas with a normally timed start. The peak of rainfall will be between June and September.
    • The start of the June-to-September rains over Sudan, South Sudan, and western Ethiopia is likely to be normally timed with average to below average amounts of rain.
    • The June-to-September Karan/Karma rains over Djibouti, Afar and northern Somali Region in Ethiopia, and northwestern Somalia are likely to have a normally timed start and have average to below average amounts of rain.

    Regional Trade and Price Dynamics
    • Although the January-to-February Vuli harvests in the northeastern bimodal areas of Tanzania were below average, maize supplies remain in markets from the above normal July-to-September Masika harvests in these areas and the May-to-August harvests in the Southern Highlands. Above normal availability and relatively lower prices of maize in Tanzania that are on average below recent five-year averages (Figure 2) are expected to continue to encourage above-average exports to southeastern Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi between April and June Additional exports will follow the release of old stocks at the start of the Msimu harvest in May in the surplus-producing southern regions of Tanzania.
    • In Uganda, the above normal November-to-December maize harvest in conjunction with decreased volume of exports to South Sudan ever since the start of conflict in late 2013, have exerted downward pressure on prices, which are generally still below prices last year. These low prices are expected to lead to above-average volume of exports to Kenya between April and June, but exports are expected to face stiff competition with exports from Tanzania, preventing these exports from reaching markets east of Nairobi.
    • Food exports from Uganda to South Sudan will remain less than during the pre-conflict period but higher than last year, due to reduced incidences of clashes and easier transactions between cross-border traders. In addition, exports from Ethiopia and Sudan to South Sudan are expected to increase gradually from their low bases, especially to Jonglei and Upper Nile States. However, in areas of conflict, supply from imports and from surplus-producing areas of the country will continue to be constrained by high levels of tension and lawlessness, especially before the onset of the rains in May/June, due to the lack of transport facilities, high levels of formal and informal taxes, tariffs, and fees, and other factors that increase marketing costs. In most of the country, limited availability of fuel and the depreciation of the currency are expected to increase the costs of most commodities, including staple foods.
    • Staple food production in Sudan was above average and well above the below-average 2013/14 harvest. The prices of sorghum and millet will likely be at or drop below last year’s prices between April and June, but they will likely remain well above their five-year averages due to high inflation and currency depreciation. As a result, exports from surplus-producing areas in Blue Nile, Sinar, White Nile, and Gadarif States in Sudan to the northern states of South Sudan, including Upper Nile, are expected to be relatively higher than last year.
    • Maize exports from Ethiopia to northern Kenya are expected to continue at seasonally normal levels between April and June due to above-average supply from the October-to-January Meher harvest. However, supplies to Mandera County in northeastern Kenya may be limited by insecurity. Sorghum exports from Ethiopia to Djibouti are also expected to be near average through June.
    • The January-to-February Deyr harvest of maize and sorghum in southern Somalia was estimated at 105,300 metric tons (MT), which is 29 percent higher than in 2014 and five percent higher than the five-year average. Sorghum and maize imports into southern Somalia from Ethiopia between April and June will likely be limited by better local availability from the slightly above-average harvest. However, exports from Ethiopia to central and northern Somalia are expected at normal volumes.

    Cross-Border Conflict and Displacement
    • According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 514,974 people fled South Sudan between December 15, 2013 and March 31, 2015. Due to a combination of ongoing fighting, expected high phases of acute food insecurity in Greater Upper Nile, and the growth of political instability and inter-communal conflict elsewhere in South Sudan, cross-border outmigration from South Sudan to neighboring countries, including of refugees, over the course of 2015 is likely to reach levels similar to or slightly below 2014 with a likely peak between April and June during the lean season but before the start of the rains.
    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. 39th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) consensus climate outlook for March to May 2015 rainfall

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. 39th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) consensus climate outlook for March to May 2015 rainfall

    Source: Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Appli…

    Figure 2. Wholesale white maize prices in Arusha, Tanzania, Tanzanian shilling (TZS) per 100 kilogram (kg) sack, 2010 to 2014

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Wholesale white maize prices in Arusha, Tanzania, Tanzanian shilling (TZS) per 100 kilogram (kg) sack, 2010 to 2014 five-year average, January 2014 to February 2015

    Source: Tanzania’s Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Marketing (MITM)

    Figure 4


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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