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Acute food insecurity declines.

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • East Africa
  • January 2013
Acute food insecurity declines.

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Significant improvements in food security have been noted since the start of harvests in October 2012 in most countries in East Africa. Despite the improvements, an estimated 14.9 million people in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, and Rwanda continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity.

    • October to December rains have been well above normal over surplus-producing cropping areas in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and western Kenya while some localized areas faced significant cumulative rainfall deficits, including parts of the southeastern lowlands, the Northeast, and the southern coastal marginal agricultural areas in Kenya, southern parts of Somali, Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) in Ethiopia, neighboring agropastoral areas in southern Somalia, and the northern coastal lowlands in Tanzania.

    • The October to December short rainy season contributes over 65 percent of total annual production in the southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones in Kenya. Performance of the October to December 2012 short rains has been below average. The short rains harvest that typically occurs between February and March is expected to be below average. For some areas, this will be the fourth consecutive season of long and short rains harvests that has been below average. Almost one million people are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity through March 2013.


    Current Situation

    Overall, the regional food security situation has improved. Much the region has ongoing or just completed harvests including in Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, and Somalia, resulting in improved access to food, declining market prices, and improved labor opportunities for harvesting. Most staple food prices followed their seasonal trends in November. They generally decreased throughout the region as supplies from ongoing harvests continue to arrive on markets except in Rwanda and Tanzania where prices increased with the progression of the lean season. Grain prices in Sudan were also relatively high due to high inflation and high transport costs. Despite the improvements, an estimated 14.9 million people in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Rwanda continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity due to the continued impacts of conflict, high food prices, below average June to August Belg and Gu harvests in Somalia and Ethiopia, displacements due to conflict and flooding, and poor livestock conditions.

    The October to December rainy season is very important in parts of the eastern sector of the region where it provides 40 to 60 percent of total annual rainfall (Figure 2). Performance of these rains has been normal to above normal over surplus-producing cropping areas of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and western Kenya contributing to expected increases in agricultural production during January and February harvests. Harvests have already began in some areas. The rains, however, were below average and erratically distributed in parts of the southeastern lowlands, the Northeast, and the southern coastal marginal agricultural areas of Kenya, southern parts of Somali, Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) in Ethiopia, neighboring agropastoral areas in southern Somalia, and the northern coastal lowlands in Tanzania (Figure 3).


    Projected Outlook through March 2013
    • The southeastern and coastal marginal mixed farming livelihood zones of Kenya were particularly affected by poorly distributed October to December short rains. Production from the October to December season contributes about 65 percent of total annual production in these livelihood zones, and the rains this year have not performed well. The harvest is expected to be well below average. Access to agricultural labor has been limited due to poor cropping conditions. Staple food prices remain high. Poor households in this livelihood zone are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between January and April.
    • Performance of the October to December rains has been normal to above normal over surplus-producing cropping areas of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and western Kenya. Harvests in these areas are expected to be normal to above normal. On the other hand, rains have been below average in the southern parts of Somali, Oromia, and SNNPR in Ethiopia, neighboring agropastoral areas of southern Somalia, and the northern coastal lowlands of Tanzania. Crop performance is expected to be below average in these areas.
    • According to the preliminary outcome from the ongoing seasonal assessment and analysis by FEWS NET Somalia, the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit-Somalia (FSNAU), and other partners, the food security and nutrition situation will continue to improve in the first half of 2013 in Somalia, following the impacts of overall near average October to December Deyr rains and continued humanitarian assistance to accessible areas. Overall, the Deyr crop harvest in January and February is expected to be close to average. However, agropastoralists in Lower Juba and Gedo Regions in southern Somalia will continue to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to significantly below average October to December Deyr rains that are expected to result in crop failures in January and February. The Sool Plateau in Sool and Sanag Regions and the lower Nugal Valley pastoral livelihood zone experienced below average Deyr rainfall, resulting in abnormal livestock outmigration to other northeastern areas.
    • In the pastoral and agropastoral areas of Somali Region and southern parts of Oromia Region in Ethiopia, the October to December Deyr/Hegaya rains contributed to a slight improvement in water and pasture availability, maintaining livestock body condition. However, milk production remains below normal in most areas due to the limited number of milking cows following losses and sales of livestock during previous seasons and below average conceptions over the past year due to repeated droughts. There are, however, areas where the rains were below average and livestock body conditions remain below average including in the lowlands of East and West Hararghe Zones, Bale and Borena Zones in Oromia Region, Dasenach Woreda in South Omo Zone in SNNPR, and some parts of Somali Region. There are reports of early outmigration of livestock from these areas to neighboring woredas.
    • According to the Central Statistics Agency (CSA) of Ethiopia, this year’s Meher, main-season, cereal production is estimated to be six percent higher than last year. However, production in most of the eastern, marginal Meher-producing areas and parts of SNNPR was well below average. In these areas, prices of staple foods remained unseasonably high during the harvest period in November and December. Prices are expected to continue to increase as stocks from the harvest decline. These areas are expected to continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity through March 2013 or longer.
    • The areas of below average Meher production in Ethiopia include the eastern parts of Tigray Region, the eastern zones of Amhara Region, and the lowlands of Sidama, Wolayta, Gamo Gofa, most parts of Gurage, Silti, and Segen Zones, and Halaba Special Woreda in SNNPR. Insufficient regeneration of pasture and water has limited livestock productivity and along with poor crop production limited food access in the northern and northeastern parts of Afar Region, many parts of Somali Region, and the lowlands of East and West Hararghe, Bale, and Arsi Zones in Oromia Region.
    • Following the main season harvest that began in October, overall food security improved in South Sudan. However, cattle rustling and inter-ethnic reprisal attacks have increased the risk of food insecurity. Insecurity is likely to increase during the December to April dry season, threatening lives and livelihoods, primarily in Jonglei, Lakes, Unity, and Warrap States. Since the dry season started in Jonglei State, Duk, Nyirol, and Bor Counties have experienced inter-ethnic reprisal attacks. Other attacks were carried out in Unity and Warrap States in December. Normally, internal conflicts and associated displacements within South Sudan increase during the dry season. With conflicts starting as early as December, above normal displacement in South Sudan is expected during the coming months.
    • Tensions are also increasing along the border between Sudan and South Sudan. Recently, the Government of South Sudan has accused the Government of Sudan of conducting cross-border aerial attacks and ground incursions into Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal States in South Sudan. The Government of Sudan has accused the military of South Sudan of clashing with Rezeighat cattle herders from South Darfur State. These recent developments could further jeopardize the relationship between Sudan and South Sudan and prevent the full implementation of the September 2012 and January 2013 agreements, including those related to the resumption of oil exports. Further tensions or fighting could have a significant, negative impact on food security in border areas of both countries. Potentially high levels of displacement in both countries could result from more active fighting, limiting the access of the displaced to their normal sources of food and income. Border areas of South Sudan continue to depend on sorghum supplies from Sudan and on agricultural labor opportunities in Sudan while border areas in Sudan would experience rising labor costs due to the absence of labor migrants from South Sudan. Tensions could also limit the opportunity for Sudanese cattle herders to migrate to traditional dry season grazing areas in South Sudan. All of Sudan would continue to experience high inflation and high food prices, related to the absence of oil export revenues.
    • Renewed fighting since October in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States in Sudan is forcing thousands to cross into South Sudan where as of January 6 over 170,000 refugees live, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Rates of refugees’ arrival have increased significantly since the start of the dry season in October. Fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also sent refugees into South Sudan in December. Although most of the refugees from DRC have started returning, more could cross into South Sudan as the security situation in eastern DRC remains fluid. 
    Figures Percent of average annual rainfall (1920 to 1980 average) from October to December

    Figure 1

    Percent of average annual rainfall (1920 to 1980 average) from October to December

    Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)/FEWS NET

    Anomaly of 2012 October 1 to December 31 rainfall compared to ARC2 (1983 to 2010 average) in millimeters (mm)

    Figure 2

    Anomaly of 2012 October 1 to December 31 rainfall compared to ARC2 (1983 to 2010 average) in millimeters (mm)

    Source: Climate Prediction Center (CPC)/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration…

    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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