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Food security worsens in Sudan/South Sudan; erratic start of kiremt rains in Ethiopia

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • East Africa
  • July 2012
Food security worsens in Sudan/South Sudan; erratic start of kiremt rains in Ethiopia

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated Outlook through September 2012
  • Key Messages
    • There are about 16 million people facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda. The main drivers of food insecurity in these countries are poor rains, conflict, high food prices, and in some cases an inability to access humanitarian assistance.

    • Climate forecast by the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF 31) for the June to September rains stated that the performance of these rains will be normal to above normal in areas of East Africa that typically receive this rain.  These rains are the main rains in most parts of Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Djibouti. Northern Uganda and northern and coastal parts of Somalia also receive rains during this season. 

    • Since the independence of Sudan from South Sudan a year ago, food security conditions in both countries have deteriorated, due to poor 2011/2012 harvests, widespread conflict, macroeconomic instability, and severely disrupted trade flows which have limited market supplies. The impacts are most severe in border areas, where conflict, displacement and trade restrictions are concentrated. In these countries, Crisis and Emergency levels of food insecurity (IPC Phases 3 and 4) will persist through the outlook period.

    • About 1.2 million resident/host communities in the drought affected areas of North Darfur face crisis levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) due to poor food availability and high grain prices and in Jebel Mara due to the impacts of conflict on trade and humanitarian access. The rising pattern of insecurity is expected to cause new displacement, reduce access by humanitarian agencies and reduce the flow of and on food goods from central Sudan to Darfur resulting in even more higher prices. These areas are expected to continue to be highly food insecure through the outlook period.


    Updated Outlook through September 2012

    The June to September rainy season is the main rainy season for Sudan, South Sudan, most of Ethiopia and Djibouti. The June – September rainfall season is now well established in Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan, despite the late and erratic onset. Significant rainfall deficits (more than 25 percent of normal rainfall) persist in the Central Ethiopian highlands where the start of season was extremely poor (Figure 3). However, the general rainfall performance has significantly improved for Sudan and S.Sudan, with well above average rains in parts of western and central Sudan and S.Sudan. In areas where conflict does not affect agricultural activities in both Sudan and South Sudan, based on the rains so far the prospect for the harvest in October is good. Northern Uganda and northern and coastal parts of Somalia also receive rains during this season (Figure 2).

    There are about 16 million people facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda. The main drivers of food insecurity in these countries are poor rains, conflict, high food prices, and in some cases inability to access humanitarian assistance.

    The highest number of people in need of humanitarian assistance is found in Sudan. There are 4.7 million people in Sudan who face Crisis to Emergency levels of food insecurity.  The main driver of food insecurity is conflict in parts of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur. The below average harvest of 2011/2012, high inflation and impact of the reduced oil revenues are also drivers of food insecurity.  The period between May and September, just before the main season harvest begins in October, is the typical lean season in Sudan. This year’s lean season began early due to a below average harvest last year and has been particularly harsh.  In addition, since the secession of South Sudan last year, Sudan has lost 70 percent of its oil revenue leading to very high levels of inflation. Staple prices are also very high, especially in Darfur, due to the rising insecurity which has reduced access by humanitarian agencies and reduced the flow of food and non-food goods from central Sudan to Darfur.  Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity are expected to persist in Darfur as food prices are expected to continue to increase at least until the harvest begins in October. There is also no indication that insecurity will improve in the near future.

    Restriction on trade flows from areas under the Government of Sudan to areas controlled by SPLM-N , especially the border areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, are likely to continue. Parts of the population in these areas are displaced due to the conflict and some of them, especially those found under areas controlled by Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), are facing crisis to emergency (IPC Phase 3 and IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity.  The Government of Sudan has declared a state of emergency in the border areas which is expected to further reduce food and non-food supplies to these areas leading to further deterioration of food security.  These areas are expected to continue to be in crisis and emergency (IPC phase 3 and IPC phase 4) levels of food insecurity through the outlook period.

    Food security is also very poor across the border in Northern Bahr El Gazal, Warrap, Unity, and Upper Nile States of South Sudan. There is widespread insecurity, and pressure from growing returnee, refugee, and displaced populations in these areas.  In the past, Sudan was a significant source of staple food for these areas. However, due to the border closure, this trade has been reduced and staples are now imported from Uganda and Ethiopia at much higher prices. These areas are expected to continue to be in Crisis (IPC phase 3) until the next harvest begins in October. Substantial humanitarian assistance in these areas has prevented them from deteriorating to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity.

    In Ethiopia, poor February to May (Belg) rains affected land preparation  and planting of the long cycle meher crops that are typically planted in March/April and harvested beginning in October. Farmers in these areas have shifted to short cycle varieties that have lower yields. Poor February to May rains also led to failure of sweet potato in the root crop producing parts of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region of Ethiopia leading to significant consumption gaps since sweet potato is the main source of food between February the onset of the belg harvest in June/July. These areas are currently facing crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity with reports of poor and very poor households skipping meals, reducing portions, switching nonfood expenditures to food, and increased consumption of wild food. Admissions to Stabilization Centers (SCs) and Outpatient Therapeutic Programs (OTPs) have also increased in the first half of this year compared to 2011.  The haricot bean and Irish potato harvest is expected to begin in July followed by green maize harvest at the end of August. However, the harvest is likely to be below normal in the root crop-dependent zones. Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) food transfers, typically occur in the first half of the year and are not expected during the July-September period Although households in these areas do typically harvest some meher crops (between October and January), the land which should have been planted with meher crops is still occupied with the delayed belg crops therefore, meher harvest is also expected to be below average this year. Therefore, the poor and very poor households in the dominantly Belg-cropping southern woredas of SNNPR will continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity until the next harvest in June or July in the coming year.

    In the southeastern marginal crop producing parts of Kenya, the March to May long rains started late and withdrew early. The rains were also erratic. This led to very poor performance of the crops. In the mixed marginal farming areas of Taita Taveta, Kitui, Mwingi, Meru North, Tharaka and Makueni, total maize crop failure is expected due to the very poor performance of the rains.  In the coastal areas, the light rains in June/July could sustain the crops. In some of these areas, the recharge of water sources was also very poor leading to acute water shortages.  Poor and very poor households in the marginal mixed farming areas face stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity while those in the southern parts of Kitui, Mwingi, Makueni and Taita Taveta will face crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity through the outlook period. In addition to failure of the current crops, these areas also had very poor harvests in February and March.

    Performance of the April to June rains was below average this year in the pastoral and agropastoral areas of southern and southeastern Ethiopia and northeastern Kenya.  Although rains were below average, they helped recharge water points and improve pasture and browse availability in most areas. There are however, areas that received very little rain such as the lowlands of Bale, most parts of Korahe, Warder and parts of Gode, Afder and Liben zones in Ethiopia, eastern Marsabit, northern Isiolo, southern Wajir, Garrisa, Tana River, and Ijara in Kenya. In these areas, pasture and browse conditions are below average and trekking distances to water points have substantially increased.  There are also reports of acute water shortages. Water shortages are expected to escalate further in August and September as the dry season progresses. Livestock are expected to move to areas where rains were relatively better and milk availability is expected to be low. As staple prices are expected to seasonably increase between June and September in Ethiopia and June and August in Kenya, terms of trade are expected to decline. These areas are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout the outlook period.

    The crop dependent agropastoral areas of southern Somalia including Bay, parts of Juba, Shebelle, Bakool and Gedo also received delayed and below average rains during the April to June rainy season. Harvests from the Gu season are therefore expected to be poor. Similarly the rains were poor along the Indian Ocean coastline of central and northern zones affecting the sheep/goat pastoralists in these areas. Food security is expected to deteriorate in these parts following the below average harvest and the poor availability of pasture and water in the coastal areas. These parts of Somalia are slowly recovering from a Famine (IPC Phase 5) last year and have received substantial humanitarian assistance. Staple prices have also remained stable this year due to the ongoing humanitarian assistance and above-average Deyr harvests in January/February. Livestock prices are high improving the terms of trade.  Despite these improvements though, levels of acute malnutrition remain above 15 percent in many areas.  Poor and very poor households in the agropastoral parts of southern Somalia are expected to remain in Crisis and Emergency (IPC phase 3 and 4). The sheep/goat pastoralists along the coastline of the Indian Ocean are also expected remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through September.

    Figures Percentage contribution of June to September rains to annual totals

    Figure 1

    Percentage contribution of June to September rains to annual totals

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Percent of Normal Rainfall:  1 Jun – 10 July 2012

    Figure 2

    Percent of Normal Rainfall: 1 Jun – 10 July 2012

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    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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