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Assumptions for quarterly food security analysis

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • East Africa
  • July 2014
Assumptions for quarterly food security analysis

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  • Preface
  • Seasonal Performance
  • Regional Trade and Price Dynamics
  • Conflict and Refugees

  • Preface
    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET uses scenario development. In this methodology, an analyst uses current evidence to develop assumptions about the future and compare their possible effects. The following report outlines assumptions at the regional level. Assumptions are also developed at the country level; these are likely to be more detailed. Together, the regional and national assumptions are the foundation for the integrated analysis reported in FEWS NET’s Food Security Outlooks and Outlook Updates. Learn more about our work here. FEWS NET’s Food Security Outlook reports for July to December 2014 are based on the following regional assumptions:

    Seasonal Performance

    The rains have shifted toward the western and northern sectors of East Africa with the onset of the June to September rains. This followed the cessation of the March to May long rains in eastern and southwestern Kenya, central and southern Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, the Belg rains in Ethiopia, Gu in southeastern Ethiopia and Somalia, and the Diraac/Sugum in northeastern Ethiopia, northern Somalia, and Djibouti. Those rains were cumulatively well below average in many areas, but they were generally above average in the Greenbelt in South Sudan.

    • The June to September main rainy season in Sudan and Eritrea is likely to be near normal to below normal in terms of cumulative rainfall. The first half of the season through July is likely to be closer to normal, based on long-range forecasts from the European Center for Medium Range Forecasts (ECMWF) and IGAD’s Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (Figure 1). However, below average seasonal rains are anticipated during the second half of the season, over the main agricultural areas in eastern, central, and western Sudan primarily due to the developing El Niño.
    • In the remainder of the June to September main rainy season in South Sudan, near normal rainfall amounts are likely almost everywhere. Some eastern parts of the country along the border with Ethiopia in Jonglei and Upper Nile States are more likely to have normal to below normal rainfall.
    • The June to September Kiremt rains in western Ethiopian are likely to have above average cumulative rainfall.
    • Cumulative June to September Karma/Karan rains in the northern pastoral areas in Ethiopia, Djibouti, and northwestern Somalia and adjoining areas of eastern Ethiopia, including eastern Amhara, eastern Tigray, and eastern Oromia) are expected to be below normal.
    • The remaining July to September rains in western Kenya including Turkana County and Karamoja region in Uganda are expected to be normal to below normal in terms of cumulative rainfall. The June to September rains in areas around Lake Victoria in western Kenya and southern Uganda are expected to be near normal.
    • There is heightened probability, of up to 65 percent, of a moderate El Niño event occurring in late 2014. Current observation suggest a transition to El Niño conditions in September 2014. El Niño coupled with a weak positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is anticipated to result in above-average rainfall over the eastern Horn, extending beyond Lake Victoria, during the October to December short rains. Subsequently, the October to December rains in the Eastern Horn of Africa are likely to be average to above average in amount, including in southeastern Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, eastern Kenya, and northern Tanzania. There is an increased risk for river flooding and flash floods in flood-prone areas of the eastern Horn.
    • The October to December rains in Rwanda, Burundi, and northwestern Tanzania are likely to be above average in terms of cumulative rainfall.

    Regional Trade and Price Dynamics
    • Following the above-average Msimu harvest in the Southern Highlands along with other production in Tanzania, marketable surpluses of maize and rice are estimated to be comparable to the 2013 levels of around 500,000 metric tons (MT). This should allow continued higher-than-normal levels of exports to southeastern and coastal regions of Kenya and Rwanda from June through December 2014. These exports are expected to help moderate seasonal price increases in seasonal markets with strong supply keeping prices in Tanzania relatively stable.
    • Following the outbreak of civil conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, many key trading routes were disrupted, rendering some markets inaccessible. As a result, maize exports from Uganda to South Sudan declined sharply between January and May 2014, which left a larger than anticipated marketable surplus in Uganda. From June to December 2014, it is anticipated that uncharacteristically large volumes of maize will be exported from Uganda to southwestern Kenya and northeastern Rwanda, dampening seasonal price increases in these areas.
    • Sudan imposed an export ban in 2012, but food commodities continued to flow into South Sudan’s northern markets though traded volumes were a small fraction of pre-2012 levels. Sorghum exports from Sudan to South Sudan are expected to remain low between June and December 2014. In addition, below-average sorghum production in Sudan in 2013, high transport costs, high inflation, the high likelihood of below average production in 2014 arising from anticipated normal to below-normal rainfall during the likely El Niño, and the partial removal of fuel subsidies have resulted in atypically high sorghum prices (Figure 2), further constraining prospects for exports through December 2014. Exports from Sudan to Eritrea will also likely be constrained and fetch unusually high prices.
    • Staple food prices in South Sudan in markets not affected by conflict are likely to be mostly stable. A combination of increased local supply from the October to February harvest, imports from Uganda albeit in lower volumes than last year, the availability of humanitarian assistance, particularly in Aweil, and trade disruptions in conflict-affected areas are ensuring adequate supplies to these markets.
    • Prices of mixed sorghum are expected to decline significantly in Uganda between June and August and remain low through December in the northern and eastern markets including Gulu, Lira, and Soroti in Uganda. Since the conflict started, exports to South Sudan have been constrained. Uganda has become the principal sorghum exporter to South Sudan after Sudan imposed a ban on exports in 2012, though that ban has now been lifted. With lower exports since January 2014, stocks of mixed sorghum including from the November to January 2013 harvest have been building in northern Uganda. Local stock holdings will remain high because many South Sudanese markets are anticipated to remain inaccessible, and humanitarian organizations are expected to limit their local purchases in northern Uganda.
    • Dry bean production has been below average over the previous two successive seasons in the southern part of East Africa including Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and northern and western Tanzania. Subsequently, cross-border dry bean trade is expected to be less than usual through December 2014, due to tight supplies. Prices are anticipated to remain higher than in 2012 and 2013.
    • Livestock prices in Sudan and Somalia are expected to increase typically during Ramadan in July, they will likely be higher than 2013 following Saudi Arabia’s lifting of the ban on Sudan’s livestock exports in early 2014. A similar, temporary increase in livestock prices will be likely as live animals are exported in September and October for the Hajj in early October.

    Conflict and Refugees
    • In spite of on-going peace talks between the government of South Sudan and the warring parties, the conflict in South Sudan is unlikely to cease by December 2014. The conflict will continue to limit the access of traders and humanitarian agencies to Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile States. Trade is anticipated to remain constrained between South Sudan and both Sudan and Uganda, in part because of poor trader access to the conflict-affected areas. Livestock migration from southern Sudan to northern parts of South Sudan will remain restricted through most of 2014. Few people from South Sudan are likely to access labor opportunities in Sudan during the agricultural season because on-going conflict is likely to continue impeding their movement.
    • It is anticipated that communities hosting the displaced across the region may have taken measures to accommodate the displaced. In agricultural and agropastoral areas, they will thus not be as likely to plant as much as usual during the June to September rainy season.
    • The conflict in South Sudan displaced 1.5 million people from mid-December 2013 through July 3, 2014 (Figure 3).  Of these 1.1 million people were displaced internally within South Sudan, and just over 400,000 people registered as refugees in Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya, according to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA). The number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) is anticipated to continue rising through December 2014, especially prior to the harvesting period between now and October 2014. The current, low levels of humanitarian assistance and continued conflict are likely to lead to additional displacement.
    Figures Figure 1. June to August 2014  rainfall outlook, Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum 27

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. June to August 2014 rainfall outlook, Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum 27

    Source: ICPAC

    Figure 2. Sorghum price trends and most likely projections through October 2014 in Aweil, South Sudan and El Obeid, Sudan , U

    Figure 2

    Figure 2. Sorghum price trends and most likely projections through October 2014 in Aweil, South Sudan and El Obeid, Sudan , U.S. dollars (USD) per metric tons (MT)

    Source: WFP, FEWS NET

    Figure 3. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees by location as of July 3, 2014

    Figure 3

    Figure 3. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees by location as of July 3, 2014

    Source: OCHA

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 4

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: 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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