Skip to main content

Assumptions for Quarterly Food Security Analysis

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

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Seasonal Performance
  • Regional Trade and Price Dynamics
  • Cross-Border Conflict and Displacement
  • Key Messages
    • Conflict, insecurity, and displacement are driving worsening food security outcomes in several East African countries and in Yemen. Over the past two months, the rate of displacement from the Greater Upper Nile (GUN) States in South Sudan, from Burundi, and from Yemen has accelerated. Displacement also continues in Darfur and South Kordofan in Sudan and from South-Central Somalia. Many displaced households are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4). 

    • At least 13.1 million people currently need urgent humanitarian assistance in South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen. Many of these people are food insecure due to the effects of conflict, including declines in trade and high food prices. Among the areas of highest need include the Greater Upper Nile (GUN) States in South Sudan, southern Yemen, Darfur and South Kordofan States in Sudan, and areas in East Africa hosting refugees and asylum seekers from Burundi. 

    • Green and dry harvests are increasing household and market stocks in some areas of southwestern and southeastern Kenya, eastern and western Uganda, southern Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. However, ongoing or the most recent harvests have been well below average in other areas. Among the areas where low agricultural production has or is likely to lead to acute food insecurity include Belg-producing areas in central Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR) and northeastern Amhara, the lowlands of the Tekeze River catchment in northern Amhara, and the lowlands of eastern Oromia in Ethiopia, Hiraan Agropastoral and Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone in Middle Juba in southern Somalia, the central Rift Valley in Tanzania, and Karamoja in northeastern Uganda. Many poor households in these areas may move into or remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between now and September.

    • Low March to May rainfall did not lead to a full regeneration of pasture and browse, or a typical increase in water availability in northeastern and southern Afar in Ethiopia, some localized areas in northern Somalia, the southern lowlands of Borena Zone in Ethiopia, parts of Wajir and Isiolo Counties in eastern Kenya, and Obock Region and southeastern Djibouti. Livestock body conditions remain poorer than usual, and milk production remains lower than usual. Many poor pastoralists have limited purchasing power due to low livestock holdings and low livestock-to-cereal terms of trade. In many of these areas, poor pastoral households are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September.

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

    Seasonal Performance
    • The June to September rains over Sudan, South Sudan, and western Ethiopia have had near-normal timing of the start of the rains thus far and are likely to have average to below average amounts of rain over the course of the season. While eastern Sudan and neighboring areas western Ethiopia in Tigray Region have increased likelihood for below average to average rainfall (Figure 1).
    • The July to September Karan/Karma rains over Djibouti, Afar Region in Ethiopia, and northeastern Somalia are likely to have a near-normal start and have average to below average amounts of rain (Figure 1).
    • The October to December 2015 rains in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and northwestern Tanzania are likely to be average to above average in terms of cumulative rainfall with a near normal start (Figure 1).
    • The October to December 2015 rains in the eastern Horn of Africa are likely to be above average in terms of cumulative rainfall with a near normal timing of the start of the rains.
    • The July to September 2015 rains are likely to be average to below average in Yemen with the western coastal strip likely to have below-average rainfall.

    Regional Trade and Price Dynamics
    • In Tanzania, the July/August Masika maize harvest in the northern, bimodal areas and the delayed July/August Msimu harvest in the central regions, including the Rift Valley, is expected to below average. However, the ongoing May to July Msimu harvest in the unimodal, surplus-producing Southern Highlands is likely to be near average. Between July and December, Tanzania will likely have an exportable surplus of 720,000 metric tons (MT). Demand from importing countries including Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi for July to December is expected to be for around 600,000 MT, well below how much additional maize can be stored after the harvests. Maize prices in the Southern Highlands increased atypically from April to late May, due to traders purchasing maize for central and northern parts of the country where higher-than-usual demand is expected and due to some continued uncertainty regarding likely production in the Southern Highlands. Demand for maize from southern Tanzania is expected to be higher-than-usual between July and December, with prices likely well above 2013 and 2014 and slightly above their five-year averages. Hence, maize prices in destination markets in northern Tanzania and southeastern Kenya are expected to be higher than in 2014 from July to December.
    • 2014/2015 maize production in Zambia is estimated to be 10 percent below the five-year average by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, leaving an exportable surplus of around 900,000 MT. The price differential will likely substantially widen between July and September between Kasama in Zambia and areas of high demand in East Africa including Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, and Mombasa, creating opportunities for trade (Figure 2). However, the volume of this trade will likely decrease from October to December as supplies from the long rains harvest in Kenya arrive on markets.
    • The June/July maize and sorghum harvests in the surplus-producing western and eastern regions of Uganda is expected to be near average. By June 2015, Uganda’s maize stocks were likely around 360,000 MT of which about 260,000 MT was estimated to be the exportable surplus. Demand from importing countries from July to December, including exports to Kenya, South Sudan, and Rwanda is expected to be around 250,000 MT. Exports to Rwanda will likely be sustained at current levels and then increase in volume as is the seasonal pattern as December approaches. Maize exports to Kenya will also follow the seasonal pattern of increasing in volume between now and September, but with a higher than typical increase in export volume due to low stocks in Kenya. Exports of maize and sorghum to South Sudan are expected to continue increasing from a low base during the May-to-August lean season in South Sudan, but the increase will be minor because of depreciation of the South Sudanese pound (SSP) and lower than normal access to credit for large-scale traders. High transaction costs for trade between Uganda and South Sudan will also likely restrain the growth of exports by small- and medium-sized exporters.
    • In spite of the above-average November 2014-to-January 2015 harvest in Sudan, sorghum and millet prices are expected to increase seasonally from July to September as market supplies are drawn down and demand increases during the June to September lean season. Then prices will seasonally, gradually decline from November to December, after the 2015/2016 harvest starts. While prices are expected to remain lower than in South Sudan, exports to South Sudan will likely be hampered by the conflict. Export volume to Eritrea will likely be near normal from July to December.
    • Livestock prices in southeastern Ethiopia and Somalia are expected to increase from July and peak in September when most livestock would be re-exported to the Arabian Peninsula due to high demand during Ramadan and for the Hajj. Livestock exports from Ethiopia to Somalia are expected to increase gradually in July and peak in September. As export demand falls, livestock prices across the Horn of Africa will likely decline from October to December.

    Cross-Border Conflict and Displacement
    • According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 600,625 people fled South Sudan between December 15, 2013 and July 7, 2015. Due to a combination of ongoing fighting, acute food insecurity in Greater Upper Nile, and growing political instability, refugee arrivals from South Sudan to neighboring countries over the course of 2015 is likely to reach levels similar to or slightly below that of 2014. The largest number of South Sudanese refugees will likely continue to go to Ethiopia. According to UNHCR, in May, 6,129 refugees arrived in Gambella Region of Ethiopia, and increase from 4,811 new arrivals in April, though this fell to 1,460 refugee arrivals in June due to the start of the rainy season. Between September 2014 and March of this year, monthly arrival numbers ranged from 323 to 1,411. As the rains intensify in July, the number of arriving refugees will decrease with more limited arrivals between July and December. During heavy rains, conflict typically subsides as roads become impassible. In addition, access to coping strategies is expected to improve as the availability of fish and wild foods in South Sudan will increase with the rains.
    • According to UNHCR, 158,045 people fled Burundi from April 1 to July 6 of this year with the highest number of refugees, 73,418 going to Tanzania and 62,814 going to Rwanda. Refugees are also arriving in Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The number of arrivals increased sharply in the last week of June as the parliamentary elections on June 29th approached. The presidential poll is scheduled for July 15. If there is conflict or high levels of violence in Burundi during or after the elections, the number of arriving refugees in neighboring countries could increase further.
    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. 40th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) consensus climate outlook for June to September 2015 rai

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. 40th Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) consensus climate outlook for June to September 2015 rainfall, May 26, 2015

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

    Figure 2. White maize prices and projections in East and Southern Africa

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. White maize prices and projections in East and Southern Africa

    Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Zambia, and Ministry of Agriculture, L…

    Figure 1


    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top