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Access to food improved in many parts of the region following onset of harvests

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • East Africa
  • October 2012
Access to food improved in many parts of the region following onset of harvests

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  • Key Messages
  • Updated Outlook through December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • There are currently 16 million food insecure people in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Rwanda facing Stressed (IPC phase 2) to Emergency (IPC phase 4) levels of food insecurity. Food security is expected to improve over the coming six months.

    • Seasonal crop harvests have begun in most parts of Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and parts of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Somalia. Availability of food at the household level has improved and prices of staples have declined seasonably, although prices remain above average in most of these countries.  

    • The secondary lean season is peaking in pastoral and agropastoral parts of southern Somalia, southern and southeastern Ethiopia and northern and northeastern Kenya. Performance of the April to June rainy season was below average in most of these areas resulting in below average crop harvest and shortages of water and pasture.

    • According to the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum 32 (GHACOF 32) the September to December rainy season is expected to be mostly above normal in the pastoral and agropastoral parts of southern Somalia, southern and southeastern Ethiopia northern and northeastern Kenya. The rains are expected to bring about improvement in pasture and water availability and overall pastoral conditions.


    Updated Outlook through December 2012

    Main season crop harvests have begun in Sudan and the northern parts of South Sudan. Green harvests have also begun in the western parts of Ethiopia and most of South Sudan.  The start of the harvest has improved the availability of food at the household level for consumption and for sale.  Availability of pasture and water has substantially improved resulting in improved physical condition of livestock and availability of milk. Prices of staples have also begun to decline following the harvest.  Prices of staples, however, remain much higher than the five year average in all of these countries.

    In Sudan, performance of the June to September rains was above normal, leading to above average crop prospects in areas not affected by conflict. There has also been, however, widespread flooding in Sinar, Gadaref, North Darfur, Central Darfur, West Darfur, White Nile, Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Khartoum states, that affected about 240,000 people.  The floods damaged infrastructure and caused loss of assets but have been generally beneficial for regeneration of pasture and improved water availability.

    The good crop performance will likely improve the food security of the IDPs, that had access to land in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile States from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC phase 2) levels during the October to December period.   Similarly, food security of the IDPs in Darfur is also expected to improve with the start of the harvest as these IDPs had increased cultivation this year and crop prospects are good. The harvest has led to increased availability of food at the household level and also improved supply to the market resulting in decline in staple prices compared to last month, though prices, of mainly sorghum, remains more than double the five-year average in most markets across the country because of inflation, local currency devaluation, increased transportation cost and the high cost of production this year (inputs, labor, etc.).

    Prices of staples have also started to decline with the start green consumption from the main harvest in South Sudan. Crop conditions are generally good except for areas affected by conflict, heavy rains, and flooding. Area planted has declined in Jonglei and the northern part of Unity state due to conflict.  Crop production in several counties in Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Lakes states has also been affected by floods. With the increase in water levels of the rivers and filling of the ponds, availability of fish has increased.

    Despite these improvements, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity persist in areas bordering Sudan, including northern parts of Bahr el Ghazal, Unity, parts of Warrap, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Lakes states. The main drivers of food insecurity in these areas are the conflict with Sudan, which has displaced people, led to a large influx of refugees from Sudan and affected the trade (leading to high prices of staples), and the floods that led to severe crop damage in some parts and also cut off people from the main road in some areas.

    Overall performance of the main season Meher harvest in Ethiopia is expected to be close to average, except for some parts of the eastern marginal Meher crop producing areas. In these areas, there was an erratic distribution of the rains and early cessation of the season. This is expected to significantly reduce Meher harvests in these areas. In addition, the belg (June/July) harvest in these same areas was very poor this year following the poor performance of the rains. Poor households in these areas are expected to continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity while other parts of the eastern Meher crop producing areas are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity with the start of the Meher harvest in October which will improve the availability of food for consumption and also for sale. The start of the harvest will also improve market supplies resulting in reduced prices of staples.

    The main season Gu (June/July) harvest in the southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral parts of the country was very poor this year following the poor performance of the rains. Water and pasture shortages have been reported from several districts. Physical condition of livestock is poor and milk availability is low.  Despite the poor physical condition, livestock prices are high. Although staple prices are also high, terms of trade are favorable for pastoralists due to the high price of livestock. Repeated seasons of poor rains in these areas have led to depletion of livestock holdings especially among the poor.  Poor people may not have sufficient livestock for sale to benefit from the favorable terms of trade.

    The October to December (Deyr) rains are forecasted to be above normal and this is expected to lead to improved livestock physical condition and milk availability. Crop production is also expected to be above average. Prices of staples are expected to decline beginning in October with the start of the Meher harvest in the crop producing parts of the country. The improvement in the physical condition of livestock is expected to improve income from livestock sales. Improved availability of milk and crops will also improve the availability of food for consumption. Food security will likely improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) beginning in October.

    Performance of the Gu (April to June) rains was close to average in the northern and central parts of Somalia while it was below average in the south. In the agropastoral parts of southern Somalia (Bay, Bakol, Hiran, Gedo, Lower and Middle Juba regions) the below average rains resulted in significantly below average crop production. Although the rains were not sufficient for crop production in southern Somalia, they replenished water sources and supported the regeneration of pasture in most parts of the country except in the Guban pastoral and Coastal Deeh livelihood zones. In the areas where the rains were sufficient, physical condition of livestock is good and milk availability at the household level has also improved. Livestock prices are also high.   Despite these improvements, southern Somalia is still recovering from last year’s famine and food security remains fragile. Levels of acute malnutrition are critical to very critical.  Currently 236,000 children are acutely malnourished across the country and southern Somalia hosts about 70 percent of them. Humanitarian assistance continues to be an important source of food and income.

    The Hays (December to February) rains are the only rainy season in the Guban pastoral livelihood zone of the northwest.  The past two consecutive seasons of rains failed resulting in poor pasture and water availability. Livestock body conditions are very poor and milk availability is also very poor leading to reduced consumption. Livestock migration options are also limited this year because the areas that livestock typically migrate to have also been affected similarly. The estimated malnutrition level deteriorated from serious in January 2012 to Very Critical in July 2012.  Food security is likely to continue to remain at Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels until December.

    Pastoralists in the Coastal Deeh livelihood zone have faced consecutive failed seasons resulting in significant loss of livestock. There is also widespread civil insecurity which disrupted humanitarian assistance and trade flows. This livelihood zone has remained in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) since 2011. Improvement in food security is not anticipated following the anticipated above average deyr rains because of the very low livestock holding and continued insecurity.

    Currently, the pastoral and agropastoral parts of northeastern Kenya are in the peak of their lean season. There is shortage of pasture and water. Household and livestock water consumption has declined. As well, milk availability and consumption declined but variably across the pastoral livelihoods depending on the condition of pasture and browse and distance to water points.. According to the 2012 August long rains assessment by the KFSSG, milk consumption per household has declined from four to five liters to half a liter per day.  However, early kidding, lambing and calving started taking by September across most pastoral livelihoods and milk production and consumption is expected to increase gradually in the months ahead. Although staple prices are high, prices of livestock are also high and terms of trade remain significantly higher than the five year average.  Despite the improved terms of trade, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity persist mainly due to poor milk and water consumption. Substantial improvement in water and pasture availability is expected to occur with the start of the short rains (October to December). Livestock productivity is also expected to improve thereby improving milk consumption. Food security is expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between October and December.

    The marginal agricultural households in the southeastern and coastal lowlands had a poor long rains harvest in July/August.  There is also conflict over resources between pastoralists migrating from Tana River district and the agropastoral and sedentary agricultural population.  Milk availability is low due to shortage of pasture and water. Prices of staples continue to be very high. While livestock prices are also higher than average, the rate of increase of staple prices is much higher and as a result livestock to cereal terms of trade are much below the five year average. Most of these areas continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity. Food security is expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels after the effects of the above average October to December rains begin be felt in December.

    Food insecurity for an estimated 350,000 pastoralists in the southeast and northwest Djibouti is expected to improve to the Stressed Phase (except Al Sabieh, which will remain in the Crisis Phase) because of improved pastoral conditions following good Karma (July to September) rains and continued humanitarian assistance. The hays/dada rains are expected to begin in October in the southeastern pastoral areas of Djibouti. Improvements in pastoral conditions are not expected to occur until December from the anticipated above average October to December rains in this livelihood zone. Food security is, however, expected to improve from the current Crisis (IPC Phase 3) level to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) level as of October due to the impacts of humanitarian assistance.

    Uganda and Rwanda currently do not face acute food insecurity due to overall favorable conditions. In the Eastern Congo‐Nile highland subsistence farming and West Congo Nile tea and food crops livelihood zones of Rwanda, poor households are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from October until the season 'A' harvests in December because their food stocks, which are currently below-normal, will be exhausted. They will heavily rely on the market during this time and staple prices are expected to rise during the October to November lean season until the green harvest begins in December.

    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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