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Assumptions for Quarterly Food Security Analysis

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • East Africa
  • October 2014
Assumptions for Quarterly Food Security Analysis

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  • Preface
  • Seasonal Performance
  • Regional Trade and Price Dynamics
  • Cross-border Conflict and Displacement

  • 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 October 2014 to March 2015 are based on the following regional assumptions:


    Seasonal Performance

    From September to December, 30 to 70 percent of total annual rainfall falls in parts of Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania (Figure 1).

    • El Niño is anticipated to result in average to above-average rainfall over the eastern Horn, extending beyond Lake Victoria, during the October to December short rains (Figure 2). Subsequently, the October to December rains in the Eastern Horn of Africa are likely to be average to slightly above average in amount, including in southeastern Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, eastern Kenya, and northern Tanzania. There is some risk for river flooding and flash floods in flood-prone areas of the eastern Horn. While rainfall in the eastern Horn is likely to be average to above-average, it may be poorly distributed over time and space.
    • In parts of the Rift Valley, northwestern pastoral areas in Kenya, southern pastoral areas in Kenya, and northeastern lowlands in Tanzania, October to December rainfall is likely to be average to below average with erratic distribution..
    • The October to December rains in Rwanda, Burundi, and northwestern Tanzania are likely to be above average in terms of cumulative rainfall with mostly normal distribution patterns.
    • The October to February Xays/Dadaa rains over coastal areas of Djibouti and northwestern Somalia are likely to be near average.
    • The December to January Sapie showers in central areas of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) in Ethiopia, primarily in Wolayita and Gamo Gofa Zones, are expected to occur. Temperatures are expected to be cool enough to allow condensation and dew to form in the mornings.
    • The February to May Belg rains in the northeastern highlands, central and eastern Oromia, and SNNPR in Ethiopia are expected to be near average in terms of cumulative rainfall and to have a normally timed start of the rains.
    • The March to May rains in Rwanda, Burundi, and northwestern Tanzania are likely to be near average in terms of cumulative rainfall and to have a normally timed start of the rains.
    • The March to May rains in the eastern Horn of Africa are likely to be near average in terms of cumulative rainfall and to have a normally timed start of the rains.

    Regional Trade and Price Dynamics
    • Sorghum exports from Sudan and Uganda to South Sudan will vary based on which destination markets they serve in South Sudan.
      • Exports from Sudan to northwestern South Sudan, including to Aweil, are outside of the areas of conflict. The volume of exports is expected to increase seasonably between October and April. Informal trade volumes will increase with the anticipated above-average harvest in Sudan from October to December and improved road access after the start of the dry season in November. Intermittent trade is expected due to insecurity. Exports from Sudan to northeastern South Sudan are also expected to increase as calmness returns to some parts of Upper Nile and due to the proximity of those areas to the surplus-producing eastern and central states of Sudan.
      • Sorghum exports from Uganda to South Sudan are expected to increase from their current levels. Price differences between source markets in Uganda and destination markets outside of the areas of conflict in South Sudan will provide incentives to trade. Several months of calm and the upgrading of Juba-Bor road by December is also expected to encourage exports from Uganda, including sorghum, especially to Bor in Jonglei State. After the rains subside in November, supplies from Bor can potentially reach other markets in the conflict-affected areas in Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile States. Despite high prices in South Sudan, export volumes from Uganda to Greater Upper Nile are likely to remain limited due to high transaction costs and traders remaining risk averse.
    • Exports of sorghum from Sudan to Eritrea will likely increase with the start of new harvest in November due to the anticipated above-average harvest in Gadaref and Kassala States of eastern Sudan. The above average harvest and projected seasonal decline in sorghum prices in Sudan from November will likely slow the export of sorghum from Ethiopia to Sudan to levels below the 800 to 1,000 metric tons (MT) per month recorded during the peak of the May to September 2014 lean season in Sudan.  
    • 2014-15 maize production in Uganda and Tanzania is estimated to be average to above average, but in Somalia, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Kenya, annual maize production will likely be average to below average.
      • Uganda’s 2014/2015 total maize production from all seasons is expected to be average. Domestic prices are anticipated to follow seasonal trends, decreasing after harvests and climbing as stocks are drawn down, but they are expected to remain relatively low. Exports to South Sudan between October and March are expected to be seasonal, but volumes are anticipated to be lower than before the conflict started in December 2013. Large volumes of maize are expected to be exported to Kenya and Rwanda.
      • Total 2013/14 grain production in Tanzania is estimated to be 8.4 million metric tons (MMT), which is similar to 2013/2014 above-average production and seven percent above the five-year average. Over 500,000 MT of maize, and large quantities of rice are expected to be exported through both formal and informal channels to Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
      • Maize imports from Uganda and Tanzania are expected to moderate seasonal price increases between October and December in the northeastern and eastern Rwanda and Burundi and in southwestern, southeastern, and coastal Kenya.
      • Above-average maize production in Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia is expected to result in comparatively lower prices that are similar to their five-year averages, including in the main collection market of Mbeya in southern Tanzania (Figure 3).  The difference between the maize price in Mbeya and adjacent areas in Malawi and Zambia is expected to shrink. Tanzania will thus likely not import maize from these countries for re-export to Kenya.
    • Dry bean production has been below average over the previous two successive seasons in southern East Africa, including in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, and northern Tanzania. 2014/2015 production is anticipated to be average across the region, but in Kenya, bean production will likely be below average, again. With continued tight supply, bean prices are likely to remain higher than last year and the five-year average. Most households and traders will need to replenish their depleted stocks over the coming months.

    Cross-border Conflict and Displacement
    • The conflict between Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) and Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) forces is likely to continue, despite the ongoing peace talks. Given the failure of both parties to form a transitional government and the collapse of peace talks in recent months, the most likely scenario suggests continued fighting in Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile States.
    • The conflict in Unity, Upper Nile, and Jonglei States has led to significant reduction in planted area due to seed shortages and displacement. It is estimated that about 20 percent of households were not able to plant. Among those who planted, area planted declined substantially, so production is likely to be far below average. The stocks from the harvest in most areas of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei States are expected to be depleted by the end of this year.
    • A combination of the continued conflict and the early depletion of food stocks is expected to result in an increase in the number of people fleeing from the three states to neighboring countries and other states within South Sudan. According to UNHCR, the total refugee population that left South Sudan since the conflict began in December 2013 as of September 11, 2014 was 451,458. This figure is expected to increase further, especially the number of people fleeing to Ethiopia as to the distance from the conflict-affected states is not far. Also, refugees can easily enter the country without fear of further conflict on the Ethiopia side of the border.
    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Percent contribution of September to December rains to annual totals

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Percent contribution of September to December rains to annual totals

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

    Figure 2. Rainfall forecast for September to December 2014

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Rainfall forecast for September to December 2014

    Source: : IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC)

    Figure 3. Wholesale price and projection of wholesale price of maize in Mbeya, Tanzania, Tanzanian shilling (TZS) per 100 kil

    Figure 4

    Figure 3. Wholesale price and projection of wholesale price of maize in Mbeya, Tanzania, Tanzanian shilling (TZS) per 100 kilogram bag

    Source: Ministry of Industry and Trade of Tanzania, 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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