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Good October-December rains expected

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • East Africa
  • September 2012
Good October-December rains expected

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  • Summary
  • Updated Outlook through December 2012

  • Summary

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    Updated Outlook through December 2012

    Expectations of improvements in food security conditions from October through December have strengthened as a result of the anticipated increase in household food supply from harvests, lowered food prices, increased security in parts of Somalia, and the likelihood of overall favorable rains from September through December. Nevertheless, at least 16 million people in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Rwanda remain food insecure, mostly at Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels (Figure 1). Current food insecurity is driven by poor production in 2011 and the first half of 2012, impacts of debilitating conflict, macro-economic shocks, and rising global prices.

    The climate forecast by the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum 32 (GHACOF 32) for the September to December rains calls for mostly above normal rainfall in the eastern sector of the region. The sector includes most of Somalia, eastern and western Kenya and northern and western Ethiopia, the northern sector of the region including most of South Sudan and southeastern Sudan, and the southern sector, including most of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Near-normal rains are anticipated in other areas of the region. Enhanced rains are attributed to the likely occurrence of the El Niño event, similar to 2006, that often results in enhanced rains in key dependent areas of the eastern sector of the Horn including most of Somalia, southern Ethiopia and the eastern half of Kenya. Prospects for an earlier-than-normal season onset are also likely to replenish rangeland resources, easing current deterioration in many parts of the eastern Horn. Nevertheless, above-average rains will arrive too late to improve crop prospects in many areas of the eastern Horn, in particular, the central and southern agropastoral areas of Somalia and the eastern cropping lowlands of Ethiopia. 

    However, favorable rains are anticipated to enhance crop output in cropping areas that depend on the July to September rains in Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia as well as those dependent on the October-December rains, located predominately in the eastern Horn. Nevertheless, the risk of excessive rainfall is a major concern since crop harvests in many parts of Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya are anticipated to occur in October and November, and excessive rains could hamper crop harvesting and even precipitate pre- and post-harvest losses.

    Improved food security prospects are likely in many parts of Sudan. The cropping season is progressing well and tensions between Sudan and South Sudan have eased, particularly along the border areas. However, the impacts of good rains are likely to be moderated by reduction in area planted in conflict-affected areas, lack of access to production inputs and labor, due to impacts of the year-long conflict and sharply rising food and non-food prices. Widespread floods in August and early September in Darfur, Kassala, Gedaref, White Nile, Khartoum, and South Kordofan states have displaced up to 100,000 people and caused destruction of crops and livelihood assets.

    Although agreements on oil transit fees have been reached, their implementation is unlikely to occur expeditiously because of unresolved border issues, the status of Abyei, and implementation constraints. However, in areas where calm is returning, sorghum prices have declined by close to 10 percent, even though they remain 150 percent higher than the five-year average. Heightened militia activity in North Darfur is a concern for potential further displacement and impacts on livelihood activities. At present, three million people in Darfur either face Stressed or Crisis Phases. An estimated 200,000-250,000 people in SPLM-N held areas of South Kordofan are anticipated to improve to the Crisis Phase through December. The 150,000-200,000 people in GoS-controlled areas of South Kordofan will improve to Stressed levels from October onward. An estimated 100,000-150,000 people in Blue Nile will face Stressed levels from October through December.

    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity are likely to be sustained in South Sudan’s border areas of northern Warrap, northern Bar El Ghazal, Unity, Upper Nile and southern areas of Jonglei through December. Although food supply is expected to improve significantly from October onward, on-going floods in Jonglei, Unity, and Western Bar El Ghazal could destroy some of the harvests if current intense rains continue. However, flooding is also contributing to increased fish output and could help improve household nutrition. Nevertheless, rains are also constraining humanitarian access in Unity State, where 62,000 refugees are housed in Yida camp, as rates of child malnutrition exceed emergency levels. Sanitation conditions are reportedly deteriorating in the camp.

    Food insecurity will remain constrained in the Western Flood Plains in Warrap State because of the large numbers of returnees from Abyei. Heightened demand for food and non-food commodities has pushed fuel prices by 140 percent between April and July, and sorghum prices by 70 percent between June and July. In the Eastern Flood Plain of Upper Nile State, recovery prospects for 105,000 refugees in Doro, Jamann, Yusif Batil and Gendrassa remains problematic. Médecins Sans Frontières has reported that Global Acute Malnutrition prevalence supersedes emergency levels and is 27.7 percent; Severe Acute Malnutrition prevalence is 10.1 percent, while crude mortality rates are 2.1 per 10,000 people. Food access is likely to be restricted due to inability to preposition sufficient food for refugees because of limited road access. While security has improved in Abyei, resulting in the return of 10,000 displaced people, many missed the April-July growing season due to insecurity. In general, increased access to land and favorable rains are expected to ease household food insecurity toward the end of the year and likely reduce the current 2.5-3.0 million food insecure population.

    Marked improvements in household food security are anticipated from October through December in many areas of Somalia, one year after Famine conditions were reported in parts of southern and central of the country. Nevertheless, 2.12 million people are expected to remain in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity for refugees and Coastal Deeh pastoralists, through December 2012. Food security for pastoral households has improved markedly, through increased livestock prices from local and export sales and improved milk availability, leading to a 30 percent reduction in people seeking nutrition treatment. However, the exception are the Guban and Coastal Deeh pastoralists who have faced two consecutive failed seasons, low birthings, low milk output and poor prices. Good rains in September through December are unlikely to cause any marked improvement in household food insecurity for those pastoralists because of characteristic slow recovery of fragile pastoral livelihoods, maintaining most pastoral households in northern Somalia in the Crisis Phase, through December.

    Primary areas of concern also include the central and southern agropastoral areas including Gedo, Lower Shabelle, Middle Juba, Bay and Bakool, because of a combination of poor Gu production, anticipated flooding along the Juba Valley and a volatile security situation that tends to constrain and disrupt production activities. Livestock holdings are low in these areas while households are heavily indebted. Nutrition outcomes are described as very critical while an outbreak of Acute Watery Diarrhea is expected to increase due to poor sanitation as rains intensify. Crisis levels of food insecurity are likely to be sustained through December. Refugee populations have also increased by 18 percent since August, to 530,000, in the urban areas of Mogadishu-Afgoye corridor, and are facing accentuated food insecurity due to constrained food supply, heightened insecurity and reduced access to trade and flooding, which has resulted in an upsurge of water and vector borne diseases.

    While an estimated 3.7 million people in Ethiopia are classified in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) phases, improved rainfall through September has increased expectations of a favorable Meher harvest. A good harvest will reduce food prices for vulnerable households, increase labor opportunities and enhance household purchasing capacities. Crisis levels of food insecurity will likely be maintained in parts of the southeastern cropping areas of the SNNPR, the Belg-producing eastern marginal cropping areas of Amhara and Oromia, and the northeastern highlands, because of a combination of a poor Belg harvest and delayed Meher harvest.  Food prices have increased considerably, and while labor opportunities are currently limited they may begin to increase during the harvest. Nevertheless, poor households currently in the Crisis Phase remain heavily indebted and may not recover sufficiently to cause a shift in the food security classification. Heightened livestock prices in most areas outside northern Somalia and Afar Regions are also improving purchasing capacities of livestock herders, moderating elevated food prices. However, substantial improvements in livestock productivity could also occur in the drought-hit northern Somali and Afar Regions, arising from favorable El Niño rains and moderating the Crisis levels of food insecurity for pastoralists, toward December.

    Marked food security improvements in Kenya are anticipated, attributed principally to projected above-normal rains from September through December. Livestock recovery is likely to occur fairly rapidly because conditions had not deteriorated substantially and the lean season will be shortened by an early season onset. Food security for the previously drought-affected pastoral and marginal agricultural households is expected to improve to the Stressed Phase from October through December. Subsequently, significant reductions from the 2.2 million food insecure populations are anticipated toward the end of the outlook period. However, severe clashes between the Orma herders and Pokomo crop farmers in the predominantly pastoral Tana River District have resulted in over 100 deaths, displacements and loss of livelihood assets. Many of these households are faced with elevated food insecurity and are likely to face up to Crisis levels of food insecurity, but only due to humanitarian assistance. Although crop losses occasioned by the Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease have impacted affected households severely, they will have limited impact on overall national output and may not precipitate upward pressure on maize prices.

    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 July through December rains, if the forecast holds. However, pastoralists have experienced several successive poor seasons and recovery of herd productivity will remain tenuous. In contrast, food insecurity is expected to worsen for poor households in the semi-arid agropastoral, Eastern Congo-Nile highland subsistence farming and western Congo-Nile crest tea livelihood zones of Rwanda, deteriorating to Stressed levels. Limited labor opportunities and drawn-down household stocks are anticipated to tighten purchasing capacities for poor households. Flooding along the Eastern Congo-Nile highland subsistence farming one is expected to exacerbate food insecurity by displacing an estimated 10,000 households, causing further deterioration in food security for households residing in the flood plains. Favorable agroclimatic conditions and the absence of any significant shocks and hazards over most of 2012 are anticipated to maintain most parts of Uganda in the No Acute food Insecurity (IPC Phase 1).

    Figures Greater Horn of Africa Consensus Climate Outlook for September to December 2012

    Figure 1

    Greater Horn of Africa Consensus Climate Outlook for September to December 2012

    Source: ICPAC

    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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