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Food insecurity anticipated to ease in some areas toward the end of the rainy season

  • Food Security Outlook
  • East Africa
  • April - September 2015
Food insecurity anticipated to ease in some areas toward the end of the rainy season

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by Country
  • Events That Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • The higher phases of acute food insecurity are found among poor households with constrained food access in northeastern and southeastern Djibouti, southern Borena, northeastern Afar, and eastern Amhara and Tigray in Ethiopia, northeastern Kenya, southern and central Somalia, South and West Kordofan and Central Darfur in Sudan, and parts of the Greater Upper Nile (GUN) States, Lakes, and Warrap in South Sudan. 

    • A succession of below-average seasons of crop and livestock production in 2014 has led to below-average food access for poor households in parts of the northeastern highlands and southern Ethiopia, Hiraan and Bakool Regions in Somalia, and northeastern Kenya. High temperatures led to faster than usual depletion of rangeland and water resources, reducing livestock productivity. Subsequently, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) could continue through September in some of these areas.

    • Poor and displaced households in conflict-affected areas of the Greater Upper Nile (GUN) States, Lakes, and Warrap in South Sudan, South Kordofan and central and western Darfur in Sudan, southern and central Somalia, parts of northern Kenya, and southern, central, and western Yemen will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through September. Displaced households have lost productive assets and have limited access to labor, markets, and humanitarian assistance.

    • Near average to below average March to May rainfall is occurring across the eastern Horn of Africa. The rains started late and were generally below average in the Belg-growing areas of Ethiopia in Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) in Ethiopia, eastern Kenya, central Uganda, and Rwanda. The June to September rains are likely to be average to below average in Sudan, South Sudan, western Ethiopia, and Afar Region in Ethiopia, Djibouti, and northwestern Somalia.

    • Staple food prices are rising seasonally in some markets, including in Somalia, northern Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia, as household food stocks are drawn down. However, food prices are considerably higher than their five-year averages, by over 40 percent, in South Sudan and Sudan, due to high inflation, depreciation of national currencies against the U.S. dollar, and trade disruptions. 

    • Displacement due to conflict from South Sudan to Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, and Kenya, from Yemen to Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, and northern Somalia, and from Burundi to Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Tanzania have risen over the past months. Around 1.52 million people are internally displaced in South Sudan, and over 546,000 have crossed borders and become refugees. About 105,000 people have become displaced from Burundi, and about 25,000 have left Yemen for Djibouti and Somalia. Humanitarian assistance is being provided to some of the displaced. Areas of conflict in South Sudan and Yemen remain very difficult for humanitarian organizations to access.

    Outlook by Country
    • A deterioration of food security is expected in the Southeast Pastoral Border Zone and in rural Obock region, due to limited pasture regeneration following an early end to the October-March Heys/Dadaa rains and a significantly delayed start to the March-May Diraac/Sugum rains. In these areas, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected between July and September despite continued inter-annual assistance. 
    • Prices for major imported staple foods, such as rice, wheat, and sorghum, remain stable on most markets, and are expected to remain stable through September, except for seasonal peaks during Ramadan. 
    • Despite poor rainfall performance, most pastoral households are expected to remain in either Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between April and September due to continued income from daily labor, sale of livestock, charcoal production, remittances, and continued inter-annual food assistance. 

    To learn more, read the complete Djibouti Food Security Outlook

    • Thus far, the February to May Belg rains have been below average in amount and erratically distributed. As a result, area planted is very low, and the crops that have been planted are not performing well. Poor households’ income from agricultural labor is also less than usual, reducing current food access. 
    • With likely below-average cumulative Belg rainfall, Belg crop production this year is likely to be well below average in June/July. As a result of low production and low labor demand, food security will deteriorate in the Belg-producing areas in eastern Amhara and Tigray, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), and eastern and central Oromia from July to September. Most of these areas will move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from April to June to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September.
    • In Borena Zone in southern Oromia and Dassench Woreda in SNNPR, low pasture availability caused by the well below average October to December rainfall and a very warm dry season has led to poor livestock body conditions (Figure 1) and very low milk production. While the March to May Genna rains have started, livestock body conditions have not yet recovered, and income from livestock sales and livestock product sales still remains low. Staple food prices will seasonally increase over the coming months, and rangeland resources are unlikely to fully recover with high likelihood of below-average rainfall through May. As the dry season and secondary lean season approaches in August, households will move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with humanitarian assistance from April to June to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September. 

    To learn more, read the complete Ethiopia Food Security Outlook.

    • Nationally, food security is expected to remain stable through June, supported by typical availability of most food commodities from imports and from short-cycle crops from the long rains harvest. 
    • In the marginal agricultural livelihood zones, food security is most likely to remain stable through June with some food and income coming from the March to May long rains, which is the secondary agricultural production season in these areas. Food insecurity will heighten from August to September, with households in some localized areas in Kitui County being unable to purchase sufficient quantities of food. 
    • Pastoral areas are likely to have some improvements in food security though June. Food insecurity is likely to heighten from July to September, triggered by an early start of the lean season and faster than usual depletion of rangeland resources. Some poor households in localized parts of Wajir, Isiolo, and Garissa are likely to move or remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) at that time. 

    To learn more, read the complete Kenya Food Security Outlook.

    • In agropastoral areas in the South that had a very limited January/February Deyr harvest, food security will remain at or deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during the April to June lean season. In parts of Bakool and Hiraan, the food security of poorest households could deteriorate further due to more limited trade, which decreases economic activity.
    • In the North, food security is likely to improve through September as a result of increased livestock production and increased livestock prices due demand for Ramadan in June/July and the Hajj in late September. With average to below-average rainfall forecast for this season, pasture and water availability will increase, supporting recovery of livestock body conditions from a warmer and longer than usual January to March Jilaal dry season.
    • In the riverine livelihood zones in Middle and Lower Juba, food security will deteriorate between now and June as a result of reduced cereal availability from the well below-average off-season harvest in March and reduced agricultural labor income due to likely river flooding in April/May that will reduce demand for labor for land preparation, planting, and weeding.

    To learn more, read the complete Somalia Food Security Outlook.

    South Sudan
    • Food security deteriorated in April with significant portions of the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Upper Nile, Jonglei, Unity, Warrap, and Lakes states. Nearly 3 million people are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in South Sudan.
    • The South Sudanese currency depreciated by approximately 26 percent from December 2014 to March 2015. Although the official Bank of South Sudan exchange rate remains pegged at 3.1 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) to 1 U.S. Dollar (USD), the informal exchange rate reached 8.5 SSP for 1 USD in mid-April.
    • Food insecurity is expected to worsen across the country in the next two months as food availability continues to decline during the lean season. Despite high levels of coping, displaced and poor host community households will face significant food consumption gaps, relying on humanitarian assistance as their main food source. Needs will peak from now until June when FEWS NET estimates 3.5 million people will require emergency food assistance, nearly 40 percent of the national population.

    To learn more, read the complete South Sudan Food Security Outlook.

    • As of May 2015, an estimated 3.7 million people in Sudan face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) levels of acute food insecurity. Current food insecurity in Sudan is the result of conflict in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and West Kordofan. Food insecurity in some parts of east Sudan is mainly due to limited purchasing power. The size of the food insecure population is likely to reach 4.2 million during the July to September peak lean season.
    • Intensified hostilities between SAF and armed-rebel groups in South Kordofan, Darfur, Blue Nile and West Kordofan, and tribal conflict in some parts of Darfur, displaced thousands of people, caused loss of life and assets, interrupted livelihood activities, and disrupted access to markets and humanitarian assistance.
    • Staple food prices either remained stable or slightly decreased between February and March, in-line with seasonal trends (Figure 2). Adequate market supplies and low household demand kept sorghum prices stable in most markets. On average, sorghum prices in March declined by 10 to 25 percent compared to last year but remain 70 percent above the five-year average
    • An outbreak of measles has been declared in 31 localities of 14 states in Sudan. Out of the 3,015 suspected cases, 1,697 are confirmed. So far, confirmed measles cases were almost four times greater than last year. A large-scale vaccination campaign by FMoH, UNICEF and WHO is in progress, but not likely to reach insecure areas, where immunization against measles is likely to remain low.

    To learn more, read the complete Sudan Food Security Outlook.

    • Despite delayed onset and below average rainfall since early April, germination and early vegetative growth occurred in both bimodal areas and unimodal Karamoja. With likely continued below-average rainfall, crop growth may be retarded, delaying and reducing green harvests to July and reducing potential yields for the dry harvests in Karamoja. Continued rainfall in bimodal areas will likely result in a near-average harvest.
    • In Karamoja, below average incomes for poor households will likely constrain food access. Households have increased their use of coping strategies since January, but are unable to meet their minimum food needs. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in April, and will likely become more acute until the harvest occurs, as late as August, four months longer than usual.
    • In bimodal areas, staple food prices increased between March and February, as anticipated with increased demand from Kenya and South Sudan for maize, beans, and sorghum. In Karamoja, the livestock terms of trade with respect to sorghum are favorable while firewood, charcoal, or daily wages to sorghum have worsened. Low household purchasing power will constrain food access through July, minimal green harvest may relieve some of the household needs.

    To learn more, read the complete Uganda Food Security Outlook.

    • Conflict continues to escalate throughout most of the country, with continued Al Houthi advances and coalition airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia, which began on March 26, 2015. The ongoing conflict is driving several factors leading to deteriorating food security outcomes, including increased food and fuel prices, disruptions to normal income sources including public sector salaries, remittances, social payments, and agricultural labor, and disruptions to normal imports of staple foods.
    • Both diesel and petrol are in short supply across the country, as domestic refineries are not operating and imports are disrupted. Although the official rate for both fuels remains unchanged at YER 150 per liter, reports during the second half of April indicate that the cost to consumers of available fuel is much higher, ranging from YER 400 per liter to as much as YER 2,500 per liter. The shortages and high cost of fuel has broad implications, including upward pressure on food prices, decreased availability of water for both consumption and for agricultural use, and disruptions to electricity. Fuel shortages are also limiting the delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance, including food distributions.
    • Prices of staple foods have increased rapidly across the country, with limited availability in some markets. In mid-April, prices for wheat flour were up by nearly 60 percent in some markets as compared to early March. Rice prices also experienced significant rises in some markets, up to 35 percent above March prices.
    • Remittances from abroad are an important source of income for roughly 2 million households. The ongoing conflict, particularly in Aden, has prevented some remittance-dependent households from receiving transfers. Further disruptions to services used for remittance transfers could impact households in additional governorates.
    • Although changes in the intensity of the conflict would have implications for the severity of food insecurity, the continued impact of current shocks is likely to cause deteriorating outcomes throughout much of the country in the coming months. Most areas of the country are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), while Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely in the most affected areas if conflict continues to drive food prices upward and disrupt normal sources of income.

    An Outlook report is not available for Yemen, but additional information can be found here.

    Countries monitored remotely1


    Since the publication of the April Remote Monitoring Update, political violence and the threat of political violence have led to large-scale displacement in and from Burundi. Additional information and analysis will be published here as it becomes available.

    • During the month of April, nearly 21,000 people migrated across the border to Rwanda due to concerns of insecurity and violence related to upcoming elections, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Protests and associated civil unrest, which began during the last week of April, continue in Mutakura, Cibitoke, Kanyosha, Bwiza, and Musaga communes of Bujumbura.
    • Staple food prices declined in most markets in March due to increased market availability from Season A harvests. However, prices remain higher than normal country-wide, up to 50 percent above the five-year average in some areas.
    • Average to above-average season A harvests have increased food availability and access for most households in Burundi. However, poor households in the Plateaux Humides Livelihood Zone currently face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity due to persistently above-average staple food prices during the lean season, when households are most market dependent. Increasing political instability and a likely escalation of civil insecurity are expected to disrupt access to food and income for the poor in the coming months.

    To learn more, read the complete Burundi Remote Monitoring Update.

    • Food insecurity is expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from April to early June, among poor households in the East Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming, Bugesera Cassava, and the East Agropastoral Livelihood Zones due to the poor start to Season B and related reductions in labor opportunities for the poor, exacerbated by earlier-than-normal depletion of household food stocks, following below-average production in Seasons A and B in 2014.
    • However, food security is anticipated to improve from mid-June through September, to Minimal Acute Food Insecurity (IPC Phase 1), among poor households in the East Congo Nile Highland Subsistence, Bugesera Cassava, and the Eastern Agropastoral Zone. The improvement is attributed to increased food availability from Season B harvests in the cropping areas, coupled with expanded labor opportunities during the Season B harvest and Season A land preparation periods.

    To learn more, read the complete Rwanda Remote Monitoring Update.

    1With remote monitoring, an analyst typically works from a nearby regional office, relying on a network of partners for data. Compared to countries above, where FEWS NET has a local office, reporting on remote monitoring countries may offer less detail.

    Events That Might Change the Outlook

    Table 1: Possible events over the next six months that could change the most-likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes

    Sudan, South Sudan, and western Ethiopia, Afar Region in Ethiopia,

    Djibouti, and northwestern Somalia

    Well below-average June to September rainfall

    Below-average June to September rainfall would result in reduced crop livestock productivion. Food security for poor households would likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse for households that have experienced a succession of poor seasons.

    South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda

    An effective peace agreement between South Sudan’s warring parties

    Reduction in conflict would open up key trading routes, increase cross-border trade, and increase cross-border labor migration. Poor, conflict-affected, and displaced households would be able to access humanitarian assistance and some would likely return from Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda to South Sudan. Overall, food security outcomes would likely improve toward the end of the scenario period in September.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Cattle with poor body conditions in Borena Zone, March 2015

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Cattle with poor body conditions in Borena Zone, March 2015

    Source: Borena Zone Early Warning Task Force

    Figure 2. Sorghum prices in El Fasher market from Nov. 2014 to to March 2015, compared to last year and the five-year average

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Sorghum prices in El Fasher market from Nov. 2014 to to March 2015, compared to last year and the five-year average

    Source: FEWS NET/FAMIS

    Figure 3. January to April rainfall estimate (RFE) in millimeters (mm), Eastern Sorghum Cropping Zone, compared to the 2001 -

    Figure 4

    Figure 3. January to April rainfall estimate (RFE) in millimeters (mm), Eastern Sorghum Cropping Zone, compared to the 2001 - 2014 mean

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 5


    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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