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Conflict and drought in South Sudan, Sudan, and the eastern Horn increased food insecurity

  • Food Security Outlook
  • East Africa
  • January - June 2014
Conflict and drought in South Sudan, Sudan, and the eastern Horn increased food insecurity

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by country
  • Events that might change the outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Below-average total October to December rain in parts of the eastern sector primarily in eastern Kenya and southern Somalia is likely to increase food insecurity over the next several months. Heightened conflict in South Sudan, Sudan, and southern Somalia is also increasing food insecurity. As of February, about 14 million people are in Stressed, Crisis, and Emergency (IPC Phases 2, 3, and 4), up from 11.1 million in October 2013.
    • Conflict in South Sudan has deepened food insecurity, especially for the 873,000 people displaced, including 156,800 refugees as of February 17. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are mostly in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), though in isolated areas, IDPs may currently be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Given the likelihood of continued fighting, IDPs will increasingly face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) as the April to August lean season starts.
    • Cereal, pulse, and tuber harvests drove down prices in many markets, resulting in improved poor household food access. Food prices have declined in most markets in Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and the Kenyan highlands. However, sorghum and millet prices are atypically high in Sudan and South Sudan, in part due to impacts of ongoing conflict and below average production in Sudan.
    • As lean seasons start or intensify by April, food insecurity is likely to deepen to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) among displaced households in Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North- (SPLM-N) controlled areas of South Kordofan State in Sudan, to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in marginal, Belg-producing agricultural areas in Oromia, Tigray, and Amhara Regions in Ethiopia, and to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in unimodal Karamoja region in Uganda.

    Outlook by country


    • Compared to recent years, food security has improved in most rural areas. This is primarily due to mostly normal, seasonal rainfall in 2013 and thus far in 2014, which has supported improved livestock body conditions and water access in most areas.
    • Limited, but continued improvements in food security are likely for practically all rural, pastoral areas between now and June. Greater availability of pasture and water will continue to lead to better livestock body conditions and improved livestock to grain terms of trade during the expected, mostly normal March to May Diraac/Sugum rainy season. Most rural populations are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least June 2014.
    • In the Southeast, pastoralists are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), and they are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June even with mostly normal performance of the October to February Heys/Dadaa rains. Recurrent drought in recent years has significantly reduced livestock ownership, and households continue to draw down their assets to purchase food and other essential items.

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


    • Total 2013 Meher cereal, pulse, and oilseed production is forecast to be about 25.4 million metric tons, a 10 percent increase above last year. The increase, mainly attributed to the normal and above normal June to September Kiremt rains, is expected to stabilize food security in most of parts the country to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through March. During this time, most households will rely on their own production. Some households will continue to purchase food but have improved access due to a slight decline in staple food prices.
    • However, some areas experienced below average Kiremt rainfall or other localized hazards such as flooding, resulting in a below average Meher harvest. These areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from January to March and deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to June. Affected regions include lowland areas of East and West Hararghe Zone in Oromia, the Tekeze River catchment in northern Amhara and southern Tigray, the northeastern highlands in eastern Tigray and Amhara, and a few areas in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR).
    • In pastoral and agropastoral areas, despite normal to above-normal recent rainy seasons in many areas, recovery of herd sizes and purchasing power remains slow. Poor households are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in most areas through at least June.

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


    • The food insecure population is likely to increase in the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas and in pastoral areas as the October to December short rains generally started late, included dry spells, and had well below average total amounts. Food consumption is likely to only meet minimal requirements through March, and the highest phases of food insecurity may not become apparent until the August to November 2014 lean season.
    • Food security is expected to improve but remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between April and June in southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas. However, households will be able to access some income from labor during the long rains though this is not a peak period of labor demand. They will also have some pulse production. Maize prices are expected to increase at a time when many households will purchase food from markets.
    • The below average October to December short rains in the pastoral areas led to seasonal improvement of pasture, browse, and water conditions. However, these are expected to deteriorate faster than normal due to higher than usual temperatures during the January to February dry season. Already parts of Turkana, Isiolo, Mandera, and Wajir have had pasture, browse, and water exhausted in some areas, and they are at high risk of falling into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) by March.

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


    • Agricultural season ‘A’ harvests are ongoing. Nationally, crop production levels are expected to be average, although localized production shortfalls occurred in Eastern Semi-Arid Agropastoral and the Western Congo-Nile Crest Tea livelihood zones due to the combined effects of poor quality seeds, pests, and atypical dryness in October and November.
    • While the arrival of newly harvested crops on local markets caused staple food prices to decline seasonally between November and December 2013, prices remain well above last year’s levels due to the residual market effects of below-average season ‘B’ harvests in June/July. However, most poor households will be able to offset the effects of these high prices though their typical livelihood strategies.
    • Due to relatively normal food availability and access, most areas will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between now and June 2014.

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


    • Nearly 860,000 people require urgent humanitarian assistance over the next six month period, and about 75 percent of them are internally displaced person (IDPs). Over two million additional people beyond those requiring urgent assistance are classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Their food security remains fragile and vulnerable to any major shock that could push them back to Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4) over the next several months.
    • Food insecurity is expected to be highest among IDPs and in parts of Sanaag, Sool, Bari, Nugaal, North and South Mudug, Galgadud, Hiraan, Middle Shabelle, and Middle and Lower Juba Regions. These areas have seen or will see increased food insecurity due to locally dry conditions during the October to December 2013 Deyr rains leading to a very small harvest, displacement, other interruptions to access to markets and to arable land from river flooding and conflict, and loss of assets during Tropical Cyclone Three in mid-November in the Northeast.
    • The April to June 2014 Gu rains are currently forecast to be normal to below normal in the eastern sector. With high temperatures expected during the February/March dry season, rangeland and water resources may degrade more quickly than usual.

    To learn more, read the complete Somalia Food Security Outlook or the February 4 joint Alert with the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit-Somalia (FSNAU).

    South Sudan

    • Since conflict broke out in mid-December 2013, fighting and unrest have displaced 873,000 people, as of February 17. About 716,200 have been internally displaced, while 156,800 people have crossed into neighboring countries. Of the internally displaced population, Unity State hosts the largest number with 189,500 IDPs, followed by 130,000 in Jonglei State and 122,000 in Upper Nile State. Uganda hosts nearly 70,700 refugees, mainly from Jonglei State. Over 42,300 refugees crossed into Ethiopia, 13,400 into Kenya, and over 23,300 into Sudan. Given the current disruption to livelihoods, markets, and ability to employ coping strategies, most IDPs are estimated to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Acute food insecurity for pockets of IDPs in isolated areas without humanitarian access, particularly in opposition-controlled areas of Unity, Upper Nile, and Jonglei, could worsen to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) if the fighting continues.
    • Conflict interrupted the main harvest, which started in November 2013 and was expected to continue through January 2014. Seven out of the 10 states in the country are impacted by conflict, with Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile being the most affected. In those states, households were displaced during the harvest, and these households fled in some cases without having harvested and in others without household stocks. In many cases, either standing crops or stocks were eventually destroyed or looted.
    • Food availability on markets is not expected to increase in the near future given the volatile security situation and high transaction costs associated with the insecurity. Fighting has substantially reduced both domestic and cross-border trade flows into the areas most severely affected by the conflict in Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile States.
    • While some limited humanitarian assistance is available to IDPs, the evacuation of key aid workers out of the conflict-affected areas has reduced the ability of many organizations to provide assistance and humanitarian access remains limited.

    To learn more, read the complete February 19 South Sudan Crisis Report.


    • As of January 2014, an estimated 3.3 million people in Sudan face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3). The size of the food insecure population is likely to increase to four million with the early onset of the lean season in March/April. Current and projected phases of food insecurity are driven by the impacts of conflict in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states, the below-average 2013/2014 harvest, and rising food prices. Sorghum, millet, and wheat production for the 2013/14 season is estimated at 2.85 million metric tons (MMT), which represents only 65 to 70 percent of the five-year average and 45 to 50 percent of last year’s good harvest.
    • Staple food prices continued to increase atypically across most markets during the harvest in December when prices normally decrease, most likely driven by expectations of a below-average harvest. High production and marketing costs have contributed to price increases. January 2014 sorghum prices are on average 35 percent above respective January 2013 levels, and more than double their five-year averages.
    • Millet and sorghum prices are likely to increase significantly and rapidly from February to June 2014 due to reduced remaining supplies from below-average harvests and increased household-level dependence on markets. Local availability in the surplus-producing areas will also be affected by increased demand from deficit areas of Sudan as well as export demand from South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and to a lesser extent, the Gulf States.

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


    • In bimodal regions, near average second season harvests which started in November are coming to a close and combined with otherwise favorable and normal seasonal conditions and labor availability, are contributing to Minimal (IPC Phase 1), which is expected to continue through June.
    • In unimodal Karamoja, poor households are still Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to the combined impact of below-average harvests, coupled with lower seasonal incomes, elevated prevalence of acute malnutrition, and increasing staple food prices. The lean season is already beginning two months early in some districts, particularly Nakapiripirit and Moroto. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected during the peak of the lean season in May/June.
    • Following instability and conflict, about 70,000 refugees from South Sudan have entered northeastern Uganda between mid-December and early February. Humanitarian agencies are currently providing emergency food assistance though increasing demand with new arrivals may strain available resources soon.

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

    Countries monitored remotely1


    • Season A harvesting is nearly over and production is estimated to be near average. With the replenishment of household food stocks and market supplies, most households will have Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity through June.
    • However, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity is expected from March to June in the Plateaux Humides livelihood zone in Ngozi, Kayanza, Muramvya, Mwaro, and Gitega Districts as well as in Bugendana and Bweru Districts due to localized Season A production deficits. Households in these areas are expected to rely on market purchases earlier than normal, while prices of some key commodities will be above average.
    • Prices of the main staple commodities, especially sweet potato, remain higher than their five-year averages due to poor 2013 Season C performance. In Muyinga and Kirundo, for example, sweet potato prices in January were more than double the five-year average and more than 47 percent and 100 percent above January 2013 prices, respectively.

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


    • Due to a late start and poor distribution of Vuli rains from mid-September to January, below-average harvests are expected in localized areas of the northeastern regions and central marginal areas of Dodoma and Iringa. Kagera Region is still coping with below average banana harvests due to disease.
    • Households with below-average (some with less than 50 percent of normal) Vuli food production will likely run out of food stocks in April instead of July. An early dependence on markets combined with limited income-generating activities has resulted in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the areas affected by below-average Vuli production. Most of the rest of the country is expected to remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between now and June 2014.
    • Overall, 2013-14 maize production has been near average. Above-average maize harvests in the southern highlands have moderated the availability effects of below average harvests in the northern and central cropping areas of Tanzania. Localized price increases may occur for maize in areas where production was below average, but nationwide, maize prices remain largely stable. Due to a poor bean harvest, bean prices are higher than is typical for this time of year.

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


    • The desert locust invasion that reached cropping areas of western Yemen in September/October 2013 caused substantial, if possibly localized, damage to sorghum, millet, and sesame mainly in Western and Central Wadi Sorghum, Millet, Vegetable, Fruit, and Livestock livelihood zone. Local sources suggest that the 2013/14 infestation is the worst since 2007 when cropping and rangeland impacts were significant.
    • Poor households’ agricultural production in this livelihood zone is typically very low, only being about one to two months’ consumption. Poor households rely on income from agricultural wage labor to purchase food. The locust invasion is expected to contribute to food insecurity among poor households due to damage to own production, as well as loss of income due to reduced demand for agricultural labor from middle-and better-off households whose fields are equally damaged.
    • Insecurity in Dammaj, northern Yemen, has led to concerns about humanitarian access. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) from previous conflicts, new IDPs from the current conflict, and the host community are unable to get humanitarian assistance due to ongoing conflict and restricted access. The insecurity could also disrupt access to markets in the affected areas and limit the availability of food on markets, further worsening household food security in the coming months.

    To learn more, read the complete Yemen 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

    areaeventImpact on food security outcomes
    The Greater Mandera Triangle in northeastern Kenya and southern and central Somalia, and pastoral areas in northern and northwestern KenyaPoor March to May rainsFollowing below-average October to December rains, the impacts of the extended dry season would be more pronounced, if the rains start late. The lean season would be extended in some areas. Livestock body conditions, productivity, and value would decline as migration options narrowed, limiting purchasing capacity and household food access. Resource-based conflict would likely increase, causing disruptions in access to markets, humanitarian assistance, and labor opportunities. Food insecurity for many poor households would likely to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April through June in the absence of assistance.
    Sudan and South SudanThe South Sudan political and military crisis intensifiesConflict would continue to disrupt access to markets and the provision of humanitarian assistance, prolonging undernutrition and food access for conflict-affected populations. In addition, continued fighting would curtail access for Sudan’s Messeriya pastoralists to seasonal grazing areas in the northern rangelands of South Sudan, causing deterioration in livestock productivity and reduced purchasing capacity, precipitating deterioration to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Household food security could to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in conflict-affected areas in Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile due to eroded purchasing capacities arising from lost production, lack of humanitarian assistance, and inability to access markets coupled with limited purchasing capacities.
    Southern Somalia, southeastern and northeastern Djibouti, and Government of Sudan- (GoS-) controlled areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States in Sudan, many areas in EthiopiaAbsence or delays in planned humanitarian assistanceAbnormally high land surface temperatures, up to two degrees above normal, are likely between January and March in eastern Kenya, southern Somalia, southern Ethiopia, southern Sudan, western Uganda, and central and northern Tanzania (Figure 1).



    Figure 1


    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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