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Poor households’ food security to improve in early 2015

  • Food Security Outlook
  • East Africa
  • January - June 2015
Poor households’ food security to improve in early 2015

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by Country
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • An estimated 13.3 million people in East Africa are in need of humanitarian assistance. Most are poor households in northeastern Djibouti, southern Borena, northeastern Afar, and eastern Amhara and Tigray in Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, southern and central Somalia, South Kordofan and Darfur in Sudan, and the Greater Upper Nile (GUN) States in South Sudan. Food access is likely to remain lower than usual through March in these areas.

    • Due to low rainfall in recent seasons, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is anticipated to persist in parts of northeastern and southern Ethiopia, northeastern Kenya, and coastal areas in central Somalia through March 2015. Poor and displaced households in conflict-affected areas including parts of South Kordofan and central and southern Darfur in Sudan and southern and western Yemen will also likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least March.

    • Near average March to May rainfall is anticipated across the eastern Horn of Africa. In the areas that had well below-average October to December rainfall and above average temperatures in January through mid-February in eastern, southern, and northern Kenya, southern and parts of central Somalia, southern and northeastern Ethiopia, and central and southern Tanzania, the rains are expected to improve rangeland conditions, allow for crop production, and provide water, all leading to increased food security.

    • The price of staple foods declined during the harvest and post-harvest periods in many markets in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Yemen. With above-average region-wide availability of food, cross-border imports are anticipated to moderate increases in food prices, but prices are still likely to begin to rise earlier than normal due to below-average production in Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, and northeastern Tanzania.

    • Conflict-related displacement from South Sudan to Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, and Kenya continues. Currently, 1.5 million people are displaced internally in South Sudan, and over 500,000 have migrated across borders. This will continue through at least June. A progressive deterioration in food insecurity for poor households and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Greater Upper Nile States, as well as in Lakes, Warrap, and Northern Bahr el Ghazal is expected in the coming months. Humanitarian assistance will mitigate Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in some areas.

    Outlook by Country
    • Food security has improved compared to previous years in most rural areas of the country, primarily due to seasonal rainfall in late 2014 helping to improve livestock production, pasture regeneration, and water access. Indications of a normal Heys/Dadaa season suggests improved access to rural resources, providing better food security for rural livelihoods.
    • Although herd sizes are below historically normal levels, improved water and pasture have improved terms of trade for pastoralists. Households in the Southeast Pastoral Roadside livelihood zone and coastal Central Pastoral livelihood zone will be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1), supported by adequate seasonal rains, improved livestock productivity, and diversified sources of income.
    • Due to below-average rainfall for much of 2014, rural populations in Southeast Pastoral Border, Northwest Pastoral, and Central Pastoral livelihood zones are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance through June 2014.

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

    • Following the average to slightly above-average Meher harvest from October to January, household food access increased in most central, southern, western, and northwestern areas.
    • However, the Meher 2014 harvest was below average primarily due to below-average June to September Kiremt rains, including in the Tekeze River catchment in eastern Amhara and Tigray and the lowlands of East and West Hararghe and West Arsi Zones in Oromia Region. In these areas, crop production was well below average, and as households deplete their food stocks, food security is expected to deteriorate from Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with the presence of humanitarian assistance to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between January and June.
    • In Borena Zone of southern Oromia and northeastern Afar, consecutive seasons of below-average rainfall have led to poor rangeland and livestock body conditions (Figure 1). Households are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until the next rainy season starts in March. However, following the start of the rains, livestock body conditions will slowly improve and livestock production increase from March to May, moving these areas to Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with humanitarian assistance.

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

    • The October to December 2014 short rains were well below average, which caused food insecurity in the Southeast, the coastal lowlands, and pastoral areas. Over the next several months, the food insecure population is expected to increase to over 2.3 million people.
    • The short rains were well below average and concentrated in November with very little rain in October or December in the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural lowlands. This is likely to result in a far below average harvest, and an increase in the number of people who are food insecure. The majority of households are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June.
    • In the northern pastoral areas, the performance of the rains was poor and did not support significant increases in livestock production. Rangeland conditions are expected to deteriorate faster than normal during the January to March short dry season. The majority of households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but the areas that had the least rainfall are likely between now and March to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), including Sericho and Merti Sub-counties in Isiolo, Daadab and Balambala Sub-counties in Garissa, and Hadado and Sebule Sub-counties in Wajir.

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

    • Over one million people will likely remain in Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4) through June 2015. The most food insecure people will be in Hiraan Agropastoral livelihood zone, southern riverine areas in Middle Juba, and Jowhar District in Middle Shabelle. Food insecurity in these areas is primarily the result of river flooding that delayed crop production, limited access to humanitarian assistance, and continued high food prices due to trade restrictions. With grain prices high and livestock prices low, livestock-to-cereal terms of trade (ToT) are below average in Hiraan (Figure 2).
    • In coastal areas of the central and northeastern regions, food security is likely to improve from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between January and June. This is attributed to increased access to markets and humanitarian assistance, and restocking of livestock by very poor households.
    • During the dry January to March Jilaal season, central pastoral areas in the Hawd and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones along with Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone will see some areas move from Minimal (IPC Phase 1) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). The last two rainy seasons did not fully replenish water resources and restore pasture, so unusual livestock migration patterns are likely to reduce household milk access and to temporarily reduce income from livestock sales.
    • While the Deyr cereal harvest in January/February is likely to be below-average, income from labor and crop sales will be sustained by cash crop production in the South, especially of sesame. While this will reduce the availability of locally produced cereals and likely increase their prices, poor households will maintain food access through labor income and livestock sales.

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

    South Sudan
    • Market functioning and humanitarian assistance delivery in the Greater Upper Nile (GUN) region have improved with better road accessibility during the dry season. However, many poor and IDP households exhausted their food stocks from the harvest in December and January, instead of in March or April. Increased consumption of wild foods and fish are not likely to offset these cereal shortages. As a result, FEWS NET expects an increasingnumber of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4 FEWS NET estimates that 2.5 million people will face Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phase 3 or 4) by March.
    • The macroeconomic situation in South Sudan remains unstable. The South Sudanese Pound (SSP) depreciated by 30 percent against the U.S. dollar (USD) at unofficial rates between November and December 2014, increasing the cost of food imports. Foreign currency shortages and high transport costs are increasing staple food prices that are already well above-average in many markets.
    • Due to expectations of continued conflict and displacement and an early start to the lean season in March, a significant deterioration in food security is likely in the coming months. The size of the food insecure population (IPC Phase 3 or higher) is likely to increase significantly by June. Humanitarian assistance needs will peak between May and June. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected to expand beyond GUN to Lakes, Warrap, and parts of Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
    • Humanitarian assistance delivery to GUN in 2015 is likely to be better than last year due to increased overland transport access, stronger logistics capacity, and improved prepositioning ahead of the rainy season. FEWS NET estimates that emergency assistance is likely to have a significant impact on food security outcomes among the worst-off households in over a dozen counties from January to June, mitigating more severe outcomes. However, insecurity and humanitarian access restrictions will continue to constrain assistance delivery, particularly in frontline areas.

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

    • Provisional estimates indicate record-high cereal and cash crop production due to increased area planted and above-average rainfall. Sorghum production is estimated to be double the five-year average and three times greater than last year. Above-average harvests have improved household access to food and income from seasonal income opportunities.
    • Staple food prices continued to decline seasonally in most markets. Sorghum prices dropped by an average of 13 percent from November to December. Despite these decreases during the harvest period, food prices remain well above average due to high inflation. Cereal prices are roughly 30 percent higher than last year, and 120 percent above the five-year average (Figure 3), although prices in real terms are more stable.
    • Despite improved food security conditions in much of the country, acute food insecurity persists among 3.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities in conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and the Darfur States. An estimated 25 to 30 percent of IDPs in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and an estimated 20 to 30 percent of IDPs in Darfur are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) through June 2015.

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

    • Above-average November to January second season harvests have replenished market supplies and household food stocks, improving household food access. Staple food prices have declined seasonally and are stable nationwide. Most areas are currently Minimal (IPC Phase 1), except Karamoja, where Stressed (IPC Phase 2) persists due to low production.
    • The March to May 2015 rains in both bimodal and unimodal areas will likely start on time with near-average cumulative rainfall. First season planting in bimodal and unimodal areas is expected to begin in March, although successive crop failures have reduced the amount of saved seeds poor households in Karamoja have on hand.
    • The lean season in Karamoja is expected to start in early February, one month earlier than normal, due to low production from September to December. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is expected through June, but food security may deteriorate, if the rains are not timely and adequate. Food security is likely to remain stable at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in the coming six months in the rest of the country.

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

    • Oil production, which represents over 70 percent of total government revenue, was suspended in January in the major oil-producing governorates of Shabwah and Hadramaut, and is likely to be disrupted in Ma’rib due to the ongoing political crisis. Saudi Arabia and other regional partners have suspended much of their assistance to Yemen, placing further pressure on government revenue. The Yemeni rial (YER) is likely to depreciate against the U.S. dollar and other international currencies.
    • Declining supply of cooking gas has led to a 30 to 40 percent increase in prices in January. Shortages of cooking gas may worsen if the current political tension in Ma’rib deteriorates, as this governorate supplies cooking gas to Sana’a and other governorates in the central and northern parts of the country.
    • The second season harvest was estimated to be average to above-average for grains and cash crops, including wheat, sorghum, barley, and maize, as well as oranges, grapes, and coffee in the governorates of the Central Highlands and Southern Uplands, due to the favorable rainfall during the season. The millet harvest in the coastal areas of Tihama was also average to above-average, whereas the wheat and sorghum harvests in the Eastern Plateau were lower than the previous year due to low rainfall totals in this region.
    • After the total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) declined by 20 percent in 2013 as most people displaced from Abyan returned home, armed conflict during 2014 caused new displacement. The number of registered IDPs increased by 7 percent between January and September 2014, and there are approximately 80,000 unregistered and temporary IDPs that are newly displaced. Conflict is ongoing in Al Bayda and is likely to extend to other surrounding governorates, including Ma’rib.

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

    Countries monitored remotely1

    • Season A harvests are currently underway, increasing food availability and access for poor households country-wide. Most areas will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from January to March.
    • Staple food prices have stabilized due to increased supply to markets during harvests. However, food prices remain above-average in many areas. As households exhaust food stocks and become more market-reliant during the February to May lean season, some areas will likely deteriorate to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from April to June.

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

    • Acute food insecurity is expected to remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from January to March. The improvement from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) among poor households in the Eastern Congo-Nile Highland Subsistence Farming, Bugesera Cassava, and the Eastern Agropastoral livelihood zones since December is due to increased household food supply from Season A harvests. Increased labor income from harvesting in December and January, and from Season B land preparation, planting, and weeding from February to March will enable poor households meet essential food and non-food requirements.
    • However, food insecurity is likely to become Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from April through June for poor households who depend on labor income in cassava-growing areas, particularly in Kaimonyi, Muhanga, and Ruhango Districts. Cassava Brown Streak Disease is expected to reduce cassava planting in the coming months, due to a shortage of cuttings.
    • Poor households will face difficulty coping with reduced income due to the cumulative effects of poor production during last year’s Season B, limited household food stocks, reduced labor opportunities, and above-average staple food prices through mid-December. Current gains from Season A harvests are unlikely to sustain poor households in these areas into the minor lean season from April through June, when labor opportunities diminish.

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

    • Many farmers across bimodal and unmoral areas have substituted planting sunflower and beans for maize this year. Staple food prices remain well below the five-year average, but are expected to begin increasing by April. Most areas will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through March.
    • In Dodoma and Singida, farmers are unable to purchase enough pesticides to control the ongoing army worm outbreak. Low income from crop sales will likely continue to limit farmers’ purchasing power, encouraging further sales of household maize stocks. Pest damage and high crops sales will lead to low household food stocks later in the year.
    • The northeastern bimodal area had a below-average Vuli harvest. High demand for exports from Kenya will continue to keep food prices higher in these areas and household food stocks low. Households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to limited labor incomes until March when Masika planting starts. In June, the Masika green harvests will likely cause food prices to decline.

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

    1 With 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

    Table 1
    Source: FEWS NET

    Southeastern Ethiopia, eastern and northeastern Kenya, southern Somalia, and northern Tanzania

    Below-average March to May 2015 rains

    Below-average March to May 2015 rains would result in smaller than usual harvests and early depletion of rangeland resources, leading to severe deterioration in livestock body conditions, productivity, and value. Food security for a significant number of poor households would likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse.

    South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda

    Peace agreements formulated between warring parties in South Sudan come into force. Displacements to Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda decline.

    The cessation of fighting would improve access to cross-border trade, labor migration, and humanitarian assistance. It would open up livestock grazing routes between South Sudan and neighboring countries including Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya. Subsequently, household-level production, food supply, and incomes would increase in affected areas across these countries. Overall, food security outcomes would likely significantly improve.

    Northern and eastern Kenya, southern and central Somalia, southern and central Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile State in Sudan

    Increased conflict and insecurity

    Limited access to markets, pasture, water, and humanitarian assistance would likely deepen food insecurity to Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phase 3 or 4), in spite of favorable production in 2014 in Sudan and expectations for near average March to May 2015 rains in the eastern Horn.

    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, Dillo Woreda, Borena Zone, Oromia Region, December 2014

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Cattle with poor body conditions, Dillo Woreda, Borena Zone, Oromia Region, December 2014

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Local quality goat to white sorghum terms of trade (TOT) in kg of sorghum per goat, in Beletweyne, Hiraan Region, J

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Local quality goat to white sorghum terms of trade (TOT) in kg of sorghum per goat, in Beletweyne, Hiraan Region, January to November 2014

    Source: Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit-Somalia (FSNAU)/FEWS NET

    Figure 3. Nominal retail sorghum prices in Kadugli in 2014, last year, and the five-year average

    Figure 4

    Figure 3. Nominal retail sorghum prices in Kadugli in 2014, last year, and the five-year average

    Source: FEWS NET/FAMIS

    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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