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Food insecurity to deepen in the eastern Horn, through October, due to drought and conflict

  • Food Security Outlook
  • East Africa
  • July - December 2014
Food insecurity to deepen in the eastern Horn, through October, due to drought and conflict

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by Country
  • Events That Might Change the Outlooks
  • Key Messages
    • About 14 million people in East Africa are in Stressed, Crisis, and Emergency (IPC Phases 2, 3, and 4) including in northeastern Burundi, Djibouti, eastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, eastern Rwanda, Somalia, western, southeastern, and northeastern Sudan, northeastern Uganda, and central Tanzania. In April, in South Sudan, 3.5 million people were at Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4).

    • October to December rains are likely to be average to above average due to the likely El Niño. In many areas, this will help increase food security through increased agricultural and livestock production in the eastern Horn, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania.

    • Staple food prices are atypically high in due to below-average harvests during late 2013 and 2014. Staple food prices are high in Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi. High staple food prices in northeastern Kenya, southern and central Somalia, southeastern Sudan, and the greater Upper Nile states in South Sudan are also a result of reduced market access due to continued conflict.

    • Protracted conflict and insecurity in parts of northeastern Kenya, southern and central Somalia, southern and western Sudan, and Greater Upper Nile in South Sudan have constrained access to labor opportunities, humanitarian assistance, and markets for poor households. In some areas Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phase 3 or 4) is likely to persist in these areas through September or beyond.

    • Food insecurity is also anticipated to persist and deepen through September, at least, to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), in pastoral areas of Djibouti, in Afar and northern pastoral areas of Ethiopia, in northern Kenya, and Somalia, as the impacts of successive poor seasons accentuate, during the peak of the lean season.

    • However, following the green harvests and dry harvests starting in October, some areas will see improved food security including parts of Sudan, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.

    Outlook by Country
    • Poor households in the highlands of Arsi Zone in central Oromia have moved into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) having lost Belg crops typically harvested in June/July and a large number of livestock. Their food security is unlikely to improve until the Meher harvest in October.
    • In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, poor households in most areas are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance. This is due to low livestock prices due to poor body conditions. However, with improved livestock body conditions and productivity anticipated with the start of the likely above-average October to December Deyr/Hageya rains, households are likely to move into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) with less dependence on assistance by late October.
    • In northern pastoral areas in Afar and northern Somali Region, households are unlikely to become more food secure between now and December. The continuation of the below-normal July to September Karma/Karan rains will bring only a minor, insignificant increase to pasture, browse, and water availability. Households will continue to depend on humanitarian assistance as a key source of food.
    • Due to some harvest in October, the Tekeze River catchment in Tigray and Amhara Regions and central parts of Oromia Region are expected to improve from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from October to December. However, these improvements are likely to be short-lived, as the Meher harvest in most of eastern Amhara, eastern Tigray, and central and eastern Oromia will likely be well below average.

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

    • Generally, the below-average long rains resulted in below-average crop development in the high- and medium-potential areas in western Kenya and the Rift Valley. A below-average, long rains harvest is expected. Staple food prices are expected to remain unusually elevated through December. These areas will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) as sufficient income from crop sales and labor will still be available.
    • In the southeastern, marginal, agricultural areas, food consumption will decrease through September. Households have limited income this year, and they need to purchase now while prices have remained high. The majority of households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) but a few areas are likely to enter Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between now and September at the height of the lean season.
    • In pastoral and agropastoral areas, rangeland conditions did not fully recover during the March to May long rains. Pasture, browse, and water are being depleted faster than usual, and the lean season is likely to start earlier than normal in July instead of August. Many households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September while others likely will enter Crisis (IPC Phase 3). However, with the start of the short rains in October, many of these areas are likely to improve again to Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

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

    • Season B harvests were below average in many parts of the country, reducing food availability during the dry season. Poor April to June rainfall reduced crop yields, especially for maize and beans, which are the primary staple foods for poor households. Production deficits were highest in the Eastern Semi-Arid Agropastoral Livelihood Zone, the Bugesera Cassava Livelihood Zone, and the Eastern Congo Nile Highland Subsistence Farming Livelihood Zone where harvests were 30 to 60 percent below-average.
    • In areas where production deficits were highest, households are expected to exhaust food stocks by the end of July, two months earlier than normal. The combination of increased household expenditure on food and the seasonal decline in wages during the dry season is expected to reduce the capacity of poor households to meet essential food and non-food needs over the coming months. Food security will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in these areas from August to September.
    • In livelihood zones where crops performed better and production was closer to average, households will be able to address their food needs through normal livelihood strategies from July to December. These areas will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1). Overall, improvements in food security are expected in December when Season A harvests begin.

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

    • The population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and higher will likely reach one million people by December 2014. Most of the food insecure will be in agropastoral areas and urban areas in southern Somalia. Intensified conflict, restricted trade, and a below-average harvest have led to high prices and reduced availability of labor opportunities since March, increasing food insecurity in these areas.
    • Food security outcomes in some pastoral livelihood zones in the northeast, the northwest, and the central regions will likely deteriorate despite these areas remaining Stressed (IPC Phase 2). High debts, reduced livestock production, and poor body conditions will become more prevalent between July and September as the availability of pasture and water declines during the dry season.
    • Urban centers including Buloburte and Jalalaqsi in Hiraan, Qoryoley and Marka in Lower Shabelle, Xudur, Wajid, and Elbarde in Bakool, and Luuq and Garbaharrey in Gedo have had severely restricted trade just as stocks from previous seasons are being drawn down. Food security will continue to deteriorate if trade restrictions persist.
    • Many areas of Somalia are likely to see deteriorating food security, especially between now and the start of the Deyr rains in October. Also, the acutely food insecure population will increase. Below-average access to income and food sources will be exacerbated by reduced supplies from trade and the steep increase of staple food prices. However, despite this significant deterioration, no area of Somalia is likely to enter Famine (IPC Phase 5) between now and December.

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

    South Sudan

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

    • As of July 2014, an estimated 5.3 million people in Sudan face Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity. Ongoing conflict in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and West Kordofan have disrupted livelihoods and reduced household food access, especially for internally displaced persons (IDPs). The persistent rise of staple food prices has reduced household capacity to meet minimum food requirements during the peak of the lean season when households are the most market-dependent.
    • Cumulative rainfall was near average over most parts of Sudan in July, except in some parts of North, West, and South Darfur States. Seed shortages and increased costs of agricultural inputs, in addition to ongoing civil insecurity in Darfur, are expected to reduce the overall area planted in these areas.
    • Staple food prices remained at record-high levels in markets across Sudan in June. June sorghum prices were, on average, 80 percent above last year and 120 percent higher than the five-year average. Millet prices in June were 95 percent higher than last year and 150 percent above the five-year average. A seasonal decline in cereal prices is expected during the October to December harvest period, although it is unlikely that prices will stabilize to normal levels in the coming months.
    • Improvements in food security are expected as harvests become available in October, although below-average harvests in some areas are expected to limit food availability during the harvest period, especially in Darfur.

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

    • In Karamoja, the September/October harvest is expected to only be 20 to 30 percent of average. There will be minimal green consumption this year, and households will not see the usual post-harvest increase in food access. Despite adequate availability of staple food on the market at stable prices, households’ constrained income means they have limited ability to purchase food. Eastern parts of the region are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through December.
    • In June, a temporary ban of undetermined length on livestock export or trekking out of Karamoja region was instituted due to the foot and mouth outbreak that started in May. The ban has closed livestock markets in the region. Restricted livestock sales within the region prevent households from earning income to purchase food.
    • In Karamoja, incomes are below average as more households supply charcoal, firewood, and unskilled labor to markets without additional demand, leading to declining returns on these income-earning activities. Livestock to sorghum Terms of Trade (ToT) are expected to continue to decline due to low livestock prices through December. Households will continue to have limited income through at least December.

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

    Countries monitored remotely1

    • Because of poor Season B rainfall, production in northeast provinces is estimated to be 40 to 60 percent below average. In areas where rainfall was relatively better, production deficits were between 10 and 30 percent.
    • Food availability from own production is below-average for households in areas where harvests were poor. Price variability in some areas has caused poor households to reduce non-food expenditures in order to cover their food requirements through market purchase. Areas most affected by crop losses are provinces in the Northeast.
    • Poor households in northeastern livelihood zones are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from July to November. Food security conditions are expected to improve with the availability of Season A green harvests in December.

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

    • Following the early end of the Diraac/Sugum rainy season in April, lack of rainfall and high temperatures during the month of July have diminished water resources and pasture in rural areas. The increasing loss of livestock has begun to severely erode pastoral livelihoods.
    • Lack of rain has led to migration of populations to localities that have better water availability. The migration has caused the depletion of reservoirs and overgrazing in certain areas. Humanitarian assistance in rural areas continues, but it remains insufficient to meet needs.
    • With the current lean season, limited resources such as grazing and water are running out. Most pastoral households are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!), and most non-pastoral households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2). If the Karan/Karma rainy season performs poorly, the food security situation will remain precarious.

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

    • Stable staple prices are expected to continue as harvesting is completed and marketing continues. Estimated production is very similar to 2013, moderately above average, ensuring continued supply to markets.
    • Kenya’s government has arranged a large maize purchase from Tanzania. The maize should help keep prices stable, temporarily, while providing funds for restocking in Tanzania.
    • Food insecurity will remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in most areas. However, some households in Dodoma and Singida are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) having exhausted stocks from the May harvest already and having more limited income than previous years.

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

    • Ongoing instability and conflict continued between government and armed opposition groups in recent weeks in the northern, northeastern, and southern areas, which displaced more than ten thousand households in July. 
    • Despite declining international wheat prices, stable international rice prices, and above-average harvest prospects, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity is expected to continue in Yemen through September due to conflicts and ongoing severe fuel shortages. This will likely persist through December 2014 unless fuel supplies stabilize and persistent conflict issues are resolved.

    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 Outlooks

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



    Impact on food security outcomes

    Eastern Horn of Africa including in southeastern Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, eastern Kenya, and northern Tanzania.

    Below average October to December rains

    Below-average October to December 2014 rains would be the second or third poor seasons in a row in many parts of the eastern Horn, resulting in well below-average harvests and livestock production. Food security for many poor households would likely to deteriorate.

    Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda

    A larger-than-expected influx of refugees from South Sudan

    While continued displacement is expected with a large number of new arrivals expected across the region, an even larger influx of refugees could create resource conflict over firewood, wild foods, water, grazing land, arable land, and other resources, likely increasing the food insecurity of the local population and stretching the resources available for services being provided to refugees by host governments and humanitarian organizations.

    Northeastern Kenya, southern and central Somalia, southeastern and northeastern Djibouti, and Darfur, South and Western Kordofan, and Blue Nile in Sudan

    Restricted or reduced access to humanitarian assistance

    Food insecurity would deepen to Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phase 3 or 4) in areas where humanitarian assistance has become a primary source of food or income.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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