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High food prices and conflict in South Sudan and Yemen leading to continued Emergency

  • Food Security Outlook
  • East Africa
  • July - December 2015
High food prices and conflict in South Sudan and Yemen leading to continued Emergency

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook by Country
  • Events That Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • Staple food prices in July were more than double pre-conflict levels in parts of South Sudan and Yemen. The conflicts have disrupted trade and caused a precipitous drop in market supply in the most conflict-affected areas. With depreciation of the local currencies against the U.S. dollar (USD) and incredibly low household incomes, as livelihoods have been disrupted by conflict, traders have few incentives to supply the most food insecure areas. Large areas of southern and western Yemen and the Greater Upper Nile (GUN) States in South Sudan are currently in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    • Conflict in Yemen and South Sudan, along with political violence in Burundi, has displaced over 3.7 million people. From South Sudan, over 620,700 people fled to Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda, and 1.6 million people are internally displaced. Over 188,900 people have fled Burundi for Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). , Over 99,600 people have fled Yemen to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Sudan, and over 1.26 million are internally displaced. Most refugees, asylum seekers, and IDPs have constrained access to labor markets, other income-earning opportunities, and food markets. Many of the internally displaced also have difficulty accessing humanitarian assistance. 

    • Acute food insecurity in South Sudan peaked in June and July during the lean season. The combination of conflict, macroeconomic pressures, and market shocks contributed to the decline in access to food and income far below the already low, lean season access. Security constraints have restricted humanitarian assistance to many areas of Unity and Upper Nile States in recent months, further limiting food access in the worst-off areas. 

    • Ongoing conflict, insecurity, and displacement, restrictions on imports and movement of food and fuel, elevated prices of staple foods and cooking gas, and major disruptions to public- and private-sector sources of income are limiting food access for poor households in Yemen. 

    • In southern Afar and Sitti (formerly Shinile) Zone of northern Somali Region in Ethiopia, the March to May Diraac/Sugum rains were well below average, and it has hardly rained at all since the July to September Karan/Karma rains started late. Dry conditions have led to poor livestock body conditions, declines in livestock production and productivity, and a high number of unusual livestock deaths. With below-average rainfall likely to continue for the rest of the rainy season through September, poor households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) only with the presence of humanitarian assistance through at least December.

    • With below-average June to September rainfall in eastern Meher-producing areas in Ethiopia and central and eastern Sudan, October to December harvests may be below average. Also, planted area in the Greater Upper Nile (GUN) States due to the conflict, is likely to lead to a well below-average harvest in those areas.

    • With likely above-average October to December rainfall in the eastern Horn of Africa during the El Niño, crop and livestock production are likely to be higher than usual. However, flood-prone areas in southern Somalia, southern Ethiopia, coastal areas in Kenya and northern Tanzania, and areas surrounding Lake Victoria in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania may have widespread flooding, limiting or delaying cropping, labor migration, and other essential economic activities. 

    • As stocks are being drawn down, food prices increased from April to July in Ethiopia, northwestern Somalia, the maize belt in Lower Shabelle in southern Somalia, southeastern Kenya, and parts of northern and central Tanzania. In areas currently harvesting or having recently harvested, staple food prices are declining seasonally, including in western Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, southern Tanzania, the sorghum belt in southern Somalia, and bimodal areas of Uganda. Food prices are expected to decline, from October to December across East Africa, as harvests allow households and traders to restock.


    Outlook by Country
    Ethiopia
    • The Belg harvest has been delayed, extending the lean season from its usual end in June into September in Belg-producing areas in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), northeastern Amhara, southern Tigray, and some areas in central and eastern Oromia. With little income from labor and high staple food prices, poor households in these areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September.
    • With humanitarian assistance, poor households in SNNPR, northeastern Amhara, southern Tigray, and some areas in central and eastern Oromia will be able to address their minimal food needs from the delayed Belg and the anticipated below-average Meher harvest, right after that harvest ends. Poor households in these areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase2!) from October to December.
    • Household access to food and income from livestock has been reduced in southern Afar and Sitti (formerly Shinile) Zone of northern Somali Region. Dry conditions have led to poor livestock body conditions, declines in livestock production and productivity, and a high number of unusual livestock deaths. With below-average rainfall likely to continue for the rest of the rainy season through September, poor households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) only with the presence of humanitarian assistance through at least December.
    • The forecast average to above average October to December Deyr rains are expected to further increase pasture and water availability in southeastern pastoral areas in southern Somali Region. As a result, livestock body conditions will improve, and livestock production and productivity are likely to increase. These will increase food and income from livestock. Therefore, with the presence of humanitarian assistance, southern Somali Region will have a large majority of households able to address their food and nonfood needs and be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1!) from October to December.

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

    Kenya
    • Food security remains stable with food stocks from imports and the harvest of short-cycle long rains crops remaining available in most markets. However, stocks are being drawn down as an unusually high number of households are purchasing from markets due to below-average production over the previous two seasons. Food insecurity is expected to increase between July and October.
    • In the southeastern and coastal marginal agricultural areas, food security will likely deteriorate more than just seasonally due to the cumulative effects of below-average harvests for the past two seasons. Though the March to May long rains were near average in terms of cumulative amounts, highly uneven temporal and spatial distribution along with an early end of the rains in early May will likely to result in below-average crop production. The majority of households remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and are expected to remain so through October.
    • Food security will seasonally decrease in pastoral areas as rangeland resources get depleted and livestock productivity declines during the June to September dry season. The majority of households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September. However, localized parts of Isiolo North and Wajir West Sub-counties will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least September due to worse conditions for livestock, low water availability, and low milk availability.
    • The strong chance of El Niño continuing is likely to result in above-average cumulative October to December rainfall during the short rains. As a result, food security will likely improve in pastoral areas and the marginal agricultural lowlands. Expected increased planting may lead to above-average crop production. Some households in the marginal agricultural lowlands may move into None (IPC Phase 1) by December as the green harvest starts.

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

    Somalia
    • The population in Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4) will likely increase slightly through December 2015. The most food insecure people will be in riverine areas of Middle Shabelle Region due to flooding and agropastoral areas in Awdal, Hiraan, and Middle Juba Regions due to erratic April to June Gu rainfall.
    • The Gu rains ended early in May instead of June, and they were erratically distributed across time. This will likely lead to a well below average harvest in agropastoral areas in the Northwest, Hiraan, and Middle Juba. Agropastoral households currently have no cereal stocks, and they are expected to fall into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during the extended July to November lean season.
    • Food security outcomes in most pastoral livelihood zones, especially in Hawd Pastoral livelihood zone in the North and Southern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone in the South, are likely to continue improving. Herds are larger than they have been in several years, and livestock production and values are increasing. An increasing number of poor households are likely to be in None (IPC Phase 1) from July through December.
    • Food security outcomes in riverine areas are likely to deteriorate from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Middle Shabelle due to severe river floods along the Shabelle River, which prevented cropping, limited humanitarian access, and limited trade, leading to continued high food prices and very low food access.

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

    South Sudan
    • Acute food insecurity in South Sudan peaked in June and July. The combination of conflict, macroeconomic pressures, and market shocks contributed to the decline in access to food and income compared to typical lean season levels. Security constraints have restricted humanitarian assistance to many areas of Unity and Upper Nile States in recent months, further limiting food access in worst-off areas. 
    • Findings from two representative household surveys conducted by FEWS NET in Mayendit (Unity) and Ayod (Jonglei) Counties in late April/early May reflected Emergency (IPC Phase 4) among significant portions of the population with some households likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Further deterioration of food security conditions, ongoing prevention of humanitarian assistance delivery to many areas, in addition to anecdotal evidence from areas worst-affected by conflict, suggest the number of households experiencing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) likely increased between May and July. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) remains widespread in Greater Upper Nile (GUN).
    • Record-high prices in key markets across the country continue to impact food access. Compared to last year, sorghum prices increased by 66 and 82 percent in Juba and Torit, respectively, and have more than doubled in Wau and Aweil. Maize prices doubled in Juba and are more than twice their respective 2014 levels in Wau. The dramatic spikes in staple food prices, together with expanding conflict continues to drive increased acute food insecurity outside of GUN, with several counties in Lakes, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Warrap States currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • As first-season harvests continue in the bimodal rainfall areas of Greater Equatoria, and green harvests begin elsewhere in the country, FEWS NET expects that the size of the population requiring urgent food assistance in South Sudan will decline from 2.8 million people by late September to roughly two million people by late December. However, food insecurity among the worst-affected populations in GUN will likely remain severe during this period, given expectations of limited green harvests in most areas. In addition, these improvements are likely to be short-lived due to ongoing conflict and below-average harvests in the worst-affected areas.

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

    Sudan
    • Cumulative rainfall since May has been below average across most of Sudan’s main agricultural production areas with May to July rainfall totals ranging between 25 and 50 percent of normal. Poor rainfall performance has delayed planting in many rainfed cropping zones and vegetation conditions are currently below average across much of the Darfur region, the eastern surplus-producing areas of Sinar, Gadaref, and Kassala States, and localized areas of North and South Kordorfan.
    • The IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) and the Sudan Meteorological Authorities (SMA) forecast average to below-average rainfall through September across Sudan, particularly in the main, rainfed, surplus-producing areas of Kassala, Gadaref, Sinar, Blue Nile, White Nile, Gazeira, and Khartoum, and normal to above-normal rains in Darfur and Kordofan, the second most important rainfed, agricultural production regions in Sudan.
    • Phases of acute food insecurity have decreased this year compared to last year due to the effects of 2014/15 surplus grain production on food availability, market supply, and prices. Food security is expected to deteriorate from August to September as the lean season peaks, and improve from October to December as harvests increase food availability. 

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

    Uganda
    • In Karamoja, green harvests will arrive two to three months later than usual, prolonging the lean season and the associated low quantity and quality diet until September. Intermittent dry spells in May and July slowed crop development. Combined crop production from the first planting in April and second planting in late June may reach 60 to 70 percent of average during the dry harvest from October to December.    
    • Poor households in Karamoja will increasingly need to use coping strategy to acquire food due to the delayed green harvest. Households will continue to have some purchasing power, as agricultural labor wages and livestock prices remain stable. Income from firewood, charcoal, grass, and pole sales though may decline moderately through September. Households will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through December.
    • Staple food prices were stable or declined during the ongoing June to August first season harvest, increasing food availability and access across the country. In bimodal areas, households and markets will restock food supplies to usual levels, and in unimodal areas, households will have increased purchasing power due to lower prices. Seasonal staple food price declines are expected to continue through August. The poor have enough ongoing income, some of it from agricultural labor for the harvest, to support continued food access.

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

    Yemen
    • Wheat flour was only sporadically available in 11 governorates during the final week of July, and there was a slight increase in availability in southern governorates. Prices ranged from YER 143 per kilogram (kg) in Dhamar to YER 275/kg in Aden, twice the pre-crisis level in February (Figure 1). The average price across governorates was 37 percent above the February 2015 average. Reports indicate that staple prices can vary greatly in some local markets, as prices rise drastically until new shipments reach markets.
    • The average price for diesel during the fourth week of July was YER 732 per liter (l), reflecting a decrease from YER 806/l a month prior. Availability of diesel also improved, but was still only sporadically available in eight governorates. Diesel had been available at a price of YER 150/l in February.
    • The ongoing conflict has continued to displace households during July, disrupting livelihoods and access to food and water for IDPs and some host communities. The majority of IDPs are from Aden, Ad Dali, and Sa’dah. Continuing conflict will likely cause further displacement, particularly in Ta’izz where conflict has intensified. Ongoing conflict, insecurity, and displacement, restrictions on imports and movement of food and fuel, elevated prices of staple foods and cooking gas, and major disruptions to public- and private-sector sources of household income are limiting food access for poor households in most areas.

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

    Countries monitored remotely1

    Burundi
    • Tentative improvements in household food security for poor households in Kirundo and Muyinga Provinces in the Dépression du Nord Livelihood Zone, following Season B harvests, are unlikely to be sustained beyond August, due to below-average overall production, following disruptions arising from political instability during most of the season. Food insecurity is anticipated to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through December, if current humanitarian assistance is maintained and displacement declines.
    • Refugee and transit camps in Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are operating beyond normal capacities, constraining access to water, sanitation, and adequate food for an estimated 167,000 people displaced from Burundi since April 2015. However, refugee arrivals declined in the immediate post-election period starting on July 21 through the end of July.

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

    Djibouti
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity is anticipated to persist through September at least for poor households in the Southeastern Pastoral livelihood zone and Obock Region, as the lean season intensifies from July to September, following a succession of two poor productive seasons that have weakened household productive capacities.
    • The impacts of poor seasons have reduced household food access, which is increasingly constrained by limited labor opportunities, inadequate humanitarian assistance during a period of expanding needs, and few coping strategies being available to households.
    • Additional monitoring of Djibouti City is needed based on reports of increased numbers of children admitted to nutrition treatment centers. 

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

    Rwanda
    • Food security has improved country-wide following Season B harvests. However, many poor households in Bugesera Cassava, Southeastern Plateau Banana, and Central Plateau Cassava and Coffee Livelihood Zones will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the coming months, due to low Season B production, increased food and fuel prices, and diminished labor opportunities.
    • A 12 percent rise in fuel prices from May to early July, coupled with the depreciation of the Rwandan franc (RWF) against the U.S. dollar (USD), is expected to drive increases in food and non-food commodity prices, constraining purchasing capacities among poor households in low-production areas. Limited, alternative income-earning opportunities, coupled with eroded coping strategies, will sustain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to limited household food access.

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

    Tanzania
    • In the central Rift Valley and nearby midlands, food prices are decreasing while the Southern Highlands harvest enters the market. Household food stocks from the Msimu season will be consumed by the end of July, and households have limited incomes to buy food. With limited purchasing power, poor households will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from August to October, when land preparation begins and agricultural labor incomes increase.
    • A FEWS NET pre-harvest assessment in early July estimated Masika production will likely be 20 to 30 percent below average, due to low rainfall in Tanga, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, and Arusha. As the rains started one month late in April instead of March and ended at a normal time in May, the growing period was shorter, and many crops remain immature. Households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through January, when the Vuli green harvest starts near the end of the next growing season.
    • National maize production in 2015 will likely be slightly above the five-year average, although 15 percent below last year due to low production in the central Rift Valley and nearby midlands and low Masika production in bimodal areas. The national maize surplus will likely be close to 800,000 metric tons (MT).

    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.

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    Eastern and southern Ethiopia, Somalia, northern and eastern Kenya, and central Tanzania

    Below-average October to December rainfall

    Below-average October to December rainfall would result in poor crop and livestock production. Food security for poor households would likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda  

    A peace agreement between South Sudan’s warring parties

    The reduction or cessation of the 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. Some of the displaced would likely return from Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda to South Sudan.

    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. July 2015 wheat flour prices by governate

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. July 2015 wheat flour prices by governate

    Source: World Food Program (WFP)

    Figure 3

    Source:

    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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