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Humanitarian food assistance needs to be higher than normal through September

  • Food Security Outlook
  • East Africa
  • July 2019
Humanitarian food assistance needs to be higher than normal through September

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  • Key Messages
  • Events that Might Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • An estimated 6.96 million people in South Sudan and 17 million people in Yemen are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes in the presence of planned humanitarian food assistance. This includes some households in Jonglei and Upper Nile of South Sudan that are likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Although food assistance is mitigating more extreme outcomes, the reach of assistance remains below the estimated need and access to populations in need remains a significant concern. In South Sudan, the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) will persist through January 2020 despite an anticipated increase in 2019/20 crop production compared to 2018/19, given existing high levels of acute food insecurity and the potential for conflict to quickly shift and restrict household movement and humanitarian access. In Yemen, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely in a worst-case scenario where commercial imports significantly decline far below requirement levels or conflict cuts off populations from trade for a prolonged period.

    • In the Horn of Africa, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes are anticipated through January 2020 due to drought and two consecutive poor production seasons in 2018/19, though some improvements will likely be realized during the October – December 2019 rainy season. In Somalia, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in central and northern pastoral areas and several northern and southern agropastoral areas. In Ethiopia, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected in the lowlands of Oromia, northeastern Afar, northeastern Amhara, and the Somali region. A likely safety net pipeline break in the worst-affected areas of Ethiopia would also result in an increase in the number of households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), elevating the already high prevalence of acute malnutrition. In Kenya, outcomes are expected to improve from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in late 2019, but some poor households may remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    • Among populations displaced by conflict and civil unrest in Ethiopia and Sudan, food gaps indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) are likely to persist throughout the outlook period and some households may deteriorate to Emergency (ICP Phase 4) in the ongoing lean season. About one million people remain displaced in Benishangul Gumuz, Oromia, SNNPR, and Somali regions of Ethiopia. In Sudan, 2.0-2.6 million people are displaced, including protracted internally displaced persons (IDPs) in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan and SPLA-AW-controlled areas of Jebel Marra in Darfur States of Sudan. Conflict-displaced households have lost access to typical livelihoods while population movements, trade flows, and access to humanitarian assistance are restricted.

    • Overall, an estimated 43 million people affected by drought, conflict, and macroeconomic shocks are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes across Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, Yemen, South Sudan, Sudan, Kenya, and Burundi. These populations in need require urgent humanitarian food assistance to mitigate deterioration in food security outcomes in the outlook period. This figure includes an estimated 11.4 million internally displaced people and 4.3 million refugees throughout the region, many of whom are also expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes. Although planned humanitarian assistance is enabling Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes in many settlement sites for IDPs and refugees, anticipated pipeline breaks would likely lead to deterioration to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.



    • In the Bale lowlands and East and West Hararghe zones of Oromia, major parts of Somali region, and northeastern Afar region, poor households are expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through January 2020. Only one round of food assistance has been delivered by WFP, JEOP, and the Government of Ethiopia based on the HRP figure released this year. It is likely that a break in the PSNP food assistance pipeline will occur at the end of June 2019. If food aid does not resume after mid-July 2019, worst-affected households – though not twenty percent of the population – in areas currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will move to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and levels of acute malnutrition may rise further.

    • Following the below-average performance of the Gu/Genna rainy season, southeastern pastoral areas are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through at least November 2019 due to poor regeneration of pasture and water resources that have negatively impacted livestock productivity and household income. The forecasted near-average 2019 Deyr rainy season is expected to lead to gradual improvements in livestock body conditions and productivity, though it may not significantly improve household food and income access.

    • The overall 2019 Belg harvests are estimated to be below average in most Belg-producing areas of the country, due to delayed, erratically distributed, and below-average cumulative rains across Belg producing areas of Oromia, Tigray, SNNPR and Amhara which will lead to a significant reduction in household food access. Delayed or failed planting of crops, particularly in lowland areas of Bale, and East and West Hararghe; and delayed planting in northeastern Amhara and Southern Tigray will lead to either no production or a one to two-month delay in the harvesting period. Poor households in northeastern Amhara, and East and West Hararghe of Oromia are likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) throughout the extended June to September 2019 lean season until harvests begin.

    For more information, see the Ethiopia Food Security Outlook from June 2019 to January 2020.


    • According to the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD), the March – May long rains season has officially ended and rains are expected only in the western and central parts of Kenya through the rest of June. Cumulative rainfall was 50-80 percent of average across eastern Kenya and 25-50 percent of average in Tana River county. Due to ongoing drought and a second consecutive below-average rainfall season, the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) estimates that 1.6 million people are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and in need of humanitarian food assistance.

    • In pastoral areas, the ongoing lean season will be more severe than usual, driven by anticipated declines in livestock prices and rising staple food prices. Poor households are expected to face increased difficulty purchasing their minimum food needs without engaging in crisis coping strategies and livelihood asset depletion. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected through September. The forecast average October-December short rains are expected to support improved livestock production, resulting in improvement from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    • In marginal agricultural areas, maize production is expected to be less than 50 percent of average and delayed to August. Poor households are expected to increasingly rely on consumption coping strategies through September to cope with exhausted household food stocks, below-average agricultural labor, and rising staple food prices. However, income from typical livelihoods activities during the short rains season is expected to stabilize food security outcomes until the arrival of next harvest in January. As a result, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected throughout the scenario period.

    • The price of maize, which remained well below average in the first quarter of 2019, has increased significantly since March, driven by declines in local market supply, declines in cross-border imports from Uganda and Ethiopia, and market speculation regarding the anticipated below-average long rains harvests. In urban markets, the wholesale price of maize was 8-12 percent above the five-year average while dry bean prices were 7-21 percent above average. Household purchasing power is expected to continue to decline throughout the scenario period.

    For more information, see the Kenya Food Security Outlook from June 2019 to January 2020.


    • In April and May, FEWS NET and FSNAU released two alerts and multiple analyses to the donor community detailing the poor start of the April-June 2019 Gu rainfall season and expected deterioration in food security conditions across the region. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes were anticipated in June-September 2019. Although heavy rains in mid-May to early-June significantly improved pasture and water availability and restored livestock body conditions, previously projected outcomes remain most likely due to significantly below-average food and income sources resulting in large food consumption gaps and widespread, high acute malnutrition prevalence.

    • An estimated 2.2 million people are expected to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes through September and are urgently in need of humanitarian food assistance and interventions to prevent high levels of acute malnutrition. This number could increase as the dry season progresses. The average number of beneficiaries reached with food assistance from January to May 2019 declined 47 percent compared to those reached from August to December 2018.

    • In north-central pastoral areas, where most households are still recovering from the extended impact of the 2016/17 severe drought, food security outcomes are driven by stagnated or declining herd sizes. In areas of greatest concern, poor households have maximized debt and credit and are unwilling or unable to engage in extreme depletion of productive livestock assets. As a result, they are expected to have large food deficits reflected by heightened acute malnutrition and excess mortality risk through October, when current livestock conceptions lead to herd size increases. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected in Northern Inland Pastoral, East Golis Pastoral of Sanaag, northeastern and central Hawd Pastoral, and Addun Pastoral livelihood zones in July through September and will be sustained in Guban Pastoral through January.

    • In agropastoral areas, national maize and sorghum Gu production deficits are anticipated to be approximately 50 percent of normal. Crop failure is likely in Togdheer Agropastoral livelihood zone and localized areas of Bay and Hiiraan. In Hiiraan, severely reduced access to irrigated water prevented timely cultivation, and harvests are not expected until September. As a result of anticipated poor harvests and below-average labor income, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected in Southern Agropastoral livelihood zone of Hiiraan through September, while Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is anticipated in High and Low Potential Agropastoral, Riverine Pump Irrigation of Hiiraan, and Southern Rainfed Agropastoral livelihood zones.

    • The October-December 2019 Deyr rains, which are forecast to be average, are expected to usher in some food security improvements. In pastoral areas of greatest concern, livestock births are anticipated to increase herd sizes, enabling poor households to engage in some distressed sales of livestock. As households would be able to marginally meet their minimum food needs through livelihoods coping, improvement to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected. The exception is Guban Pastoral livelihood zone, where herd sizes are lowest and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is likely to persist. In agropastoral areas of concern, access to agricultural labor income and milk is expected to improve during the Deyr. However, since green Deyr harvests will not become available until late December, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected in Southern Agropastoral of Hiiraan, Bay-Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral, and Southern Rainfed Agropastoral livelihood zones.

    For more information, see the Somalia Food Security Outlook from June 2019 to January 2020.

    South Sudan

    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist throughout South Sudan, and some households are likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). According to the May IPC analysis, an estimated 6.96 million people are estimated to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes through the July/August peak of the lean season in the presence of already planned humanitarian assistance. Food security will improve somewhat in late 2019 with the harvest, though Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes will remain widespread. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) will also persist.

    • Conflict has remained relatively low over the past year when compared with the level of conflict between 2014 and early 2018. This has supported greater household movement, higher engagement in planting, lower levels of new displacement, and some stabilization in the currency. It is anticipated that 2019/2020 production, starting in September, will be better than production in 2018/2019, though still below pre-crisis levels. These improvements are expected to support Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in some counties, though Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will persist in most, and several counties will continue to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    • Humanitarian food assistance is preventing more extreme outcomes in many areas of greatest concern and the likely continuation of assistance throughout the projection period is anticipated to prevent more widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4). However, the number of beneficiaries reached with humanitarian food assistance remains far below the estimated need and slightly lower than the same time last year. A scale-up of assistance far above currently planned levels is needed throughout the projection period to prevent the loss of lives and livelihoods.

    • Despite the decline in conflict and expected slight improvement in the food security situation, many households have lost key livelihood assets and strategies to cope with food insecurity as a result of the persistent conflict. The loss of key assets and livelihood options will continue to drive high levels of acute food insecurity, and a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) will persist in South Sudan. Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely in the event that conflict shifts such that it prevents populations from moving in search of food sources and restricts humanitarian access for a prolonged period of time.

    For more information, see the South Sudan Food Security Outlook from June 2019 to January 2020.


    • During the June to September lean season in Sudan, food security outcomes are expected to further deteriorate and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected in parts of Red Sea, Kassala, Al Gadarif, Blue Nile, West Kordofan, North Kordofan, South Kordofan, and Greater Darfur. Of highest concern are the IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan and SPLA-AW controlled areas of Jebel Marra, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely during the August-September peak of the lean season. Also of concern are poor households in Red Sea state.

    • Food security is likely to improve seasonally with increased cereal availability from the October to January harvest. However, very poor macroeconomic conditions are expected to persist and drive extremely high food and non-food prices, resulting in overall below-average purchasing power. It is anticipated that a higher number of households than is typical will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes through January 2020.

    • The forecasted above-average June to September 2019 main rainy season has begun in some parts in eastern and western Sudan. Shortage of fuel and other inputs are reported in some of the semi-mechanized and irrigated sectors. Although this will impact cultivation somewhat, the overall area planted is expected to be only slightly below average due to the likelihood of some fuel and input assistance from the government and households’ sacrificing other purchases to gain agricultural inputs. These factors coupled with favorable yields are currently expected to lead to average production, though production estimates can be made with greater confidence in the coming months as planting is fully underway.

    For more information, see the Sudan Food Security Outlook from June 2019 to January 2020.


    • Although average to above-average rainfall in May and June has improved crop growth conditions, the first season bimodal harvest and Karamoja harvest are still expected to be late and below average. In bimodal areas, crop production deficits are expected to be 30-50 percent below average due to early season losses, reduced area planted, and Fall Army Worm incidence. In Karamoja, ploughing and planting are still ongoing, but reduced area planted is expected to drive below-average production. Reduced food availability, rising staple food prices, and declining terms of trade continue to strain household food and income sources. Through September, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to persist in northeastern and and eastern bimodal areas of concern and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected to persist in Karamoja.

    • In Karamoja, household food and income sources are expected to remain significantly below average through September. Current food consumption gaps and higher-than-normal acute malnutrition prevalence remain consistent with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. In Kotido and Kaabong, it is likely that some individuals or households may be experiencing more severe outcomes. The below-average harvest is expected to improve food security outcomes to Stressed (IPC Phase 2), but most households will deplete their food stocks early and Crisis (ICP Phase 3) is anticipated to re-emerge by January.

    • In refugee settlements, humanitarian food assistance is planned, funded, and likely to guarantee a full ration through July. However, WFP faces a funding shortfall of US$49 million for food assistance that is planned through November. Planned rations and first season harvests are expected to maintain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes through September. Based on funding shortfalls, anticipated ration cuts would thereafter lead to a decline in food security, resulting in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    For more information, see the Uganda Food Security Outlook from June 2019 to January 2020.


    • FEWS NET estimates that approximately 17 million people in Yemen will remain in need of urgent action (IPC Phase 3 or higher) through early 2020. Sa’ada and Hajjah governorates are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), which is associated with large food consumption gaps and/or extreme depletion of livelihood assets. Of the remaining governorates in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), six would be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the absence of ongoing assistance. Yemen also continues to face a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) given the high security risk that has the potential to damage key infrastructure and/or cut off trade and population movement.

    • Conflict has increased in northern Yemen (Hajjah, Sa’ada) and southern Yemen (Ad Dali) in recent months, driving increases in displacement and disruptions to trade, particularly between Aden and Sana’a City. In addition, disruptions to fuel imports in recent months have driven high volatility in prices for key diesel and other essential fuel products.

    • Large-scale humanitarian assistance continues to play an important role in reducing the severity of acute food insecurity outcomes in Yemen. In May 2019, WFP distributed in-kind and voucher assistance to approximately 11.3 million people, the highest number of people reached since the conflict began in 2015. However, WFP has suspended delivery of assistance in Sana’a City and may discontinue assistance in parts of northern Yemen, where WFP is facing difficulty getting access to populations of concern and implementing a bio-registration system for beneficiaries.

    For more information, see the Yemen Food Security Outlook from June 2019 to January 2020.

    Remote Monitoring Countries[1]


    • Well-distributed rainfall since mid-April has led to average to above-average harvests. Food access also remains favorable driven by increased market supply. In May, the prices of staple foods were below the three-year average and 11.6 percent lower than May 2018. Most rural households are expected to be net food sellers, which is anticipated to keep prices low and benefit market-dependent poor households. Improved food availability and access is expected to drive Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes through September.

    • Average to above-average rainfall during the October-December short rains season is expected to raise the risk of flooding and landslides. In addition, malaria incidence, which has already surpassed the national epidemic threshold, is expected to reach its peak during this timeframe. The anticipated impact on agricultural cultivation and expectation that households dependent on agricultural labor would have reduced capacity to work, at a time when food reserves are seasonally low, is expected to lead to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.

    • According to IOM, the number of IDPs, Congolese refugees living in settlements, and monthly rate of newly arrived Burundian returnees from Tanzania was estimated in May to be 115,708, 43,800, and 3,000 respectively. Given improved food availability and access countrywide, the old caseload of IDPs, now settled and engaged in agricultural livelihoods, are likely in Minimal (IPC Phase 1). It is expected that humanitarian food assistance, coupled with limited access to harvests, is likely to sustain Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes for recent IDP caseloads, Congolese refugees, and recent returnees. In the absence of assistance, recent IDPs and returnees would likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) when food stocks are seasonally low.

    For more information, see the Burundi Remote Monitoring Report for June 2019.


    • After a delayed start in March, rainfall continued two weeks later than usual, allowing late planted crops to fully mature. Farmers reported average to above-average harvests across the country. Since initial climate forecast for the October 2019 to January 2020 period favors above-average rainfall for Rwanda, harvests around January 2020 are also likely to be average to above-average, supporting Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes through the first quarter of 2020.

    • According to the National Institute of Statistics, food prices in rural areas have remained stable and below the five-year average in nominal prices. Food prices are likely to decline following June/July harvests, while income earning opportunities through agricultural labor and construction remain normal. As a result, poor households’ access to food is expected to further improve until at least October.

    • An estimated 145,00 refugees continue to be the largest population of concern in Rwanda. That number has remained stable for the last 3 years, despite fear that the security situations in the DRC and Burundi could deteriorate, leading to additional asylum seekers and refugees. Refugees are increasingly integrated with national economic and social systems and still receive food and non-food assistance from various UN and NGOs organizations. As a result, this population is expected to face no acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1!) through January 2020.

    • For more information, see the Rwanda Remote Monitoring Report for June 2019.


    [1] With remote monitoring, an analyst typically works from a nearby regional office, relying on a network of partners for data. Compared to previous series of countries in which FEWS NET has a local office, reports on remote monitoring countries may offer less detail.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    YemenLack of access to the Red Sea Ports and intensification of the conflict between northern and southern YemenLimited access to commercial food imports coupled with trade disruptions would limit food access at the household level, including access to humanitarian food assistance, leading to extreme food gaps. Existing high malnutrition prevalence would likely increase excess mortality, consistent with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Famine (IPC Phase 5) outcomes.
    South SudanResurgence of conflict and lack of implementation of the September 2018 peace agreementThe security situation would likely deteriorate substantially, limiting access to livelihoods and humanitarian assistance, disrupting market functionality and increase population displacements.  Food gaps would likely widen further, increasing populations in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).
    Horn of Africa (south and southeastern Ethiopia, northeastern Kenya, southern Somalia)Below-average to poor October to December Hageya/short/Deyr rains 2019 rainsSignificantly below-average October to December 2019 rains would likely cause rapid decline in food security, following a succession of poor seasons, since October 2018, in most of these areas.  Severe depletion of rangeland resources would likely reduce access to food and water for livestock, leading to substantial mortalities.  In addition, clustering of livestock in limited dry-season grazing areas, would likely promote conflict and disease proliferation, depleting the pastoral livelihood. Large food consumption gaps would likely emerge, as purchasing capacities erode, leading to widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and worse food insecurity outcomes.


    Figures East Africa seasonal calendar

The rainy season in northern pastoral areas, cropping areas in Ethiopia, and unimodal areas

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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