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Large-scale Emergencies continue in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Ethiopia

  • Food Security Outlook
  • East Africa
  • November 2017
Large-scale Emergencies continue in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Ethiopia

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  • Key Messages
  • Outlook By Country
  • Key Messages
    • Conflict and drought are driving very high assistance needs in East Africa and Yemen, with more than 35 million people likely to require humanitarian assistance by May 2018. Sustained, large-scale humanitarian assistance is needed to protect livelihoods and mitigate the potential for loss of life.

    • In 2018, three countries in East Africa face an increased risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in a worst-case scenario, including in South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. In parts of southeastern Ethiopia, some households are likely already facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes. In Yemen, the immediate resumption of essential imports through all Yemeni ports is critical to avert a severe deterioration of food security, health outcomes, and the potential for wide-spread starvation and loss of life.

    • In Sudan, assistance is needed in some northern pastoral and agropastoral areas, in SPLM-N-controlled South Kordofan, and in Jebel Marra. Displacement continues to drive assistance needs among IDPs in Burundi and refugees in Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda. 

    Outlook By Country


    • A major food security Emergency is expected to continue in southeastern Ethiopia into mid-2018. Worst-affected areas include Dollo, Korahe, and Jarar zones, along with parts of Afder and Liben, which will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through May 2018, while some households will be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Large-scale, sustained assistance is needed in order to mitigate food consumption gaps and limited increases in acute malnutrition and the risk of excess mortality.
    • The ongoing Deyr/Hagaya (October to December) season in southeastern Ethiopia has performed better in many areas compared to recent seasons. However, substantial improvement in food security among southeastern pastoral and agropastoral households is unlikely in the near term. Substantial time and favorable performance in upcoming seasons is needed for households to reconstitute livestock herds and recover their key livelihood activities, following very high excess livestock deaths and sales due to drought in 2016/17.
    • Food security among poor households in Belg-dependent areas of SNNPR (Segen, Wolayita, Gamo Gofa, Gedeo) will deteriorate from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during the February to June 2018 lean season, as a result of poor Belg harvests in 2017 and high staple food prices. Elsewhere, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance will begin to increase in some Meher-dependent areas of eastern Amhara, southern Tigray, and eastern Oromia with an early onset to the June to September 2018 lean season. Overall, humanitarian assistance needs are expected to peak at approximately 5.5 million people between February and May 2018.


    • Following at least two consecutive poor rainy seasons, food security needs are expected to peak in October 2017 as food and income sources are below-average across most of pastoral and marginal agricultural areas. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected through early December in areas of Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Isiolo, Garissa, Tana River, Samburu, and Laikipia, requiring urgent humanitarian assistance. However, an improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes is expected across all pastoral areas in early 2018; however, some of the most vulnerable households are still likely to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).   
    • Over the western half of the country, off-season rains since July have led to significant improvements in forage, water, and livestock body conditions, which has allowed for terms of trade to be above average in Turkana and West Pokot, facilitating greater food access. While there are some regional variations in the forecast, the short rains (October – December) and long rains (March – May) are expected to lead to better livestock productivity and crop production. 
    • Nearly complete harvesting of the long rains maize crop in the high and medium-producing areas is likely to be about 10 percent below average, but is still helping to improve food availability countrywide and moderate staple food price increases, especially since the Government of Kenya’s maize subsidy program stopped at the end of October. Regardless, staple food prices and maize imports are expected to remain above five-year averages through May 2018 due to atypically high demand. 
    • Based on the forecasted average to below-average rainfall for the area, the short rains harvest in the marginal agricultural areas may be slightly below normal. Regardless, short-cycle crops, available from December, are expected to restore depleted household stocks. With less market dependence and improved incomes through crop sales, food consumption and nutrition levels are expected to increase, facilitating improved food security outcomes.

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook from October 2017 to May 2018.


    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook from October 2017 to May 2018.

    South Sudan

    • Widespread food insecurity occurred during the peak of the 2017 lean season (July/August), with some households experiencing an extreme lack of food equivalent to Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Data from Round 20 of the Food Security and Nutrition Monitoring Systems (FSNMS) and corroborating evidence from key informants suggests Greater Baggari of Wau, Leer of Unity, Ayod and Nyirol of Jonglei, Tonj North and Tonj South of Warrap, Rumbek North and Yirol West of Lakes, and Kapoeta East of Eastern Equatoria as the most likely locations of significant Phase 5 populations. However, data suggest that Phase 5 populations may have been present in as many as 19 counties.
    • An estimated 4.7 million people are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse. Though it is the harvest period, worst affected households, particularly IDPs who were unable to plant, likely remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). The area of greatest current concern is Greater Baggari of Wau where two rapid assessments have suggested levels of acute malnutrition above the Famine (IPC Phase 5) threshold, but little corroborating evidence is available.
    • Food insecurity is expected to be more severe during 2018 than during 2017, as conflict persists, macroeconomic conditions further deteriorate, and households’ capacity to cope continues to erode. By the middle of 2018, more than 6 million people are likely to require emergency food assistance. Even if assistance continues at current levels (reaching roughly half of the food insecure population), Famine (IPC Phase 5) remains possible in 2018 given the severity of outcomes during 2017, the expected deterioration in underlying conditions over the coming year, and the possibility of conflict-related restrictions on assistance delivery and population movement. In a worst-case scenario, characterized by the extended absence of humanitarian assistance, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely in many areas of the country. Areas of concern include Central Unity, northwest Jonglei, and Wau of Western Bahr El Ghazel. Conditions in Lakes and Warrap are also increasingly of concern.
    • Given the continued risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5), large-scale, multi-sector assistance, above 2017 levels, is needed urgently to save lives. These assistance flows should be complemented by commitments by all parties to facilitate humanitarian access. Further, urgent action to end the conflict is needed. 

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook from October 2017 to May 2018.


    • Harvests starting in October, seasonal improvements in livestock productivity, and increased seasonal labor income are improving food security outcomes to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in most areas. However, very poor seasonal progress in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of Kassala, northern Gadaref, and parts of North Darfur, are leading to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and humanitarian assistance needs between now and mid-2018. 
    • Food access is also improving among IDPs and poor households in Jebel Marra and SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan. However, restrictions on access to land, limited agricultural labor opportunities, and continued low asset holdings as a result of conflict continue to limit household productive capacity. Households in these areas will continue to require humanitarian assistance through May 2018. 
    • Overall, the main season rains performed very well over most parts of Sudan, and national harvest prospects are near average. However, severe mid-season dry spells and well below-average seasonal rainfall resulted in significantly reduced area planted in Kassala and northern Gadaref. Moreover, poor rainfall in these areas and in parts of North Darfur led to very poor regeneration of pasture and water sources for livestock.

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook from October 2017 to May 2018.


    • Food security is improving among poor households in Karamoja with the harvest. Sorghum harvests are estimated to be near average in most areas, but maize crop prospects are less favorable due to Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestations. Most poor households are meeting their basic food needs, but face difficulty affording some essential non-food needs and are Stressed (IPC Phase 2). In Abim and Kotido, where production was more favorable, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes exist during the harvest. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected in all districts of Karamoja between February and May.  
    • Average to above average rainfall in bimodal areas is expected to result in average November/December harvests. Some maize crop losses are expected due to FAW infestations, though recent field reports indicate impacts are less significant than originally expected, due to increased pest management and prevention in some areas. In addition to expected favorable production, average food prices will support Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes. 
    • WFP is providing monthly food assistance to over 1.2 million refugees in Uganda, the majority of whom are from South Sudan. Most refugees have limited sources of food and income outside of humanitarian assistance. According to WFP, available funding will allow for continued assistance at current levels through December. However, the Programme faces a funding gap of 43 million USD to meet assistance needs through March 2018. Refugees are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) through December, but would likely deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) after December in the absence of assistance. 

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook from October 2017 to May 2018.


    • Large populations in Yemen continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity, the latter of which is associated with increased acute malnutrition and an increased risk of excess mortality. IDP populations, poor households in conflict zones, and poor households in areas with very high levels of acute malnutrition are likely facing the most severe outcomes.
    • Despite insecurity and funding limitations, large-scale humanitarian assistance continues to play an important role in preventing more severe levels of food insecurity in many areas. FEWS NET estimates that in Abyan, Aden, Ad Dali, Al Bayda, Hajjah, Lahij, Sa’ada, Sana’a, Shabwah, and Ta’izz governorates, food security outcomes would be at least one phase higher in the absence of current humanitarian assistance. 
    • Current limitations on maritime ports into Yemen is highly concerning. A prolonged closure of key ports risks an unprecedented deterioration in food security to Famine (IPC Phase 5) across large areas of the country. Even before the current blockade, Yemen already faced the largest food security emergency in the world, with more than 15 million people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse food insecurity and in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. For additional information, please see FEWS NET’s Food Security Alert from November 20, 2017, which provides an update to the risk of Famine scenario presented in FEWS NET’s October Food Security Outlook.

    For more information, see the Food Security Outlook from October 2017 to May 2018.

    Remote Monitoring Countries[1]


    • Season A planting is complete, and according to FAO, there is a Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestation that affected newly planted maize. The extent of the infestation is unclear, but this is likely to impact yields, particularly in Makamba, Rumonge, Muyinga, and Kirundo provinces. As a result, some poor households in these areas may face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes by April-May 2018, but Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is the highest expected area classification through May 2018. 
    • The lean season is ongoing and poor households face food access constraints due to low household stocks and below-average incomes for needed market purchases. Staple food prices continued to increase in October, with bean and cassava flour prices approximately 25 and 100 percent higher, respectively, than a year ago. Prices should ease slightly in late November ahead of harvests, and seasonally rise again in March 2018, remaining slightly higher or about equal to the five year-averages through May 2018.
    • The outflow of asylum seekers from Burundi has slowed since July due to Tanzania’s suspension of prima facie refugee status, favorable domestic harvests, and security improvements, though there is still a climate of political uncertainty. Currently, the approximately 36,000 Congolese refugees living in camps in Burundi are dependent on WFP food assistance and face Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) acute food insecurity. 

    For more information, see the Remote Monitoring Report for October 2017.


    • The ongoing Season C harvest, reportedly average, is replenishing food reserves, particularly in Bugesera District that had a below-average June harvest. The outlook for the 2018 Season A harvest, which begins in December, is favorable, but there is a possibility that Fall Armyworm (FAW) may lead to some crop losses despite Rwanda’s proactive control measures. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are expected through May 2018, but it is likely that some poor households in localized areas may face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. 
    • As it is already the lean season, food prices remain elevated and are expected to rise further until mid-November, before easing ahead of the Season A harvest. Markets remain well-supplied with local food commodities and regional imports, and poor households’ labor income levels, sometimes augmented with gifts from relatives or safety net assistance, are generally supporting food access. 
    • According to UNHCR, Rwanda hosts about 162,000 refugees, including nearly 58,000 Burundians who live in camps and rely on humanitarian assistance.  Approximately 456 Burundian asylum seekers arrived in September, but larger influxes are likely to come from the DRC due to civil unrest. Facing a severe funding shortfall, WFP recently announced it is likely to institute ration cuts in November for refugees living in camps. 

    For more information, see the Remote Monitoring Report for October 2017.


    • The 2017/18 October to December Vuli and October to May Msimu seasons are underway, characterized by land preparation and planting. Msimu production, which makes up around 70 percent of total national production, is expected to be average. Poor households in these southern unimodal areas are expected to maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) throughout the projection period.
    • Some poor households in northern bimodal and central unimodal areas are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through February. These households depleted stocks from the previous below-average season around September and face difficulty purchasing both sufficient food and inputs for the ongoing season. However, food access has improved somewhat for these poor households, who are accessing early season agricultural labor opportunities and purchasing food at average prices.
    • The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates the total number of refugees in Tanzania is over 360,000 as of September 30, of whom approximately 261,061 are from Burundi. Funding shortfalls in 2017 have resulted in a consistent reduction in the size of food ration provided to refugees. In September and October, refugees were provided with a food ration of 62 percent of required daily caloric needs. Through December, with newly secured funds and in-kind assistance, food assistance at current levels is likely to continue and most refugees will maintain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!). Assistance plans and funding levels beyond December are unknown and in the absence of assistance, refugees would likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 

    For more information, see the Remote Monitoring Report for October 2017.


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

    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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