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Conflict, weather, and economic shocks will continue to drive severe food insecurity in 2022

  • Food Security Outlook
  • East Africa
  • November 2021 - May 2022
Conflict, weather, and economic shocks will continue to drive severe food insecurity in 2022

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Severe food insecurity in the East Africa region is anticipated to persist well into 2022, driven primarily by the impacts of conflict, multi-season drought, floods, and economic shocks on household food and income sources. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes are expected across much of the region, with the most severe outcomes anticipated in conflict-affected areas of northern Ethiopia, conflict- and flood-affected areas of South Sudan, and drought-affected areas of southern Ethiopia and south-central Somalia. Other areas of high concern include Yemen and Sudan, where ongoing conflict and civil unrest continue to fuel protracted economic crises, and drought-affected areas of Kenya. Many of those affected by the above humanitarian emergencies are recently or protractedly displaced, including an estimated 16 million internally displaced people located across East Africa and Yemen and approximately 4.7 million refugees hosted within the region.

    • Conflict-affected areas of northern Ethiopia remain of highest concern, where households face displacement and limited access to harvests, markets, or humanitarian assistance. Most of Tigray and some neighboring areas of Afar and Amhara are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) with populations likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). High levels of Global Acute Malnutrition remain very concerning, with proxy estimates assessed by find-and-treat campaigns reaching over 14 percent in central Tigray and over 28 percent in Afar.

    • Multi-season drought is expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in southern and southeastern Ethiopia, Somalia, and eastern and northern Kenya. Crop failure, excess livestock mortality, and plummeting household purchasing power are increasingly likely. As of late November, cumulative livestock mortalities already exceeded 220,500 in Borena, Guji, and Dawa zones in Ethiopia and there were multiple reports of cattle and sheep deaths in pastoral areas of southern Somalia and eastern Kenya. In Somalia, cereal prices have already approached levels last observed during the 2016/2017 and 2010/2011 droughts.

    • Economic shocks, often inter-related or exacerbated by on-going conflict and weather shocks, are widespread but most pronounced in Ethiopia, Sudan, Yemen, and South Sudan. In Sudan, for example, high production and fuel costs continued to push sorghum and millet prices to levels ranging from 4.6 to 5.7 times the five-year average in September, despite the availability of the local harvest. In Ethiopia, the depreciation of the Ethiopian Birr coupled with poor harvests similarly pushed staple food prices up by 2.4-2.5 times the five-year average in September. Such historically high food and non-food prices are significantly limiting household food access and contributing to high food assistance needs.



    • Remaining household food stocks from above-average 2021 Season B crop production, near-normal food prices, and normal access to typical income sources are driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food security outcomes across most of the country in October, except for the Eastern and Northern livelihood zones. In those two livelihood zones, food prices are elevated, 2021 Season B food stocks are exhausted, and cross-border income earning opportunities are limited following the closure of Tanzanian and Rwandan borders. These dynamics are leading to deceased food access for poor and very poor households who are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes.
    • Normally starting in mid-September, the 2022 Season A short rain season was delayed by around four weeks in low altitude areas of the Northern Lowlands, Imbo Plains, and Eastern Lowlands, while rainfall was below-average in the middle and high-altitude areas until mid-October. The late start to the short rain season is delaying 2022 Season A sowing. It’s anticipated that October to December short rains will likely be below average, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
    • At least 40,000 returnees who arrived from Tanzania and Rwanda from January to August were unable to cultivate 2021 Season B crops and have exhausted the three-months of humanitarian assistance they receive upon arrival. Most returnees are in the Eastern Lowlands livelihood zone. Without their own agricultural production and with limited access to income sources, it is expected that they will experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes throughout the outlook period. Among the 81,000 Congolese refugees hosted in Burundi, 50,000 benefit from humanitarian assistance and are experiencing None! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes. The other 31,000 refugees living in urban areas are likely in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    For more information, see the Burundi Food Security Outlook from October 2021 to May 2022.


    • In 2022, conflict and drought, coupled with poor macroeconomic conditions, will drive extremely high and persistent food assistance needs. In northern Ethiopia, food insecurity is expected to be most severe, with extremely critical of levels of acute malnutrition and likely hunger-related mortality concentrated in Tigray. If conflict intensifies, the livelihoods of millions more people will be disrupted, with attendant rises in food insecurity including in typically food secure areas of the country.
    • Many areas of Tigray remain cut off from commercial and humanitarian supplies and agricultural activities, and income for market purchases is low while the de facto humanitarian blockade continues. Displaced populations face significant difficulty accessing food due to low income and limited supplies. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected with worst-affected households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). In Tigray, it is possible outcomes are worse than mapped, but evidence is insufficient to confirm or deny. 
    • Conflict continues to spread in Amhara and is occurring at especially high levels in northeastern Amhara. The harvest is ongoing but is estimated to be well below-average and unlikely to lead to significant improvements in food security. In Afar, large-scale livestock losses are substantially limiting households' capacity to earn income. Across both these areas, market functioning is significantly disrupted, reducing access to a vital food source. While some aid has been distributed in areas of Afar, reports indicate that assistance has not been distributed in the last four months to areas of Amhara, particularly North Wollo and Wag Himra zones. In worst-affected areas of both regions, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are anticipated with worst-affected populations likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). In northeastern Amhara, it is possible that more severe outcomes could emerge if conflict restricts harvesting activities even more significantly than currently anticipated, there is prolonged substantial contraction of economic and market activities, and limited assistance reaches populations in need. 
    • In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, October to December deyr/hageya rainfall is delayed and significantly below-average through mid-November. In some areas, rainfall deficits are substantial, marking the driest conditions for October in forty years and a third consecutive poor season. The impacts of drought are already visible, with diminishing pasture and water. Atypical livestock deaths have been reported in some southern areas such as Borena Zone of Oromia Region and Dawa Zone of Somali Region, and minimal to no improvements in livestock conditions are expected through late 2022 given the forecast for a poor March to May gu/gana season. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to be widespread, with worst-drought affected areas likely to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes starting in February 2022. 
    • While the ongoing meher harvest is improving food access for many households across the country, the harvest is notably below average in areas of SNNPR, central Oromia, and the highlands of East and West Hararghe, and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present in the post-harvest period. On top of conflict and poor rainfall, poor macroeconomic conditions – driven by high government spending and low foreign reserves – are driving food prices higher across the country. High food prices – which are expected to persist throughout 2022 – are further limiting the capacity of many poor households across the country to purchase sufficient food to meet their needs.
    • *The year in which the highest level of humanitarian food assistance needs was recorded between 2014 and 2022, the time frame for which FEWS NET has comparable national needs estimates. Previously, the highest recorded needs were in 2016 following the El-Niño drought.

    For more information, see the Ethiopia Food Security Outlook from October 2021 to May 2022.


    • Based on rainfall estimates through October, the delayed start of October-December short rains is likely to place October 2021and be among the driest on record in eastern Kenya. Based on the poor start of season, the short length of the season, and median rainfall in analog years, cumulative rainfall is likely to be less than 60 percent of average in northern and eastern Kenya, and 60-75 percent of average in central Kenya. Additionally, based on global forecasts using historical analogs of La Nina and those with a transition from La Nina to ENSO neutral, there is an elevated likelihood that the March-May 2022 long rains in northern and eastern Kenya will be below average. However, there is uncertainty given the long-range nature of the forecast.
    • In the pastoral areas, declining forage and water resources continue to intensify atypical livestock migration as herders search for better rangeland resources. Increased trekking distances to water and poor pasture conditions are resulting in declining livestock body conditions and increased reports of resource-based conflicts. Pastoral households are reporting below-average milk production and consumption, impacting household access to income and food. Additionally, high staple food prices are constraining household purchasing power. Overall, widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) area-level outcomes are expected to persist through May 2022.
    • As household food stocks dwindle in the marginal agricultural areas, the late onset of the short rains has delayed land preparation and planting and reduced household access to income from agricultural labor. The anticipated poor harvest will likely increase household reliance on market purchases to fill food gaps through the scenario period. Poor households are likely to increase their reliance on casual labor, petty trade, and the sale of firewood/charcoal to earn income, but increased competition and high staple food prices will likely limit household purchasing power. Overall, most households are expected to be able to afford their food needs, but not their non-food needs, and are Stressed (IPC Phase 2), with the most vulnerable households likely in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • As of October 26, around 5.08 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered. Around 3.1 percent of the adult population have been fully vaccinated, while 7.5 percent of the adult population has been partially vaccinated. Across Kenya, the government's lifting of the 10pm to 4am curfew on October 20 is expected to increase economic activity, particularly for bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and public service vehicles. This is expected to increase economic activity and improve income and food access, especially for the urban poor. More urban poor households are expected to improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the scenario period.
    • Staple food prices remain mixed across the country. Maize prices remain 6-37 above the five-year average in Eldoret, Nairobi, and across the pastoral markets due to reduced local supplies following the below-average 2021 long rains harvest and reduced cross-border imports. Maize prices are 7 percent below average in Mombasa and within the five-year average in Kisumu, Turkana, and the marginal agricultural areas stabilized by the availability of local harvests and cross-border supplies from Uganda and Tanzania. Bean prices in September were 10-43 percent above the five-year average, supported by sustained demand due to prolonged scarcity despite an increase in supply from local harvests and cross-border imports.

    For more information, see the Kenya Food Security Outlook from October 2021 to May 2022.


    • Somalia is experiencing its third consecutive below-average rainfall season since late 2020, which is worsening the current drought. Most of southern, central, and northeastern Somalia have received little to no rainfall since June, as the October to December 2021 deyr rains are delayed. Weather forecasts indicate a delayed start of the rains is likely to occur in November, but this will likely be inadequate to prevent significant crop and livestock production losses. Long-range forecasts for the April to June 2022 gu rains also suggest elevated chances of a fourth below-average rainfall season. Somalia last experienced a four-season drought in 2016/2017, which led to severe acute food insecurity.
    • Pastoralists in central, southern, and northeastern Somalia are encountering water and pasture shortages, rapidly weakening livestock body conditions, and declining livestock reproduction prospects. Many poor households lack adequate resources to cover the increased costs of protecting their herds. There are already reports of livestock deaths from starvation and disease in Jubaland and other areas, especially among cattle and sheep. Although the delayed rains will temporarily mitigate the situation, any improvement is likely to be short-lived and similar challenges are expected during the January to March jilaal dry season. Many pastoralists, especially poor households, will be unable to afford food and water for both their livestock and families.
    • Many farmers in agropastoral and riverine areas in southern and central Somalia have already exhausted their food stocks from the preceding below-average harvests. Due to the shortened length of the deyr growing season, cereal crop production is expected to be in the range of 50 to 70 percent below both the 10-year average and the 1995-2020 average. As a result, food and income from agricultural labor and the January/February harvest is expected to be insufficient to prevent the occurrence of moderate to large food consumption gaps or negative livelihoods coping strategies, such as accumulating higher debt and selling off unsustainable numbers of livestock.
    • Household purchasing power is rapidly declining due to the reduction of key income sources coupled with sharp increases in domestic and imported cereal prices. Due to the low supply of cereal stocks, maize and sorghum prices in many southern markets have risen 30-60 percent above the five-year average, approaching levels last observed during the 2016/2017 and 2010/2011 droughts. Imported rice prices in central and northern markets are also spiking due to high freight shipping costs, reaching 15-50 percent above average.
    • Food insecurity is projected to worsen significantly through May 2022, with many households experiencing widening food consumption gaps and erosion of their coping capacity. Reduced food and milk intake, low access to clean water, and systemic non-food factors are also likely to elevate acute malnutrition and mortality levels. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to become widespread. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to emerge in Juba Pastoral, Bay Bakool Low Potential Agropastoral, and Coastal Deeh Pastoral livelihood zones between November 2021 and March 2022. However, if the deyr rains perform more poorly than forecast, then Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would be possible in additional areas. A scale-up of humanitarian food assistance is urgently needed to save lives and livelihoods.

    For more information, see the Somalia Food Security Outlook from October 2021 to May 2022.


    • On October 25, the military overthrew the transitional civilian government and placed Prime Minister Hamdok under house arrest. In response, the USA suspended 700 million USD in economic support, and the World Bank paused economic support-valued at over 2 billion USD- and stopped processing any new operations. The removal of economic support is likely to result in persistent currency depreciation with high volatility, rising inflation, and high domestic and imported food and non-food costs. FEWS NET is continuing to monitor the dynamics in Sudan closely.
    • Intercommunal clashes, civil unrest, above-average food prices, high inflation, limited local supply of wheat flour, and the depreciation of the SDG from around 380 SDG/USD in early April to around 450 SDG/USD by late October continues to limit household purchasing power and access to food towards the end of the lean season. The start of the harvest in November is expected to improve household food access; however, IDPs, conflict-affected people in Darfur and South Kordofan, and the most-affected poor households in Darfur, Kordofan, Red Sea, and Kassala are expected to be facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to limited access to income, below-average harvests, and high food prices.
    • Staple food prices remain extremely high through the harvest period in October, driven by seasonally reduced market supplies and increased demand, high production and transportation costs, and the shortage and high cost of imported wheat that has been exacerbated by the closure of the main ports and highway in the Red Sea state. Staple food prices are 60-90 percent above last year and 360-430 percent above the five-year average. Although the harvest will likely result in some seasonal price declines, staple food prices will likely remain 200-350 percent above the five-year average through the beginning of the next lean season in April/May 2021.

    For more information, see the Sudan Food Security Outlook from October 2021 to May 2022.


    • In Karamoja, 2021 harvests are significantly below average following an estimated 50 to 70 percent crop loss; as such, food stocks will not be replenished to normal levels. While harvesting has been completed in parts of Nakapiripirit, Napak, and Moroto, delayed harvests have yet to start in Kotido and Kaabong. Loss of livestock assets through raids is expected to worsen food insecurity. Unfavorable terms of trade are unable to mitigate the negative impacts, poor households are employing consumption coping strategies and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to persist through May 2022.
    • In bimodal areas, erratic cumulative below average rainfall is supporting favorable crop growth in spatially random areas while in others heavy rains have led to crop loss and destruction of property. Below normal consecutive harvest likely in northern Uganda where income and food sources are expected to remain below normal levels driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. Slightly below normal harvests in other bimodal area expected to maintain Minimal (IPC Phase 1).
    • WFP intends to distribute 40, 60, and 70 percent rations in November following a geographic needs-based resource prioritization by settlement. It is FEWS Net’s analysis that despite further ration cuts, households are still accessing sufficient food and income sources to support area-level Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes through May 2022. This represents a revision to FEWS NET’s previous analysis that refugee settlements were likely in Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!). While it is still expected that assistance is playing a key role in preventing worse outcomes, available information, including low GAM prevalence, suggests that refugees are not sustaining Crisis-level consumption deficits. While a smaller percentage are likely in Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!), most are expected to minimally meet their food needs through assistance and some access to land and other income-earning opportunities such that Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) is now considered the most likely outcome.

    For more information, see the Uganda Food Security Outlook from October 2021 to May 2022.


    • After escalating in September, high levels of conflict in Marib persisted into late October as forces of the Sana’a-Based Authorities (SBA) continued gaining territory. Driven by conflict, high levels of displacement and re-displacement are putting more pressure on limited community resources and increasing humanitarian needs among a growing displaced population. From October 3 to 16 alone, around 25,000 people were newly displaced in the governorate.
    • As of late October, the only major supply route into Marib City fully controlled by the internationally recognized Government (IRG) is the eastern Hadramaut road. It is now considered most likely that SBA forces will take control of Marib City within the projection period. As households in Marib City anticipate this possibility, those who can afford to do so are likely stockpiling essential commodities. Due to increased consumer demand and trade disruptions including longer travel routes, traders are expected to be further increasing prices.
    • Despite large-scale humanitarian assistance in Yemen—which provides a key source of food and income for around half the population—food gaps persist for many households due to both high levels of need and challenges in targeting. Across most of the country, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected to persist throughout the projection period at the governorate level alongside deteriorating purchasing power, with worst-affected households expected to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes. In Marib, should SBA forces take Marib City, humanitarian assistance is expected to be disrupted for around one to two months as humanitarians negotiate access. During this time, widening consumption gaps and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely for worst-affected households—particularly among recently displaced households expected to have lower levels of income and limited coping capacity.
    • Overall, the rate of depreciation of the Yemeni Rial (YER) has accelerated in IRG areas, despite a period of appreciation in early October alongside the announcement of an additional round of the Letter of Credit import financing mechanism. As of October 31, the exchange rate in Aden depreciated to reach 1,350 YER/USD, a 15 percent depreciation compared to the same time last month. Rapid depreciation later in October is at least partially attributed to traders in Marib purchasing foreign currency in anticipation of SBA forces taking Marib City and enforcing the SBA ban on new banknotes.

    For more information, see the Yemen Food Security Outlook from October 2021 to May 2022.

    Remote Monitoring Countries[1]


    • Food access in rural areas has stabilized with the start of Irish potato harvests in the Northern province, availability of 2021 Season B/C food stocks, and availability of inter-season crops like cassava and bananas. The easing of border restrictions, particularly with DRC, has enhanced cross-border trade, improving food supply and income among small-scale traders. On-going weeding and fertilizer applications have sustained a stable demand for agricultural labor, increasing poor rural household incomes and mitigating lean season impacts, driving Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in rural areas.
    • COVID-19 control measures have been steadily lifting amidst sustained declines in daily COVID-19 cases and the on-going vaccination campaign. Businesses have gradually re-opened, income earning opportunities have improved, and trade has increased resulting in increased food supplies, stabilizing food security for urban households. Though livelihood activities are yet to fully recover, increasing household purchasing power and stable food prices are maintaining area-level Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in urban areas.
    • According to WFP estimates, 82 percent of about 127,163 refugees and asylum seekers are highly vulnerable and incapable of meeting basic food needs while nine percent each are moderately and least vulnerable. However, due to funding shortages, food assistance since August 2021 has been reduced and prioritized by vulnerability level; the highly vulnerable receive a 92 percent ration instead of a 100 percent while the moderately vulnerable receive a 46 percent ration instead of the recommended 50 percent. Given that the funding gap is yet to be filled, ration reductions will persist and this together with declining income earning opportunities due to COVID-19 impacts are expected to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity among refugees in Rwanda.

    For more information, see the Rwanda Remote Monitoring Update for October 2021.


    [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.


    Table 1. Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most likely scenario.



    Impact on food security outcomes

    Northeastern Amhara, Ethiopia

    Conflict more significantly restricts access to food and income

    In Wag Himra and North Wollo, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are already anticipated, more severe outcomes could emerge in Amhara if conflict significantly limits access to crops; creates a prolonged and substantial contraction in economic and marketing activities; and food assistance does not reach populations for a prolonged period.

    Addis Ababa and surrounding areas, Ethiopia

    TDF and OLA surround Addis and limit the movement of goods

    This would lead to declines in market supplies and increased food prices. There would likely be some unrest in Addis, migration out of Addis, and increased food insecurity, both in terms of severity and magnitude.

    Bi-modal areas of the eastern Horn of Africa


    (Southern and eastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, and central and southern Somalia)



    Failure of the deyr rainfall season, with little to no rainfall in November /December

    Harvests would likely range from significantly below average to failed due to severe crop moisture stress, as farmers lack the resources to salvage their losses with drought-resistant crops. Riverine areas with inadequate irrigation infrastructure would also have lower harvests.

    Deterioration in livestock health would be more widespread and more severe, leading to wider occurrences of excess mortality between November and April with limited livestock conceptions for the next season.

    A significant increase in drought-related destitution and displacement would be likely, especially among pastoralists. An increase in the severity of food security and size of the acutely food insecure population would be likely across the region, and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would be possible in additional areas of Somalia and Ethiopia, especially during the January-March dry season.





    Inability of humanitarian actors to deliver assistance as planned

    Access to food would be significantly reduced for many poor households in affected areas. Beneficiary households would likely face widening consumption gaps until assistance provision resumes, and ability to share food or resources with others in the community would be severely constrained. Many households would likely quickly exhaust any coping strategies that remain available to them, with worst-affected households likely to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes. Deterioration would be most rapid in areas worst affected by declining purchasing power.




    Heightened political instability and civil unrest; continued closure of the main ports and highways in the Red Sea state

    Increased political instability and limited access to fuel and food imports will likely drive further deterioration in the security situation in Khartoum and across other urban centers. Further deterioration of the macroeconomic situation will likely drive rapid deterioration in the SDG and rising food and non-food costs. Household food security is likely to deteriorate as services, and the high fuel and transportation costs are passed onto the consumer. Due to poor purchasing power, a greater number of households are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, while the most vulnerable households will deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) due to a lack of food access and income.

    Refugee settlements, Uganda

    Significantly reduced ration or no humanitarian food assistance due to funding limitations

    Further significant reduction in ration sizes or total absence of humanitarian food assistance to the newly arriving refugees or old refugees would likely result in wide food consumptions gaps. A high prevalence of severe to critical levels of acute malnutrition outcomes among the poorest refugee households would likely lead to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes by December or January.

    Figures East Africa seasonal calendar

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

    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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