Skip to main content

Start of harvesting in July boosts food availability in the Horn, but humanitarian needs remain high

  • Key Message Update
  • East Africa
  • August 2023
Start of harvesting in July boosts food availability in the Horn, but humanitarian needs remain high

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The start of seasonal harvesting following the conclusion of the March/April to May/June gu/long rains season in the greater Horn of East Africa has enhanced access to food and income and reduced the number of households facing food consumption gaps. However, given the mixed performance of the season and slow recovery from the impacts of the 2020-2023 drought, millions of people remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) across the Horn, with some households expected to be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in parts of Ethiopia. In the western sector of East Africa, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes remain widespread during the peak of the lean season, driven by the impacts of ongoing conflict and poor macro-economic conditions in both Sudan and South Sudan, and four consecutive years of flooding in South Sudan. Pockets of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) are expected in both countries. Humanitarian food assistance continues to mitigate severe food security outcomes across parts of East Africa and Yemen, but serious concern for worsening conditions remains amid ongoing disruptions and scale-down of assistance across the region and with the pause of US government assistance in Ethiopia. A credible risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) also persists in South Sudan.
    • In conflict- and drought-affected parts of Tigray, Somali, and Oromia regions of Ethiopia, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes persist, with a credible risk of more extreme levels of acute food insecurity in the coming months if anticipated access to key food and income sources do not materialize. In much of Somalia and northern and eastern Kenya, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are widespread, with some areas remaining in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in central and coastal areas of Somalia given the severity of drought impacts and relatively poor performance of the gu rains. Overall, acute food insecurity in the greater Horn continues to be driven by the lasting impacts of drought (including high levels of asset depletion and debt); recent and ongoing conflict and insecurity; poor performance of the recent seasonal rains in localized regions; and sustained high food prices. Access to food and income is expected to improve further in many parts of the Horn amid ongoing and upcoming harvests starting in September, as well as during the projected above-average October to December deyr/short rains season, expected to facilitate net gains in crop and livestock production. However, riverine and flash flooding during the October-December rains will likely result in localized population displacement, destruction of crops and assets, and disruption to livelihoods and trade. 
    • In Sudan, the conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces continued unabated in July, driving sustained widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across the country and rising numbers of households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in major urban areas of Khartoum, Greater Darfur, and Greater Kordofan. In addition, FEWS NET assesses that some households are likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in July in parts of West Darfur where access to food and income is severely restricted by ethnically-based violence and killings. The conflict continues to be predominantly concentrated in urban areas and characterized by large-scale looting, burning of markets, and destruction of public institutions and private residences, leading to the near-collapse of health, education, transportation, and banking systems. The number of people displaced continues to rise rapidly, with over three million people internally displaced and about 930,000 displaced to neighboring countries. Trade flows remain disrupted, particularly in and out of Khartoum and from eastern supply areas to western consumption areas, driving particularly steep price increases in affected consumption areas. Despite the increasing number of people in need of food aid, humanitarian assistance remains severely limited given insecurity, bureaucratic challenges, looting, risks of divergence, and limited physical accessibility during wet seasons.  
    • In South Sudan, widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist across the country at the peak of the lean season (July-August), with over 60 percent of the population expected to be acutely food insecure. These high levels of food insecurity are driven by severe erosion of household assets and limited income-earning opportunities due to years of conflict and floods, persistently poor macro-economic conditions, and high and rising staple food prices. The situation has been further exacerbated – particularly in the northern counties – by the Sudan Crisis, which displaced nearly 200,000 South Sudanese returnees and refugees into South Sudan, disrupted cross-border trade flows and market functionality, and increased tension in hosting areas. Humanitarian assistance continues to mitigate more severe food security outcomes but faces numerous challenges to delivery and distribution, including growing funding shortfalls, rising needs with the ongoing Sudan crisis, limited transport capacity, and insecurity. However, a scale-up of assistance is needed in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Lakes, parts of Upper Nile, central Unity, and eastern parts of Eastern Equatoria to prevent Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes. 
    • In Yemen, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes persist across the country, driven by above-average food prices, highly limited income-earning opportunities, and limited access to credit precipitated by weakened livelihoods from the impact of years of protracted conflict. Over half of the population needs food assistance, but the shortage of humanitarian assistance funding persists, causing a reduction in the frequency of distributions and ration sizes. However, improvements in purchasing power in many areas over the past year have likely helped households compensate to some extent for humanitarian food assistance cuts. Nevertheless, food security is expected to continue to deteriorate in areas controlled by the internationally-recognized government (IRG) due to worsening revenue shortages alongside the sustained blockade of oil exports by the Sana’-based authorities (SBA). Failure by IRG to provide essential services such as electricity and payment of public sector salaries will likely sustain high levels of civil unrest in the coming months. 
    • Rwanda, most of the bimodal areas in western, central, and southern  Uganda, as well as western Burundi, remain with Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes due to the increased food availability following average season B/first harvests, stable food prices, and enhanced access to income from sale of crops. However, in northern and part of eastern Uganda, as well as in the Eastern and Northern Lowlands, and Eastern Dry Plateaus livelihood zones of Burundi, access to food remains low due to below-average crop production, above-average food prices, and reduced income-earning opportunities, sustaining Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes. In the Karamoja region in Uganda, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist until early next year, driven by a delayed and below-average harvest, atypically high food prices, and weakened coping capacity among the population. The protracted and new conflicts in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan are also sustaining an influx of new refugees to Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda, overstretching limited resources for humanitarian assistance. While ongoing food assistance is preventing worse food security outcomes among many refugees in Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda, area-level Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are now assessed across refugee settlements in Uganda due to relatively limited first season harvests and amid reductions in humanitarian assistance in July.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. East Africa Key Message Update August 2023: Start of harvesting in July boosts food availability in the Horn, but humanitarian needs remain high, 2023.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top