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Widespread flooding in the Horn and conflict in Sudan drive rising needs in November

  • Key Message Update
  • East Africa
  • December 2023
Widespread flooding in the Horn and conflict in Sudan drive rising needs in November

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • In November, humanitarian needs remained atypically high across several parts of East Africa amid record-high El Niño-induced rainfall and related flooding in the Horn, as well as ongoing conflict, displacement, and persistent macroeconomic challenges across the region. Overall, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes persist in the worst drought- and flood-affected areas of the eastern Horn alongside reduced levels of humanitarian assistance in many areas, with concern for more extreme outcomes in Ethiopia given the pause in humanitarian assistance, localized failed harvests, and severe flooding. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are widespread in Sudan and South Sudan, driven by the impacts of conflict, including high levels of displacement and limited income-earning opportunities. In Yemen, the pause in emergency food assistance in areas under the control of the Sana’a-based authorities in early December is expected to contribute to a rise in the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food security outcomes in the February to May 2024 period.
    • In the Horn, heavy rainfall has led to widespread flooding, especially in the riverine and low-lying agropastoral areas of southern Somalia, northeastern and coastal areas of Kenya, and the southern and southeastern pastoral areas of Ethiopia. The floods have displaced nearly 1.5 million people across the three countries, caused extensive crop and livestock losses, disrupted livelihood and trade activities, and damaged infrastructure. However, in other areas, the rains have generally supported improved crop and livestock production. In Ethiopia, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist in conflict- and drought-affected areas in the north, and flood-affected areas in the south and southeast, with additional areas in the north expected to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in the February to May 2024 period. In Somalia, above-average recessional crop harvests are anticipated in February-March in the riverine areas, which will drive improvement from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes; however, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist in settlements hosting flood- and conflict-affected displaced people. In the pastoral areas of Kenya, households continue to recover from the impacts of the historic drought, supported by the above-average rains. Pastoral areas of Kenya are expected to transition to area-level Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes by May 2024.
    • In Sudan, the ongoing conflict is the main driver of high humanitarian needs, with widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persisting across most of the country. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in urban localities directly affected by the fighting in Greater Darfur, Greater Kordofan, and Khartoum with highest concern for Omdurman in Khartoum and El Geneina of West Darfur. The ongoing conflict and insecurity have seriously disrupted key trade routes and market functionality, particularly to Khartoum and to the west. Additionally, the ongoing harvest of maize and sorghum is expected to be below last year and below the five-year average, expected to increase food consumption gaps in combination with the already high staple food prices. In South Sudan, the continuing influx of South Sudanese returnees from Sudan and Ethiopia remains a major driver of food insecurity, exerting high pressure on the host community who share resources with the returnees. This is exacerbating long-term drivers of flooding, conflict, deficit production, high prices, and limited opportunities to earn income, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes expected to remain widespread. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes are expected in counties where crop and livestock production has been particularly poor due to the protracted impacts of flood and conflict, further exacerbated by the arrival of large numbers of returnees.
    • Most of Uganda and Burundi are experiencing improved food security outcomes, aided by the above-average rainfall that is supporting good cropping and livestock conditions. While staple food prices have decreased seasonally with the harvests and the decreased regional cereal demand, prices generally remain above the five-year average. In most of bimodal Uganda, the second-season harvest is supporting improved food consumption and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes, although localized flooding caused crop damage and temporary population displacement in localized areas.  In the Karamoja region, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist through May 2024, driven by the compounding impact of four consecutive below-average harvests resulting from erratic rainfall and insecurity. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are also expected among refugees in settlements due to limited access to land for cultivation and high competition for income amid reductions in humanitarian food assistance. In Burundi, seasonal harvesting is expected to gradually improve outcomes throughout most of the projection period. Nonetheless, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in the Northern Lowlands livelihood zone, driven by rapidly depleted food stocks, high food prices, restricted access to cross-border opportunities, and low labor wages. Meanwhile, Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are likely to be sustained amongst refugees and asylum seekers despite the ration reduction. 
    • In Yemen, the impacts of more than eight years of protracted conflict and poor macroeconomic conditions continue to severely limit income-earning opportunities and drive above-average staple food prices. The pause in emergency food assistance by WFP in areas under the control of the Sana’a-based authorities in early December will mean that approximately nine million people lose an equivalent of around one-quarter of their minimum food requirements. Though the seasonal increase in access to food and income during the ongoing main harvest period is expected to mitigate the deterioration of the food security situation in the near term, these resources are expected to run out around January, forcing poor households to engage in extreme coping strategies. Given this and expected economic deterioration in areas controlled by the internationally recognized government, the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food security outcomes are expected to increase nationwide in the February to May 2024 period.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. East Africa Key Message Update December 2023: Widespread flooding in the Horn and conflict in Sudan drive rising needs in November, 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.

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