Skip to main content

Amid multiple shocks, flooding and high food prices contribute to acute food insecurity

  • Key Message Update
  • East Africa
  • October 2020
Amid multiple shocks, flooding and high food prices contribute to acute food insecurity

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Large populations in Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity due to multiple shocks. In many instances, the severity and magnitude of food insecurity is mitigated by on-going humanitarian food assistance. Outcomes are most severe in South Sudan and Yemen, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are widespread and a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists. In South Sudan, Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) is likely among some households in Jonglei and Greater Pibor Administrative Area who have exhausted their coping capacity due to protracted conflict and two consecutive years of extensive floods. In Yemen, conflict and poor macroeconomic conditions continue to restrict normal livelihood activities and constrain households’ ability to earn income and access food. 

    • Severe flooding in Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and several countries across the region have driven marked deterioration in household food insecurity among households residing along flood plains and riverine areas. According to OCHA, about 3.6 million people have been affected by floods since June 2020. About 1.5 million people have been displaced, and the floods have additionally caused crop and livestock losses, spoiled food stocks, disrupted livelihoods activities, and damaged household assets. An increase in the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is likely, especially among poor households that have limited alternative sources of food and income.  Proliferation of vector and water-borne diseases persists in many areas where access to clean water and sanitation remains problematic, compounding the prevalence of acute malnutrition.

    • Steep increases in staple food prices, which are linked to the effects of tightening foreign exchange reserves, rising inflation, and depreciating local currencies, are lowering household purchasing power and contributing to food consumption gaps among poor households in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen. Staple food prices are multiples of the normal seasonal averages in several countries. In South Sudan, sorghum prices were 215-565 percent above the five-year average in several local markets in September. Similarly, sorghum and millet prices in Sudan were 200-300 percent above the five-year average in October, while the inflation rate rose 45 percent between August and September 2020. In southern Yemeni governorates, the exchange rate has deteriorated by over 30 percent in 2020, while food prices are over 150 percent higher than the five-year average.

    • An upsurge in confirmed COVID-19 cases has been recorded in the region since August, following the earlier, phased easing of movement restrictions. Double-digit infection rates are observed in some countries, resulting in an infection positivity rate of up to 20 percent in October. As of October 30th, there were 188,992 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,184 deaths in the nine countries covered by FEWS NET, compared to 115,500 cases and 2,900 deaths as of August 31st. In the event that movement restrictions are reinstated – such as the closure of recently reopened business operations, expanded curfew hours, or increased cross-border movement restrictions for both labor and commodity supplies – then household income and food sources are likely to be severely constrained. A resurgence in the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) would be expected, particularly among urban households that depend on food purchases and non-agricultural income-generating activities. 

    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