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Humanitarian food assistance needs will remain high through at least January 2021

  • Key Message Update
  • East Africa
  • September 2020
Humanitarian food assistance needs will remain high through at least January 2021

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes persist across the East Africa region, driven by protracted conflict, long-term macroeconomic challenges, weather shocks, the economic impacts of COVID-19, and desert locust. Most recently, severe flooding led to significant crop losses in riverine areas in Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia and affected over 2.5 million people across the entire region. Meanwhile, the economic slowdown continues to limit household income and food access – particularly in urban areas – despite the easing of COVID-19 containment measures and movement restrictions. At the same time, staple food prices are trending above average in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan, which is reducing household purchasing power. Desert locust also remains a threat, with reports of significant damage to meher crops in Amhara, Tigray, and Oromia regions in Ethiopia.

    • Food insecurity remains most severe in Yemen, South Sudan, and Sudan, where widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3), Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!), and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes reflect unprecedented humanitarian food assistance needs. In these countries, many households face large food consumption gaps or are engaging in extreme coping strategies due to the impact of conflict and insecurity, high and rising staple food prices linked to sharp depreciation of local currencies, and significant crop and livestock losses resulting from ongoing flooding. In South Sudan, Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) is likely among some households in parts of Jonglei state, where conflict and two consecutive years of extensive floods have exhausted coping capacity. Famine (IPC Phase 5) is possible in a worst-case scenario in Yemen and in South Sudan.

    • According to UNHCR estimates in August, conflict and insecurity have dispaced an estimated 11.8 million people in Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen. An additional 3.65 million refugees from these countries are sheltering in settlements in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Most refugees and internally displaced populations have limited options to access food and income and are primarily dependent on humanitarian food assistance. However, funding shortfalls have led to significant ration cuts of 10-30 percent, with Kenya and Uganda facing cuts of up to 30 percent. Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!), Crisis (IPC Phase 3), and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are prevalent in refugee and IDP settlements across the region, where a lack of livelihood options means household food security would rapidly deteriorate in the absence of food assistance.

    • The start of the main season harvests in September/October in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Karamoja sub region of Uganda are anticipated to somewhat alleviate the severity of food insecurity in some areas through early 2021. Several areas are anticipated to improve from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is expected to persist in parts of Ethiopia and Sudan, while Crisis (IPC phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are anticipated in South Sudan. Below-normal crop and livestock production and low household income will continue to constrain household food availability and access in the context of prevailing conflict and macroeconomic challenges.

    • A forecast of below-average rainfall from October to December in the eastern Horn of Africa will most likely lead to below-average harvests in January/February and deterioration in livestock production in pastoral areas, specifically in southern and southeastern Ethiopia, Somalia, and northern and eastern Kenya. Long-range forecasts also predict an elevated likelihood of a below-average March to May 2021 rainfall season, due to sea surface temperature anomalies and a waning La Niña in early 2021. Drought conditions associated with consecutive below-average rainfall seasons are expected to lead to low household food availability, suppressed household income, high food and water prices, and an increase in resource-based conflict and atypical pastoral migration. High food assistance needs are anticipated in this region through most of 2021.

    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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