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Crisis levels of food insecurity to persist through December in border areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • South Sudan
  • July - December 2012
Crisis levels of food insecurity to persist through December in border areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Most likely scenario, July to December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3) will persist until September and thereafter will be confined mainly to the northern parts of Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, and Upper Nile states and parts of Jonglei State through December. Other parts of the country will face Stressed or Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity following harvests that begin in October.

    • Prices of sorghum, the main staple food, have substantially risen across key markets compared to the same time last year. Though cereal prices will remain above-average, they are likely to decline slightly as harvests begin, in line with seasonal trends. The main drivers of high prices are increased inflation, fuel shortages, increased demand, and trade restrictions with Sudan. 

    • June to September rains to date have been normal to well above normal (>125 percent of normal) across the country. Continued above-average rains could lead to flooding in the flood-prone areas of Warrap, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Jonglei states, potentially causing damage to crops and property. 

    • Although rains may perform well this year, area planted is expected to be below average as many households remain displaced (particularly in Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Warrap states) and productive household assets have been lost.  Departure of northern farmers from Renk means that production in this mechanized area is also likely to be below-average, while above-average fuel prices will further compromise production in mechanized areas.  In Jonglei, cultivation is expected to be near-average, as disarmament appears to have temporarily resolved tensions.  Given all of these factors, an average to below-average harvest is assumed at this point in the season. 


    Most likely scenario, July to December 2012

    During the July to December period, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity will continue to predominate in many parts of South Sudan, mainly in conflict-affected areas along the border.  No or minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) will be present in the Greenbelt and parts of Hills and Mountains livelihood zones (Figures 2 and 3). 

    Stressed levels of food insecurity are present when, for at least one in five households in a given area, food consumption is reduced but minimally adequate without having to engage in unsustainable coping strategies. However, these households are unable to afford some essential non-food expenditures. Crisis levels of food insecurity are present when at least one in five households in a given area face significant food consumption gaps with high or above usual acute malnutrition, or are marginally able to meet minimum food needs only with unsustainable coping strategies such as liquidating livelihood assets. No or minimal acute food insecurity is present when more than four in five households in a given area are able to meet essential food and nonfood needs without engaging in atypical, unsustainable strategies to access food and income.

    In order to project food security outcomes through the scenario period, FEWS NET makes a number of most likely assumptions about key seasonal events important to sources of food and income in each country and livelihood zone in areas of concern. FEWS NET also makes assumptions about other future events that could have a significant impact on food security in the region. These assumptions enable FEWS NET to identify the direct and indirect effects leading to changes in household food and income sources and then food security outcomes over the course of the outlook period.

    The most likely scenarios for July to December 2012 are based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Refugee/displaced populations: The influx of refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan into Unity and Upper Nile states is expected to continue. Up to 30,000 people among the displaced from Abyei are expected to return to Abyei area.
    • Conflict: Tensions between Sudan and South Sudan are assumed to continue at similar levels.
    • Rainfall: According to the GHA Climate Outlook Forum, there is an increased likelihood for average to above-average rainfall for the July – September period. Seasonal flooding is expected in flood-prone areas in the Western Flood Plain, Eastern Flood Plain and the Nile-Sobat livelihood zones. Supplies to markets may be hindered by above-average rains.
    • Imports: Informal trade with Sudan, which has been restricted since the border closure and escalation in border tensions, may continue in limited quantities. Traders will continue to rely on imports from Uganda and Ethiopia to meet the increased demand.
    • Cereal prices: Though cereal prices will remain above-average during the scenario period, they are likely to decline slightly as harvests begin in October, in line with seasonal trends. The main drivers of high prices are increased inflation, fuel shortages, increased demand, and trade restrictions with Sudan. Households will mostly rely on markets during the July to September period, and to a lesser extent during the October to December period as own production is available for households with access to land and inputs.
    • Humanitarian assistance: Humanitarian organizations have prepositioned food and non-food assistance in multiple locations across the country in May and June and are delivering additional food to heavily populated refugee camps. 
    • Cultivation: Although rains may perform average to above-average this year, area planted is expected to be below average as many households remain displaced (particularly in Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Warrap states) and productive household assets (tools, income, land, inputs) have been lost.  Furthermore, departure of northern farmers from Renk means that production in this mechanized area is likely to be below-average. Also, the above-average fuel prices means that production in mechanized areas will be further compromised.  In Jonglei, cultivation is expected to be near-average, as disarmament appears to have temporarily resolved tensions.  Given all of these factors, an average to below-average harvest is assumed at this early point in the season.

    Although harvests beginning in October will improve access to food for many households in South Sudan, displaced and refugee households, particularly those in conflict-affected areas of Jonglei, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap states, will continue to face substantial food consumption gaps. There are currently about 170,000 refugees from Sudan in South Sudan, most of whom are in Upper Nile and Unity states. In addition, over 160,000 people were also displaced during the December 2011 to June 2012 period in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states, due to border disputes and inter-ethnic violence.  Of the displaced population, 68 percent are in in Jonglei; 18 percent in Unity; 6 percent in Upper Nile; and 8 percent in various states. In Warrap state, an estimated 110,000 displaced people from Abyei live in Twic County. However, as of the end of June, 9,700 people had returned to Abyei following the withdrawal of unauthorized forces from the area.

    The sections below discuss the main areas of concern during the Outlook period.

    Western Floods Plain Zone
    Northern Bahr el Ghazal (Aweil East and North); Warrap (Gogrial West and East, Twic, Tonj East and North); Unity (Abiemnhom, Mayom)

    Food consumption gaps in the northern part of the livelihood zone (Twic, Gogrial West and East Counties of Warrap state, Abiemnhom and Mayom Counties of Unity state and most parts of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state) have significantly widened in July due to the cumulative effects of insecurity, high food prices, and below-average household food stocks, and Crisis levels of food insecurity are present. Displaced households (about 20,000 people in this livelihood zone) are particularly reliant on food assistance as their main food source.

    Northern Bahr el Ghazal is heavily dependent on imports from Sudan. Given the border closure and heightened demand, significant food consumption gaps exist among poor and very poor households. Food supplies originating from Uganda and Ethiopia through Juba and Malakal remain the main sources of food on markets and the current fuel shortage has triggered substantial price increases. The state also hosts the highest number of returnees and over 5,000 IDPs from Abyei area. Furthermore, fighting in March and April in several border areas displaced nearly 10,000 people from the northernmost borders of Aweil North and East counties of Northern Bahr el Ghazal into Jaac, Gok-Machar, Rumaker and Warlang (Aweil North and East counties).  In Warrap State, food security is driven mainly by displacement, high prices and low yield in 2011. In Abiemnhom and Mayom Counties of Unity State, insecurity due to militia activities and the tension along the border has disrupted livelihood and trade and restricted movement of people and livestock leading to reduced income opportunities and limited food access.

    During the July-September period, markets remain the main important food source for most of the population in the zone, while in the October-December period, the main sources of food are crops (groundnuts and sorghum) and livestock. Fishing, market purchase and collection of wild foods are also important food sources during this period. Sale of livestock and labor are the main sources of income in the northern part of the livelihood zone, mainly in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, whereas collection and sale of lulu nuts and oil are an important income source in the southern part of the zone. Wild foods consumption decreases when new harvests of groundnuts and grain become available in September. Fishing is important in August and September when floods are at the highest levels. Milk is available from start of the rainy season throughout the scenario period but starts to decline when the dry season starts in November/December.

    Despite continuous efforts by the humanitarian community to support the displaced, severe food shortages persist in the area due to the increased number of returnees and IDPs. Therefore, the food consumption gap is expected to increase in the northern counties of Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal through September. However, the situation is expected to improve beginning in October when the main harvest begins, and own crop production will contribute significantly to the households’ food basket, but mostly for the host community.  IDPs and labour-poor households will continue to rely on kinship support, food assistance and wild foods.

    High food prices from July to September are likely to restrict access to food for poor households particularly in Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states. Floods, which have already started displacing people in Aweil Center in July, are expected to intensify at least through September, restricting market supplies and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the displaced in Twic, Aweil East and West counties as well as Abyei area. As the situation in Abyei remains unpredictable, most households would prefer to remain in Warrap, meaning more pressure will continue on the host community.

    Based on the above assumptions, Crisis levels of food insecurity are expected to persist until September.  From October to December, Crisis levels will remain in Aweil North and East, Pariang and Abiemnhom counties and Abyei area, while Stressed levels will be present in other areas of the livelihood zone due to improvements in food access and availability.  

    Eastern Flood Plain Zone
    Pariang (Unity), Maban, Luakping/Nasir, Longechuk (Upper Nile), Akobo East, Uror, and Pibor (Jonglei)

    Crisis levels of food insecurity are present in most parts of this zone, driven by border tensions with Sudan, an influx of refugees from Sudan, and high cereal and fuel prices. Food security conditions among refugees from Blue Nile settled in Maban County is deteriorating despite ongoing humanitarian assistance. Lack of clean drinking water and poor sanitation remain a major challenge, compromising food security and nutrition in Jamman, Doro and Yusuf Batil. Due to water shortages in Jamman, about 35,000 refugees were relocated to Yusuf Batil site in June, where boreholes are available. 

    Livelihood activities including cultivation, sale of livestock, and fishing are ongoing in some parts of Unity state. The main sources of food during July to September include markets and food aid, and the main sources of income include sale of livestock, fishing and petty trade.  Since the livelihoods of the affected population have been significantly impacted by the conflict and large numbers of refugees, food assistance is expected to play a significant role as food source in the area. Aid agencies have pre-positioned over 50,000 MT of food assistance across the country and are working to deliver more food to the northern states to meet the increasing demands in the area in anticipation of more influx of refugees from Sudan. According to UN OCHA, water and sanitation, nutrition, and food security conditions have deteriorated in Yida refugee camp. Acute diarrhea continues to be of high concern.  Humanitarian agencies have heightened hygiene and health outreach capacities to address the outbreak of acute diarrhea and other communicable diseases in all camps in Unity and Upper Nile state.

    In Luakpiny/Nasir and Longechuk Counties of Upper Nile, household food consumption will decrease from July to August. Households will rely on market purchases, foods obtained through livestock sales, charcoal burning, and/or collecting wild foods. In Maban County (Upper Nile) and Pariang County (Unity State), Crisis levels are likely to persist up to August/September given the rapid increase in the refugee population.  Some improvements in these areas will take place in September following green harvests. During the October to December period, own production will be available and prices will decline slightly, though Stressed levels of food insecurity will remain among some displaced households and in refugee settlements.

    Food insecurity in Jonglei state has generally continued to deteriorate as the lean season progresses. The March/April disarmament exercise conducted mainly in Akobo, Pibor and Uror Counties brought calm to pastoral areas where cattle raids were rampant. However, the displaced have not returned to their homes due to fear of reprisal attacks by youth who escaped to Upper Nile and Ethiopian territory.  As the result, households in Uror, Akobo and Pibor Counties who have not returned home will fail to cultivate during the current cultivation season. During the scenario period, security conditions are likely to improve following the ongoing negotiation in Addis Ababa and disarmament initiatives that was concluded in April. Humanitarian interventions are also expected to continue in all affected areas, however, given the current context and assumptions for the scenario period, areas classified under Crisis levels of food insecurity are expected to persist for this population through September.

    Abyei area

    An estimated 110,000 people were displaced from Abyei in May 2011, and most remain displaced in Agok area and Twic county of Warrap state. In June 2012, the security situation began to improve following the withdrawal of unauthorized forces from the contested area, prompting the return of IDPs. By the end of June, an estimated 9,700 people returned to Abyei area although most the returns remained tentative, with some family members going ahead of others to ensure that conditions are favorable for permanent return. UN agencies in Khartoum and Juba, along with humanitarian partners, are scaling up assistance capacity. It is estimated that up to 30,000 people could return to Abyei by September. However, challenges such as impassable roads due to rains and landmines could threaten the process. Tracking and monitoring teams have been deployed in Abyei to ensure returns are voluntary.

    The displaced are marginally able to meet basic food needs through humanitarian food assistance in Twic County of Warrap state and Agok. The security situation has prevented IDPs from accessing seasonal wild foods and income sources such as collection and sale of firewood and charcoal. Given the significant livelihood protection gaps, most households are classified at Crisis levels. Food assistance provided for the IDPs plays a significant role in maintaining the current food security level. The agricultural season has begun but most of the displaced population could not cultivate due to lack of access to tools and seeds and the uncertainty involved with their return. However, they have started land preparation for the second cultivation season although lack of seeds and tools still remains a major challenge. FAO plans to assist 14,000 households with hand tools and 140 MT of assorted seeds. Food insecurity among the Abyei displaced is likely to persist and Crisis levels will continue through December.

    Table 1: Less likely events over the next six months that could change the above scenarios.

    Area

    Event

    Impact on food security outcomes

    Northern states along the border with Sudan

     

    Breakthrough in talks

    This also expected to improved access leading to improved market access, normal migration for labour opportunities which in turn result into improved food access through market.

    Unity and Upper Nile states

     

    Resumption of oil flow

     

    Increased national revenue.

    Improve trade leading to increased food supply.

    Market prices will stabilized

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current estimated food security outcomes, July 2012

    Figure 2

    Current estimated food security outcomes, July 2012

    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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