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Significant deterioration in security in Darfur and South Kordofan

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Sudan
  • November 2013
Significant deterioration in security in Darfur and South Kordofan

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through March 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Harvest prospects for the 2013/14 main agricultural season have been revised downwards. The harvest is now expected to be 20 – 30 percent below average at the national level, due to poor distribution of rains, insecurity, and pest outbreaks (grasshoppers and birds).

    • Cereal prices have atypically risen at the start of the harvest season, by 10 – 35 percent compared to the previous month. This is likely due to the poor harvest expectations, high transport and production costs, and high inflation driven by macroeconomic policies.

    • Security conditions have considerably deteriorated in some parts of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states over the last month, with clashes reported in many areas. Open conflict during the harvest could further lower harvest prospects, as well as cause continued destruction of assets and displacement.

    Current Situation

    The Ministry of Agriculture reported that a localized outbreak of birds and grasshoppers has caused severe damage to crops in the traditional rain-fed sector of South and West Kordofan states and the semi-mechanized sector of Gadaref state. The damages have reduced crop prospects, which were already low due to the impacts of conflict and poor rainfall.  The harvest is now expected to be 20 – 30 percent below average at a national level, compared to last month’s estimate of 15 – 20 percent below normal.

    In contrast to the typical downward trend in prices expected during the harvest period, cereal prices started to increase in most markets of Sudan in October. In Zalingi market (Central Darfur state), sorghum prices increased by 37 percent in October compared to September. In Kosti, Sinar, and Al Gadarif markets (the main surplus-producing areas of central Sudan), sorghum prices increased by 11 – 16 percent. October sorghum prices were 83 percent and 94 percent above the five-year average and the same period last year, respectively. This abnormal trend is likely driven by the poor harvest prospects, crop damage by pests, insecurity, crop damage by animals in conflict-affected areas of Darfur, high inflation (up from 29.4 percent in September to 40.3 in October), and the 30-50 percent increase in the cost of production and transport following the government’s end to fuel subsidies. Rising cereal prices at this point in the season raises concerns for further increases in the coming months.  In response to soaring cereal prices, terms of trade of main income sources (e.g. livestock, cash crops, labor) with cereal have started to deteriorate in October.

    Insecurity has significantly increased in Darfur over the last month. Tribal clashes between Salamat and Messeriya/Taayasha in parts of Central Darfur (Bendesi, Mukjar, Um Dokhon, and Wadi Salih localities) in November have resulted in dozens of casualties, looting of thousands of cattle, destruction of crops, and displacement of thousands to nearby towns and across the border to Chad and Central Africa. In East Jebel Mara, fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Darfur rebel groups (SLA- Abdul Wahid, SLA – Mini Minawi, SLA- Karbino) has resulted in additional crop destruction and is likely to cause new displacement to existing camps in North and South Darfur states.

    In South Kordofan, fighting between the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) – a coalition of SPLM-N and Darfur rebel groups – and SAF has escalated since the beginning of the dry season in October. The most recent fighting was reported in Deling locality of South Kordofan and Abu Zabad locality of North Kordofan state. The Government of Sudan stated its intention to intensify military operations against rebel groups in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile state during the dry season (November-May). Open conflict during the harvest could further lower harvest prospects, as well as cause continued destruction of assets and displacement.     

    The unilateral referendum conducted in Abyei area in October was not recognized by Sudan, South Sudan, the UN, or AU mediators, and efforts to ensure economic cooperation between Sudan and South Sudan have continued. Security conditions remain calm as the Messeriya cattle herders are due to enter Abyei area as part of the seasonal dry season grazing en route to Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Unity and Warrap states of South Sudan. Thus, the recent agreement between Sudan and South Sudan to resume trade flows, allow continued oil exports from South Sudan via facilities in Sudan, and permit cross-border population movements, has been sustained. 

    Updated Assumptions
    • Due to new information on the pest outbreaks in several parts of Sudan and deteriorating security conditions in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, FEWS NET has revised its national harvest expectations to 20-30 percent below average.
    • Based on the October trend in sorghum and millet prices, FEWS NET has revised its projection of cereal prices.  FEWS NET now assumes that cereal prices will increase during the scenario period by 15 – 25 percent, compared to the same period in 2012/2013.  In the October Outlook, FEWS NET had estimated that prices would be higher by at least 10 percent in the retail (consumption) markets of Sudan, between October 2013 and April 2014 when compared to the same period in 2012/2013.

    Projected Outlook through March 2014

    Crop harvesting began in October, thus improving household access to food from own production and income from cash crops and seasonal agricultural labor. Therefore, minimal food insecurity levels (IPC Phase 1) are likely to be maintained in relatively secure areas until February 2014. However, the below-average harvest will reduce household food stocks compared to a typical year and will increase market dependence for poor households beginning in March/April, versus May/June in a typical year. At the same time, food prices are expected to rise during a time when prices normally decline.

    At present, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity persist among at least 30 percent of IDPs in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan and 20 percent of new IDPs in Darfur. In addition, at least 30 percent of IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas of Blue Nile state and 20 percent of poor households of resident communities in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) conditions. In areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile controlled by the Government of Sudan, Stressed levels of food security will persist through the end of the scenario period.

    In Darfur, Stressed levels of food insecurity will persist throughout the Outlook period among at least 20 percent of IDPs in Darfur, with the phase level maintained through humanitarian assistance. However, some of the 460,000 people displaced by tribal conflict in 2013 have not yet received assistance and may face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity until they receive food assistance.


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    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an 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 over the next six months. Learn more here.

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