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Food security improving with harvests, but conflict in some areas to cause new displacement

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Sudan
  • January - June 2015
Food security improving with harvests, but conflict in some areas to cause new displacement

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Preliminary estimates indicated record-high cereal and cash crop production due to increased area planted and above-average rainfall. Sorghum production is estimated to be double the five-year average and three times greater than last year. Above-average harvests have improved household access to food and income from seasonal income opportunities.

    • Staple food prices continued to decline seasonally in most markets. Sorghum prices dropped by an average of 13 percent from November to December. Despite these decreases during the harvest period, food prices remain well above average due to high inflation. Cereal prices are roughly 30 percent higher than last year, and 120 percent above the five-year average, although prices in real terms are more stable.

    • Despite improved food security conditions in much of the country, acute food insecurity persists among 3.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities in conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur states. An estimated 25 to 30 percent of IDPs in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and an estimated 20 to 30 percent of IDPs in Darfur are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) through June 2015.


    National Overview
    Current Situation

    Main season harvests are ongoing across most of Sudan, improving food availability and access to income for poor households. According to the Annual Joint Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (ACFSAM), 2014/15 national sorghum production is expected to be double the five-year average and three times greater than 2013/14. In addition to favorable rainfall, the increase in cereal production is due to an increase in area planted and significant yield increases compared to the five-year average. Despite the estimated 1.7 million metric tons (MT) of surplus sorghum production this year, import requirements for wheat are an estimated 2 million MT to meet domestic consumption need of wheat.                                                      

    Sorghum and millet prices continue their typical seasonal decline, but prices remain well above average. Cereal prices continue to decrease seasonally as harvests replenish market supply and demand declines with reduced household reliance on markets for food. Sorghum and millet prices declined in both surplus and deficit production areas, by an average of 13 percent from November to December. However, sorghum prices in December remained, on average, 30 percent higher than last year and 120 percent above the five-year average. Sorghum prices in Sudan are currently about 128 percent higher than sorghum prices in the international market, reducing its export competitiveness. Millet prices also declined, between 20 to 23 percent from November to December in El Obied, Nyala and Kadugli markets. On average, millet prices in December were 37 percent higher than last year and 106 percent above-average. Wheat prices were on average 6 percent higher than last year and 145 percent above the five-year average.

    Wage labor to sorghum terms of trade (ToT) improved seasonally as cereal prices declined. In Qadarif state, daily agricultural labor wages continued to increase as sorghum prices declined, strengthening wage to sorghum ToT (Figure 1). From November to December, daily wages for agricultural labor increased by 6 percent compared to a 19 percent decrease in sorghum prices, suggesting a 31 percent increase in the daily wage to sorghum ToT. Favorable seasonal income from other sources and declining prices of cereals has similarly improved purchasing power of poor households to buy cereals. 

    Macro-economic indicators: National inflation has declined in recent months but remained high in December at 25.6 percent. High inflation and depreciation of the Sudanese Pound (SDG) continue to put upward pressure on food prices, despite above-average production. However, real prices of cereals remain stable compared to last year. Reduced national revenues from crude oil exports continue to impact Sudan’s macroeconomic climate. Oil production for export in South Sudan has fallen to 130,000 barrels per day compared to 240,000 barrels per day before the conflict broke out in December 2013.

    Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) intensified military operations against armed rebel groups in South Kordofan, Darfur and Blue Nile states in recent weeks, displacing thousands. Since the last week of December, SAF launched attacks against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. During the same period, SAF targeted attacks against the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdelwahid (SLA-AW) in South Darfur, and against the SLA-Mini Minawi (SLA-MM) in North Darfur. Heavy fighting and extreme violence against civilians in a number of localities displaced thousands from their home villages. Although official estimates are not yet available, field reports suggest IDP arrivals to Tawila, Zam Zam, and Tabit and Shengel Tobaya IDP camps in North Darfur state. An escalation of fighting between SAF and SPLM-N was also reported in parts of South Kordofan over the last month.

    Large numbers of refugees from South Sudan continued to arrive in Sudan during the last quarter of 2014. According to UNHCR, as of the first week of January, nearly 120,000 South Sudanese refugees arrived in Sudan since the outbreak of conflict in mid-December 2013. More than half of this refugee population is concentrated in refugee camps in White Nile (55 percent) and South Kordofan (12 percent) where humanitarian agencies are distributing full food aid rations. About a third of the refugee population have joined relatives in Khartoum.

    Most areas of Sudan are at the seasonal peak of food availability and access and currently face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. In Darfur, where most IDPs rely on markets for food, the combination of ongoing civil insecurity, limited access to wage labor and persistently above-average cereal prices continues to limit food access for IDPs and poor host community households. These households are able to meet their minimum food needs and are currently in Stressed (IPC Phase 2!), but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance. In areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states controlled by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), internally displaced populations (IDP) and poor host community households remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to the impacts of ongoing conflict. Overall, an estimated 3.5 million people are acutely food insecure in Sudan.

    Assumptions

    From January to June 2015, the projected food security outcomes are based on the following national key assumptions:

    Conflict is likely to escalate in South Kordofan, Darfur and Blue Nile states during the January to June dry season. Peace talks between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and SPLM-N/Darfur rebel groups, under the mediation of African Union, remain unsuccessful.  GoS’s recent scale-up of military operations in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, in addition to improved dry season road access suggest that in the most likely scenario, conflict will escalate in these areas from January to June. Conflict is expected to cause large-scale population displacement from North and South Darfur, and opposition-controlled areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Between 250,000 to 300,000 people are likely to be displaced over the next months.

    Continued decline in cereal prices, in-line with seasonal trends, is expected during the harvest and post-harvest periods, but prices will remain well-above the five year average. Above-average harvests will continue to increase local food availability and supply cereals to both rural and urban markets. Most households have replenished food stocks, reducing consumer demand. These factors are likely to continue to exert downward pressure on cereal prices from January to March. Prices are generally lower in rural market compared to urban markets due to greater household dependency on own production and lower reliance on markets for food. FEWS NET’s price integrated price projections indicate a further decline in sorghum and millet prices of 10 to 15 percent from January to March. Prices will likely stabilize in April/May and begin to increase seasonally from June to July as households increase market reliance during the lean season. Due to persistently high inflation, nominal prices are expected to remain higher than last year and the five-year average. However, real price trends suggest greater stability.

    In areas where security remains relatively stable, access to income is expected to be normal for most poor households from January to June. Access to income from seasonal agricultural labor and cash crop sales will continue during the post-harvest period, through April/ March. Starting in May, households will increase reliance on non-agricultural wage labor as their main source of income. In Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where conflict continues, access to income is expected to remain limited by insecurity.

    Improved access to food during the harvest period due to above-average 2014/15 harvest will sustain through the scenario period. Most poor households will rely on stocks from own production from January to May one month longer than normal. As food stocks deplete, households will increase reliance on markets in order to meet minimum food needs. Poor and IDP households in conflict-affected areas of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile will remain largely reliant on markets and humanitarian assistance for food even during the harvest/ post-harvest period due to their limited access to cultivation. Given expectations that insecurity will restrict income earning opportunities, and that cereal prices will remain well above average, many households in these areas will remain unable to meet minimum food requirements from January to June.

    The influx of refugees from South Sudan is expected to continue. Given the conflict in South Sudan is expected to continue, FEWS NET assumes additional 50,000 South Sudanese refugees will arrive to Sudan between January and June 2015, increasing the size of the South Sudanese refugee population since December 2013 to over 175,000.

    National presidential and parliamentary election are likely to run smoothly. Preparations for the April 2015 elections are underway. Despite refusal to participate by some opposition parties, elections are not expected to cause political unrest or instability.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Continued improvements in household food security across Sudan are expected due to increased food availability from above-average harvests and favorable seasonal income opportunities. From January to May, near normal to above normal access to food and income sources will enable most poor households to meet essential food and non-food needs, and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity is expected through June. Food security is likely to begin a gradual seasonal deterioration by the beginning of normal lean season in June. Thus by June, about 20 percent of poor households in marginal agricultural production areas of White Nile, North Darfur, North Kordofan, Kassala and Red Sea states would have exhausted their own crop production and increased dependency on market purchase as the main food source. These households likely to have income deficit to meet their minimum food requirement during the second half of the scenario period as cereal prices likely to remain well above average and opportunities for wage labor and daily wages will get less after the completion of harvest in March/April. At least 20 percent of households in these areas likely to go stressed (IPC Phase 2) during the second half of the scenario period.    

    Despite above-average 2014/15 national production, acute food insecurity likely to persist in conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur states due to limited access to income generating opportunities and high market dependency. An estimated 25 to 30 percent of IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan will continue to face food consumption gaps and remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Roughly 30 percent of IDPs in Darfur are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!), but only with humanitarian assistance, through June 2015. Newly displaced households in these areas are likely to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity during the scenario period.

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, January 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, January 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 5

    Source:

    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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