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2012/2013 season to be impacted by conflict, fuel prices, and atypical livestock movements

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Sudan
  • July - December 2012
2012/2013 season to be impacted by conflict, fuel prices, and atypical livestock movements

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Food Security Outcomes
  • Most likely food security outcomes, July through December 2012
  • Key Messages
    • An estimated 4.6 million people in Sudan are in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity. The highest levels of food insecurity are present among poor households and IDPs in conflict-affected areas of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states. A confluence of factors – including the impacts of conflict, declining macroeconomic indicators, sharply rising food prices, and heightened fuel prices – is likely to maintain present levels of food insecurity through at least September.

    • Improvements in food availability and access are expected across the country during the October to December period as harvests begin.  However, these improvements will be limited in areas heavily affected by conflict, particularly Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N)-controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where a total of 200,000 – 300,000 people are displaced. Limitations on movement, trade, and access to humanitarian assistance continue in these areas, though to a lesser degree in Blue Nile State.   

    • Rainfall performance to date for the June to September season has been consistent with the Greater Horn of Africa climate outlook forecast for average to above-average rains. However, area planted is likely to be below average due to insecurity in parts of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, as well as heightened production and fuel costs.  Crop development and harvesting may be impacted by atypical numbers of livestock in farming areas, particularly in Blue Nile, as herders may opt not to migrate to typical dry season grazing areas in South Sudan next year due to insecurity.  

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    An estimated 4.6 million people in Sudan are at Stressed (IPC Phase 2), Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity. This estimate represents a slight reduction in the food insecure population compared to the past two months, due to population movement out of food insecure areas.  Refugees have moved from SPLM-N controlled areas in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states to Upper Nile and Unity states of South Sudan, respectively, due to deteriorating security and food security conditions.  As of the first week of July, UNHCR reported that there are approximately 149,000 Sudanese refugees from Blue Nile and South Kordofan in Upper Nile and Unity States of South Sudan (112,000 refugees) and in Ethiopia (37,000 refugees).  The 4.6 million food insecure includes three million people in Darfur (1.8 million IDPs and 1.2 million people impacted by drought); an estimated 350,000 people in South Kordofan State; 175,000 people in Blue Nile State; 100,000–120,000 people in Abyei; and one million people in Red Sea, North Kordofan, White Nile and Kassala States. Food insecurity is caused primarily by conflict, compounded by poor production in 2011, exceptionally high national food and non-food prices, and generally declining macroeconomic indicators. 

    Over one year of intense conflict in South Kordofan, nearly one year in Blue Nile, and continuing conflict in Darfur have caused significant displacement and erosion of livelihoods, and hindered access to cultivation, trade, labor opportunities, and humanitarian interventions.  A combination of constrained trade flows, a 25-45 percent increase in fuel prices, and poor 2011 production has caused a dramatic rise in food prices.  Sorghum, millet, meat and sugar prices are up to 150 percent higher than the five-year average (2007-2011) in several markets. The devaluation of the local currency by up to 80 percent, coupled with soaring overall national inflation rates of 37.2 percent and much higher localized inflation rates of 52.2 percent in North Darfur State, have led to a significant fall in purchasing power as prices for locally produced and imported food and non-food items have increased in nominal, local currency terms.

    Most likely food security outcomes, July through December 2012

    The most likely food security outcomes for the July through December 2012 period are based on the following assumptions:

    • Rainfall: The main July-September rains will be normal to above-normal in most parts of Sudan according to the Greater Horn of Africa Climate forecast.  However, close monitoring of the season is warranted because the Sudan Meteorological Authority has issued a forecast suggesting normal to below-normal rains.  To date, above-average rains have been reported in eastern and western Sudan (e.g. Al Malha locality in North Darfur state), causing localized flash floods and fatalities, damage to infrastructure, and loss of livestock.
    • Cultivation: Area planted is likely to be below average in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, due to insecurity and high production and fuel costs. In addition, the GoS has set aside up to 25 percent of the area among large semi-mechanized farms in Tadamon and Bau localities in Blue Nile to accommodate returning cattle herders, which will reduce area planted. However, in other parts of Sudan that are not affected by conflict, area planted will be above average, given the expectation for good rains and current high food prices.
    • Livestock production: Traditional livestock migration patterns into South Sudan during the dry season (beginning in November/December) will remain restricted for herders in many parts of Sudan.  Some herders, particularly in Blue Nile, South Kordofan, and parts of Darfur, will choose not to migrate due to the border tensions between the two countries.  The productivity of these livestock is therefore expected to be compromised.
    • Conflict between farming and nomadic groups: The presence of large herds of livestock in primarily semi-mechanized farming livelihood zones (Sinar, White Nile, and Blue Nile states) is anticipated to result in new resource-based conflict between farmers and pastoral livelihood groups as the dry season sets in, toward the end of the outlook period.
    • Prices:  Prices are expected to remain above average through September, but to decline in line with seasonal trends in key harvesting areas as the harvest begins in October. However outside of key harvesting areas, prices are likely to decline though to remain well above average due to heightened transport costs, which have already risen by up to 30 percent.
    • Macroeconomic indicators: High inflation and depreciation of the local currency (with respect to major exchange currencies) are likely to continue, or remain at current depressed levels. Underlying causal factors are unlikely to be resolved decisively during the outlook period.
    • Conflict: Conflict is expected to temporarily decline in both South Kordofan and the Blue Nile States through September due to very poor road conditions during the rainy season. Though peace talks between Sudan and South Sudan are ongoing, significant impacts of negotiations are unlikely to manifest during the outlook period. Furthermore, the Tripartite Initiative signed by the African Union, the Arab League and the UN in July 2012 to allow humanitarian access to SPLM-N controlled areas is also not expected to have significant impacts on aid flows during this outlook period.  Even if aid is provided, delivery would likely be constrained during the rainy season.   
    • Population movements: The wave of large population movement from Blue Nile to Unity State in South Sudan that occurred over the past few months is expected to decline during the outlook period attributed to a combination of movement restrictions due to heavy rains, ongoing cultivation, and optimism over peace talks.

    National overview

    The outlook at the national level can be divided into two periods. The peak lean season takes place from July to September, when food stocks are drawn to minimum, food prices peak, and reliance on markets to purchase food is highest. During this period, substantial food deficits will be evident in many locations due to the low food production last year and decreased purchasing power due to high prices.

    October to December coincides with the harvest of early maturing crops initially, and then the main crops toward the end of the outlook period. Favorable rainfall prospects have strengthened expectations of good agricultural production in areas where farmers maintain access to farms, labor, and productive inputs.  Harvested output is expected to provide a stable source of food for households as well as income from crop sales through the second portion of the outlook period in those areas. In general, food security outcomes will improve in most parts of the country during this period. Food insecurity is likely decline to minimal acute levels in areas that face chronic food insecurity, including parts of Red Sea, Kassala, White Nile and North Kordofan States during the October to December period.

    The outlook in the areas of most concern is discussed in greater detail below.

    South Kordofan

    Impacts of the year-long conflict continue to be the primary driver of food insecurity in South Kordofan, compounded by declining macroeconomic indicators (inflation and substantial depreciation in exchange rates) and diminished food access, attributed in part to a poor national harvest in 2011.  FEWS NET estimates that 400,000 - 500,000 people have been directly or indirectly affected by the ongoing conflict in South Kordofan.

    Restrictions on access by humanitarian agencies to SPLM-N controlled areas continue.  In addition, trade flows from GoS areas to SPLM-N areas are only about 20 to 25 percent of normal. Households are increasingly dependent on deficit markets with exceptionally high food prices. 

    Population movements from SPLM-N-controlled areas to GoS-controlled areas are also limited.  However, HAC has reported that over 60,000 people have returned to their home villages in some GoS-controlled areas (e.g. Talodi) to cultivate this season. The main sources of income among the displaced in SPLM-N-controlled areas, including limited labor opportunities, sale of assets and collection of wild foods, are all insufficient to meet basic food needs and livelihoods protection thresholds.  Dependence on conflict-affected hosts is largely untenable because host families are themselves vulnerable due to low agricultural output resulting from limited access to land and destruction of crops by warring groups.

    As a result of the above factors, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity are present in SPLM-N-controlled areas of the Nuba Mountains, including Delami, Salara, Heiban, Um Durein, Buram, and parts of Talodi, Keilak, and Al Dalang localities.  About 150,000-200,000 displaced households in these areas face extreme food consumption gaps, as well as extreme loss of livelihood assets leading to food consumption gaps. 

    In GoS-controlled areas of South Kordofan, where about 100,000-150,000 people are displaced, Stressed and Crisis levels of food insecurity are present, depending on the degree of access to humanitarian assistance.  Crisis levels of food insecurity are now present in Kalugi, Talodi, Aleyeri, Harazaya and Keilak localities, which are mostly controlled by the GoS, though households that are located within SPLM-N-controlled pockets of these areas are expected to face Emergency levels of food insecurity.  Some of these areas (Kalugi, Taludi, and Aleyri) were classified at Emergency levels of food insecurity in June 2012, but are now re-classified at Crisis levels as SAF has assumed control of some parts of these areas and delivery of humanitarian assistance by GoS and WFP resumed (e.g. some parts of Talodi and Aleyeri).

    Access to food, wild foods, labor opportunities, farm inputs and humanitarian assistance is better for IDPs in GoS-controlled areas than in SPLM-N-controlled areas. In particular, access by humanitarian agencies to IDPs in GoS-controlled areas remarkably improved recently. In June, WFP dispatched 2,509 MT of food commodities to about 45,571 people in GoS-controlled areas (12,110 in Talodi, 15,871 in Aleyeri, 2,805 in Gadir/Kalugi, 5,347 in Dilling and 9,438 in Alreif Ashargi). WFP has prioritized food distribution in locations to which access will likely be restricted first due to rains. Nevertheless, vulnerability is significant for the majority of IDPs who have been displaced for close to one year. Some have lost livelihood assets and depend primarily on kinship ties and unstable humanitarian assistance, coupled with limited work opportunities.  In addition, purchasing capacities are severely constrained by heighted food, fuel and transport costs.

    The July-September 2012 lean period represents a period of accentuated food insecurity because access to typical sources of food (market purchases and wild foods) and income (agricultural labor, sale of grass and firewood) have been hindered by impacts of protracted conflict, eroded household food stocks and mounting macroeconomic shocks.  Likely sources of income during the July-September outlook period are unstable and include market purchase and continued dependency on vulnerable hosts.  While on-going rains may slow the intensity of conflict, access to food will remain limited for most poor households because the impacts of the conflict will not be resolved during this period.

    The inability of farmers to cultivate, particularly in SPLM-N controlled areas, also dampens prospects for substantial improvements during the outlook period, and many households will experience only temporary improvements in food security during the latter part of the outlook period. Host families will also not have sufficient capacity to continue supporting displaced populations because of their poor production prospects. Although poor households continue to employ coping strategies such as limited migrations in search of labor, sale of productive assets by host households, overwhelming dependency on food distributions in areas where they are accessible, it is clear that many of the coping strategies have eroded substantially. Apart from diminished consumption and disruption of livelihoods, nutrition outcomes are also anticipated to worsen during the July-September period, especially in SPLM-N controlled areas, due to a combination of an upsurge in vector and water borne diseases and the lack of capacity to mitigate the diseases, leading to a likelihood of additional mortalities.

    However, food security is expected to improve during the second part of the outlook period, from October through December, following increased supply of harvested food coupled with greater access to income from crop sales and agricultural labor. Nevertheless, resurgence of conflict, after a lull during the rainy period, could erode anticipated gains as the dry season progresses. Recovery gains during October-December will also be moderated by constrained purchasing capacities due to heightened prices of fuel and other non-food commodities. The outcomes of the tripartite peace talks and also peace initiatives between Sudan and South Sudan are unlikely to yield immediate benefits because of the expected impacts on cultivation early in the season.  Therefore, gains during October-December are anticipated to be fairly short-lived in areas controlled by the SPLM-N, in particular, where most displacement has occurred.

    Consequently, food insecurity for IDPs in areas controlled by the SPLM-N is anticipated to be at Emergency levels during July-September, improving to Crisis levels during the October-December period.  Food security for host populations in SPLM-N controlled areas is expected to worsen to the Crisis level during July to September, improving to Stressed levels from October-December, during the harvest.  In GoS-controlled areas, food insecurity is anticipated to be at Crisis levels from July to September in those areas where humanitarian assistance is not available, though to improve to Stressed levels from October to December.  Stressed levels of food insecurity will remain through December in other GoS-controlled areas. 

    Blue Nile State

    Conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLM-N, since September 2011, continues to exacerbate food insecurity and cause substantial displacement in Blue Nile State. An estimated 175,000 people (50,000 – 100,000 people in SPLM-N controlled areas and about 100,000 in GoS controlled areas) face Stressed or Crisis levels of food insecurity. Repeated attacks by SAF on SPLM-N controlled areas in the Angasana Mountains over the past few months have resulted in an influx of refugees from Ullu area of Tadamon locality, in Deim Mansour area in Kurmuk locality, and along Ed Damazine – Kurmuk road in Shali to Upper Nile State of South Sudan.

    Humanitarian agencies have limited access to SPLM-N controlled areas due to insecurity and access restrictions. However the GoS controls large sections of Blue Nile State, and access to humanitarian assistance is better and population movement less restricted than in South Kordofan.  The GoS has distributed food to most IDPs in GoS controlled areas of Blue Nile and pre-positioned food in areas that are likely to be cut off during the rainy season.

    Current Crisis levels of food insecurity in SPLM-N controlled areas and Stressed levels in GoS-controlled areas are likely to continue through September.  Sporadic conflict between the SPLM-N and GoS, as well as reduced movement and transport of goods because of heavy rains, are expected to limit access to humanitarian assistance, markets, and labor opportunities.  Cereal prices are anticipated to be above average through September, while the impacts of inflation and heightened fuel prices are expected to persist through at least September. Access to seasonal agricultural labor, an important source of income for poor households, is also likely to be below average because of security concerns while trade flows from GoS to SPLM-N controlled areas are disrupted.

    Cultivation by IDPs in both SPLM-N and GoS-controlled areas is likely to be limited, as most will not have access to their traditional lands, though jubraka cultivation is a viable option in these areas. In addition, production inputs are less accessible due to high prices and reduced sources of income.  In GoS-controlled areas, cultivation is taking place and sizeable harvests are anticipated. However, insecurity may discourage large scale semi-mechanized farmers from cultivating, due to likely looting of farm equipment and fuel by armed groups. In addition, the GoS has allocated up to 25 percent of large semi-mechanized farms in Tadamon and Bau localities to accommodate settlement and grazing of Sudanese cattle herders who are permanently returning from South Sudan due to tensions in border areas and high taxation imposed in South Sudan. This will lead to a significant reduction in cropped land in the semi-mechanized agricultural sector of Blue Nile. 

    Availability and access to food is anticipated to substantially decline during the first three months of the scenario period in SPLM-N controlled areas, including parts of Bau, Tadamon and Kurmuk localities. Food stocks are likely to be exhausted while access to wild foods is also limited, yet food prices are anticipated to remain far higher than average amidst limited income-generating options. Toward the latter half of the outlook period, food security outcomes are expected to improve from Crisis to Stressed levels in SPLM-N-controlled areas, as food commodities become more readily available.

    In GoS-controlled areas, food security will also improve during the October-December period.  The GoS is expected to continue to provide some assistance to IDPs in their areas.  In addition, access to seasonal agriculture and domestic labor is more favorable than in SPLM-N controlled areas. However, Stressed levels will persist among IDPs through most of the outlook period, as livelihood strategies will be limited and IDPs will continue to rely on food assistance and support from the host community.   

    Darfur States

    An estimated three million people (1.8 million IDPs and 1.2 million people affected by drought) in Darfur are at Stressed and Crisis levels of food insecurity. In many parts of North Darfur, Crisis levels are driven by poor rains last year, which resulted in poor production and degraded pasture, coupled with exceptionally high food and non-food prices. In addition, the on-going Darfur conflict is complex, characterized by participation of several rebel groups that have destabilized livelihoods and disrupted commodity flows from central Sudan to Darfur and within Darfur.  In recent months, battles between the GoS and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) in conjunction with SPLM-N have intensified.  The critical supply route from Nyala (South Darfur) to El Fasher (North Darfur) has been mostly inaccessible over the past month.

    Insecurity continued to trigger new population displacements in some parts of Darfur, while the relatively stable security conditions in some pockets (e.g., most parts of West Darfur state and some parts of South Darfur) have attracted considerable returns. The Humanitarian Aid Commission in South Darfur has estimated that over 22,000 households returned from IDP camps to cultivate in 40 villages in Shattaya, Mershing, Kas, Al Salam, Beliel AL Wohda, Greida, Buram and Kateila localities in South Darfur. Similar patterns were reported in North, West and Central Darfur states. The return working group has verified the return of 178,000 people (146,000 IDPs from within Darfur and 32,000 refugees from Chad) from January 2011 to June 2012. Returnees cited the improved security conditions and access to farmland as the main reasons for their return. Additional factors included prolonged adverse impacts of displacement; deteriorating living conditions in camps, as some had not received food aid for more than eight months, such as in Kalma camp in South Darfur State; reduced food rations; and deteriorating services, such as healthcare. 

    However, according to IOM, about 9,235 people were displaced from their villages in Dar Al Salam and Kalimindo localities in North Darfur state and arrived in Zam-zam IDP camp during the first six months of 2012. Recent fighting between SAF and Darfur rebel groups in and around Jebel Mara could also trigger new displacement.

    Macroeconomic indicators are particularly unfavorable in Darfur, with exceptionally high inflation. Rates in North Darfur – 48.5 percent and 52.2 percent in May and June, respectively – are among the highest in the country. Over the past two months, cereal prices have remained relatively stable but are much higher than average and than in other parts of Sudan (SDG 280 per 90 kg-bag in El Fasher and SDG 330 per 90 kg-bag in Nyala compared to SDG 195, 209 and 232 per 90 kg-bag in Khartoum, Port Sudan and Al Obied, respectively). The relative recent stability of sorghum prices is attributed to market interventions by the Strategic Grain Reserve Corporation, State Ministries of Finance and Agricultural Bank of Sudan, and the restriction of grain outflows to Chad imposed by the government of West Darfur State.

    Vulnerable IDPs and poor households in drought-affected areas are unable to meet minimum food requirements through market purchases and have significant food consumption deficits. Of most concern are drought-affected households in North Darfur, such as in Al Malha locality, where families are reportedly consuming less than 300 grams per person per day. 

    Food insecurity is anticipated to persist at Crisis levels through September for about 1.2 million drought-affected residents, most located in North Darfur.   Heightened insecurity could moderate anticipated improvements in food security even with a good harvest.  Ongoing peace talks between Sudan and South Sudan could further result in the expulsion of Darfur rebels from South Sudan back to Darfur.  This could also compound access problems by restricting movement along key supply routes such as the critical El Fasher – Nyala road and Ed Daein – Nyala road. If an upsurge in conflict occurs, projected food security outcomes could be worse than anticipated in conflict-hit areas.

    Improvements to Stressed levels of food insecurity are expected from October through December after the key harvest begins and household food availability and incomes improve.  Market purchases, humanitarian assistance in IDP camps, and kinship support are likely to remain the main food sources. The half ration of food assistance distributed by WFP to IDPs is expected to continue through the scenario period. Nevertheless, seasonal food aid distribution to drought-affected populations is expected to be typically late and inadequate and food consumption deficits are likely to persist through September.  Food staple prices are anticipated to remain prohibitively high in spite of GoS efforts to stabilize prices by increasing the supply of sorghum and Indian millet into some markets. The road blockade due to heavy rains and insecurity is likely to further reduce supplies.

    Less likely events over the next six months that could change the above scenario



    Impact on food security outcomes

    South Kordofan and Blue Nile States

    Tripartite Initiative to provide humanitarian assistance in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

    Improved security situation, allow humanitarian access and allow better access to cultivation, trade flows and population movement.

    Abeyi Area

    Durable resolution to the status of Abeyi.

    Allow return of Abeyi IDPs, improve access to farming and grazing areas and improve oil supplies. 

    Darfur (North, South and West Darfur States)

    The remaining Darfur rebel groups to become signatory of Doha Document for peace in Darfur.

    Improve security situation and allow systematic return of IDPs to their home villages and productive capacities restored.

    Blue Nile and South Kordofan States

    Peace deal between SPLA-N and GoS to end violence in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States and/or full implementation of the agreements.

    Improve access by humanitarian agencies to provide humanitarian assistance and allow return of refugees and displaced people to their home villages.

    All Sudan

    Decrease in pattern of inflation, local currency depreciation and soaring food prices.

    Improve access to food from markets and enhance purchasing capacities.

    All Sudan

    Comprehensive Peace Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan that will resolve all pending issues including border disputed areas and oil export tariffs.

    Reduce national budget deficit and prevent further inflation and depreciation of local currency.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events Timeline

    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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