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Below-average rainfall delays main season planting across most of Sudan

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Sudan
  • July - December 2015
Below-average rainfall delays main season planting across most of Sudan

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • Cumulative seasonal rainfall has been below-average across most of Sudan’s main agricultural production areas with May to July rainfall totals ranging between 25 and 50 percent of normal in some areas. Poor rainfall performance has delayed planting in many rainfed cropping zones and vegetation conditions are currently below-average across much of the Darfur region, in the eastern surplus-producing areas of Sinar, Gadaref, and Kassala states, and in localized areas of North and South Kordorfan.

    • The IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) and the Sudan Meteorological Authorities (SMA) forecast average to below-average rainfall through September across Sudan, particularly in the main rainfed surplus production areas of Kassala, Gadaref, SInar, Blue Nile, White Nile, Gazeira, and Khartoum, and normal to above-normal rains in Darfur and Kordofan, the second most important rainfed production region in Sudan.

    • Levels of acute food insecurity have decreased this year compared to last year due to the effects of 2014/15 surplus production on food availability, market supply, and prices. Food security is expected to deteriorate from August to September as the lean season peaks, and improve from October to December as harvests increase food availability. 


    National Overview
    Current Situation

    As of July 2015, an estimated 4 million people in Sudan face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity. Most of these populations are in conflict-affected areas of Darfur, South Kordofan, West Kordofan, and Blue Nile states, with additional pockets of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) populations  in drought- prone areas of Red Sea, North Kordofan, North Darfur and Kassala states. About 65 percent of the current food insecure population is in Darfur and 14 percent in South Kordofan. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity is mainly among internally displaced persons (IDPs) in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan and IDPs in Darfur displaced in the last six months due to conflict.  

    Cumulative seasonal rainfall has been below-average in Sudan’s main agricultural production areas, particularly in the East and across parts of Darfur (Figure 1). May to July rainfall was 25 to 50 millimeters (mm) below average across parts of Darfur and North Kordofan, and 100 to 200 mm below average along the eastern border, particularly in Kassala and Gadaref states (Figure 2).  

    Below-average rainfall has disrupted land preparation and delayed planting in most rainfed cropping zones. Poor rainfall performance, in addition to recent fuel shortages in some parts of the country, have disrupted land preparation, resulting in significant delays in planting in rainfed cropping zones. Vegetation conditions, as indicated by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), are currently below-average across much of the Darfur region, in the eastern surplus-producing areas of Sinar, Gadaref, and Kassala states; and in localized areas of North and South Kordorfan (Figure 3). This is likely due to a combination of moisture deficits and resulting delays in planting in these areas. 

    Ongoing political and inter-communal conflict in Darfur and Blue Nile continues to cause displacement and disrupt livelihoods. Fighting between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North (SPLM-N) in Wad Abok Locality, Blue Nile State, displaced 24,500 people in June, mainly to towns in Bau and Altadamon localities, according to findings of an inter-agency assessment in Bau. In Darfur, fighting between the Rezeighat and Habania tribes since the mid-July in Sunta locality, South Darfur, and heightened tensions between Zayadia and Berti tribes in North Darfur have disrupted planting in these areas.

    Humanitarian assistance delivery to conflict-affected areas of Darfur improved in June/early July due to increased access. WFP conducted food aid distributions in Mellit (North Darfur), Abu Kairnka (East Darfur), and West Jabal Marra (Central Darfur) localities in June. In late June/early July, the ICRC distributed 1,772 metric tons (MTs) of food assistance and 716 MTs of seeds to 237,500 beneficiaries in Jabal Marra.

    Sorghum and millet prices remained unseasonably stable or declined in June due to above-average market and household-level grain availability. However, cereal prices remain above the five-year average.  Cereal prices typically begin to increase as availability declines and demand increases with the start of the lean season in June. However, large 2014/15 production surpluses have maintained supply levels, keeping prices low. Sorghum prices in the main source market of Gadaref declined by 11 percent in June (Figure 4). On average, June sorghum and millet prices declined by roughly 20 percent compared to last year, but were 40 and 70 percent above the five-year average, respectively.

    The Government of Sudan (GoS) reduced subsidies for wheat imports in June by raising the exchange rate for imported wheat from 2.9 to 4 SDG per 1 USD. This decision was likely influenced by declining wheat and fuel prices on the international market. However, this change is not yet reflected in retail bread prices in Sudan. On average, wheat prices in June were 15 percent above June 2014 levels, and 75 percent above the five-year average.

    Sorghum to daily wage labor terms of trade (ToT) declined seasonably or remained stable between May and June. Sorghum to daily wage labor ToT declined in markets where sorghum prices increased. For example, ToT declined by 16 percent between May and June in Zalingi, Central Darfur, but remained relatively stable in Gadaref due to sorghum and daily wage price stability (Figure 5).

    National inflation continued a downward trend, decreasing by 60 percent compared to June 2014. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the rate of inflation declined by 7 percent from May to June, from 19.8 percent in May, and to 18.4 percent in June. Inflation has declined by 23 percent since January 2015.

    Escalating conflict in Upper Nile and Unity states of South Sudan led to an influx of South Sudanese refugees to White Nile, South Kordofan, West Kordofan and Khartoum states. According to UNHCR, over 38,000 refugees arrived in Sudan during the month of June, the largest number of arrivals in one month since the conflict began in December 2013. New refugees cited violence, insecurity, and lack of food in South Sudan as the main reasons for displacement. According to an interagency assessment of South Sudanese refugees in Kharsana, West Kordofan, conducted in June, most new arrivals reported complete loss of assets, including cattle. As of late July, the South Sudanese refugee population reached 198,000 since the conflict began. Currently, about half of South Sudanese refugees have received some form of humanitarian assistance. 

    Assumptions

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

    • Rainfall is expected to remain below average across main surplus production areas of central and eastern Sudan. Rainfall performance has been below average across most of Sudan’s main agricultural production areas. The IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) forecasted average to below average rainfall across most of Sudan during the June to September period. The Sudan Meteorological Authorities (SMA) provided more detailed forecasts for the four main agricultural regions of Sudan, with normal to below-normal rainfall in main rainfed surplus production areas of Kassala, Gadaref, SInar, Blue Nile, White Nile, Gazeira,  and Khartoum , and normal to above-normal rainfall in Darfur and Kordofan, the second most  important rainfed production region in Sudan (Figure 6).
    • Reduced area planted is expected in rainfed production areas due to poor early-season rainfall performance and expectations of below-average rains through September. FEWS NET assumes a decline in overall area planted compared to last year and the five-year average.
    • 2015/16 production is likely to be below-average, due to a combination of reduced area planted and below-average main season rainfall performance in traditional rainfed production zones. Harvesting is likely to be begin later than normal in many areas due to delayed planting.
    • Reduced seasonal availability of pasture and water resources is likely to impact livestock body conditions and disrupt seasonal livestock migration, particularly in Darfur and North Kordofan. The drier-than-normal vegetation conditions observed in July across much of Darfur and parts of Kordofan are likely to persist, reducing access to grazing land for livestock.
    • Sporadic hostilities between SAF and armed opposition groups in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile state are likely to continue, but decrease in intensity from July to September due to reduced mobility during the peak rainy season. Increased competition over pasture and water resources is likely to cause resource-based conflict between pastoralist and agricultural communities, particularly in Darfur. Despite expectations that conflict will decline in the coming months, FEWS NET assumes that the total number of IDPs displaced over the course of 2015 will reach 250,000 to 300,000 people by the end of the year.
    • FEWS NET assumes that most IDPs in conflict-affected areas will not access their farms for cultivation this year. Reduced access to seasonal agricultural labor—the main source of income for the poor during the scenario period—is also expected among IDPs and resident communities, in areas where conflict is ongoing. Millet and sorghum prices are expected to rise from July to September, in line with seasonal trends. Although cereal prices remained atypically stable or declined through June due to continued adequate supply levels and low demand from last season’s surplus production, traders are likely to respond to poor early season rainfall performance by holding on to tradable stocks. The resulting reduction in market supply is likely to drive prices upward. FEWS NET assumes millet and sorghum prices will increase by 10 to 15 percent over the course of the July to September period.
    • Sorghum exports are likely to remain low due to the high price of domestic sorghum on international markets. Although sorghum prices continued to decline through June, current sorghum prices remain far above the export parity prices on the international market and with neighboring Ethiopia, but lower than in markets in South Sudan. Thus, Sudan sorghum is competitive for export to South Sudan, but not to Ethiopia or on the international market. However, high levels of insecurity in South Sudan have discouraged trade there.
    • Cereal to daily wage labor ToT is expected to remain stable from July to September and begin to increase seasonally in October. FEWS NET assumes the seasonal increase in labor wages will keep pace with the projected 10 to 15 percent increase in staple food prices during the scenario period.
    • Population inflow from South Sudan is expected to continue, mainly to White Nile, South Kordofan and West Kordofan states due to ongoing conflict and widespread food insecurity in the Greater Upper Nile region of South Sudan. FEWS NET estimates an additional 30,000 to 50,000 refugees will arrive in Sudan in the coming six months.  The size of the South Sudanese refugee population is likewise expected to reach 230,000 to 250,000, the majority of which will require emergency food assistance.
    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Last season’s surplus production has sustained above-average market supply levels and household food stocks for longer than normal, resulting in improved availability and access to food compared to a typical year. However, poor households are expected to increase reliance on markets for food as household stocks decline in the coming months, as the lean season progresses. Although staple food prices are lower than last year, current price levels remain well above-average. Most households will be able to meet food needs, but high food prices will reduce the ability of many poor households to meet essential non-food needs. These households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in the coming months. Acute food insecurity likely to persist among IDPs in conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur states due to high market dependency, and limited access to income earning opportunities. Roughly 30 percent of IDPs in Darfur will be able to meet food needs, but only with humanitarian assistance and will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!). Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will persist among an estimated 25 to 30 percent of IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan, and among newly displaced IDPs in areas of Darfur worst-affected by conflict due to limited access to markets, income, and humanitarian assistance. 

    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, July 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, July 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1.  Percent of normal rainfall (%), May 1-July 31, 2015

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Percent of normal rainfall (%), May 1-July 31, 2015

    Source: FEWS NET/ NOAA

    Figure 2.Total rainfall anomaly in millimeters (mm), May 1-July 31, 2015

    Figure 4

    Figure 2.Total rainfall anomaly in millimeters (mm), May 1-July 31, 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 3. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from 2001-2010 mean, July 21-31, 2015

    Figure 5

    Figure 3. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) anomaly from 2001-2010 mean, July 21-31, 2015

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Figure 4. Sorghum prices in Gadaref market from January to June 2015, compared to last year and the five-year average

    Figure 6

    Figure 4. Sorghum prices in Gadaref market from January to June 2015, compared to last year and the five-year average

    Source: FEWS NET/ FAMIS

    Figure 5: Sorghum to daily wage labor terms of trade in Gadaref and Zalingi markets, August 2013 to June 2015

    Figure 7

    Figure 5: Sorghum to daily wage labor terms of trade in Gadaref and Zalingi markets, August 2013 to June 2015

    Source: FEWS NET/ FAMIS

    Figure 6: SMA rainfall forecast for Sudan, June to September 2015

    Figure 8

    Figure 6: SMA rainfall forecast for Sudan, June to September 2015

    Source: Sudan Meteorological Authorities

    Figure 1

    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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