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Favorable rainfall forecasts suggest improvements in food security likely

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Sudan
  • June 2016
Favorable rainfall forecasts suggest improvements in food security likely

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  • Key Messages
  • National Overview
  • Key Messages
    • The national Acute IPC analysis for April to July 2016 estimated more than 4.4 million in Sudan are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity, including more than 100,000 people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Current food insecurity in Sudan is being driven mainly by El Niño-related drought in 2015, exacerbated in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur States by continued conflict that has caused displacement and disruptions to livelihoods and markets.

    • The increased likelihood for a La Niña to develop between July and September is likely to drive above-average rainfall over many parts of Sudan during the main 2016 rainy season. This increased rainfall will likely result in at least average 2016/17 crop production in Sudan, but may also cause localized flooding in flood-prone areas.

    • Increased conflict since the beginning of this year in some parts of South Korodofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur States continues to threaten lives and livelihoods of civilians and cause new displacement. It is estimated that about 150,000 people have been displaced from Jebel Marra, 65,000 people displaced within SPLM-N controlled areas and about 10,000 people have fled to refugee’ camps in South Sudan since January 2016. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely for recently displaced households during the peak of the June to September 2016 lean season.

    • Harvests, seasonal declines in staple food prices, and increased income from the sale of labor and livestock will substantially reduce the number of people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes from October 2016 through January 2017. However, continued displacement due to conflict and related restrictions on livelihood activities and trade will drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes among displaced and other conflict-affected households in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, West Kordofan and refugees from South Sudan.

    National Overview

    Current Situation

    The onset of main season (June to September) 2016 rainfall has been slightly early or on time in most southern parts of Sudan. In some eastern and central areas, above-average rainfall during the first 20 days of June has caused localized flooding in Sennar and Singa towns in Sennar State and Al Rahad locality in Gadaref State. However, rainfall in South Kordofan has been slightly below average in early June (Figure 1). The timely onset of seasonal rainfall in most southern areas has enabled farmers to begin planting crops on time, with planting expected to occur in northern areas through mid-July.

    Retail sorghum prices have increased on average by 13 percent between April and May 2016, largely due to the combination of increased demand in preparation for Ramadan, as well as lower than usual market supply due to last year’s below-average harvests. Price increases were highest (22 percent) in Kadugli market in South Kordofan due to conflict-related disruptions to supply, and in Geneina market in West Darfur due to increased demand for informal export of cereal to markets in Eastern Chad. May 2016 sorghum prices were on average 30 percent above May 2015 prices and 65 percent above the recent five-year average. Likewise, millet prices increased by up to 15 percent in the main millet production and consumption markets, and were on average 25 percent above those in May 2015 and 60 percent above their recent five-year average.

    In April and May, prices of locally produced wheat remained stable in most markets following the March/April harvest, and due to the effect of fixed prices of SDG 400 per 100 kg sack of wheat set by the Agricultural Bank of Sudan for the purchase of the new harvest from farmers, and the availability of subsidized imported wheat. May 2016 wheat prices were on average 13 percent higher than in May 2015 and 70 percent above the recent five-year average.

    Terms-of-trade (ToT) between wage labor and sorghum have started to increase seasonally in most markets. In Gadaref market, for example, terms of trade between daily wage labor and sorghum increased by 18 percent from 16.15 kg in April to 18.98 kg per one day of wage labor in May. The recent improved ToT is mainly due to the 20 percent increase of daily wage labor in May 2016 prompted by typical seasonal demand for agricultural labor expected during the rainy season.

    Pastoral and agro-pastoral households with medium to large herd sizes in parts of North Kordofan and White Nile State had migrated to South Kordofan and West Kordofan two months earlier than normal in November/December 2015, with some deciding to graze their animals in the Baja grazing area between North Kordofan and White Nile States, but at higher costs due to the need to purchase water for their animals from tankers. As of late June, most of animals from drought-affected areas are still grazing in southern parts of South Kordofan, West Kordofan, Blue Nile, Sinar and South Sudan. Similar livestock movements have been reported from other pasture deficit states this year, with cattle herders reportedly crossing into South Sudan for grazing two months earlier than usual in October/November. Poor households with small herd sizes who cannot afford longer distance movements are worst affected by the pasture deficit of this year as their underweight animals are fetching 30 to 40 percent lower prices in the markets.

    Terms-of-trade between livestock and staple foods are lower than usual as the peak lean season approaches. In Nyala, terms-of-trade between goats and sorghum decreased by 11 percent between April and May (Figure 2), mainly due to the 10 percent increase of sorghum prices during the same period. Current terms-of-trade between goats and sorghum in Nyala are 40 percent lower than of the same period last year and 25 percent lower than the recent three-year average. 

    More than 70,000 South Sudanese refugees have entered Sudan since the beginning of 2016, due to conflict and deteriorating food security conditions. This is 75 percent higher than the same period last year, with more than 232,000 people having arrived in Sudan since December 2013. Most new refugees in 2016 settled in East Darfur, with the rest dispersed among South Darfur, West Kordofan, South Kordofan, White Nile and Khartoum states. In Khor Omer refugee camp in East Darfur, humanitarian agencies report that a lack of space is preventing them from providing adequate shelter materials and water and sanitation facilities.

    Between January and March 2016, increased conflict between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudanese Liberation Army-Abdelwahid (SLA-AW) faction displaced an estimated 150,000 people from Jebel Marra areas to Central Darfur, North Darfur, and South Darfur. Despite reports of IDPs returning to Golo locality in Central Darfur, a substantial number of people remain displaced and are unable to access their normal sources of food and income sources. An inter-agency rapid assessment conducted on May 31, 2016 in Kass locality of South Darfur found that new IDPs were being hosted by protracted IDPs in Kass, and have access to existing health and nutrition services established for protracted IDPs, but are in need food, shelter, and water services.

    The Sudan Ministry of Health and UNICEF recently used MUAC to screen for acute malnutrition among children under five years old in 13 states out of 18 states between January and March 2016. Approximately 95,023 children were identified as acutely malnourished, including 17,848 children with severe acute malnutrition who were referred for treatment. In Blue Nile, admissions of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) increased significantly from 659 cases in March to 1,103 in April 2016.

    In April 2016, WFP distributed 14,012 tons of assorted food commodities to 1.4 million protracted IDPs, new IDPs and refugees from South Sudan. This represents about 30 percent of the estimated 4.4 million food-insecure people in need of food assistance during the peak of the lean season. Beneficiaries of general food distributions represents 75 percent and the rest were beneficiaries of food for education, food for assets, nutrition or food for training.

    In April 2016, the Government of Sudan and partners completed an Acute IPC Analysis for Sudan, which estimates more than 4.4 million people were facing (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity, including more than 100,000 people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). About 55 - 60 percent of the food-insecure people are in the Darfur States and while large numbers of food-insecure people are also in eastern Sudan (mainly in Red Sea and Kassala states) and South Kordofan. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity outcomes are mainly among recent internally displaced people (IDPs) in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan and within Jebel Marra of Darfur. 


    From June 2016 to January 2017, the projected food security outcomes are based on the following national assumptions:

    • Based on climate forecasts indicating a 70 percent likelihood for a La Niña to develop by the July-August-September period, FEWS NET assumes a La Niña is likely to develop during the main June to September rainy season in Sudan.
    • La Niña is typically associated with average to above-average rainfall in the northern parts of East Africa, including Sudan. Based on the influence of La Niña and forecasts for above average rainfall by NMME, ECMWF, IRI, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), FEWS NET assumes cumulative season rainfall over most pastoral, agropastoral, and agricultural areas of Sudan will be above average (Figure 3). The rainy is likely to start on time in June in the southern parts of Sudan and in July in the northern parts of the country.
    • Based on expected above-average seasonal rainfall, FEWS NET believes area planted in rainfed and irrigated crops will be near normal, and at the national level, the total quantity of staple foods and cash crops harvested will be at least average. Households’ access to own-produced foods will be normal and allow agricultural and agropastoral households to build typical food stocks.
    • Demand and wage rates for seasonal agricultural labor will be normal during the August to September weeding period and during the November to January/February harvest period.
    • Pasture generation will be at least average, leading to normal livestock body conditions and to normal milk production by August/September 2016. Pasture will also likely be sufficient for animals through the 2016/17 dry season.
    • High demand for livestock export to Saudi Arabia and local consumption during the pilgrimage period in September will result in higher livestock prices during the scenario period. As a result, terms-of-trade between goats and sorghum are likely to return to typical levels (more than 100 kg of sorghum per goat) during the later months of the scenario period.
    • Informal cross-border trade of sorghum from Sudan to Eritrea and South Sudan is expected to reduce remarkably during the first half of the scenario period, especially to South Sudan due to blockage of roads during the June to October rainy season. Cross-border trade from Sudan to Eritrea and South Sudan likely to recover by the onset harvests in October. However, the volume of sorghum exports from Sudan to South Sudan are likely to be lower than normal due to increasing insecurity and worsening macro-economic conditions in South Sudan.
    • Staple food prices will continue to increase modestly during the peak of the June to September lean season. With the onset of harvests in October, staple food prices will begin their typical seasonal decline through January. Nevertheless, staple food prices will remain 40 to 50 percent higher than the five-year average and 30 to 40 percent higher than in 2015/16, due to high production costs due to projected high inflation and local currency depreciation.
    • Terms-of-trade between labor and staple foods will continue to improve due to increased demand for seasonal agricultural labor during the July to February main agricultural season. From October to February, terms of trade between one day of labor and sorghum is likely to increase to near-average levels of 25 to 30 kg per one day worked.
    • In flood-prone areas, above-average rains are likely to cause localized floods that will damage houses, property, and infrastructure, destroy crops, and increase the prevalence of waterborne diseases, e.g. malaria, diarrhea.
    • Conflict and insecurity in parts of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and the Darfur States is likely to decline during the July to October rainy season, as the blockage of roads by seasonal wadis and muddy roads during the rainy season hampers the mobility of ground troops and equipment. However, conflict typically begins to increase again with the start of the dry season in November. Conflict is likely to limit household access to fields and agricultural labor, particularly for IDPs, and to disrupt market functioning, leading to much higher than normal staple food prices. FEWS NET also expects the displacement of more than 10,000 additional people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, and more than 40,000 people in Darfur.
    • WFP’s need for funding emergency food distributions and nutritional support in Sudan has increased this year, due to the additional influx of South Sudanese refugees, new displacement from Jebel Marra and the expected increase in number of food-insecure people due to El Niño.
    • The influx of South Sudanese refugees from Bahr el Ghazal state to East Darfur, West Kordofan, and South Darfur States is likely to decrease significantly during the scenario period due to blockage of roads during the rainy season and likely improved food security conditions by the beginning of the new harvest in October. Nevertheless, FEWS NET assumes the security situation in South Sudan is not conducive for the 232,000 South Sudanese refugees in Sudan to return to South Sudan during the scenario period.
    • FEWS NET assumes the prevailing macro-economic conditions related to high inflation rate, rapidly depreciating local currency and foreign trade deficit are likely to persist and will continue to push prices of basic non-cereal food and basic services to continue their upward trend during the scenario period.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Weak purchasing power due to high staple food prices, below-average livestock prices, and below-average labor incomes has limited poor households’ food access in areas worst affected by drought in 2015. Protracted conflict in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur has eroded/reduced livelihood assets holdings, disrupted livelihood activities and market functioning, and limited household access to normal sources of income, at a time of the year when households are most reliant on market purchases. During the first half of the scenario period, very poor households (25 to 30 percent of the population) in drought-affected areas will not be able to meet their minimum food and non-food needs without external food assistance and/or engaging in non-reversible coping strategies (e.g. sale of productive livestock, engaging in seasonal agricultural labor on the expense of cultivating their own farms), and will therefore be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September 2016. The number of people in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will likely peak at more than 4.4 million during the June to September lean season, including more than 100,000 people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    As expected above-average rainfall results in at least average harvests starting in October, households will begin to rebuild stocks, staple food prices will start to decline seasonally, livestock productivity will begin to peak, and seasonal agricultural labor will provide income for poor households. These improvements in own-produced foods, access to seasonal wild foods, improved purchasing power, and the availability of livestock products such as milk will improve household food access and many areas will return to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. Nevertheless, some households, particularly IDPs in conflict-affected Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, West Kordofan, and refugees from Sudan will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as continued displacement limits their access to land, normal levels of agricultural labor income with which to purchase staple foods, likely at well above-average prices in the areas worst affected by continued conflict. 


    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current Food Security Outcomes, June 2016

    Figure 2

    Current Food Security Outcomes, June 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Satellite rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly, June 1-10, 2016

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Satellite rainfall estimate (RFE) anomaly, June 1-10, 2016

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Sheep to sorghum terms-of-trade, Nyala

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. Sheep to sorghum terms-of-trade, Nyala

    Source: FEWS NET/FAMIS

     Figure 3: IGAD Seasonal Rainfall Forecast, July to September 2016.

    Figure 5

    Figure 3: IGAD Seasonal Rainfall Forecast, July to September 2016.

    Source: ICPAC/IGAD

    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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