Food Security Outlook

High chances of some areas with crop failure in eastern, central, and western Sudan

October 2015 to March 2016
2015-Q4-1-1-SD-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Food security outcomes for displaced populations would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance.FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Concentration of displaced people
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Driven by protracted conflict in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile States, many internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities remain acutely food insecure. The largest concentration of food insecure people is in Darfur, and there are a significant number of food insecure people in South Kordofan. 

  • The June to September main rainy season started a month late. Rainfall was between 25 and 120 percent of average. Consequently, planted area was lower than normal. Many crops were planted late and may not have enough time with sufficient soil moisture to reach maturity. There are high chances of crop failure in parts of Kassala, Gadaref, North Kordofan, North Darfur, East Darfur, and Sinnar States.

  • From April to September, 23,000 people were displaced from Giessen, Bau, and Tadamon Localities to government-controlled areas, primarily in Damazin, Roseries, and Bau Localities. The recently displaced have very little access to food due to their highly limited incomes. Many have already reduced their food consumption.

  • Due to below-average rainfall, there is currently less pasture than usual in wet-season grazing areas. Consequently, livestock have been migrated earlier to the southern croplands. This is likely to lead to more resource-based conflict between farmers and cattle herders and between cattle herders over access to grazing.

National Overview

Current Situation

In October, the start of the harvest lowered the number of food insecure people. However, those affected by conflict in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile States remain food insecure with many areas and populations in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) despite the start of the harvest. There are also areas of Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in dry areas of Red Sea, North Kordofan, North Darfur, and Kassala States. The majority of those currently food insecure are in Darfur, but there is also a significant number of food insecure people in South Kordofan. Among the most food insecure are internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan People Liberation Movement-North- (SPLM-N-) controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile States and the conflict-affected in Jebel Marra who have not yet been reached by humanitarian assistance.

While rainfall was fairly heavy in August and the first two weeks of September, there were still areas that had below-average June to September rainfall. June to September rainfall ranged from 50 percent to 120 percent of the 1981-2010 mean. The driest areas are parts of Kassala, Gadaref, Sinnar, North Kordofan, North Darfur, and East Darfur. Cumulative rainfall from January 1 to October 10 was far below last year and below the 2001-2014 average in many places (Figure 1). Consequently, crops, pasture, and other vegetation have not grown as much as normal. The satellite-derived eMODIS Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) shows vegetation being between 70 and 95 percent of normal in some of the drier parts of the country (Figure 2).

With late planting and erratically distributed rainfall, there is an increased probability of crop failure in some parts of Sudan. The Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI) for grain suggests high chances of crop failure in most parts of Kassala State and some parts of Gadaref, North Kordofan, North Darfur, East Darfur, and Sinnar States (Figure 3). Field reports indicate that long dry spells have retarded the growth of late-planted crops in these areas.

With very little rainfall, there was unusually low availability of mostly low-quality forage in wet-season grazing areas in the central parts of the country. This prompted early migration of livestock to dry-season grazing areas in the South. Livestock have migrated from Gadaref, Blue Nile, Sinnar, Kassala, West Kordofan, and North Kordofan States towards dry-season grazing areas in the South in August/September. This normally does not happen until October/November. The Al Buttanha plains in central Sudan have had particularly low availability of pasture and water. As a result, millions of cattle have been migrated into agricultural land in southern Gadaref, Kassala, Sinnar, and Blue Nile States. Livestock body conditions and health remain poor though. In West Kordofan State, the Messeriya cattle herders have signed an agreement with the Dinka, allowing access to grazing for cattle in South Sudan in exchange for protection for returnees to the Abyei Area. Early migration along this corridor is expected to preserve the health and body conditions of many cattle. Cattle have also been accumulating at the border with South Sudan in parts of Blue Nile State, and herders are expected to cross with their herds once the rainy season and associated risk of livestock diseases ends in South Sudan. 

Fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan People Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in Blue Nile State displaced 30,000 people to government-controlled areas. Many of the displaced are being supported by the host community, and some households have already resorted to reducing their food consumption due to their low incomes. A rapid inter-agency assessment of newly displaced people in Government of Sudan- (GoS-) controlled areas of Blue Nile State located 30,000 new IDPs in five locations, most of whom were displaced in April (Figure 4). Most of the displaced have lost assets, missed the opportunity to grow crops this year, and have limited access to income-earning opportunities. Social support from the host community, some assistance from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and support from the GoS have been an important source of food. However, some of the IDPs have needed to reduce the number of meals they consume in a day or reduce portions consumed by adults in order to provide food for children.

Acute malnutrition might be high in Kuttum and Fata Barno Localities in North Darfur State. GOAL screened 1,636 children aged six to 59 months in Kuttum town and in IDP settlements in Kassab and Fata Barno from September 8 to 22, using mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC). The results found 55 children were severely acute malnourished (SAM) and 316 children were moderately acute malnourished (MAM). September is the peak of the lean season when prevalence of malnutrition seasonally tends to be high due to lower food consumption, seasonal changes to child caring and feeding practices, and the high incidence of diseases, such as malaria and diarrhea. The proportion found is not unusually high compared to lean season results recorded in previous surveys in North Darfur, but it highlights the continued need for nutrition programming in North Darfur both among IDPs and in other settlements.

Save the Children Sweden (SCS) screened 3,128 children between six and 59 months old using MUAC in Gusa Gamat, Wad Kota, and Sani Karraw villages in Kalimendo Locality in North Darfur State from September 15 to 29. This found 96 children were severely acutely malnourished (SAM) and 241 children moderately acutely malnourished (MAM).

In August, the World Food Program (WFP) distributed 12,376 metric tons of food commodities to two million people. 400,000 people received vouchers from WFP, valued at USD 1.2 million. The vast majority of the recipients were in Darfur, but there were also distributions in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Red Sea, West Kordofan, White Nile, North Kordofan, and Kassala States. Areas controlled by armed oppositions groups in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Jebel Marra in Darfur remained inaccessible to WFP and other humanitarian organizations.

Sorghum and millet prices increased slightly or were stable between August and September 2015, but in a few markets, these prices increased slightly. The national-average retail sorghum price increased seasonally by eight percent due to increased demand from households buying sorghum at the end of the lean season and likely some commercial purchases by traders to hold stocks based on likely below-average 2015 production. However, in the sorghum belt, in Gadaref, Sinnar, and Kosti, sorghum prices decreased most likely due to increased supply on markets as some larger farmers sold some of their remaining stocks from the above-average harvest last year to pay for expenses related to this season’s crops like agricultural inputs and labor (Figure 5). September sorghum prices were on average 23 percent below last year but on average 47 percent above their five-year averages. Retail millet price were stable between August and September, though millet continues to be priced higher than sorghum. September millet prices were on average 20 percent below last year and on average 55 percent above their five-year averages.

Daily wage labor-to-sorghum terms of trade (ToT) declined or remained stable between August and September. Labor-to-sorghum ToT declined in markets where sorghum prices increased, as is usual at this time of year. For example, labor-to-sorghum ToT declined 11 percent from August to September in Zalingi, Central Darfur. However, in some areas, more than just the seasonal change was observed. For example, labor-to-sorghum ToT increased 6 percent from August to September in Gadaref as sorghum prices fell (Figure 6). September labor-to-sorghum ToT in Gadaref was five times the labor-to-sorghum ToT in Zalingi. This example indicates continued limited labor opportunities in areas where IDPs are concentrated in Darfur compared to other parts of the country. However, less agricultural labor demand has been reported from surplus-producing areas in Gadaref and Kassala States, likely due to low planted area and crops being in poor condition. However, a larger number of seasonal agricultural laborers than typical have arrived from South Sudan to Gadaref, White Nile, and Sinnar States.

The national consumer price index (CPI) increased 20 percent from August to September. The September exchange rate in the parallel market is 65 percent higher than the official exchange rate. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) of Sudan, the annualized consumer price inflation rate increased from 11.31 in August to 13.56 in September. This was around a 20 percent increase. Most of this increase was attributed to increased basic food prices. The official local currency exchange rate remained stable at SDG 6.04 per USD 1. However the exchange rate in the parallel market in September was SDG 10 per USD 1, 65 percent higher than the official rate.

The number of refugees from South Sudan has slowed in August and September, likely as a result of the signing of the peace agreement in August. The refugees continue to come primarily from Upper Nile and Unity States in South Sudan to White Nile, South Kordofan, and West Kordofan States in Sudan. Before the peace agreement, thousands of refugees may arrive in a week, but by September, arrivals were down to the hundreds every week. From December 2013 until mid-October, over 197,900 refugees had arrived from South Sudan to Sudan.

Assumptions

From October 2015 to March 2016, the projected food security outcomes are based on the following national assumptions:

  • The 2015/16 harvest will be below-average. As the rains started late, and cumulative June to September rainfall was below average in many areas, production is likely to be especially low in central Sudan, a surplus-producing area for sorghum, and in North Kordofan, North Darfur, and East Darfur States. Insecurity continues to limit production in Blue Nile and South Kordofan States. Both cereals and cash crops are likely to have below-average production. Agricultural production is likely to be particularly low in Kassala State, North Kordofan, North Darfur, East Darfur, and SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile States.
  • With below-average agricultural production, households will have less food from their own harvest and less income from sales of cash crops and agricultural labor.
  • Above-average stocks remain from last year’s above-average harvest, and these will be available for the 2015-2016 marketing year. As of end of August, the Strategic Reserve Corporation (SRC) of Sudan held one million metric tons (MMT) of sorghum. In addition, the inter-agency mid-season assessment estimated that the private sector, in the form of both traders and big producers, had up to half a million metric tons of sorghum in their stocks.
  • Both due to the seasonal decline and the below-average rainfall, pasture and water are likely to be less available than usual from October to March. This will lead to deteriorating livestock body conditions, disruptions and changes to seasonal livestock migration patterns, and increase the risk of crop destruction by livestock and resource-based conflicts in eastern, central, and western Sudan. The areas likely to see concentration of livestock include Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Gadaref, and Kassala States.
  • Despite the presidential decree for a two-month ceasefire and amnesty for rebels fighting the government in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile States in September, sporadic fighting between SAF and armed rebel groups is likely to continue. The intensity of hostilities likely to increase at the beginning of the dry season in October due to improved mobility. Continued conflict will cause new displacement, and the majority of displacements will be to government-controlled areas due to higher availability of humanitarian assistance than in opposition-held areas. Similar to recent years, between 50,000 and 80,000 new displacements are likely between October and March.
  • As conflict drags on in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile States, residents are exhausting their coping capacity. Community support has been needed for several years, so the host community has been drawing down their resources. IDPs and poor households in these areas are likely to receive less community support than in the past. The likely well below-average harvest in these areas will reduce in-kind gifts, including zakat after the harvest, from better-off households to poor households.
  • Sorghum exports are likely to remain low but similar to last year due to the high price of domestically-produced sorghum. Although sorghum prices continued to decline or stabilize through September, current sorghum prices remain far above the export parity prices for international markets and with neighboring Ethiopia. However with prices still lower than in South Sudan, some exports may occur. However, high levels of insecurity in South Sudan will continue to discourage traders from conducting cross-border trade between Sudan and South Sudan. Some local authorities may impose restrictions on the outflow of grain to try to keep local prices lower.
  • Staple food price trends will vary between different markets from October to March. In areas where the harvest is near average, staple food prices are likely to be mostly stable. However in areas where the harvest is below average, sorghum and millet prices will likely modestly increase, likely by up to 15 percent by March. The increase is likely to be primarily from January to March, after households have consumed their own harvest and demand has increased in many parts of the country.
  • Labor-to-cereal terms of trade (ToT) are expected to be stable from October to December and begin to seasonally decrease in January. While harvest labor demand and stable prices in many markets will support stability through December, rising staple food prices in some areas and households seeking more labor opportunities to buy food will lower labor-to-cereal ToT from January to March.
  • Refugee arrivals from South Sudan to White Nile, South Kordofan, and West Kordofan States are likely to slow down further. This would be due both to the harvest in South Sudan and to the recently signed peace accord. However, it is unlikely that many refugees already in Sudan would return to South Sudan between now and March.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

With the late start of the rains and a delayed harvest in many places, the lean season will continue into late October/early November, instead of ending in late September/early October. With an extended vegetative stage for many crops, the harvest is likely to be two to four weeks late.

At the beginning of the harvest in late October, households will begin to have food from their own harvest and/or from market purchases funded through income from agricultural labor and/or the sale of cash crops. The duration of the harvest will be shorter than normal, which will lead to less income from agricultural labor. Lower yields will reduce income from cash crops. While most households will be able to meet their food needs during the harvest, high food prices will erode the ability of many poor households, especially in the driest areas, to pay for all their essential non-food needs as the need to purchase food continues through the year. These households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least March.

IDPs in conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur are likely to remain food insecure. They generally need to buy food from markets, but there are few income-earning opportunities. Restrictions on movement limit labor migration, reduce access to land to cultivate, and reduce access to humanitarian assistance. Many households with some land access will still have below-average harvests, and others will be unable to harvest or store their crops. A significant number of IDPs in Darfur will be able to meet their food needs and will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will persist among many IDPs and poor households in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan and among newly displaced IDPs in Darfur. 

 

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.

About Scenario Development

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.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
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