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Food insecurity at annual, seasonal low

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Yemen
  • October 2012
Food insecurity at annual, seasonal low

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  • Key Messages
  • Projected Outlook through March 2013
  • Key Messages
    • Chronic food insecurity in Yemen is high, particularly in the western and southern lowlands; acute food insecurity due to conflict continues in the South. Despite access constraints, humanitarian assistance over the next six months is assumed to be at a five-year high.

    • July to October rainfall was below average in main cropping areas of western and southern Yemen, driving expectations of below-average national cereal production. 

    • Cereal prices are relatively stable, and labor-to-cereal terms of trade are significantly greater than their levels in January 2012. In general, food access is currently seasonably high. Food access will likely decline seasonably between January and March 2013 and may be slightly below average in the western and southern cropping areas. 

    ZONE

    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    • FAO projects that national cereal harvests are expected to be 8 percent below last year and 10 percent below the five-year average.

    Western and southern cropping areas

    • There are negative anomalies in (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) due to poor rainfall. These anomalies are shrinking in area and severity, which is common toward the end of a below-average season.
    • Localized harvests likely lower than national average.

    South (Aden/Abyan)

    • Civil insecurity will remain a constraint to livelihoods and humanitarian operations.

    Projected Outlook through March 2013

    Information about food security remains difficult to acquire, due in part to a volatile security situation. (March 2011)

    National cereal harvests are likely to be 10 percent below the five-year average due to below-average rainfall, particularly in the western highlands and lowlands. The central and eastern agropastoral and pastoral zones may have had better rainfall (see July-September RFE estimates) and may benefit from average to above-average harvests. Despite below-average harvests, labor demand is high as shown by the significant increase in labor-to-cereal terms of trade, which is up more than 60 percent on average since the start of the last lean season in January 2012. The greater concern is that Yemen typically imports 85-90 percent of its foodstuffs. FAO has voiced concerns about Yemen’s capacity to significantly increase cereal imports in response to this year’s slightly below-average harvest due to record-low foreign currency reserves and high global wheat prices. The low level of foreign currency reserves may be partly due to the official, fixed exchange rate, which appears stable since end-2010.

    Migration remains a concern in Yemen. In 2012 to date, the flow of migrants from the Horn of Africa toward Yemen continues to exceed previous records by as much as 12 percent. This is less than expected at the start of 2012, but remains a concern as it divides humanitarian attention from the displaced (approximately 460,000) and chronically food-insecure Yemeni population. Among the displaced, over 40 percent of returning IDPs are returning to Abyan, and the rate of discovery of unexploded ordinance and new landmines has decreased significantly since July.

    Acute food insecurity in Yemen is significantly better in 2012 than in 2011 due to stable cereal prices (improved civil security reducing supply constraints) and improved purchasing power (improved civil security has improved labor demand). However, chronic food insecurity remains a significant concern. Medium- and long-term interventions to address high background rates of acute malnutrition due to poor care practices and poor access to water (leading to poor health outcomes) are needed, particularly in the coastal lowlands of the south and west. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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