Food Security Outlook Update

Temporary improvement in the sociopolitical crisis, but poor performance of fall harvests

December 2019

December 2019 - January 2020

L'ensemble du pays se trouve en crise et en stress alimentaire (phases 2 et 3 de l'IPC)

February - May 2020

L'ensemble du pays se trouve en crise et en stress alimentaire (phases 2 et 3 de l'IPC)

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
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 v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
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 v3.0 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 v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
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

  • Despite improved sociopolitical conditions and increased economic activity, poor households will continue to rely on crisis and stress strategies to meet their food needs. As a result, food security remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2), with a significant number of households in Crisis.

  • With the resumption of economic activities, which had been disrupted for two months, regular supply to markets has been restored, except in Croix-des-Bossales and Gonaives. However, the situation remains unpredictable and may deteriorate as the root causes of the current crisis have not been addressed. Food prices remain significantly above average.

  • The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) shows an adequate level of soil moisture, benefiting pigeon peas, market garden products, roots, tubers and bananas. Fall harvests (maize and beans) are under way, significantly improving food availability for households.

  • Migration and sales of charcoal will be sources of income for poor and very poor households until the start of the spring growing season, as there are limited labor opportunities in the winter growing season.

CURRENT SITUATION

 

Sociopolitical context: Since mid-November, the sociopolitical situation has been generally returning to normal in most regions. Activities have resumed, including transportation, schools and commerce. However, the situation remains unpredictable and could rapidly deteriorate in January, as the underlying causes of the crisis remain unresolved. Thus, the market supply situation remains precarious, as there is no guarantee of the security of movement of goods. In fact, the security situation on certain roads (in particular between Arcahaie and Cap-Haitien, and between Gressier and Miragoane) is highly volatile. There are armed individuals on these routes who are imposing exorbitant transit fees on drivers carrying goods, and on public or private vehicles carrying passengers.

Weather conditions: Between early October and late November, the country experienced moderate to significant rainfall deficits. However, above-average or average precipitation was recorded in Grand’Anse, Nord-Ouest, Sud and Nippes during this period. Despite the observed deficit, the NDVI indicates close-to-average vegetation levels in all regions, due to soil moisture. At the beginning of December, significant precipitation was observed, particularly in Nord, Nord-Est, Nord-Ouest and Nippes.

Agricultural situation: Fall harvests of maize and beans have below-average yields, due in particular to the irregular temporal distribution of rain. They were closer to the average in some areas such as Sud, Grand’Anse, Nord-Ouest and Nippes. Pigeon peas, roots, tubers and market garden products have been harvested, particularly in upper Artibonite, Sud, Nippes, Ouest, Nord-Est and Centre. Maize, beans, sorghum and groundnuts are also present, but in smaller quantities. In addition, rice harvests are under way in Nord-Est (Ferrier and Ouanaminthe), Sud and Artibonite. At the same time, crop transplanting is under way in these regions.

Preparations are under way for the winter growing season, particularly in part of the southern peninsula, the Nord-Est rice region, Artibonite and the Arcahaie plain. However, the areas planted will be smaller than average, due to losses recorded in previous growing seasons and the low economic resources available to farmers.

Food availability: Food available to households consists of the recent autumn harvests of maize and beans. Also available are bananas, pigeon peas, roots, tubers and market garden products.

Markets and food prices: All markets, except those in Croix-des-Bossales and Gonaives, have been very well supplied and busy for around three weeks. Imported products are predominant, but there is ample supply of local produce such as roots, tubers, bananas and especially pigeon peas and market garden products. Despite the relative stability of the exchange rate since June, the prices of various foodstuffs – especially grain maize, beans and imported rice – have maintained their upward trend, except in some areas such as Jeremie, Hinche and Jacmel. Prices for these products are still above those of last year and above the five-year average.

Agricultural labor and other sources of income: Despite preparations for the winter growing season and for rice sowing/transplanting, demand for labor is lower than usual. Because of the considerable slowdown in economic activity, farmers have limited resources to start this growing season and to hire workers. Migration and increased sales of charcoal will be significant sources of income for poor and very poor households until the start of the next agricultural activities (particularly the spring 2020 growing season). This will particularly be the case in upper Plateau, Nord-Est, Nord, Nippes and Sud-Est.

Current food security outcomes: Livelihoods remain vulnerable due to increased commodity prices and the poor performance of the autumn growing season. Purchasing power continues to decline and some households are still relying on negative coping strategies to obtain food (consuming seed stocks that should have been kept for the winter or other growing seasons), while others are having difficulties covering non-food expenditure. Food security remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) throughout the country, with a particularly significant number of households in Crisis.

UPDATED ASSUMPTIONS

With most of the assumptions made in the Outlook for October 2019 to May 2020 reflected in recent developments in the food security situation, this update upholds the assumptions presented in that report. Despite the recent resumption of economic activity and an apparent return to calm, there are no indications of a long-term stabilization of the situation and the assumption that sociopolitical unrest will continue until May 2020 is maintained.

PROJECTED OUTLOOK THROUGH MAY 2020

The harvests of the autumn growing season are temporarily improving food availability for some households, but to a limited extent. Regions with high vulnerability to food insecurity due to chronic factors (higher poverty rates, poor access to markets) or that have received inadequate rainfall and suffered crop losses have lower food availability. In addition, many households continue to suffer the consequences of sociopolitical disruption, although the situation has tended to improve in recent weeks. Therefore, many areas are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until January 2020.

The second period of the scenario coincides with both the peak in winter harvests – which are of limited volume and mainly consist of beans in irrigated plains and wet highlands, pigeon peas, some roots and tubers, and bananas – and the launch of the spring 2020 growing season. Once stocks from the winter and autumn harvests have been depleted, households will have to rely on market purchases. Sources of non-agricultural income could be disrupted by sociopolitical unrest. This, combined with high commodity prices, could reduce the purchasing power of households. Thus, the poorest households are expected to continue to rely on crisis strategies such as increased sales of charcoal, consumption of low-quality food, or a reduction in the daily number of meals. This would contribute to the erosion of livelihoods. In this context, the number of zones in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) could increase.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work 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 some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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