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Conflict and poor macroeconomic conditions drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Sudan
  • October 2022 - May 2023
Conflict and poor macroeconomic conditions drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity

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  • Mensagens-chave
  • Mensagens-chave
    • In October 2022, above-average food prices, the persistent poor macroeconomic situation, and continuing inter-communal clashes are driving Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, with higher-than-normal humanitarian food assistance needs at the start of the harvest season. Humanitarian assistance needs are expected to remain higher than normal at least through May 2023, the beginning of the lean season. Areas of high concern include areas hosting IDPs and conflict-affected peoples in Darfur, Kordofan, and Blue Nile states, and areas of marginal agricultural production in the Red Sea, North Darfur, North Kordofan, and northern Kassala states.

    • The June to September rainy season has continued into October, supporting crop development of late-planted crops, pasture regeneration, and improving water availability across the main agricultural and agropastoral livelihood zones of Sudan. The main season harvest is expected to start in November. The national harvest of staple food crops is likely to be higher than last year and near average. However, pest infestations, late planting, and replanting following flooding, along with increased inter-communal clashes, are expected to drive localized below-average harvests. 

    • In October, staple food prices had mixed trends across different crops and main markets in Sudan. Prices in most markets began seasonally declining in anticipation of the upcoming harvest. However, staple food prices remained approximately 230 to 260 percent higher than prices in October 2021, and over seven times higher than the five-year average, driven by high production and transportation costs and the continued depreciation of the SDG. 

    • Sudan continues to experience a poor macroeconomic situation due to persistent low foreign currency reserves. In September, the government raised taxes on agricultural products, port and road fees, industry, and trade by 100 to 500 percent, resulting in strikes across the country, and the high taxes have disrupted import and export activities, further contributing to the] high prices of imported food and non-food items. The high cost of living is being reflected in increasing production and marketing costs, and high food and non-food item prices, resulting in low households’ purchasing power and an increasing number of households engaging in coping strategies to minimize food consumption gaps.       

    • Between July and October 2022, sporadic violent inter-communal clashes have continued, particularly in parts of West Kordofan, Blue Nile, and North Darfur states. In particular, at least 97,000 people have reportedly been displaced within Blue Nile and neighboring states since July following renewed inter-communal violence. An inter-agency mission was carried out across affected areas in Ar Rusayris locality and Ed Damazine town on October 27, while a mission to affected areas in Wad Al Mahi locality is planned for November 7, 2022. According to OCHA, about 34,000 people are taking shelter in schools in Ed Damazine town, but many IDPs are sleeping in the open due to overcrowding. Access to safe water is limited, and there is only one functioning hand pump forcing some people to use untreated water from the river Nile. Humanitarian partners continue extending life-saving assistance to affected people they can reach in Blue Nile and to IDPs in other localities and states. Assistance includes food, non-food items, health, water, and sanitation services.


    Current Situation

    Agricultural season performance: The June to September rainy season is concluding following above-average rainfall in August and September that has continued into October across most of Sudan. According to CHIRPS satellite-derived rainfall estimates, up to 200 percent of the 1981-2020 average rainfall for October has fallen in southeastern Sudan, particularly along the border of Sennar and Ethiopia. In October, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is showing above-average vegetation greenness, over 120 percent of the 2012-2021 mean, across the southern half of Sudan; however, there are localized areas across central Sudan where vegetation greenness is 80-95 percent of the 2012-2021 mean (Figure 1).

    According to the findings of an inter-agency mid-season assessment conducted in mid-September 2022, the above-normal June to September 2022 rains continue to support favorable crop and pasture development in the agricultural and agropastoral zones of Sudan. Crop growth is varied between crop types and areas according to sowing dates. As of September, most cereal crops in the rain-fed semi-mechanized and irrigated sectors were in advanced vegetative growth stages. Sesame and groundnuts are at the flowering stage and the pod and fruit setting stage.

    Upcoming harvest: In general, the agricultural season remains constrained by the impact of high prices and shortages of agricultural inputs, low access to finance, irrigation difficulties, flooding and waterlogging, and pest infestations. Although a harvest forecast likely will not be available until mid-January 2023, the current progress of the season indicates a better national harvest compared to last year and likely a near-average harvest, particularly for staple food crops. According to the mid-season assessment report, the total area planted by the end of August for the main summer crops (sorghum, millet, groundnuts, sesame, and cotton) is estimated at around 50.3 million feddans (~21.13 million hectares), around 77 percent of the 65.3 million feddans (23.3 million hectares) targeted for planting this year. In the semi-mechanized and irrigated sectors, an additional 2.2 million feddans are expected to be planted by the end of September, bringing the total planted area up to 52.5 million feddans (22 million hectares). This is around 80 percent of the targeted area for planting this season, similar to last year and 6 percent lower than the five-year average. Although the area planted is lower than last year, the harvest is expected to be near average following better rainfall distribution through the growing season and less impact from flooding compared to last year. 

    Staple crops: The area planted to sorghum and millet is similar to last year and the five-year average, estimated at 33.8 million feddans (14.2 million hectares), around 65 percent of the total area planted. Around 90 percent of the millet was planted in the traditional rain-fed sector, while 55 and 42 percent of the sorghum was planted in the semi-mechanized and the traditional rain-fed sub-sectors, respectively. In mid-September, crop conditions are better than last year in most of the rain-fed and irrigated sectors.

    Cash crops: An estimated 36 percent of the total area planted was planted to cash crops, around 20.8 million feddan (8.7 million hectares. This is around 15 percent lower than last year and 10 percent lower than the five-year average. In particular, the area planted to groundnut was 36 percent and 20 percent lower compared to the last year and the five-year average. However, the area under sesame is around 5 percent higher than last year but 11 percent lower than the five-year average. The decline in the area planted sesame and groundnuts is driven by the high cost of production, and the impact of flooding and waterlogging during August and September. To recover their harvests, more farmers switched to early maturing sorghum when replanting areas affected by flooding. However, the area planted to cotton, around 1.3 million feddans, is 5.5 percent higher compared to the area planted last year and 197 percent higher than the five-year average. The increase in area planted to cotton was driven by the availability of finance for contracting farmers, and the relatively better prices. Current preset cotton prices are around 50 SDG/guntar (45 kg), compared to 27-35 SDG/guntar last year.

    Market and trade: In October, staple food prices had mixed trends across most of the main markets in Sudan, as market prices adjust from the end of the lean season in September and the typical start of the harvest in October.

    In early October, sorghum and millet retail prices were primarily stable across the main markets in Sudan. Millet prices are beginning to seasonally decline in Al Gadaref, Ad Deain, El Fasher, Senga Alnuhood, and Khartoum markets due to the availability of early-maturing crops from the ongoing season, while remaining relatively stable in other markets. However, sorghum prices increased 5-10 percent in most markets, but remained stable or declined 5-10 percent in a few monitored markets due to continued high demand and seasonally reduced market supplies. On average, sorghum is selling for approximately 453 SDG/kg in October, a 9 percent increase compared to September 2022. Sorghum prices in October are around 230 percent higher than prices last year and over seven times higher than the five-year average. On average, retail millet prices are 763 SDG/kg in October, a 2 percent decrease compared to September, but remained 260 percent higher than prices in October 2021 and eight times higher than the five-year average. The high national average price of retail sorghum and millet prices continues to be driven by the high transportation and marketing costs, the continued devaluation of the SDG, and continued high demand as the lean season comes to an end (Figure 2).

    Locally produced wheat retail prices unseasonably decreased across most markets between September and October 2022, likely driven by excess market supply originating from carried-over farmer's stocks following the government's reluctance to purchase around 0.6 million tons of locally produced wheat from the 2021/22 winter season (Figure 2). Wheat is trading at a national average of 553 SDG/kg in October, 5 percent lower than September, but it remains on average almost double compared to prices in October 2021, and over 400 to 500 percent above the five-year average. However, bread prices remain stable at around 40-50 SDG per loaf.   

    Livestock prices: Across Sudan livestock prices tended to decline due to low demand for local consumption because of high prices and reduced household purchasing power, along with increased market supply from pastoral and agropastoral groups as they seek to earn income for food purchases. Between September and October, livestock prices had mixed price trends across most markets. Goat prices unseasonably decreased 5-10 percent in Ad Damazin, Al Gadaref, Kadugli, Rabak, and Dongola markets while either remaining stable or slightly increasing in other markets.  In particular, sheep prices declined 10-20 percent across most markets between September and October 2022, while remaining relatively stable or slightly decreasing in a few markets. This is mainly due to the reduced demand for local consumption along with lower-than-typical export activities due to the high increase in custom taxes and port fees. Overall, goat and sheep prices in October remain 50-100 percent above prices last year and 300-400 percent above the five-year average, driven by the continued high inflation and the local currency depreciation.

    Terms-of-trade (TOT): The goat-to-sorghum and labor-to-sorghum terms-of-trade, proxies for household purchasing power, slightly improved across most markets in October as sorghum prices either remained stable or slightly decreased. In the El Obied market, the goat-to-sorghum terms-of-trade increased 6 percent between September and October, with the sale of a goat purchasing around 94 kg of sorghum in October, compared to 88.6 kg of sorghum per goat in September 2022. In El Obied, the improvement in the terms of trade in October is mainly driven by a slight increase in goat prices, while sorghum prices remained unchanged. Overall, the October 2022 goat-to-sorghum terms-of-trade across Sudan are 60-70 percent lower than respective prices in 2021 and 50-60 percent below the five-year average. In Al Gadaref market, the labor-to-sorghum terms-of-trade increased to 7.4 kg of sorghum per daily wage in September and October, compared to 6.2 Kg of sorghum per daily wage in August 2022, driven by the 20 percent increase in labor wages following increased demand for labor with the start of the harvest (Figure 3). Across Sudan, the labor-to-sorghum terms-of-trade in October remained approximately 70 percent lower than last year and 65 percent lower than the five-year average. Despite the improvement in goat-to-sorghum and labor-to-sorghum terms-of-trade, and the expected improvement in access to sorghum, the cumulative high cost of food and non-food needs are continuing to constrain household purchasing power and limit households access to adequate food, with many households coping by purchasing lower quality and cheaper food.

    Macroeconomic difficulties: The poor economic situation continues due to persistent low foreign currency reserves, the depreciation of the SDG, high inflation rates, longstanding insecurity, and political instability. In October, commercial banks and the parallel market are trading on average at around 576-579 SDG/USD compared to 439-448 SDG/USD in October 2021.

    In September, the government raised taxes on agricultural products, port and road fees, industry, and trade by 100 to 500 percent, resulting in strikes across the country. The high taxes have disrupted import and export activities and contributed to the high prices of imported food and non-food items. These decisions will directly be reflected in increasing the already high production and marketing costs and continue to constrain household purchasing power.

    In September, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased to 65,138 points, a 10.7 percent increase from August 2022, and 107 percent higher compared to September 2021, indicating that food and non-cereal food items prices are continuing to rise (Figure 4). Although the annual inflation rate has continued to decline, it is still in triple digits, reflecting the high price of goods and cost of living. Relatedly, in September 2022, the average cost of the WFP local food basket increased to 566 SDG (~0.98 USD), an 8 percent increase from August 2022 and 143 percent higher than in September 2021.

    Conflict and peace process: Between July and October 2022, sporadic violent inter-communal clashes have continued in Sudan particularly in West Kordofan, Blue Nile, and North Darfur states. The most recent violent clashes occurred in Lagawa, West Kordofan state and in Wad Al Mahi, Blue Nile state.  In Lagawa, tensions escalated on October 10 following a land ownership dispute, at least 36,500 people reportedly fleeing Lagawa town. In Blue Nile state, inter-communal violence that spread into Blue Nile’s Ar Rusyaris locality from Wad Al Mahi, renewed on October 13 in Dam town 6 (Village 6 and 7), with unconfirmed reports estimating that 1,200 people have been displaced and are taking refuge in schools and the nearby refugee camp. In early October, tensions between security forces and community leaders in Sortony IDP camp escalated in and around the wider Sortony Area in Kebkabiya locality, North Darfur, where an estimated 5,000 individuals fled from Sortony IDP camp to Kebkabiya. The conflict and insecurity across Sudan are continuing to disrupt the agricultural season, particularly reducing household access to income from agricultural labor, loss of household’s assets, and reduced households’ access to food from either the upcoming harvest or markets, resulting in an increased need for humanitarian assistance. 

    Humanitarian assistance:

    In October 2022, WFP and implementing partners provided approximately 1.6 million beneficiaries with 50 percent rations of in-kind food assistance (~16,109 metric tons) and around 861,000 USD in cash transfers. Most beneficiaries included IDPs and conflict-affected people in Greater Darfur, Greater Kordofan, the Blue Nile states, refugees from South Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, people affected by inter-communal clashes and floods, and the severely food-insecure residents. WFP plans to distribute over 123,550 metric tons and over 67.4 million USD in cash transfers to 5 million beneficiaries between November 2022 and April 2023.

    Current Food Security Outcomes
    In October 2022, household food security is beginning to improve seasonally, driven by increasing access to the harvest of earlier maturing crops from the ongoing 2022/2023 main agricultural season, and improved access to in-kind and cash payments from agricultural labor. Additionally, stable or declining cereal prices and the improvement in goat-to-sorghum and labor-to-sorghum terms-of-trades is improving access to market purchases, but the significantly above-average prices of essential food and non-food items are continuing to limit household purchasing power. Despite the relative improvement in access to food and income, the poor macroeconomic situation and consistently high prices of food and non-food items are driving worse than typical food security outcomes at the start of the harvest period. Moreover, the recent inter-communal clashes and increased displacement in areas of the Blue Nile, West Kordofan, and parts of Darfur states and the continued social tensions and political instability in different parts of the country are likely resulting in localized disruptions to the start of the harvest, limiting household access to own production, income from agricultural labor opportunities and crop sales in many areas. Overall, many areas in the country are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food security outcomes, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in areas recently affected by intercommunal clashes and displacements such as Blue Nile, West Kordofan, and parts of Darfur. Additionally, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are most likely in areas of Darfur, Kordofan, and Blue Nile states with a high number of protracted IDPs and conflict-affected peoples, and areas of marginal production in the Red Sea, North Darfur, North Kordofan, Northern Kassala.


    The most likely scenario for October 2022 to May 2023 is based on the following national-level assumptions

    • The national 2022/2023 harvest, particularly for staple food crops, is likely to be near average following average to above-average rainfall, despite delays in planting in some areas, lower access to irrigation, finance, and agricultural inputs, and the negative impacts of flooding and water logging in August and September and pest infestation.
    • Sudan's macroeconomic situation is likely to continue to deteriorate through the scenario period due to the international community's suspension of major economic support following the overthrow of the civilian-led transitional government in October 2021, persistent low foreign currency reserves, the depreciation of the SDG, high inflation rates, longstanding insecurity, and political instability. 
    • The area expected to be planted to wheat for the upcoming 2022/23 winter season is expected to be lower than last year and the five-year average. Below-average planting is expected due to shortages and the high cost of agricultural inputs, limited access to agricultural finance, and the high uncertainty about the government’s commitment to purchase the produced wheat from the farmers.
    • In October 2022, the SDG exchange rate in the parallel market is trading at around 578, with commercial banks trading at around 577 SDG/USD. The parallel market exchange rate will likely remain high throughout the scenario period due to the persistent lack of a sustainable hard currency stream and the high need for imports. This will likely result in reduced imports, particularly food, and further price increases. Based on FEWS NET's integrated FOREX projections, the SDG is expected to be 550-600SDG/USD through May 2023. 
    • Sorghum and millet prices are anticipated to seasonably decrease from October 2022 through March 2023 relative to the June-September lean season following the harvest. Based on FEWS NET's integrated price projections, sorghum and millet prices are expected to be over 150-200 percent higher than their respective prices last year and four to five times above the five-year average across most markets in Sudan during the projection period.
    • Locally produced wheat prices are likely to remain relatively stable between October and February and seasonably decrease between March and May 2023, with the beginning of the winter wheat harvest in March. Prices are likely to remain more than double compared to respective prices in 2022 and over 400 percent above the five-year average through May 2023.
    • Livestock prices are expected to follow seasonal trends but at relatively high prices compared to the average due to high inflation and local currency depreciation. Livestock prices are expected to remain relatively stable or slightly decrease from October 2022 to February 2023 in most markets as households from pastoral and agro-pastoral groups sell more livestock for income to purchase food. Livestock prices are likely to start seasonally decreasing between March and May 2023 as the lean season approaches.  Overall, livestock prices are expected to remain almost double compared to last year and over 400 percent above the five-year average through May 2023.
    • The livestock-to-cereal terms-of-trade (TOT), a proxy for pastoral household purchasing power, is expected to improve in November- the start of the harvest season- and continue improving through March 2023. However, from March to May 2023, the TOT will likely begin seasonally declining, driven by the anticipated high sorghum prices while livestock prices are expected to begin seasonally decrease. The TOT is likely to remain 50-60 percent lower than the respective TOT in 2021/22, and 40-50 percent below the five-year average due to the above-average sorghum prices.
    • Agricultural labor opportunities and wages are expected to increase seasonally during the harvest period between November 2022 and January 2023, ranging from 4000 to 6000 SDG/day. Labor opportunities and wages will start to seasonal decrease with the end of the harvest period in February 2023 but remain around 3000-4000 SDG/day through May 2023. Labor wages are anticipated to be 80-100 percent above last year and 200-300 percent above the five-year average.
    • Pastoral and daily wage-dependent households are expected to have limited purchasing power throughout the scenario period due to the rising cost of food and non-food needs, limited access to income due to reduced economic activity, and increased competition for income-earning opportunities. Poor households are likely to engage in different coping strategies to meet their household's essential needs such as selling non-productive animals more than usual, borrowing, and begging to earn income and minimize food consumption gaps.
    • WFP and implementing partners are expected to distribute over 123,550 metric tons and over 67.4 USD million in cash transfers to 5 million beneficiaries between November 2022 and April 2023. Most of the targeted beneficiaries are IDPs and conflict-affected people in Greater Darfur, government-controlled areas of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, refugees from South Sudan, and chronically food-insecure areas of eastern and western Sudan, Ethiopian refugees from the Tigray region, and South Sudanese refugees fleeing conflict.
    • The frequency and magnitude of civil unrest is likely to remain at current levels in Khartoum and other major urban centers through May 2023. The security forces will continue to use forceful measures to disperse protesters, resulting in sporadic civilian fatalities at major demonstrations. Casualty counts will likely increase as the government continues to withhold meaningful political concessions, and both security forces and demonstrators become quicker to escalate to violence during significant protests.
    • While incidents of violence against civilians in Darfur peaked, as is typical, during the height of the rainy season in July 2022, surpassing levels observed during the same time in 2021 and 2020, the number of civilians killed during these events was fewer than those during the same period 2021, and less than half of the death toll from the same period in 2020. In Kordofan, attacks on civilians remained concentrated in South Kordofan, occurring at nearly half the levels in May-July 2022 compared to the same period in 2021; however, a surge in violence and associated fatalities in West Kordofan occurred in June that surpassed any on record in recent years. The frequency of communal riots has likely increased due to a security vacuum since the U.N.’s withdrawal from Darfur in June 2021.
    • Intercommunal violence in Darfur and Kordofan states will continue to increase outside of cyclical rainy seasons as a result of the continued dispute over lands and natural resources, and retaliatory cycles of violence. Violence will likely escalate as is historically typical during the harvest season between November 2022 and January 2023. Violence in the lead-up to, and during the harvest season is likely to be at higher levels compared to 2021-2022 due to increasing disputes over access to farming lands and competition for scarce natural resources between pastoralists and farmers, as well as an additional twelve months of economic stagnation, and nearly 18 months since the departure of the UN peacekeeping force. Thereafter, violence is likely to ebb until April, when violence will likely begin to increase towards the end of the seasonal grazing period and the start of the lean season. Government efforts to reduce violence are likely to be stymied due to the presence of multiple armed groups in Darfur’s main urban centers, including several of which are signatories of the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA). The lack of progress in the implementation of the agreement will likely spur further incidents of sporadic violence. 

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    From October 2022 to January 2023, acute food insecurity outcomes for most households will improve relative to the lean season as food access improves with the start of the expected near-average harvest. In particular, poor households will improve their food access from own production, in-kind payments from agricultural labor, and in-kind Zakat of the crop from better-off households. Additionally, poor households in the agriculture and agropastoral areas are likely to increase their access to cash income from agricultural labor during the harvest period. Labor-to-sorghum and goat-to-sorghum terms-of-trade are likely to improve as cereal prices are likely to seasonally decline during the harvest but remain significantly above average due to the high production and transportation costs this year. As a result, many areas in Sudan are expected to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes supported by increased access to food and slightly lower food prices. However, in the conflict-affected areas in the Blue Nile, Kordofan, and Darfur states, conflict-affected and displaced people will continue to have limited access to their household harvest and labor opportunities. In these areas, poor households are likely to continue facing food consumption deficits and income below their livelihood protection thresholds, remaining in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through January 2023.

    February to May is typically the post-harvest period and the beginning of the lean season in Sudan. During the post-harvest period of February to April 2023, acute food security outcomes for most people will likely remain relatively stable supported by the anticipated near-average national harvest and relative stability of cereal prices. Following the end of the harvest in February, poor households’ access to in-kind payments and cash income from agricultural labor, and animal and crop sales will typically decline and reach seasonal lows during the June to September 2023 lean season, along with increases in staple food prices, as food stocks decline, and households increase their dependence on market purchases for food. To earn income, households’ members will likely migrate in search of labor, rely on remittances, increase their reliance on income from petty trade, and increase their engagement in coping strategies. The anticipated increase in already well-above-average prices of food and non-food items, along with low household purchasing power will continue to drive higher needs between February and May 2023. As a result, of the increase in food prices and low purchasing power, many poor households across Sudan will likely remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, an increased number of IDPs, conflict-affected people, and poor households in the Blue Nile, parts of Kordofan, Darfur, and the northern parts of North Darfur, northern Kassala, and much of Red Sea states are likely to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food security outcomes.

    Events that Might Change the Outlook
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.

    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    National Disputing national-level political groups successfully reach an agreement to return to a civilian-led governmentThis will likely reduce political tensions and inter-communal clashes, allow the Sudanese economy to reintegrate with the global market, and improve the macroeconomic conditions in Sudan. A reduction in food and non-food prices will improve household purchasing power and improving area-level food security in many affected areas from Crisis (IPC Phase3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    Dordieb, Agig, Haya, and Jubayt Elma'aadin localities in Red Sea StateEvenly distributed good rainfall through the October to December short winter rainy seasonThis will likely result in an above-average harvest from flood retreat cultivation and the upcoming winter season, improving livestock body conditions, agricultural production, and household income. This will reduce the food consumption deficits from January to May 2023, and the number of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes.
    Ar Rusayris and Wad Almahi localities, Blue Nile stateFurther escalation of the inter-communal clashes and social tension Increased intercommunal clashes and civil unrest will further disrupt the harvest, reduce labor opportunities, and disrupt access to markets. Additionally, clashes are likely to result in further displacement and a deterioration in household food insecurity. 



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    Figure 1.

    Fonte: FEWS NET

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    Figure 2.

    Fonte: FEWS NET

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    Figure 3.

    Fonte: FEWS NET

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    Figure 4.

    Fonte: FEWS NET

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    Figure 5.

    Fonte: FEWS NET

    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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