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Conflict, poor harvests to result in a deterioration of food security in South Kordofan by March

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Sudan
  • December 2015
Conflict, poor harvests to result in a deterioration of food security in South Kordofan by March

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through March 2016
  • Key Messages
    • The June to October agricultural season was marked by late and below-average rainfall, particularly in the Darfur and Kordofan States, as well as El Niño-affected, surplus-producing areas of eastern Sudan. Consequently, the planted and harvestable area as well as yields of staples and cash crops of the 2015/16 season are well below-average in most parts of Sudan, which will lead to above-average market demand. Humanitarian assistance needs will be higher than usual as the lean season begins in March 2016, two months earlier than usual. 

    • Staple food prices increased unseasonably by up to 15 percent between October to November in the main consumption markets in Red Sea, North Kordofan, West Kordofan, North Darfur and South Darfur States. These price increases are being driven by lower than normal supplies from this year’s harvest and the rising number of people shifting to market purchase as the main source of food. 

    • Heavy seasonal rainfall precipitation due to El Niño since the beginning of December has caused floods, damage to infrastructure, and fatalities in Tokar locality on the Red Sea coast of Sudan. Meanwhile, heavy rainfall in the highlands of Ethiopia triggered abnormal river flooding of the Al Gash River in Kassala state in eastern Sudan. This flooding will likely raise water tables for irrigated vegetable and fruit production and benefit production of flood-irrgated crops in these areas. 

    Current Situation

    In early December, harvests of late-planted crops were still ongoing in the both irrigated and rainfed sector. However, most farmers in the traditional rain-fed sector have completed their harvests, which are estimated to be below average: Across most parts of the country, yields are below average due to late and below-average rainfall during the main June to October rainy season. In the northern parts of North Kordofan, Kassala, Gadaref and North Darfur states, some farmers harvested nothing as cultivated crops wilted before they ripened due to rains that were 2-6 weeks late. Below-average rainfall, and the shorter than normal growing season adversely affected crop production in these states. The ongoing El Nino is generally associated with below-average rainfall during the June to October season in eastern Sudan, the major cereal surplus producing area of the country. In combination with below-average rainfall in other parts of the country, field reports suggest production in 2015 is similar to the 2011/12 year, when national cereal production was about 3 million MT, compared to the 2008/09 to 2013/14 average of 4.3 million MT. Official crop production estimates are expected to be released in the coming weeks, which should provide additional clarity about this year’s harvests.

    Areas where production was most impacted by dryness include: North Kordofan, North Darfur, most parts of Kassala, Northern parts of Gadaref, Northern parts of South Darfur, East Darfur and pockets of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, White Nile, West Kordofan and Central Darfur states. Considerable numbers of poor households in areas where there is no harvest have already exhausted their food stocks from above-average harvest of last year and shifted entirely to market purchase as the main food source since November 2015.

    Between October and December, El Niño is generally associated with above-average rainfall in coastal Red Sea State. Heavy rainfall in early December associated with El Nino triggered floods, destruction of infrastructure and flooding in Tokar locality in the Red Sea coast of Sudan. Heavy rainfall in the highlands of Ethiopia triggered flooding of Al Gash River in Kassala state in eastern Sudan during late November. It is very rare for Al Gash river to flood in November as it normally dries up by end of October each year. Late flooding of Al Gash River is beneficial for flood irrigated crops of Al Gash and for irrigated vegetatble and fruits production in the small scale riverine cultivation along Al Gash River in Kassala state and availed drinking water for animals.

    Approximately 38,000 Sudanese refugees have returned to Muradaf village in Um Dokhon locality of Central Darfur State since June 2015, with more than 60 percent returning in November. The return of Sudanese refugees from Chad is mainly due to improved security conditions in Um Dokhon locality since the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement between Salamat and Messeiriya tribes in September 2014, and the Chadian authority’s ultimatum for Sudanese refugees to either integrate into refugees camps or return to Sudan. These returnees missed the cultivation season this year and will depend on market purchase as the main source of food, having reduced access to income following the degradation of asset’ holdings after years of refuge in Chad.

    Staple food prices stabilized between October and November in most markets in surplus-producing markets of central and eastern Sudan (Damazin, Gadarif, Kosti and Sinar), with higher than usual stocks from last year’s above-average harvest ensuring sufficient supply on these markets. However, staple prices increased unseasonably by 4 to 18 percent in main consumption markets of Port Sudan, El Obied, El Fasher and Nyala. This is mainly attributable to lower than usual supply from the below-average 2015/16 harvest. November sorghum prices in remote deficit markets of North Kordofan and West Kordofan states were 50 percent higher than in main production areas. In markets where sorghum prices were extremely high, livestock prices have started to decline due to excessive sale of livestock instigated by poor pasture conditions and the need to sell more animals in order to buy food. In SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan, livestock prices are 30 to 40 percent lower than in government-controlled areas, and have declined by 20 to 35 percent over the past three months, while staple food (sorghum) prices are nearly double those in government-controlled areas. In a normal year, livestock prices tend to be stable at this time of year when pasture and water is more abundant, and in the post-harvest period, staple food prices tend to be at their lowest levels. At the national level, November levels of sorghum prices were on average 16 percent below their levels of 2014, but remained 55 percent above their five-year average, the only exceptions being El Fasher and Nyala markets where prices were up to 15 percent above last year’s levels.

    Ongoing conflict in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan is further reducing food access for poor households. In these areas (Kouda, Dellami, Um Dorein, Taludi, Heiban, Aleyri), agricultural production is already expected to be below-average due to poor seasonal rainfall, but conflict continues to disrupt household access to fields and reducing the ability for households to harvest the little production that is expected. In addition, conflict continues to disrupt trade flows and to limit delivery of humanitarian assistance. Elsewhere, armed militias resumed attacking villages in the northern parts of Kuttum locality in North Darfur state. Over the course of first week of December a number of villages in the area of Anka, Malam El Hosh and Amarai were attacked. The attackers looted villagers of their belongings, including livestock and food stocks and burned houses. These attacks are likely to trigger thousands of new displacement to existing camps in Kuttum and Fata Barno localities in North Darfur state. Similar attacks by armed militias in Dali Korofola and Hashaba villages in Tawila locality during the same period displaced thousands of within in North Darfur state.

    Updated Assumptions

    Assumptions made in the Sudan Food Security Outlook for October 2015 to March 2016 remain unchanged.

    Projected Outlook through March 2016

    The below-average harvest has driven unseasonable increases of staple food prices in the main consumption markets of Sudan, while staple food prices in surplus-producing markets remained stable due to availability of above-average carryover stocks from last year. Serious pasture deficit and sudden increase of staple food prices stimulated distress sale of livestock in some parts North Kordofan, Kassala, White Nile and West Kordofan states. The rapidly declining livestock prices are likely to reduce the purchasing power of the households in these areas. Reduced purchasing power and reduced access to food from own harvest are likely to result in an earlier onset of the lean season in March 2015, with above-average needs in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, among poor residents in Northern parts of North Kordofan, North Darfur, Kassala, and new IDPs in Darfur, where food security is likely to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) with the start of the lean season. In conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan, food security outcomes are likey to worsen from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Emeregency (IPC Phase 4) by March 2016 among IDPs and poor residents due to below-average harvests, restricted population movemets, restricted trade flow, lack of access to humanitarian assistance, sharp increases of staple food prices, reduced asset holdings due to four years of protracted conflict, and continuing insecurity.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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