FSNWG Statement on the Alarming Deterioration in Food Security and Nutrition in Eastern and Central Africa Region

Report
from Food Security and Nutrition Working Group
Published on 12 Aug 2014

The East and Central Africa Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG) is a multi-stakeholder regional forum, chaired by IGAD and FAO, and mandated to conduct regional food and nutrition security situational and response analysis in the region.

The statement on the regional food and nutrition situation covers Burundi, Central Africa Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. An estimated 20 million people in these countries face acute food insecurity with most of them being in Crisis and Emergency1 . The figure compares unfavourably with 15.8 million people in July 2013.

The overall nutrition situation in the region has deteriorated precipitously and according to survey results, the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) levels are higher than 20 percent, exceeding the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 percent, especially in parts of South Sudan, CAR, Somalia and northern Kenya. The countries of major concern with regard to food and nutrition insecurity are the conflict-affected South Sudan, CAR, DRC and Somalia.

The deteriorating food and nutrition security situation is exacerbated by several factors including:

  • The impacts of conflicts, which have resulted in: population displacements (currently its estimated that there are about 2.5 million refugees excluding the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)); disruption to crop and livestock production, and trade activities, resulting in severe food shortages and price increases (cereal prices are up to 80 percent higher than their year earlier levels in Sudan and Somalia); and restricted humanitarian access in parts of southern Somalia, western Sudan and in the CAR.

  • The below average March to May 2014 rains. Only about 50-80 percent of normal rains were recorded in most areas of the region, except in the green-belt of South Sudan, DRC, CAR and parts of Ethiopia. The mediocre March-May 2014 season came soon after similarly below average October-December 2013 rains in some parts of the region, including Somalia, northern and eastern Kenya, north-eastern Ethiopia (mainly the Afar Region), north-eastern Uganda (Karamoja) and northern Burundi. As a result, crop and livestock production prospects point to an overall below average output in these areas.

  • Rising inflation, especially in Sudan, and unmet humanitarian needs, such as CAR and specifically in South Sudan where less than 25 percent of the requirements have been provided.

The drivers, outlined above, have deepened and are accelerating food and nutrition insecurity in the region. Consequently, about four million people in South Sudan (this figure includes one million IDPs), one million in Somalia (including IDPs), 1.7 million in CAR, 4.1 million in the DRC, 300,000 in Kenya and 4.4 million in Sudan are in the Crisis and Emergency levels of acute food insecurity. An additional 2.5 million refugees are hosted in different countries across the region, including over 420,000 refugees displaced from South Sudan since December 2013. Results from on-going comprehensive food and nutrition security assessments, being conducted in several countries, will update the current analysis from mid-August to September 2014.

After analysing key food security indicators and outcomes, the FSNWG strongly believes that in the absence of an increased and immediate multi-sectoral response, the food and nutrition status of affected populations is likely to deteriorate further. The main areas of concern are in the conflict-affected areas of South Sudan, CAR, eastern DRC, South and central Somalia and western Sudan. Similarly, impacts of successive seasons of below average rains in eastern and northern Kenya, north-eastern Uganda (Karamoja) and north-eastern Ethiopia will deepen food and nutrition insecurity in those areas. The situation also calls for an immediate and urgent response that includes strengthened mitigation measures. The upcoming forecast for the September to December 2014 rainy season, which will be released in August, will also provide greater clarity regarding the likely outcome of the season, given a 70-80 percent chance of an El Nino event occurring this year.