Djibouti: Emergency Food Security Assessment in Rural Areas, July 2012


Executive summary

For the fourth consecutive year, WFP conducted an emergency food security assessment (EFSA) in the rural areas of Djibouti. The objective is to check the food security situation as this year again rainfall has been insufficient further to six consecutive years of drought and as food priceswhich never returned to their 2007 pre-crisis levels remain high.

What is the food security situation? The food security situation of rural households remains critical. About 42,600 people are food insecure representing 49% of households and 24,300 people are moderately food insecure representing 28% of households.Only 23% of households are food secure.

Three quarters of households have a poor or borderline food consumption which consists mainly in cereals, oil and sugar, complemented by some pulses, vegetables, milk and meat (once a week) for the moderately food insecure households.

In addition, the situation of malnutrition is serious for women (aged between 15 and 49 years) with 14,3% of them wasted. The Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate for children aged between 6 and 11 months is 24,2% and indicates a critical situation. The GAM rate for children aged between 12 and 23 months is 12,7% and indicates a serious situation.During the week prior to the survey, 60% of households experienced times when they did not have enough money to buy food. The percentage is high even amongst food secure households (almost 40%).

To cope with the lack of food and money, households resort to strategies that endanger their livelihoods. Indeed, 25% of households sold productive assets/ animals during the seven days prior to the survey. About 20% of severely food insecure households and 13% of moderately food insecure households sold reproductive livestock (females) during the year.

How has the situation evolved compared to last year? The food security situation has deteriorated compared to 2011. Firstly, households’ food consumption has significantly deteriorated. This year, more than 70% of households have a poor or borderline food consumption compared to 57% last year.

Secondly, the percentage of households who depend on aid (food aid and family and relative‘s gift) increased from 11% in 2011 to 20% in 2012. Thirdly an important proportion of households (24%) abnormally sold livestock in 2012 (compared to 10,5% last year). In 78% of cases, they did it to buy food.

About 58% of households estimated that their income level is lower than last year.

In addition, households seek to increase their income and to diversify their income sources even if this mean having non sustainable income sources. The number of households who have two income sources increased (from 24% in 2011 to 40,6% in 2012).

What are the causes of food insecurity?
Households live in chronic poverty which is exacerbated by the lack of work opportunities, high food prices which never returned to their 2007 pre-crisis levels and a recurring drought which prevents the renewal of pasture and decimates herds.

Households live in a state of utter destitution. They have a very low income level and 35% of their income sources are not sustainable (aid, sale of coal and firewood, remittances). Their level of expenses is very low with an average of 119 Djiboutian francs (0,66 dollar) per person and per day; three quarters of those being devoted to food purchases. They have few assets (between 3 and 5).
Water access is difficult. Almost half of the population has not even access to 15 liters of water per person and per day, a necessary minimum set by humanitarian standards.

Herds – amounting in average to three tropical livestock units (TLU) per households – cannot ensure households’ food security. Fifteen TLUs per households would be needed.

High aid dependency Aid (food aid and gift from family and relatives) are an essential income source for a significant proportion of households independently of their food security status or their activities. About 20% of households have aid and gifts as their main source of income. In addition, food aid and gifts are the main source of food of 40% of households. Without aid, an important part of the population would have no means to feed itself and survive.

Where are the food insecure households?
Ali Sabieh is the region is the highest rate of severely food insecure households (77%) followed by the Obock region (55%). The regions of Tadjourah, Dikhil et Arta also have high rates of severe food insecurity, respectively of 47,5%, 39,1% and 29,4%. In addition, in these regions, about one third of households are moderately food insecure. In the Obock region, the rate is 27,4% and in the Ali Sabieh one 13,7%: