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East Africa Food Security Outlook, February to September 2021

Situation Report
Originally published
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High humanitarian food assistance needs will persist through most of 2021


• Conflict marked by severe disruptions to livelihood activities, coupled with macroeconomic and weather shocks, are driving Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes in parts of Tigray region of Ethiopia and parts of South Sudan and Yemen. These outcomes are characterized by large food consumption gaps and high levels of acute malnutrition and mortality. In South Sudan, southern Jonglei remains the area of greatest concern. In Yemen, Houthi-controlled areas in the North are of greatest concern. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are simultaneously widespread in all three countries.
Humanitarian access constraints must be resolved and large-scale assistance – including food, nutrition, and WASH – must be delivered to Tigray, South Sudan, and Yemen to save lives.

• Populations facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes are anticipated to rise substantially in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia through September. Driven by a waning La Niña, the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) and other forecast models predict a second consecutive season of below-average rainfall in bimodal areas from March to May 2021. Pastoral and agropastoral populations in southern and eastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, and Somalia are expected to be worst affected by anticipated crop and livestock production losses. Food and income are already below normal due to below-average crop production in late 2020, high food prices, desert locust impacts, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

• In central and western Ethiopia, Sudan, and South Sudan, forecast models predict above-average rainfall from June to September 2021. Given high river levels and residual floodwaters after the 2020 floods, another consecutive year of flooding is likely in Sudan and South Sudan. Ongoing currency depreciation and inflation will also continue to drive high and rising food prices. As a result, the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse is likely to reach an annual peak during this period, which overlaps the peak of the lean season.

• Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely be widespread among refugees and internally displaced populations. Yet inadequate funding has resulted in reductions to planned food assistance ration sizes by 10 to 40 percent for refugees in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti, and Tanzania, while a 60 percent ration cut is proposed for refugees in Rwanda beginning in March. The cuts occur at a time when the number of displaced people is rising due to conflict, insecurity, and weather shocks. Displaced populations also face more limited access to income and food, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the UNHCR, an estimated 12.76 million people are internally displaced in Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen. An additional 4.71 million people are refugees in camps in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania