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Implications of Ukraine Conflict on Food Access and Availability in the Eastern Africa Region, Update #2, March 2022

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Key Messages

• The disruptions in imports, production and the related surge in food prices induced by the current conflict in Ukraine have the potential to worsen the food security situation in the Eastern Africa Region, which is already been impacted by the effect of three consecutive below-normal rainfall seasons.

• Considering reliance on direct imports from Russia and Ukraine, rising global prices since the start of the war and significant internal challenges; Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan are likely to be the hardest hit by the fall-out of the ongoing conflict.

• Driven, in part, by the ongoing conflict the cost of WFP’s local food basket has increased by 23 percent in one year (Feb 2021/2022). This is only the average increase across the entire Eastern Africa region as Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia have seen the cost of the food basket increasing by 92, 66 and 36 percent between Feb 2021/2022.

• Djibouti and Sudan are expected to be more susceptible to rising wheat prices, considering the size of the demand and the heavy reliance on imports to meet it. Domestic production and in-country stocks alone are estimated not to be enough to meet wheat demand in the medium to long-run.

• Although direct imports from Russia and Ukraine are negligible, 95 percent of sunflower-seed oil re-exported to Burundi and Rwanda comes from Egypt, which directly imports 100 percent of its sunflower-seed oil from Russia and Ukraine. If the conflict continues, higher costs of sunflower oil will affect Egypt, which in turn will be reflected in the domestic markets of Burundi and Rwanda. In addition, Sudan, which imports oil from both Russia and Ukraine will be directly impacted.

• Eastern African countries are fully dependent on fertilizer imports and the rising fertilizer costs are expected to have severe implications of food availability and prices. As the long rains planting season approaches, prospects of higher-than-average fertilizer prices could reduce fertilizer demand, which, coupled with anticipated below-average rains is likely to impact crop production, availably of staple crops on markets and, eventually, push cereal prices up. Countries of concern are Kenya and Uganda (importing 15 and 16 percent of the total value of fertilizers from Russia and Ukraine).

• Increased global oil prices will be reflected in higher in-country costs of petrol and diesel, which has already impacted Somalia – where pump prices have increased by 37 percent (the highest increase in the region); Uganda – where prices went by 32 percent following a fuel crisis in late January – and Burundi – where petrol prices went up by 24 percent year-on-year. Shortages of oil and oil products and related high fuel prices are likely to persist against the backdrop of international oil prices that continue to soar, which will eventually have an impact on transport costs and push local food prices up.

• The forecasted average to below-average rains from March-May will be the fourth consecutive drought in a row, further complicating the food supply situation in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Prices of cooking oil, bread, and wheat flour are already reaching new records in local markets, while fuel prices and cost of living are on the rise, increasing concerns of a crisis similar to 2007/2008.