Djibouti is an arid country of approximately 900,000 people, three-quarters of whom live in Djibouti city and other towns. Agricultural production is extremely limited, leading to a heavy reliance on food imports. The rural population mainly depends on livestock rearing for food and income. Djibouti also hosts more than 30,000 refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen, who primarily reside in refugee settlements and urban areas.
Since late 2019, average to above-average rainfall across much of Djibouti has augmented pasture growth, water availability, and livestock health and productivity, contributing to improvements in food security conditions in recent months. Most poor pastoral households are likely accessing food through normal animal production and sales, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) notes. Additionally, herding families’ purchasing power is generally stable due to near-average staple food prices in many key markets.
FEWS NET expects that food security conditions will slightly improve in 2020 compared to those in 2019, as projected average precipitation during the March-to-May and July-to-September rainy seasons will likely continue to support favorable pasture generation and livestock production. However, approximately 60,000 Djiboutians and refugees in the country may face Crisis (IPC 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity and require urgent food assistance during 2020.* Food assistance needs will likely peak during the June-to-September lean season, the period of the year when food is scarcest. FEWS NET also reports that the food security situation of refugees and poor herding households residing in Ali Sabieh and Obock regions—where livestock herd sizes are below-average, limiting livelihoods opportunities—is of highest concern.
* The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a standardized tool that aims to classify the severity and magnitude of food insecurity. The IPC scale, which is comparable across countries, ranges from Minimal—IPC 1—to Famine—IPC 5.
USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) provided an estimated $7.5 million in FY 2019 funding to the UN World Food Program (WFP) to deliver U.S. in-kind food aid and cash transfers for food to refugees and crisis-affected people in Djibouti. To prevent and treat acute malnutrition, FFP also enabled WFP to provide specialized nutrition assistance to children and pregnant and lactating women. Additionally, FFP supports asset-building activities—in which households receive food assistance in exchange for participating in the creation or repair of community infrastructure, such as building water catchments or installing erosion-control structures—that bolster livelihoods opportunities and reduce vulnerability to future shocks.
In FY 2019, FFP provided 50 MT of U.S. in-kind ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF)—worth approximately $200,000—to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support the treatment of up to 3,600 children experiencing severe acute malnutrition. FFP also supported health worker trainings and mentoring to strengthen the community-based management of acute malnutrition in Djibouti.