Djibouti

Djibouti Food Security Update, April 2007

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This report covers the period from 3/25/2007 to 4/22/2007

Following the poor Heys/Dada season (October to February) rains and the delayed onset of the current Diraa/Sougoum season, the government of Djibouti declared a drought situation in the inland pastoral zones. In a meeting organized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government appealed officially to the international community to help overcome the impact of drought on the livelihood and food security of the pastoralists, particularly those who do not receive remittances from urban areas and are dependent solely on livestock. In its appeal, the government emphasized malnutrition rates which are above international thresholds for emergency in both rural and urban areas. It is hoped that the drought declaration will bring additional attention to the significant shortfall for the regular WFP programs as well as additional support to UNICEF therapeutic and supplementary feeding programs in Djibouti. An additional US$ 6 million is needed for WFP operations in Djibouti through December 2007. About US$ 1 million is required immediately to avoid an interruption of food aid distributions in May. A total of 53,000 people (including 47,000 drought affected pastoralists and 6,000 refugees) dependent on food aid distributions will be affected.

The pastoralists most affected by the drought reside in the Northwest pastoral zone and the Southeast border sub zone. These areas have been in a prolonged dry season since October 2006, although some rains were reported during the second dekad April. The Djiboutian pastoralist lives at the edge even under normal circumstances, and any slight climate hazard such as delay in the onset of the rainy season will have an immediate and direct negative impact on their livelihood and food security. The situation is currently aggravated by the staple foods prices that are beyond the reach of poor pastoralists as well as urban households. The current infestation of desert locusts in Arta, Ali-sabieh and Dikhil districts is an additional concern for pastoralists as they threaten the limited supply of pasture and browse. A detailed joint assessment on the impact of the current delay of the seasonal rains is highly recommended and must be organized soon.

Urban households are in their fourth month of unprecedented above normal staple food prices, and the expenditure basket of the urban poor is beyond their reach. The government is trying to take extra policy measures to adjust the price fluctuations for the benefit of poor population without affecting the market liberalization. A national debate has been opened on how to overcome on trader speculations. Price control measures are likely to be put in place.

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