Djibouti

Djibouti: Government declares drought in pastoral zones

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NAIROBI, 27 April 2007 (IRIN) - The Djibouti government has declared a drought in the inland pastoral zones that have witnessed a prolonged dry spell since October.

The worst-affected areas are the Northwest pastoral zone and the Southeast border subzone, although the regions reported some rains in April.

The Djiboutian government, in an appeal for aid, said the drought had affected the livelihoods and food security of the pastoralists, particularly those who did not receive remittances from urban areas and depended solely on livestock.

According to the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS Net), the pastoralist areas had poor October to February rains, which led to a delay in the onset of the current season. "In its appeal, the government emphasised malnutrition rates which are above international thresholds for emergency in both rural and urban areas," it noted.

The situation, FEWS Net added, was aggravated by prices of staple foods that were beyond the reach of poor pastoralists as well as urban households. In addition, an infestation of desert locusts in Arta, Ali-sabieh and Dikhil districts was threatening the limited supply of pasture for the pastoralists.

"The Djiboutian pastoralist lives on the edge even under normal circumstances," the early warning system said. "Any slight climate hazard such as a delay in the onset of the rainy season will have an immediate and direct negative impact on their livelihood and food security."

It noted that the government was trying to take extra policy measures to adjust price fluctuations for the benefit of the poor without affecting the market, and was likely to introduce price controls.

In March, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said an estimated 53,000 people in Djibouti could go without food rations unless funding was found to continue providing food aid.

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