OVERVIEW OF THE CRISIS
Djibouti continues to face distressingly high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition, scarcity of drinkable and usable water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as limited access to basic health care throughout most of the country. Repeated and severe droughts in the past two decades induced by climate change have led to a significant deterioration in living conditions of vulnerable Djiboutians.
There are two main drivers of humanitarian needs in Djibouti.
First, the negative impact of the recurring drought and chronic, extreme poverty.
Second, the inflow of refugees and asylum seekers mostly from Somalia and Yemen, as well as a continuous inflow of tens of thousands of vulnerable migrants transiting mostly from Ethiopia through Djibouti to Yemen and the Gulf Countries.
Years of consecutive drought in one of the world’s most arid countries continue to have harsh impact on the lives and livelihoods of Djiboutian.
Since 2007 precipitation levels have dropped by half in all regions, drawing the country in a long-lasting drought which caused extensive depletion of pasture, crops and water resources, resulting in a loss of income by herders and rural dwellers, massive displacements of population to urban areas, disruption of traditional coping strategies and an increased vulnerability, proliferation of communicable diseases, food insecurity and malnutrition.
The food security situation continues to deteriorate.
About 155,000 people in Djibouti are food insecure. This figure reaches 60 per cent of the total population in rural areas of Obock, one of the country’s most food insecure regions. Djibouti imports over 90 per cent of its food needs.
With staple food prices continuing to rise in country with high unemployment and 23 per cent of the population living in extreme poverty, access to food is very limited for many vulnerable people in Djibouti, including those living in rural areas as well as refugees hosted in the country.
A continuing deterioration of the nutrition situation
The last SMART survey conducted in December 2013 reveals that 29.7 per cent of children in Djiboubi are stunted and 1 out of 6 children are acutely malnourished. The prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) is at 17.8 per cent, an increase from 10 per cent in 2010. In Obock region, the worse affected region, GAM rates are at 29.9 per cent. Nearly one out of three children under five years of age in Obock region is acutely malnourished. The rate of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) varie between 2.1 per cent to 6.9 per cent in the most affected areas. The Nutrition Working Group estimates that over 82,000 people (including chidren under five years of age, pregnant and lactating women) are affected by either acute or chronic malnutrition. The majority of these people live in the suburban area of Balbala and in the regions of Obock, Ali Sabieh, Dikhil and in the refugee camps.
The recurrent drought has placed severe strain on water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Water is as precious as it is scarce in Djibouti. As the country does not have rivers or fresh water lakes, people rely on deep rain-fed underground water-where it exists. In ordinary years, the average rainfall has been of 150 mm, but since 2007, the country has been suffering from the consequences of a drought that has reduced these rainfalls by half. Scarce rainfall allows for a temporary regeneration of water aquifers, but it is clearly insufficient to properly replenish these sources as the drought persists. This has created increasing difficulties for households to access this vital good. In addition, many rural dwellers have lost their sources of livelihoods, and an increasing number of families saw their income being drastically reduced, being forced to abandon their homeland and seek refuge in urban centres. Dikhil, Tadjourah and Obock regions are the most exposed to drought and at the same time record rate of access to improved water and adequate sanitation lower than the national figures. The water and sanitation crisis is more severe in these regions and the rural population is the most affected due to the low coverage of WASH facilities. Some 35 per cent of rural populations have no access to improved water sources (according to the Joint Monitoring Programme 2015, access to safe water in rural area is considered to be at around 65 per cent). An estimated 171,000 people, including refugees and migrants require urgent assistance to maintain or increase access to minimum heath standards for safe drinking water and sanitation. High exposures to the continuous and recurrent droughts in recent years steadily increase the risk of spread of communicable diseases such as cholera, measles and acute respiratory infections. Communities living along the migration routes should be given priority due to severe pressures faced by their facilities. Due to water scarcity, the limited existing water points need to be protected and properly managed in a way that takes into account human needs such as drinking and households use, as well as livestock and agricultural needs.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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