Fifteen to eighteen million people in East Africa are currently highly or extremely food insecure, including over one million malnourished children, due to below?normal rains, poor crop and pasture production, civil conflict and insecurity, abnormally high food prices, and livestock diseases. Populations most affected are in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Djibouti. These conditions could deteriorate if ongoing interventions are not enhanced to assure timeliness, appropriate targeting, and sufficient access, and if rains do not perform well through the end of the October-December season.
In the most likely scenario, near-normal October-December rains will ease pasture shortages, replenish water resources, and improve livestock body conditions, milk production, and pastoral terms of trade in affected areas, particularly in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Djibouti. In addition, government and inter?agency efforts to control livestock diseases are expected to reduce animal deaths. Despite expected favorable rains, overall pastoral food security will not improve significantly during the January-March period, due to significant asset losses, including livestock death during past seasons and food prices that will likely remain above normal levels. Favorable conditions during the July-September cropping season in key areas of central, eastern, and northern Ethiopia and southern Sudan have raised harvest prospects in these areas. Food security in Tanzania and most of Uganda is expected to remain stable. In Kenya, production deficits are possible, though they could be addressed through cross?border trade. In this scenario, child malnutrition will ease among pastoralists, where its prevalence is high, due to prospects of improved milk production, and the overall population requiring emergency assistance is expected to decline marginally.
In the worst-case scenario, below-normal October-December rains would result in marginal, short-lived improvements in pasture and water availability in pastoral areas and crop failure in agropastoral areas. This would make the January-March dry season more severe than normal, and would reduce prospects for improvements in malnutrition and overall food security. Another harsh dry season could also increase resource?based conflict in pastoral areas and lead to increased livestock deaths, further impoverishing pastoral households. If existing livestock diseases are not controlled, particularly in Kenya and Uganda, they will further erode pastoralists' income and assets. In this scenario, the population requiring emergency assistance will remain unchanged or increase.