GIEWS Country Briefs: Djibouti 10-January-2012

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Following a poor karma/karan rainy season (July to September), inland pastoral areas entered the long dry period

Poor start of “heys/dada” rains (October to March) in coastal areas affected rangeland conditions

Food security likely to deteriorate for pastoralists and poor urban households until March

Food security situation remains critical for pastoral households and urban areas

In north-western and south-eastern pastoral areas, the 2011 karma/karan rains (July-September) were late and erratic, leading to poor rangeland conditions. Livestock body conditions are generally poor, with high mortality, low birth rates (especially for goats and camels) and low milk production. The situation is not expected to improve in the coming months as the long dry season sets in, particularly given the impact of several successive failed seasons. Rangeland conditions in coastal areas have been negatively affected by the poor start of the “heys/dada” rains (October-February).

Despite a slight decline in recent months, prices of main staple commodities stay generally well above the level of 12 months before. In wholesale markets of Djibouti city, average price of wheat flour increased by 44 percent between November 2010 and November 2011. At about USD 730 per tonne, the November 2011 price of wheat flour is only 7.5 percent below the peak reached in July 2008, driven by high international wheat prices, the Ethiopian cereal export ban and high local transportation costs due to high fuel prices.

The total estimated population in need of humanitarian assistance is set at about 210 000 people. This includes about 120 000 small-scale farmers and herders living in northwest and southeast areas, about 60 000 urban dwellers affected by high food prices, low remittances and reduced employment opportunities, and about 30 000 refugees and asylum-seekers (mainly from Somalia and Yemen) hosted in camps.

After several consecutive failed rainy seasons, herd sizes have been reduced dramatically especially in north-western and south-eastern pastoral areas, reducing households’ income and food sources. The recent governmental ban on charcoal production and firewood collection has further reduced households’ livelihood strategies. In most cases, it is estimated that food aid is meeting approximately 50 percent of annual household food needs.