East Africa Food Security Outlook: High food assistance needs persist, but food security in the Horn is likely to improve in 2020, November 2019
Recovery from prior drought and recent flooding, coupled with poor macroeconomic conditions and protracted conflict and displacement, continue to drive Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes and high food assistance needs across East Africa.
In Yemen, ongoing conflict continues to restrict food access for displaced and conflict-affected populations in western and central Yemen, particularly in Abyan, Al Hudaydah, Hajjah, Saada’h, and Shabwah. Recent flooding has also led to an increase in displacement. Famine (IPC Phase 5) is possible in a worst-case scenario in which conflict cuts off the food supply or disrupts port operations for a prolonged period of time, leading to extreme household food gaps.
In South Sudan, the severity of food insecurity and number of food-insecure households is likely higher than previously anticipated, due flood-induced displacement, crop losses, and disruptions to humanitarian food assistance delivery and trade in recently flood-affected areas. However, the ongoing harvest has relatively alleviated the severity of food insecurity in other areas of concern. Should a resurgence of conflict prevent populations from accessing typical food sources or food assistance, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely.
Across the greater Horn of Africa, rainfall from October to mid-November has been up to 300 percent above average. In many areas, riverine flooding and flash floods disrupted agricultural activities and led to some crop losses, caused livestock losses, or resulted in at least temporary displacement. Worst-affected areas include southern and southeastern Ethiopia, southern Somalia, and eastern and coastal areas of Kenya. Elevated flood risk is anticipated through late November. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are anticipated through December or January. As the rains subside, however, average to above-average cultivation and gains in herd size and milk production as a result of plentiful vegetation are likely to drive improvement to Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
Despite near-average Meher harvests in Ethiopia and near-average unimodal harvests in Sudan, localized crop losses and high food prices are driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in several areas. In Ethiopia, locust infestation, erratic rainfall performance, and conflict are contributing factors to local crop losses, and herd sizes remain below-average in Somali region. In Sudan, high food prices as a result of macroeconomic shocks are expected to sustain below-normal labor-to-cereal terms of trade, limiting food access among IDPs and poor households who rely on labor income. IDPs in South Kordofan and in Jebel Marra in Darfur are populations of highest concern.