East Africa Key Message Update, December 2018
Protracted conflict and below-average rainfall likely to drive increased acute food insecurity
In South Sudan and Yemen, a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists and some households are likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). In these countries, ongoing conflict has significantly disrupted livelihoods and limited or delayed access to humanitarian assistance, resulting in wide consumption gaps and unsustainable livelihood coping. In South Sudan, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) are widespread and of high concern are Greater Baggari of Wau, central Unity, eastern Lakes, Jonglei, and southern Upper Nile. In Yemen, over 15 million people face acute food security. Should there be significant declines in commercial imports and should conflict cut populations off from trade and humanitarian assistance for an extended period of time, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely.
Moderate to heavy late-season rainfall during the October to December 2018 Deyr/Hageya/short rains is unlikely to compensate for substantial October to November deficits, and vegetation conditions are up to 60 percent drier-than-normal. Based on rainfall to date and the NOAA/CPC forecast through December 31, total seasonal rainfall is estimated to be 25-50 percent below average by the end of the season. Crop production in Kenya and Somalia is anticipated to fall 30-40 percent below average, while livestock production is anticipated to decline. More areas are now expected to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through mid-2019 than originally projected. Early forecasts also indicate an increased likelihood of a below-average 2019 Gu. If this forecast materializes, additional rapid deterioration in acute food insecurity would be likely.
In Sudan, the local currency has further depreciated, and staple food prices remain 150 to 200 percent above average, driving low purchasing power. Although casual labor wages and livestock prices are increasing, the rate of increase is not keeping pace with food price increases and livestock-to-sorghum and casual labor-to-sorghum terms of trade are expected to remain 20-60 percent below average in 2019, driving atypically high needs. In bimodal Uganda and Rwanda, heavy late-season rainfall has mitigated early season crop stress and near average production is now expected, sustaining Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes in most areas.
The official number of refugees in East Africa has declined following biometric verification by the UNHCR in the past couple of months. The region hosts an estimated 3.9 million refugees from Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen. Many have experienced ration cuts in 2018, including 20 percent for refugees in Ethiopia, 15 percent in Kenya, and 30 percent in South Sudan. However, refugees in Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda continue to access 100 percent rations. In addition, nearly 10 million people are IDPs across the region, and many are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse, while others are maintaining Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes with humanitarian assistance.