Drought / Drylands / East Africa / Ethiopia / Food Security / Kenya / Pastoralism / Somalia / South Sudan / Sudan / Vulnerability / West Africa

FEWS NET says rainfall in Africa’s eastern Horn may be below normal again this year

FEWS Net Estimated Food Security Conditions for Mar 2012

FEWS Net Estimated Food Security Conditions for Mar 2012 (map credit: USAID and Famine Early Warning System Network).

Bloomberg News has reported a new report from the Famine Early Warning Systems network (FEWS NET) that East African rainfall ‘may be “significantly” below average in the Horn of Africa’s main growing season, potentially threatening a region still recovering from famine in 2011.’

‘Rain from March through May in the region, which includes Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, is expected to begin late and amount to only 60 percent to 85 percent of average.’

FEWS NET, a provider of food-security warnings funded by the US Agency for International Development, accurately forewarned of last year’s food crisis in the same region, the Horn of Africa, which affected more than 13 million people.

‘In the worst-case scenario, rainfall would be less than 60 percent of average, meaning a “major failure” of the region’s main growing season similar to the “very dry years” of 2000 and 2011, according to the report. The chance of the worst-case scenario is estimated at 30 percent, FEWS said. . . .’

Read the whole story at Bloomberg News: East Africa may get below-normal rain, threatening food security, 4 Apr 2012.

The recent FEWS NET report Bloomberg picked up says that although ‘Significant improvements in food security have occurred in most parts of the eastern Horn after favorable October-December rains, leading to increased livestock productivity and prices . . . food security outcomes in these areas and other parts of the Horn depend heavily on the performance of the March to May 2012 rains.

The forecast for the March to May rains indicates that rainfall will be near normal to below normal and poorly distributed in key areas of concern, including Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, with the potential for significant erosions in food security gains during the March-June outlook period. As of late March, there is a delayed onset of the seasonal rains with significant rainfall deficits over the western Horn and Belg cropping areas of Ethiopia.

‘In contrast to other parts of the Horn, severe water shortages are occurring in parts of Afar, Jijiga and Shinile, in Ethiopia. Extended migrations due to poor rains could cause a marked decline in livestock productivity, limiting access to milk and constraining capacities to purchase food to meet household food needs. Emergency levels of food insecurity are projected in these areas during the outlook period.

‘Serious concerns remain in several areas where conflict and civil insecurity are driving food insecurity, namely in Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia. In Somalia, livelihoods remain particularly fragile due to previous Famine conditions, and Emergency levels of food insecurity are expected through June in some areas because of ongoing conflict and/or slowed recovery from the devastating impact of the 2011 season. Continued insecurity in Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia is likely to precipitate further population displacements, deterioration of livelihoods, and lack of access to markets, grazing resources, and humanitarian assistance. . . .’

In early April, FEWS Net reported that:
‘As detailed in the April 3 FEWS NET East Africa Special Report, rainfall for the March-May season in the eastern Horn of Africa is expected to begin late, to be poorly distributed over space and time, and to total only 60 to 85 percent of average. Significant negative impacts on crop production, pasture regeneration, and the replenishment of water resources are likely. The most serious and immediate impacts are expected in root-crop and Belg-producing parts of Ethiopia. Additional areas of concern include the marginal rainfed cropping areas of southern Somalia and southeastern Kenya, and pastoral areas of the greater Mandera Triangle, where the impacts of the poor rains will be felt later in the season as conditions progressively deteriorate. Given extreme food insecurity and famine in these areas during 2011, and the likelihood of a poor March-May season, humanitarian partners should immediately implement programs to protect livelihoods and household food consumption in the eastern Horn of Africa.’

Read the whole reports at FEWS Net: East Africa Food Security Outlook: March to June 2012, 3 Mar 2012, and East Africa Food Security Alert, 6 Apr 2012.

In West Africa, FEWS Net reports that:
‘In areas of the Sahel most affected by poor crop production, high cereal prices, or conflict, some very poor and poor households will require targeted emergency assistance during the peak lean season (Jul–Sep) to meet minimum food needs and prevent increases in already high background levels of acute malnutrition . . . .’

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