Conflict, Drought Continue to Hamper Food Security

FEWS Net has recently released regional updates for East Africa and West Africa, as well as a food security alert for the Horn of Africa.

In East Africa, ongoing conflict and drought continue to drive food insecurity. In South Sudan, Emergency-level and Crisis-level food insecurity exist across all states, and large areas of Ethiopia’s Somali Region are expected to experience Emergency-level or Crisis-level food insecurity through January 2018. FEWS Net estimates that 25 percent of Somalia’s population will experience Emergency-level or Crisis-level hunger through December; additionally, some parts of Somalia could face famine conditions in the upcoming months if food assistance is interrupted or if food prices continue to rise.

The Horn of Africa is expected to see its fourth consecutive Deyr season (October-December) of below-average rainfall, according to the FEWS Net alert. Below-average precipitation in the region is often associated with the La Niña phenomenon, which is forecast to develop in the coming months. Previously low precipitation over the past three years has already put pressure on agricultural production and food availability in the region. A fourth season of poor rainfall could limit pasture and water availability, reduce rainfed crop production, cause widespread livestock deaths, and lead to extreme levels of hunger and even famine.

West Africa may experience above-average cereal, tuber, and legume harvests for the 2017-2018 season, according to FEWS Net. In addition, the fall armyworm infestations that have broken out across the region appear to be under control. As a result of these two improvements, FEWS Net forecasts that the region’s overall food security situation will improve slightly starting in October, when harvests begin and food prices experience seasonal declines. Despite this general improvement, however, many places in the region continue to see high levels of food insecurity as a result of conflict and previous low rainfall. Nigeria has the highest level of food insecurity in the region, with high food prices, reduced food availability, and limited access to markets all playing a role. The Lake Chad region has also been particularly hard hit by food insecurity, with some areas seeing food prices rise by as much as 25 percent above average.

Food assistance continues to be needed across all of these regions through March, FEWS Net reports. FAO GIEWS also recently released its latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report, which reports that 29 countries in Africa are currently in need of food aid. 

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

Photo credit:Pablo Tosco/Oxfam