Country Briefs See Decreased Rainfall, Continued Conflict Impacting Food Security
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According to the FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning Systems (GIEWS), food security in Chad continues to be plagued by irregular and insufficient rainfall and by ongoing conflict. While the government tried to stimulate agricultural production through increased provision of fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, and agricultural equipment, a delayed start to the rainy season and poorly distributed rains has led to an estimated 2015 aggregate cereal production of 2.35 million tonnes, 11 percent below 2014’s output and 9 percent below average. In spite of this reduced crop, however, coarse grain prices have remained mostly stable, reflecting adequate supplies left over from 2014’s above-average harvest and imports from neighboring countries.

Instability in the Lake Chad region has also displaced an estimated 94,000 people, and over 377,000 are estimated to be living in Chad after fleeing conflict in Central African Republic, Libya, Nigeria, and the Sudan. This instability has placed additional strain on the country’s food system, and continued international assistance is need to ensure vulnerable populations’ access to food. As many as 1,000,000 people are thought to be in Phase 3 (Crisis) level food insecurity and above across the country.

The production outlook is more positive in Tanzania, where the main 2016 harvest season in the country’s southern and central areas is expected to be favorable. While the region experienced some dry weather that delayed planting, abundant rainfall during the growing season made up for these deficits. In the northern areas, planting of the “masika” season crops has been completed, but production prospects are more mixed. Seasonal rains were somewhat erratic in the northeastern areas, and significant soil moisture deficits remain in some regions; however, “masika” rains are forecast to be average or above average, which will have a positive impact on crop yields.

Tanzania is still experiencing persistent pockets of food insecurity in some northeastern regions, despite these favorable production estimates. Kilimanjaro, Arusha, and Tanga have experienced three consecutive seasons with below-average crop production, and the Dodoma and Singida regions experienced a longer than average lean season. While maize prices are generally stable or declining, they remain at very high levels. Maize prices in Dar es Salaam reached an all-time high in December 2015; they declined by 10 percent in January 2016, due largely to sales by the National Food Reserve Agency, but resumed their climb in February and March before leveling off again in April. In Iringa market, maize prices reached record levels in February 2016 before declining by 26 percent by April. In both markets, maize prices were significantly higher than in April 2015 (15 and 13 percent higher, respectively).

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has seen a good start to the 2016 cropping season, and conditions for the first maize crops are generally favorable. However, escalating conflict since 2013 has caused widespread population displacements and has lowered people’s ability to access food and stable livelihoods. As of December 2015, the estimated number of internally displaced people was at 1.5 million; in addition, DRC currently hosts 113,000 and 22,000 refugees from the Central African Republic and Burundi, respectively, placing even more stress on the country’s already overloaded food, health, and social service systems.  Zambia’s short-lived ban on maize exports also lowered the volume of maize and maize products available in the southeast regions of DRC.

Altogether, the number of people in Phase 3 (Crisis) and 4 (Emergency) level food insecurity is estimated at 4.5 million. In response, the international community launched a 2016 Strategic Response Plan, led by FAO and the World Food Program, to assist the country with USD 184 million in food aid.

The GIEWS country brief series provides an overview of the food security situation in monitored countries, focusing on the current agricultural season, harvests prospects for staple food crops and livestock, estimates and forecasts of cereal production, and food price and food policy trends.

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

Photo credit:Flickr: OCHA M. MUNAN