Reference Date: 15-June-2015
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Seasonal rains are forecast at average to above-average levels in most bi-modal central and southern areas, while below-average rainfall amounts are expected in rest of country
Significant decline in planted area expected in most conflict-affected states
Rising food prices in most markets
Worsening food security conditions in conflict-affected areas due to early depleted food stocks and high prices
An estimated 3.8 million people are severely food insecure and are likely to increase to 4.6 million at peak of lean season in July
Following recent escalation of conflict, risk of severe food insecurity situation in Greater Upper Nile region deteriorating into famine has increased significantly
Lower planting expected in conflict-affected areas, despite favourable start of rains
So far, cumulative rains have been generally above average across the country with moderate soil moisture deficits only in Eastern Equatoria State. According to the latest IGAD’s Climate Outlook Forum, average to above-average rainfall levels are forecast until August in southern and central cropping areas of the country, while average to below-average rainfall amounts are expected in Greater Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Unity and Upper Nile states.
In bi-modal rainfall areas of the Greenbelt in Central and Western Equatoria states, the 2015 rainy season (March-July) started on time, favouring land preparation and planting activities of first season crops to be harvested by August. Although rains were erratic and below average during the second and third dekads of April, abundant amounts were registered from the beginning of May and are currently well-established across the country.
In most uni-modal rainfall areas, planting of long-cycle cereal crops to be harvested by early November is almost complete. A significant reduction in planted area is expected in conflict-affected counties of Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states. Here most farmers have not been able to plant for the second consecutive year due to displacements, seed shortages and increased time spent searching for food. In some cases, only plots smaller than usual, close to the homestead, were planted due to high insecurity levels.
Prices of coarse grains generally on rise
In most retail markets located in areas not directly affected by the conflict, prices of locally-produced coarse grains were at low levels during the last quarter of 2014 as a consequence of the good performance of the main harvest. Then, they started to increase in January, with a significant acceleration between March and April when they rose by 40-50 percent in Juba, Aweil and Wau markets. In Juba, for example, 1 malwa (3.5 kg) of sorghum was traded at about SDG 20 in April 2015, compared to SDG 8 at the end of 2014 and to SDG 12 one year before.
In most markets in conflict-affected areas, cereal prices are high even at harvest time. Since early 2015, 1 malwa of sorghum was traded between SDG 35 and SDG 40 in Bentiu’s market in Unity State, about two to three times more than Juba’s average price. A similar situation applies to other important food and cash crops such as maize, groundnuts and sesame. As the lean season deepens until the next harvest in August in bi-modal rainfall areas, most poor households are expected to rely more and more on markets, exerting additional pressure on local prices.
Alarming food security conditions in most conflict-affected areas
According to the results of the latest available Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis (April 2015), the estimated number of severely food insecure people increased from 2.5 million at the beginning of the year, just after the main season harvest, to about 3.8 million. The majority of the food insecure population is located in the three conflict-affected states of the Greater Upper Nile region and in most parts of the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region. Here, the 2015 lean season started early in February, about two months earlier than usual, following the poor production obtained last year as well as the high food prices due to the disruption of trade flows.
The IPC analysis projects that the situation will further deteriorate from May to July during the lean season to an estimated 4.6 million people classified as severely food insecure.
Revamped clashes and violence in early May in Greater Upper Nile region caused additional displacements and further damages to local livelihoods. Consequently, food security conditions need to be closely monitored as the number of people in need of food assistance is likely to escalate, with a serious risk that the situation may deteriorate into a famine, especially among displaced people and host community households.
Since the start of the conflict in mid-December 2013, about 2.1 million people have fled their homes, including 1.55 million internally-displaced and about 549 000 now hosted in neighbouring countries (Ethiopia, Uganda, the Sudan and Kenya) as refugees.