Regional body warns of food shortages in East Africa

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Andrew Kaggwa, NECJOGHA

FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET continues to monitor food security conditions in areas mapped in grey. South Sudan remains of high concern for FEWS NET.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

A regional food security organization has warned of coming food shortages in 2022.  

“Food insecurity ranges from severe to extreme in conflict-affected areas of Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Yemen, where millions of people need urgent humanitarian food assistance. In Tigray region of Ethiopia, Emergency outcomes are likely despite a relative decline in active conflict since late June, and it is possible that outcomes are worse in some areas. Crisis or worse outcomes characterized by widening food consumption gaps and high acute malnutrition also persist in South Sudan and Yemen. Large-scale food and non-food assistance, an end to hostilities, and unhindered humanitarian access are necessary to save lives,” says a repirt by the Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWSNET) released on August 11th 2021.

FEWSNET is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries.

In addition to conflict, FEWS NET notes that weather shocks continue to be a main driver of Crisis outcomes in the East Africa region. In the eastern Horn and northern Uganda, for example, many households have already lost food and income due to the impacts of irregular rainfall on crop and livestock production in early-to-mid 2021.

Multiple climate forecast models also predict a third consecutive below-average rainfall season will occur in the eastern Horn in late 2021. A multi-season drought is expected to further diminish household and market food stocks, suppress household income from crop and livestock-related labor and sales, push up food and water prices, and lead to resource-based conflict. Coupled with other concurrent shocks – such as conflict and insecurity – food assistance needs will remain high and above average in Somalia, southern and southeastern Ethiopia, and northern and eastern Kenya through at least early 2022.

Economic shocks are expected to exacerbate the severity of acute food insecurity in parts of the region, especially in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen. Local currency depreciation, inflation, high import and fuel costs, and other factors are sustaining high staple food prices and limiting economic activity, which in turn restricts household purchasing power. In Sudan, for instance, FEWS NET estimates that poor macroeconomic conditions layered with protracted conflict in parts of Darfur, Kordofan, and Red Sea states and widespread seasonal floods are pushing food assistance needs nearly 50-60 percent above the five-year average.

The COVID-19 pandemic also continues to affect food insecurity, especially among urban households in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda and refugees in Uganda. Renewed movement restrictions imposed in April and May to mitigate rising COVID-19 infections led to reductions in economic activity and higher public transportation costs. In Uganda, food assistance to refugees is likely inadequate to mitigate the loss of income, which was already very limited prior to the pandemic; as a result, Crisis outcomes persist.

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