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Food insecurity looms in Djibouti*

Checking for malnutrition in Balbala, a peri-urban settlement in the outskirts of Djibouti City
Contrôle de l’état de malnutrition à Balbala, un quartier défavorisé en banlieue de la ville de Djibouti (photo d'archives) (Samuel Zoungrana/OCHA)

Poor rains and lack of expertise to boost local food production are some of the challenges facing Djibouti’s population, says a senior UN official. 

“The major gap in Djibouti is that there are relatively few partners with the technical expertise to develop relevant activities to enhance the agricultural production or to sustain their physical assets," Imed Khanfir, a programme adviser with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Djibouti, told IRIN. 

“Scarcity of water is also a major challenge.”

For the next couple of months, Djibouti, which is a net food-importer, could face deteriorating food security as the lean season sets in, with high food prices and soaring unemployment levels exacerbating the situation. 

According to an update by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET), “Food insecurity among poor households in Djibouti City’s urban centres of Balbala, Radiska, and Baulaos is anticipated to heighten but remain stressed following a substantial decline in labour opportunities”.

Urban and peri-urban areas of Djibouti as well as pastoral households in the rural areas are among those most affected by food insecurity. “Acute food insecurity is anticipated to be accentuated among poor households in the Southeastern (Borderside) and Obock pastoral areas through September,” adds FEWSNET.

According to Khanfir, “Recurrent droughts have reduced the assets of the vulnerable population, reducing their livestock.” 

In the past year, for example, Djibouti experienced poor March-to-June ‘Diraac/Soughoum’ rains, following similarly poor ‘Heys/Dadaa’ October-to-March rains. 

A factsheet by the European Union’s European Community Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) adds: “ Since 2005, Djibouti is increasingly suffering from water scarcity due to poor rains. This has led to a reduction of water sources and pasture for livestock. As a result, the country has faced serious food deficits. Particularly affected are the rural communities and people dependent on pastoral activities”.

At present, about 42,600 people are severely food insecure with 24,300 others moderately food insecure in Djibouti, according to WFP’s Khanfir. WFP is providing general food distribution all year long to the severely food insecure population, he added, while the moderately food insecure are enrolled in food-for-work programmes. 


*This article was amended on 15 July

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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