"Hunger amongst plenty"
Drought conditions and high staple food prices have left approximately 441,000 people at risk of extremely food insecurity and in urgent need of emergency food and/or non-food assistance through the end of 2009, according to the latest government, United Nations, and FEWS NET estimate. Four consecutive years of minimal rains to support pastoral and agropastoral production have left rural and urban Djiboutians even more dependent on food imports at a time when international commodity prices have risen steadily. Unless additional assistance is mobilized to address extreme food insecurity, particularly in pastoral areas of the northwest and southeast, as well as in urban areas, conditions are likely to deteriorate further. Dry conditions have resulted in high and rising levels of acute child malnutrition since February 2009, livestock mortality rates of 50-70 percent nationwide, limited food availability and access, and mass migration of households to urban areas (Djibouti City, Sankal, Assamo, and Beyadde).
Households in the rural northwest and southeast that depend heavily on livestock for food and income have been most affected by the poor rains, though extreme food insecurity is also present in poor, urban communities, particularly due to increased costs for staple foods that exceed the purchasing power of poor households. Existing food insecurity is further aggravated by high fuel prices, high inflation, decreased remittances, border conflict with Eritrea, and a lack of sufficient government and donor resources to assist affected populations. Railway construction in Ethiopia has also reduced service across the border, stressing households dependent on rail service for labor opportunities and transport and trade of food and livestock.
A child is checked by an MSF doctor during routine ward rounds in the MSF theraputic feeding centre in Djibouti.