Djibouti Response Plan for drought, food and nutrition crisis

31 July 2008

The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Djibouti is appealing for US$[1]31.7 million to support the Government of Djibouti to respond—with a consolidated approach over the next six months—to the current food and nutrition crisis aggravated by drought and soaring global food prices. 

The Republic of Djibouti is a country with a poor gross domestic product (GDP) rank and an estimated population of 720,000 people[2].  Over the last few years, low rainfall and subsequent drought have caused massive deaths amongst livestock and therefore a significant reduction in milk production.  The suffering caused by the drought has been further aggravated by the sharp increases in food prices since late 2007.  This combination has severely compromised the food security, health and livelihoods of about 24,000 families or 120,000 people[3]—including 36,000 sub-urban people (most of whom were formerly semi-nomadic), 8,500 refugees and 20,000 asylum-seekers.  Those affected reacted, in many cases, by migrating to urban areas in the hope of seeking assistance and remittance.

Assessments[4]conducted amongst the pastoralist communities in Djibouti over the last four years indicate that pastoralist trade has declined to extremely low levels, with between 40 and 70% of livestock lost.   Furthermore, the remaining animals are in poor health: suffering from lack of pasture, water and infection by parasites and bacteria.  The resulting loss to the pastoralists in consumption and trade has reduced their health and income, leading to a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate among children between six and 59 months of 16.8%, reaching 25% in the north west region. 

The Djibouti UNCT received a Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) allocation of $2.6 million in February 2008 for emergency projects submitted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  The grant allowed these UN agencies, in close collaboration with the Government, to initiate a humanitarian response in food aid, water and sanitation, nutrition and health, and agriculture and livestock health.  The initial responses had a life saving impact and helped to prevent further displacements from the most affected areas.  However, the prevalence of acute malnutrition continues, as does the need for intervention.  This emergency response plan to address the food and nutrition crisis should therefore be viewed as a continuation and strengthening of the CERF February 2008 allocation—ensuring that the work initiated continues to save lives and include the Government and other partners through the critically hot season from July to December 2008.

Strategic priorities include:

  1. Improving the nutritional status of refugees and vulnerable rural populations by increasing food distribution and coverage of the nutritional programme in rural areas;
  2. Improving the nutritional status of urban and  sub-urban populations by implementing a food/cash voucher programme;
  3. Stabilising the nomadic groups: by preventing internal displacement and the concentration of people around the few remaining overstretched areas with pasture and water; and by strengthening the water distribution and water retention networks;
  4. Preventing further morbidity among the livestock by providing emergency livestock health care;
  5. Strengthening the health systems at the national and regional levels for better responses to emergency situations;
  6. Addressing the medical needs and  providing quality protection and assistance to refugees, asylum-seekers mixed with migrants and host communities in Djibouti; and
  7. Improving the logistics capacities by establishing a sub regional hub of 4,000 square meters.

[1]All dollar signs in the document denote United States dollars.  Funding for this plan should be reported to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS,

[2]2008 estimate by the Ministry of Interior. The last national census dates back to 1984.

[3]Republic of Djibouti, Ministry of Interior, Evaluation Report on the Consequences of Drought in the Republic of Djibouti, May 2008. FEWSNET early warning estimate is 90,000 without taking into account the urban population, April 2008.

[4]ONARS, WFP and FEWSNET, Joint assessment missions, 27 October to 4 November 2004 and 21 to 25 March 2005. ONARS, Assessment, February 2006. WFP and UNICEF, Assessment, December 2007. 

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31 July 2008

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