Years of consecutive drought in one of the most arid countries of the world continue to have a harsh impact on the lives and livelihoods. There are 227,463 people facing crisis and emergency IPC Phase 3 and 4 food insecurity levels in Djibouti (IPC October 2015). The most affected areas are Ali Sabieh, Obock and Dikhil. About 20 per cent of the population lives in rural areas, of which 61.2 per cent are food insecure.
With staple food prices continuing to rise in the country (Djibouti imports over 90 percent of its food needs), high unemployment and 23 per cent of the population (282,000) living in extreme poverty (World Bank), access to food is very limited for many vulnerable people. These include those living in rural areas as well as refugees and migrants hosted in the country. In addition, many rural dwellers that lost their sources of livelihoods, and an increasing number of families who saw their income being drastically reduced have been forced to abandon their homelands and seek refuge in urban centers.
Drought has further compromised poor water and sanitation coverage, severely affecting more than 35 percent of the rural population, particularly in the regions of Dikhil, Tadjourah and Obock, and is a serious concern for more than 165,000 people in the country. As a consequence, Djibouti is also facing a nutritional crisis. In Obock - the worse affected region - Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates are at 25.7 percent, with chronic malnutrition affecting one out of three children under five years in the country. The rate of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) varies between 2.1 percent to 6.9 percent in the most affected areas.
A large proportion of people in Djibouti require urgent assistance to maintain or increase access to primary health care. Because of high vulnerability, every year many people die of preventable and treatable diseases, such as acute pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles, tuberculosis, HIV and non-communicable diseases. A recent outbreak of acute watery diarrhea with an estimated 400 cases has affected the country since the beginning of August 2016.
An inflow of refugees and asylum seekers to Djibouti, mostly from Somalia and Yemen, as well as a continuous inflow of transiting vulnerable migrants transiting, are putting additional stress on the country’s limited resources and local coping capacities.
UNHCR reported that, as of the end of September 2016, 21,116 refugees and asylum seekers were hosted in the Ali Addeh, Holl Holl and Obock camps, as well as in Djibouti city. An additional 3,600 asylum seekers have arrived reportedly arrived in the country since mid-September due to the worsening security situation in Ethiopia. Moreover, despite the ongoing conflict in Yemen, Djibouti is still a transit zone for an estimated 80,000 people - mostly from Ethiopia – who need support while staying in the country for some weeks, months or years, on their way to the Gulf of Aden and beyond, in search of better lives.