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 http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=79824

NAIROBI, 14 August 2008 (IRIN) - Access to food in Djibouti has been cut by more than 50 percent because of reduced availability and rising prices, according to a humanitarian official.

"The price of rice [the main staple] had gone up by 28 percent since January and by 88 percent from [the average price] in 2007," Nancy Balfour, the disaster management coordinator for the Zonal Office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), told IRIN.

Djibouti imports 80 percent of its food, most of it traditionally from Ethiopia, which is suffering food insecurity of its own and has banned the export of several cereal crops.

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The urban and peri-urban populations that have not been covered in past humanitarian interventions are the most affected, she said. Other hard-hit areas include Obock in the northwest and Ali Sabieh in the southeast.

The peri-urban areas also had limited water supply. "The pastoralists are concerned with trying to keep livestock alive," she said.

Low rainfall and subsequent drought over the past few years have caused massive livestock deaths in the mainly pastoralist country and also led to a decline in pastoralist trade and income.

The global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate among children between six months and five years averages 16.8 percent, reaching 25 percent in the northwest region, according to a Joint Appeal and Response Plan for Drought, Food and Nutrition Crisis released by Djibouti's government and the UN in late-July.