More on Djibouti

What are the current issues in Djibouti

Recurrent drought and high food prices have taken their toll on this tiny Horn of African country, where the average life expectancy is less than 60 years. However, a range of WFP programmes - from school meals and food-for-work activities to a pilot food voucher project for the lean season - is offering Djibouti’s most vulnerable people a foothold out of poverty and prospects for a healthier and more sustainable future.

Recurrent drought in the region has made life particularly difficult for Djibouti’s pastoralists who have lost up to 70 percent of their livestock.

A survey of rural households by WFP in May found nearly half those assessed could not get enough food to meet their daily needs. The poorest spend most of their income on food, sometimes selling their animals and other assets just to be able to buy enough to eat.

Even in the best of times, this Horn of Africa country has a climate unsuited to crop production. Its 906,000 people are largely urban and dependent on imported food. That makes them all the more vulnerable to high food prices, particularly since many are unemployed.

Overall, Djibouti is ranked near the bottom of two major poverty league tables, coming in at number 62 out of 79 countries in the International Food Policy Research’s 2012 Global Hunger Index and at 165 out of 187 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index. The average life expectancy is less than 58 years, and the average Djiboutian has less than four years of schooling.

WFP has launched a multi-pronged response to tackle short–term hunger as well as the longer- term challenges facing the country. WFP assistance reached 67,000 people during last year’s lean season (July-September) partly through food distributions but through also through food-for-work activities whereby participants receive monthly rations in return for building assets such as feeder roads, water conservation systems and community gardens which help people become more self-sufficient. Other activities are designed to combat desertification and environmental problems.

WFP food assistance has also been a lifeline for some 20,000 refugees from Somalia and Ethiopia in two camps in Djibouti, a programme the agency plans to continue in 2013.

WFP is providing support to vulnerable groups - persons living with HIV (PLHIV), tuberculosis (TB) patients and orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC). WFP provides food for PLHIV, for TB patients, and for orphans and OVC to promote good nutrition and health, and ease the side effects of medication.

WFP also helps fight against malnutrition by providing fortified food to children under five, as well as to pregnant and nursing mothers at health centres in both urban and rural parts of the country.

WFP launched its first pilot cash and voucher programme for Djibouti in 2012, helping 3,000 families buy food during the July-September lean season. It also plans to run the programme during this year’s lean season.

In the longer term, WFP is working closely with Djibouti’s government to establish a sustainable, nationally-owned school meals programme as part of a larger goal of achieving basic education for all children. WFP school meals currently reach some 13,500 pupils in 85 schools around the country, and there are plans to broaden access to include pre-schools and middle schools during the year.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Djibouti

The food security situation in Djibouti at the start of 2010 was deteriorating once more as a result of recurrent drought, livestock losses, livestock‐to‐cereal terms of trade unfavorable to pastoralists and high food prices. A new assessment scheduled for April will allow WFP to target its response to those most in need, and the number of people receiving assistance is expected to increase.

In response to the long-term challenge of achieving food security for all in Djibouti, where possible WFP is shifting from general distributions to food-for-work activities, designed to tackle the impact of climate change and help people become more self-sufficient in both rural and urban settings.

WFP also provides monthly food rations to 11,000 Somali refugees in Al Addeh camp, and has a contingency plan in place in the event that numbers crossing into Djibouti increase during 2010.

In addition, 15,000 children in rural parts of Djibouti receive daily meals at school as well as take-home rations for girls to encourage them to attend regularly.

Djibouti is also a WFP logistics hub for the handling of food aid destined for Ethiopia and Somalia. The WFP Country Office in Djibouti plays an important support role to humanitarian operations in the two neighbouring countries. Given the current drought and high food price crisis in the Horn of Africa, WFP Djibouti expects to handle further large food shipments.

WFP and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) monitor food prices in urban and rural markets on a weekly basis.

Featured Djibouti publications

  • Djibouti: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 358 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Djibouti? Visit the Djibouti publications archive.