Cablegate: Darfur Food Survey Shows Mixed Results for 2009

DE RUEHKH #1347/01 3360750
O 020750Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Darfur Food Survey Shows Mixed Results for 2009

1. (SBU) Summary: The World Food Program (WFP) Food Security
Monitoring System (FSMS) has surveyed Darfuri households since the
start of 2009 to track trends in food security across the region.
The implementing food aid community has become increasingly
concerned that many camp-based internally displaced persons (IDPs)
expect food aid into the foreseeable future. Food aid implementers
want to begin a gradual shift in food aid programming from general
food distribution (GFD) to a broader community-based focus. Recent
FSMS surveys have identified that food security improved in most of
South Darfur this year. However, FSMS identified a significant
deterioration in food security in West Darfur. End summary.

Darfur FSMS Fully Operational

2. (U) WFP introduced FSMS in early 2009 to track the food security
status of households through conducting surveys in specific
geographic regions throughout Darfur. FSMS enables WFP and its CPs
to better anticipate, prepare for, and respond to crises. FSMS is
conducted quarterly in February, May, August, and November of each
year. These months are strategically chosen in order to capture
important seasonality data, while also influencing WFP's commodity
programming decisions. FSMS focuses on trends and changes in food
security. The data collected is statistically representative for
the sampled locations (camps or villages) but cannot be generalized
to the state or Darfur-wide level. However, the 16 to 22 sentinel
sites in each the three Darfur states are chosen to be indicative of
similar locations, as well as of broader geographical areas of
similar characteristics, while also representing broad residential
status and all types of food aid interventions.

3. (U) FSMS collects information on individual households' food
consumption, income, and coping strategies utilized when facing food
shortages. A wide range of data is collected, but the core
indicators include: 1) a food consumption and expenditure composite
indicator; 2) a food consumption score; 3) the income proxy (total
expenditure per capita per day); 4) the proportion of expenditures
spent on food; and 5) and a coping strategies index. In addition,
FSMS monitors market prices, secondary data on local rainfall
patterns, and insecurity. The program is now fully operational, and
WFP has confidence in the professionalism and dedication of its FSMS
staff, its methodology, the accuracy and timeliness of the data
gathered, and senior WFP staff members' resulting ability to use
FSMS as a decision-making tool. Replacement sentinel sites in each
state are used when insecurity prevents visits to the original
site(s). WFP is now able to track, compare, and contrast survey
results over time by state, by indicator, by quarter, and by
sentinel site for all Darfur.

Targeting in a Non-Permissive Environment

4. (SBU) Following the March 2009 expulsions, significantly fewer
international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are present on
the ground in Darfur, with a concomitant reduction in monitoring
capacity for field operations. Thus, timely confirmation of
security conditions favoring returns will be harder to verify.
Several affiliate NGOs are working to resume expelled NGOs'
programs, but the protracted process of registration and staffing
necessitates additional time for these affiliate NGOs to regain
momentum and capacity. This reality places an even greater emphasis
on the quantitative and qualitative food aid management monitoring
tools are in place on the ground.

5. (SBU) There is broad consensus within the food aid implementing
community that IDP camp head counts and beneficiary re-verifications
are largely counter-productive efforts that result in security
incidents. However, food aid implementers also generally agree that
the GFD distribution status quo cannot, and should not, continue
indefinitely. The ration size for the GFD has been reduced over the
past year to roughly 70 percent of the official full ration, and, in
some very specific cases, to as little as 50 percent of the original
ration for non-IDP beneficiaries. While originally, the reduction
was a necessity due to commodity pipeline breaks caused by route
insecurity during much of 2008, the ration cuts did not result in
significant, discernable negative impact on the beneficiary
population. Based on this experience, coupled with recommendations
provided by an international panel of experts that WFP contracted in
early 2009, WFP took further steps to refine its food distribution

KHARTOUM 00001347 002 OF 002

6. (U) In the third round of the Darfur FSMS assessment, which was
conducted during August, FSMS staff surveyed 1,596 households
throughout Darfur. Roughly 40 percent of the households surveyed
are female-headed households, and the average household size is
seven persons. In South Darfur, the August FSMS reported that
physical security had improved for the population at large, but not
the international community, since the last FSMS monitoring, with no
security incidents or population displacement reported. (Note:
Since the August FSMS, displacements have occurred in northwestern
Shearia locality in South Darfur. End note.) While the third-round
FSMS data collection was conducted in the middle of the hunger gap
period (which runs from June to September), food security improved
in most of the sampled locations in South Darfur compared to the
previous FSMS quarter. A considerable increase in total household
expenditures was also noted in nearly all FSMS-sampled South Darfur
locations. This increase is attributed primarily to the increased
demand for agricultural labor required to prepare land in advance of
the rainy season, with more employment opportunities resulting in a
more stable income for poorer day laborers.

7. (U) In West Darfur, FSMS survey results identified a significant
deterioration in the food security status of the resident population
due to a sharp increase in local market food prices and the high
vulnerability of resident communities to market fluctuations. The
West Darfur FSMS confirmed that agricultural labor was by far the
most important income activity for all three community types,
including IDPs in camps, IDPs living among host communities, and
resident populations during the third round. FSMS was also able to
highlight that, due to continued poor rains in the south of the
state, income levels have continued to drop, particularly for
residents of Foro Baranga locality. The third-round FSMS in West
Darfur also confirmed that a large proportion of households in all
three community types were cultivating this season, attributed to
perceptions of a more stable physical security environment.


8. (SBU) The sample FSMS monitoring snapshots from South and West
Darfur demonstrate the sharp locality focus that FSMS can provide to
a food aid implementing community interested in better resource
targeting. When these FSMS snapshots are combined with WFP's SOS
distribution, food basket, and post-distribution monitoring from the
final distribution points, WFP and CPs will have the type of focused
data required to transition from a large-scale general distribution
modality, which has been the status quo for the past six years, to
more targeted programs designed to address the needs of specific
beneficiary groups. While these shifts will not occur overnight and
will likely present many challenges to WFP and its partners, the end
result should be more effective and efficient use of the
considerable food aid resources under WFP management. End comment.


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