Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, has recently graduated to low-middle-income country status. Despite recent economic growth, poverty rates stand at 79 percent, with 42 percent of the population living in extreme poverty.
The climate is hot and dry, and desert-like, arid conditions are exacerbated by natural events such as El Niño phenomenon. Livestock represents the main livelihood for one third of the total population, but it accounts for only 3 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
As a result, Djibouti imports 90 percent of the food it needs, which makes it highly dependent on international market prices.
While malnutrition rates are showing a positive trend – down to 7.5 percent in 2016 from 18 percent in 2015 – food insecurity persists, with 62 percent of the rural population having limited access to nutritious food.
This situation has its roots in structural poverty, insufficient access to water for agro-pastoral activities, lack of basic services such as health, education, and water and sanitation, inadequate social safety nets, limited employment opportunities, and stresses from the influx of refugees.
Djibouti port is the principal transit point for cargo in and out of Ethiopia and a key link in commercial transport routes to and from the greater Horn of Africa. To enhance efficiencies in both humanitarian and commercial logistics, the Government of Djibouti and the World Food Programme (WFP) have established the Humanitarian Logistics Hub which can store up to 65,000 metric tons of food and goods for operations in the region.
WFP has been in Djibouti since 1978, providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations. We focus our actions on social protection, human capital and improving resilience with a view to eradicating hunger.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Djibouti
WFP works to prevent acute and chronic malnutrition and treat moderate acute malnutrition. WFP also provides food to people living with HIV (PLHIV) and those undergoing treatment for tuberculosis (TB) to promote good nutrition and health, and ease the side effects of medication.
In addition, WFP supports asset creation activities as part of building the resilience of affected communities. To meet the challenges of the scarcity of rural water and water and soil conservation, working with the Ministry of Agriculture WFP focuses on the mobilization of surface water, land management and capacity building, including strengthening community development.
School meals in targeted rural pre, primary and middle schools combine WFP internationally-purchased commodities and fresh food purchased locally with complementary funds allocated by the Government. A take-home ration of oil is provided to families of school girls as an incentive to keep them in school through the 9th grade. WFP is supporting the capacity of the Government towards the establishment of a sustainable national school feeding programme
Assistance to refugees
WFP provides monthly in-kind or mixed cash-food assistance to registered refugees and asylum seekers in camps, most refugees have limited or no income, and therefore rely almost exclusively on food assistance. The most vulnerable are also helped via nutrition programs such as the treatment of acute malnutrition and the prevention of chronic malnutrition. Refugee girls receive a take-home ration to encourage school enrolment and attendance.
WFP provides food assistance to rural and urban food-insecure families affected by drought through in-kind and cash-based transfers.
Humanitarian logistics hub
The Hub serves as a base for WFP to provide, on request, expertise, service and infrastructure to the humanitarian community, and to strengthen the logistics capacity in Djibouti. Leveraging its expertise, WFP established a logistics training programme focusing on transport and commodity handling. This initiative will help develop skilled labour in the logistics sector and support the Government’s efforts in job creation.