The number of severely food insecure people in the Greater Horn of Africa decreased from 22.4 million people in August to 20.8 million in October, primarily due to the green harvest in South Sudan. At the beginning of the post-harvest period in October, there were 4.4 million severely food insecure people (43 per cent of the total population) in South Sudan, 1.7 million less than at the peak of the lean season in August. However, this seasonal reduction could be cut short by an earlier than normal start of the next lean season, which could result in an estimated 5.2 million people facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse between January and March 2019. In Somalia, despite some improvements following the above-average 2018 Gu rains (April to June) and a sustained humanitarian response, it will take several consecutive good rainy seasons for affected communities to recover from the 2017 drought.
Conflict and internal violence uprooted thousands of people in September and October. In Ethiopia, to date an estimated 2.4 million people are internally displaced. While some returns were reported in West Guji and Gedeo, around 240,000 people were newly displaced in Benishangul Gumuz region due to inter-communal violence in Kamashi zone in September. In Somalia, new clashes in Lower Shabelle displaced more than 34,000 people between August and October. In South Sudan, the number of IDPs rose to 1.97 million, including due to continued fighting around Yei, Central Equatoria. The number of refugees in the region decreased from 3.82 million in August to 3.5 million, following the results of the verification exercise in Uganda.
The risk of an El Niño event from October to December is now at least 80 per cent, coinciding with the short rains in East Africa. Although an El Niño during this time typically leads to enhanced rainfall in the region, recent forecasts point to lower precipitation than previously expected. One of the reasons is the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which was previously positive, but returned to neutral conditions. The IOD has a larger impact on rainfall in East Africa than El Niño. Meanwhile, in Sudan, over 200,000 people were reportedly affected by heavy rains and flash floods between June and November.