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http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=79548

NAIROBI, 31 July 2008 (IRIN) - Recurrent droughts, in addition to rising food and kerosene prices, have exacerbated food insecurity in the Horn of Africa country of Djibouti, according to a senior UN official.

"The people have been struggling since 2003 because of drought, which has reduced pasture and increased population migration," Marcus Prior, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) spokesman for East and Central Africa, told IRIN on 31 July.

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The country has a high population of nomadic pastoralists. Food insecurity had, however, forced the nomadic people to cut the number of meals they ate per day and reduced the quality of the food, the spokesman added.

Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) in the country averaged 17 percent, rising to 25 in the northwest. A rate of 15 percent is regarded as the threshold for emergency.

Successive droughts had also increased migration from rural to urban areas as the population moved in search of jobs. As a result, unemployment in Djibouti City stood at 60 percent, according to a July report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net).

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Djibouti imports most of its food requirements. In addition to increased obstacles to food access, Djibouti City was facing critical water shortages, with rationing being initiated by the government.

"In the worst case, a total of 341,000 people [54 percent of the population] are expected to need emergency food and water supplies by August," stated the FEWS Net report.