Cover Image
close this book Measuring drought and drought impacts in Red Sea Province
close this folder 2. Measuring drought and food insecurity in Red Sea province: in 1987 and 1988: a technique for Pthe rapid assessment of large areas. Roy Cole
View the document Summary
View the document Introduction
View the document Methods
View the document Results
View the document Conclusion
View the document Discussion
View the document Limitations of the study and comments on the research method
View the document An alternative method
View the document References


A system of rapid areal assessment of drought impacts and food insecurity was developed in Oxfam Port Sudan for use in 1987 and 1988. The system was designed to be used in the absence of sophisticated technology such as satellite imagery and extensive quantitative data. Experienced field workers used six variables related to drought and economy to assess the impact of drought and food insecurity in the province. Results indicate that the greatest drought impacts and food insecurity in 1987 were in the southwestern interior of Red Sea Province and in the South Tokar coast. The former area is one where the floods failed for two consecutive years, 1983 and 1984, and where destitute people moved to the roadside in 1985 to beg for food. The latter area is a destination of war refugees from Eritrea and people trapped by the war in Red Sea Province and prevented from pursuing their normal patterns of transhumance from the Red Sea lowlands to the Eritrean highlands. Low drought impacts and food insecurity scores appear to be linked with relatively reliable agriculture such as that practiced in the Tokar Delta or linkage to an urban area. The unprecedented rainfall of 1988 was felt principally in the southern and central parts of the province according to the evaluation. The northern areas stayed the same or declined.

The results of this study indicate that drought and drought risk must be reexamined in Red Sea Province. Two things must be looked at: the potential for change in an area (interannual variability) and the existence of intervening, exogenous variables (for example, war) that affect the ability of people to respond to drought and economic adversity. Where environmental variability has historically been greatest we found the worst and the best results from year to year. However, for those areas that remained the same during both periods, we found a relative lack of potential for improvement. Locusts had an important impact on the scores only in the southwest of the province and southwest of Suakin in 1988.

The technique could be improved if the following conditions are met:

1. The unit of analysis should be smaller.

2. More variables should be included.

3. To minimise differences in observers only one person should do the classification.