Ethiopia flag

Presence Country
Food Security Outlook

Below-average Belg rainfall led to low area planted

April 2015 to September 2015
2015-Q2-1-1-ET-en

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.
Partners: 
WFP

Key Messages

  • Thus far, the February to May Belg rains have been below average in amount and erratically distributed. As a result, area planted is very low, and the crops that have been planted are not performing well. Poor households’ income from agricultural labor is also less than usual, reducing current food access. 

  • With likely below-average cumulative Belg rainfall, Belg crop production this year is likely to be well below average in June/July. As a result of low production and low labor demand, food security will deteriorate in the Belg-producing areas in eastern Amhara and Tigray, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), and eastern and central Oromia from July to September. Most of these areas will move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from April to June to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September.

  • In Borena Zone in southern Oromia and Dassench Woreda in SNNPR, low pasture availability caused by the well below average October to December rainfall and a very warm dry season has led to poor livestock body conditions and very low milk production. While the March to May Genna rains have started, livestock body conditions have not yet recovered, and income from livestock sales and livestock product sales still remains low. Staple food prices will seasonally increase over the coming months, and rangeland resources are unlikely to fully recover with high likelihood of below-average rainfall through May. As the dry season and secondary lean season approaches in August, households will move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with humanitarian assistance from April to June to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September. 

National Overview

Current Situation
  • The Belg rains started three to four weeks late. Cumulative February to May rainfall so far has been well below average (Figure 1) with erratic spatial and temporal distribution. Unusually dry conditions delayed land preparation in February, and planted area is well below average. As the planting window for Belg crops is around the end of April, planted area is likely to remain well below average.
  • In Afar, similarly, the start of the March to May Sugum rains was around three weeks late. Cumulative rainfall so far has been below average. Effectively, the long October to February dry season continues. Pasture and water have become even less available than before. Livestock body conditions are emaciated, and livestock production is low. Accordingly, households’ food access from their livestock and livestock-related income, particularly in northeastern and southern areas, remains low.
  • Staple food prices started to increase from March to April in a mostly seasonal pattern as households are drawing down their stocks from the October to January Meher harvest and more households are purchasing food from markets. According to the Central Statistical Agency (CSA), food price inflation in March was 6.3 percent at an annualized rate, similar to the 6.0 percent rate from February.
  • Increased admissions to therapeutic feeding programs (TFP) were reported in March, indicating likely increasing rates of malnutrition, especially from the driest areas including parts of eastern Amhara, northeastern Afar, and some lowlands in East and West Hararghe, Arsi, West Arsi, Guji, and Borena Zones of Oromia Region.
  • Households in most areas in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) including the western surplus-producing areas are able to meet their essential food and non-food needs from their own Meher harvest and income generated from Meher crop sales and remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).
  • Due to well below normal Meher production, poor households in the Tekeze River catchment in eastern Amhara and Tigray Regions and households in some lowland areas of East and West Hararghe and West Arsi Zones in Oromia Region have exhausted their stocks from their own production up to three months early, and they are needing to purchase all of their food from markets. With rising staple food prices and low income from livestock sales due to poor livestock body conditions, poor households are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
  • Pasture and water availability continues to be low in northeastern and southern Afar and most of Borena Zone in Oromia Region. This is mainly related to poor performance of previous rainy seasons. Livestock body conditions have further deteriorated, livestock production declined, and unseasonal migration of livestock has been observed since the premature end of rainy seasons in these areas last year. With unusually low incomes from livestock and livestock product sales, households are unable to afford adequate quantities of food and are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In the areas of northern Borena Zone that had more rainfall last year, households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance.
Assumptions

From April to September 2015, the projected food security outcomes are based on the following national assumptions:

  • Cumulative February to May Belg rainfall and March to May Diraac/Sugum rainfall, with most of the season having been well below average already, is expected to be below average.
  • Cumulative March to May Gu/Genna rainfall in the southern pastoral areas has been a mix of more rainfall in southern Somali and less in parts of Borena Zone thus far. This rainfall is likely to be near average to below average in cumulative amount.
  • Belg crop production in June/July is likely to be below average in both southern and northern Belg-growing areas.
  • Staple food prices are likely to continue to seasonally and gradually increase in most parts of the country between now and September as stocks from the Meher harvest are drawn down. However, following the likely below-average Belg harvest, prices will likely rise more rapidly in Belg-producing areas in northeastern Amhara, eastern and central Oromia, and SNNPR.
  • The June to September Kiremt/Karma/Karan rains are likely to start on time and have average to below average amounts of rain.
  • While income from agricultural labor related to the Meher crops is expected to be normal from June to September, agricultural labor income related to Belg crops from April to July is likely to be lower than usual.
  • Both emergency food aid and resource transfers from the Productive Safety Nets Program (PSNP) are likely to continue as scheduled from April to June. Emergency assistance is likely to continue after June in some areas.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

In the western and central surplus-producing areas, households will continue to be able to meet their essential food and nonfood needs and remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1).

Even with some rain likely in May, pasture and water availability is not expected to significantly improve in southeastern and southern Afar, most parts of Borena Zone in Oromia Region, and the lowlands in South Omo Zone in SNNPR. As a result, livestock body conditions are not expected to significantly improve, and livestock production and productivity will remain low.  Therefore, with limited income from livestock and livestock product sales, these areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to June. In areas with more rangeland resources in northern Borena and the southern lowlands in South Omo Zone such as in Dassench Woreda in SNNPR will remain Stressed (IPC Phase2!) but only with ongoing humanitarian assistance. Following the anticipated near average to below average June to September Karan/Karma rains, water and pasture availability will increase. Household incomes and milk access will also increase in southern Afar. With continued humanitarian assistance, poor households in these areas will be able to address their minimal food needs and they will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) from July to September in southern Afar.

On the other hand, with the long dry season during June to September in Borena and South Omo Zones, household food and income access from livestock is expected to further decline. Therefore, poor households in lowlands of Borena and Dassench Woreda in South Omo Zone will remain or move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September.

While poor households along the Rift Valley in SNNPR and central Oromia are able to address their minimal food needs with ongoing humanitarian assistance, they will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) from April to June. However, Belg production will likely be below average. Households will have low incomes from agricultural labor during the Belg, and staple food prices are likely to rise. Therefore, poor households in these areas will move to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September.

Although income from agricultural labor during Meher cropping is expected to be normal with the likely near normal June to September rainfall in the Tekeze River catchment in eastern Amhara and Tigray Regions, some lowland areas of East and West Hararghe and West Arsi Zones in Oromia Region will have households with insufficient incomes given likely increases in staple food prices. Accordingly, poor households in these areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September.

March to May Diraac/Sugum/Gu rains started and have had moderate amounts of rainfall in some pastoral areas in central and western Afar and northern and eastern parts of Somali Region. These have helped to regenerate pasture and browse and increase water availability, resulting in improved livestock body conditions and increased milk availability. Following several seasons of near normal or better than usual rangeland conditions, herd sizes are expected to slowly increase, increasing household purchasing power and eventually food security. However, the anticipated increase in staple food prices will still lead to a decline in the livestock-to-grain Terms of Trade (ToT), with households needing to sell more livestock to purchase cereals. Household income from livestock sales, self-employment, charcoal production, and other sources will not be able to keep up with the increasing prices. Despite some recent increase in herd sizes, poor households will still not be able to address all their necessary non-food needs. Therefore, most households in these areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September.

However, following the decline of pasture, browse, and water availability due to below average October to December 2014 Deyr rainfall and slower than usual recovery of availability following the start of the March to May Gu rains in parts of Shebelle, Afder, and Liben Zones, livestock migration is expected to intensify. Accordingly, milk availability will decline seasonally during the dry July to September Xagaa season as pasture availability and the number of milking animals decrease. Recently, the number of refugees arriving at the Dollo Odo Camps has increased to around 400 people per week. Continued arrivals will likely put additional pressure on the local communities in that area as they compete for access to resources with refugees. Therefore, poor households in these areas will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from April to June and Stressed (IPC Phase2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance from July to September as food access declines during the lean season. 

For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

About Scenario Development

To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

USAID logoUSGS logoUSDA logo
NASA logoNOAA logoKimetrica logoChemonics logo