Ethiopia flag

Presence Country
Food Security Outlook

As pastoral and some agricultural areas cope with poor rainfall, conflict also drives needs in other areas

October 2018 to May 2019

October 2018 - January 2019

February - May 2019

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
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

  • Southeastern pastoral areas continue to recover from drought in 2016 and 2017, while northern pastoral Afar experienced poor rainfall throughout 2018. These areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least May 2019. Localized areas that saw poor 2018 Belg and/or Kiremt seasonal performance will also experience Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. Additionally, conflict-affected woredas, particularly those that have seen associated levels of displacement, will also likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

  • June to September Kiremt seasonal rainfall was generally good throughout most of the country, and national Meher production is expected to be near average. Over parts of eastern Oromia, southern Tigray, eastern Amhara, and northern SNNPR, however, rainfall was below-average, leading to reduced production prospects. July to September Karan/Karma rains were also below-average in northern pastoral Afar. Although October to December 2018 Deyr seasonal accumulation in southern pastoral areas is forecast to be near average, to date in October, rainfall is below average.

  • While the country continues to respond to the needs of drought affected populations, large populations are also displaced by conflict throughout the country. Areas where intercommunal clashes are having the most significant impact on food security outcomes include parts of Oromia, SNNPR, Somali, and Benishangul Gumuz regions.

National Overview

Current Situation

The rainfall situation throughout much of the country remains generally favorable. The Kiremt (June to September) rains started early (by up to 20 days) over much of western, central and northern areas of the country. In these areas the rainfall accumulation was average to above average and the distribution was generally normal. This continued and enhanced seasonal rainfall also resulted in soil moisture over saturation in some areas in late August 2018, leading to flooding in parts of western and central Ethiopia’s riverine and low-lying areas, which impacted cropping in affected areas.

However, Kiremt rainfall was delayed by up to 20 days over parts of western Oromia, southern Tigray, eastern Amhara, and northern SNNPR. In parts of central and eastern Oromia and neighboring areas of SNNPR the start of season was delayed by more than 20 days. This, in addition to a two-week dry spell in July/August, contributed to below-average seasonal totals in these areas. In East Hararghe and West Hararghe in particular, rainfall was rather erratic.

Meher harvest prospects are generally good with near normal production expected in most areas. In Amhara and Tigray, harvesting of early maturing crops, such as barley and haricot bean, has already started. In central and western parts of the country, both long and short cycle crops are nearing the harvesting stage. Household income from agricultural labor, agricultural sales, and self-employment is also improving with the new Meher harvests.

Areas of the country noted above that experienced poor Kiremt seasonal rainfall will see below-average harvests. This is particularly true for parts of East Hararghe and West Hararghe, SNNPR, northeastern Amhara, and southern Tigray. The long dry spell that spanned both the Belg and Kiremt rains in parts of East Hararghe and West Hararghe impacted long-cycle maize and sorghum crops that were planted during the Belg and short-cycle crops like barley and wheat planted during the Kiremt. Northern Amhara and southern Tigray will have seen losses in both Belg harvests and Meher harvests in 2018.

Even in areas that saw good Kiremt rainfall performance, however, the continuation of rainfall in October and November in some areas could threaten somewhat Meher harvest yields. This unseasonable rainfall, particularly in parts of Tigray, Amhara, SNNPR, and western and central Oromia has the potential to contribute to localized germination in standing crops and/or spoilage of stored harvests for some households.

In northern pastoral and agropastoral areas, the onset of the June to September Karma/Karan rains was timely in most areas. Seasonal rainfall totals were also near average, improving water and forage availability for livestock. However, in northern Afar and in Sitti zone the seasonal onset was delayed by one to two weeks. In these areas seasonal rainfall totals were mediocre to well below average and the season was characterized by dust, wind, and thunder storms. In northern Afar, most parts Berhale, Abala and Kuneba woredas saw only seven to ten days of average rainfall in the season. Flooding from the neighboring highlands in Amhara and Tigray did, however, flow into major rangelands in these woredas, contributing to improving vegetative conditions.

In southern pastoral areas, successive improvements in rainfall seasons has improved water and pasture conditions following droughts in 2016 and 2017. Although the March to May Gu rainfall ended somewhat early, the onset of the season was timely and cumulative rainfall for the season was above average. Deyr rainfall at the beginning of the 2018 season in October, however, has been weak in most areas with two months left in the season.

Livestock body conditions and productivity across northern and southern pastoral areas is currently generally average in most areas owing to good seasonal performance. Current water and pasture levels can sustain feed and water needs for livestock in most areas. The good livestock conditions are assisting in maintaining household access to income milk and food from livestock. In northern Afar and parts of Sitti zone, however, water and pasture resources for livestock are limited due to the poor rainfall performance. In southern pastoral areas, while water and pasture conditions are generally good, household herds are still recovering from previous years’ droughts.

Staple food prices, particularly for maize, sorghum and wheat, increased in recent months across much of the country. In advance of the Meher harvests, demand is seasonally high for staple foods as household stocks run out. Market supply of goods is equally seasonally low in advance of new production supply. Steady depreciation of the Ethiopian Birr and increasing transportation costs are also contributing to the increase in prices.

In August 2018, the Ethiopian Trade and Business Corporation (ETBC), formerly called the Ethiopian Grain Trade Enterprise (EGTE), noted the wholesale price of sorghum and wheat in Addis Ababa was about 50 percent higher than the same time last year and the five-year average. The price of maize in Hossa market increased about 17 percent compared to the same month last year and by about 10 percent compared to the five-year. Likewise, the price of maize in Afder market increased by about 20 percent compared to the same time last year and 40 percent against the five-year. Staple food prices are expected to remain seasonally high across the country through October/November 2018 but then show stability as Meher harvest production reaches markets.

At the same time, and following increasing demand for holyday festivities and improved livestock body conditions, livestock sale prices across most markets in pastoral regions have seen good improvements. For example, the price for an average size goat in September 2018 in Abala, Jijiga and Shinile markets increased by 86, 30 and 30 percent respectively compared to the four-year average and 18, 44 and 8 respectively compared to the same time last year. Moreover, in Gode market in Somali region, the price for an average size goat increased by about 50 percent compared to the same month last year and the five-year average. Despite the increase in cereal prices, livestock-to-cereal terms of trade are generally stable. In the Somali region, however, many poor households lost a significant portion of their herds due to drought in 2016 and 2017 and have fewer saleable animals.

Since late 2017 intermittent clashes among different ethnic groups across different parts of the country have continued. According to the 12th round IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix, in 2018 alone, more than 294,677, 738,661, and 315 516 individuals were displaced in Oromia, SNNPR, and Somali regions, respectively. In addition to this, according to and NDRMC media briefing, about 95,000 people in Benishangul Gumuz region were displaced due to ethnic clashes. Since May 2018, Benishangul Gumuz region, which has been considered relatively stable in past years, has seen several ethnic clashes including one in June in the regional capital Assosa in which more than 10 people were killed. Moreover, in late September 2018, an ethnic clash in Kamashi zone of Benishangul Gumuz region resulted in 20 deaths and displaced more than 95,0000 people respectively. The clashes occurred after two officials of the Benishangul Gumuz regional state were killed by unidentified gunmen.

Localized conflict between communities in Gedeo zone of SNNPR and West Guji zone of Oromia region led to the rapid displacement of close to one million people between April and July 2018. Since mid-August 2018, there have been efforts by the government to return displaced people to their areas of origin after successive government and community leader-led peace and reconciliation conferences. However, OCHA’s Gedeo-West Guji Displacement Crisis report from October 9th indicates that some IDPs that had returned to their area of origin have started to go back to Gedeo due to insecurity.

In general, conflict among communities in Oromia, SNNPR, Somali and Benishangul Gumuz regions has affected households’ access to agriculture and pastoral livelihoods either through direct threat of violence or as households face limited opportunities when they become displaced. Host communities have also been somewhat impacted as the presence of large displaced populations often coincides with increased competition for land resources and on food and labor markets. A July 2018 ENCU assessment report found that out of 2,367 ‘walk-in’ screened children among Gedeo IDPs in Dila site, 174 children were found to be severely acutely malnourished. In the same site out of 714 screened pregnant and lactating mothers (PLW), 171 had a low MUAC. On the other hand, in Gedeb woreda IDP site where IDPs exceed the host community in size (326,000 IDPs and roughly 290,000 residents), out of a total of 18,400 malnutrition children screened 444 were found to be severely acutely malnourished. In the same site, out of 11,823 PLM screened 6,803 had a low MUAC.

According to UNCHR, as of August 2018, the total registered number of refugees and asylum seekers in Ethiopia was 905,831. The country of origin breakdown as a percentage is 46.6 from South Sudan, 28.4 from Somalia, 19.2 from Eritrea, 4.9 from Sudan, and less than one percent from other countries. Between January to August 2018, approximately 36,185 refugees arrived in Ethiopia, including 1,626 in August 2018. The reopening of the border crossing points between Eritrea and Ethiopia resulted in an increase in the number of new arrivals from Eritrea by 9,905 per a UNCHR report released on October 13, 2018.

According to the Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit (ENCU) of the NDRMC for the period of June to July 2018, admissions to therapeutic feeding programs (TFP) across Ethiopia dropped by four percent from 30,390 to 29,285 children under the age of five. June 2018 had the highest number of admissions of any month between January and July 2018. However, TFP admissions in Oromia, SNNPR, Afar, and Gambela rose by 11.2 10.7, 5 and 37 percent respectively in July 2018 compared to June 2018 figures. TFP admissions showed a decline in July 2018 in Somali region by 20 percent, in Tigray by nine percent, and in Amhara by six percent. The significant drop in admissions in Somali region could be due, at least in part, to the low reporting rate (well below the acceptable reporting rate cutoff of 80%). For example, the reporting rate in Afeder zone was 38 percent in July 2018.

The 2018 Humanitarian Disaster Response Plan document (HDRP), updated in October, identified 7.95 million people to be targeted with emergency from October 2018, an increase from March due to the significant spike in conflict related internal displacements. After the release of the HDRP document in March 2018, three rounds of food distributions were launched by the NDRMC-led Prioritization Committee. The number of planned and addressed beneficiaries vary across each round of distribution. Figure 2 shows the estimated number of beneficiaries served from the past three rounds of distributions. In past years at this time of the year, operators were implementing the 6th or 7th round of distributions, although this year operators did implement the bridging rounds prior to the start of the 2018 HDRP response. However, this year, operators were only able to recently start the dispatch of the fourth round of food allocation in September/October. Shortfalls in funding the response are largely for woredas targeted with cash-based transfers. In many regions this year, food dispatches and distributions have been done every other month, but the transfer or ration size for each distribution remains the same. Moreover, in Somali region, due to security related issues, WFP did not distribute emergency food assistance in Dawa zone in 2018 and the status of beneficiaries is not known.

A food security crisis continues in many southern pastoral areas and in conflict affected areas of SNNPR, the Oromia- Somali border, and Kamashi zone of Benishangul Gumuz. In southern pastoral areas, although pasture and water conditions have very significantly improved, household purchasing power is still restricted by herd losses in 2016 and 2017 that have not recovered. Populations of greatest concern in conflict-affected areas are displaced populations and those who face restricted access to their agricultural and pastoral livelihoods due to insecurity. Poor households in northern Afar are also facing difficulty meeting their food needs due largely to poor rainfall in 2018. Livestock body conditions and productivity are down due to the limited availability of pasture and water resources. In East Hararghe and West Hararghe, successive mediocre seasons for an area with a high population density, very low land holdings, and sporadic conflict with Somali region has resulted in consecutively mediocre harvests and declines in household incomes. In October, many poor households are facing difficulty meeting food needs.

Assumptions

The most-likely scenario for October 2018 to May 2019 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

  • Although rainfall in October has been below average, forecasts call for October to December Deyr/Hageya 2018 rainfall totals to be average to slightly below average. The poor start to the season could adversely affect crop production and water and pasture availability, however.
  • Gu/Genna (March to May 2018) cumulative rainfall is likely to be average. However, below-average rainfall is likely in localized areas of southern Somali region.
  • Cumulative rainfall during the Belg season (February to May 2019) is likely to be average to above average in central areas and average in southwestern and northern Belg season-benefiting areas of the country.
  • Cumulative rainfall during the Diraac/Sugum season (March to May 2019) in northern pastoral areas is likely to be average to above average.
  • In southeastern pastoral areas, pasture and water availability is expected to seasonally improve following the Deyr rainfall through December 2018, and then likely to typically deteriorate through the dry season through February 2019. Following the 2019 Gu rainy season, regeneration of pasture and water is expected to be average. While the rains are expected to lead to improved livestock body conditions and productivity, especially as camels and goats conceive and give birth during the Deyr season, due to the high level of livestock deaths in 2016/17, particularly in parts of Somali region, cumulative livestock productivity, including for milk, will remain below average.
  • In central and southern pastoral areas of Afar and northern Somali (Sitti and Fafan zones) regions, availability of pasture and water is expected to seasonably deteriorate during the dry season through March 2019, but some areas in the northwest that received below-average Karan/Karma (June to September 2018) rains are likely to more rapidly deteriorate. With the 2019 Sugum rainy season, regeneration is expected to return to near-normal levels, which is likely to lead to improved livestock body conditions, conception rates, births, and seasonal livestock productivity.
  • Livestock prices are likely to follow normal seasonal trends throughout the country during the outlook period and remain above average.
  • Prices for locally-produced staple foods, such as maize, wheat, and sorghum, are expected to seasonally decline, beginning in November/December 2018 through January 2019, due to increases in market supply from the Meher harvests. From February/March 2019 onwards, staple food prices are expected to gradually rise and follow a normal, seasonal pattern.
  • The Ethiopian Birr is expected to continue to gradually depreciate through the outlook period due to tight foreign reserves, global strengthening of the USD, and increasing interest due on USD-denominated debt. As a result, this is likely to translate into higher domestic fuel and transportation costs.
  • National 2018/19 Meher production is likely to be average. However, production is expected to be below average in localized areas of northeastern Amhara, southern Tigray, eastern and central Oromia, following erratic and below-normal Kiremt rainfall.
  • From October 2018 to January 2019, agricultural labor opportunities are likely to be normal, following typical labor demand for harvesting with the anticipated near-average, national Meher production, with some regional area variability. Similarly, in Belg-growing areas, with expected average February to May 2019 seasonal rainfall, agricultural labor is likely to remain normal.
  • With the anticipated average Deyr/Hageya rains, the availability of casual local labor and self-employment opportunities is expected to increase from October 2018 to January 2019 in southern pastoral areas and then again during the Gu/Genna rains from March to May 2019.
  • Generally countrywide, social support, both in-kind and cash, is expected to slightly increase from October 2018 to January 2019, with a likely average Meher harvest and higher income from livestock sales and products.
  • The number of cases of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) is expected to increase during the dry season as pilgrims travel to holly water sites during this season, (November 2018 to February 2019) particularly in holy water sites of Amhara and Tigray regions. In addition, during the Deyr/Hageya rains from October to December, pastoral communities, who are dependent on open water sources for their consumption and sanitation, particularly in Somali and southern Oromia regions, are more susceptible to be infected by AWD. An increase in AWD outbreaks is also possible in state-run cotton farm areas of Afar region during October 2018 to January 2019 due to the concentration of daily laborers, who are harvesting without the proper sanitation facilities and access to potable water.
  • The national level of acute malnutrition across seasons is Alert (GAM prevalence of 5 to 9.9 percent), but there are regional differences, with higher wasting levels (Serious, 10 to 14.9 percent, to Critical, 15 to 29.9 percent) prevalent in several zones in Somali, Oromia, Amhara, and Afar regions. The general national level of acute malnutrition is expected to improve from October 2018 to January 2019, when there is increased food access across the country following the Meher harvest. Between February and May 2019, as food access typically decreases, the level of wasting is expected to increase. Despite these seasonal changes in food access, which influences wasting levels, overall acute malnutrition at the national level is likely to remain within typical Alert levels during the outlook period. However, clear differences in severity of malnutrition are expected in Somali region, where typical Critical wasting levels are expected throughout the scenario period, which is attributable to food insecurity and the high disease burden. In addition, in Afar, Oromia, and Amhara regions typical Alert wasting levels are likely between October 2018 to January 2019 but deterioration in acute malnutrition to typical Serious levels from February to May 2019 is expected, mainly driven by reduced food access, disease prevalence, and constrained access to health and nutrition services.
  • The impact of conflict between Somali and Oromo communities, Gedeo and Guji Oromo, Geri and Borana Oromo, Amhara and Benishangul Gumuz, Tigray and Amhara, and Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz communities are likely to remain a concern throughout the scenario period due to political and regional border tensions and competition for pasture and water resources. This could lead to further displacement, temporarily disrupt humanitarian assistance delivery, restrict movement of people for labor activity, disrupt livelihoods, deteriorate health and nutrition conditions, and hinder trade flows through May 2019.
  • The trend of high numbers of Eritrean refugee arrivals is expected to fall following the recent peace agreement between the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea. With fewer influxes of arrivals, easing pressure on local markets, price stabilization is expected in the host communities of northern Tigray.
  • Resource transfers through the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) are expected to take place following the typical schedule from January to June 2019.
  • Humanitarian assistance is planned and funded only until the first month of 2019 and not through the end of the outlook period for drought affected households; however, based on recent experiences, full delivery is likely to be affected in Somali region and southern and southeastern Oromia due to ongoing conflict. On the other hand, humanitarian assistance for conflict-affected IDPs is planned for parts of Benishangul Gumuz, Somali, Oromia, and SNNP regions, but not funded or the whole of the outlook period. As a result, this assistance is not incorporated into FEWS NET’s analysis of projected outcomes.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Food security is expected to remain stable from October 2018 to May 2019 across most of the country owing in part to anticipated near-average October to January Meher production and favorable pastoral conditions. Households, particularly in the western and central surplus-producing areas of Oromia, western parts of SNNPR, Amhara, Gambela and Benishangul Gumuz are expected to address their food and non-food needs from their own production and from normal access to income, including local and migratory harvest labor and Meher crop sales. Most of the country will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity from October 2018 to March 2019.

Following the October to January Meher harvest, food availability from own production will also increase but for a shorter period of time in East Hararghe and West Hararghe zones of Oromia, eastern parts of Amhara and Tigray regions as well as pockets of the Rift Valley and SNNPR. Livestock will also benefit from additional feed from crop residues and are expected to have enhanced body conditions, production and productivity between October and December, which will improve cash income access for households. Most of eastern Amhara and Tigray regions and pockets of the Rift Valley will be in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) from October to December as households have adequate food and income. On the other hand, lowland parts of East Hararghe and West Hararghe zones are Stressed (IPC Phase 2) currently. With the early exhaustion of stocks from the last Belg and Meher harvests food security is expected to deteriorate from Minimal (IPC Phase 1) between October and December to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in eastern parts of Amhara and Tigray regions and from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC phase 3) in East Hararghe and West Hararghe zones between January and May 2019.

In southern pastoral areas of Ethiopia between October 2018 and January 2019, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to continue. Hagaya/Deyr rainfall will improve pasture and water availability, which will help to improve livestock production and productivity. However, although pastoral conditions continue to improve, households’ livestock herd sizes still have not recovered from drought in 2016 and 2017, which continues to limit households’ purchasing power. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are also expected throughout the scenario period in pastoral northern Afar, where successive mediocre to poor rainfall seasons have limited availability of pasture and water, in turn reducing livestock productivity and incomes from sales.

Areas of Oromia, SNNPR, Somali, and Benishangul Gumuz that have seen significant ethnic clashes in 2018 are also expected to continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes throughout the scenario period. Displaced households and worst-affected resident populations directly impacted by the insecurity have limited livelihood opportunities and are expected to remain highly reliant on humanitarian assistance provision. Humanitarian actors are reaching some of these populations, including WFP in the Somali region, with the provision of emergency food assistance.

 

For information on specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of this 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 28 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