Skip to main content

Below-average Meher production is likely in eastern and central areas

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Ethiopia
  • August 2014
Below-average Meher production is likely in eastern and central areas

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through December 2014
  • Partner
    Key Messages
    • In eastern and central areas of the country, the June to September Kiremt rains started late in some areas and have so far been below average, especially in eastern and central Oromia. The forecast is that cumulative rainfall amount is expected to be below. This will likely lead to a below-average Meher harvest in November/December in these areas.

    • In central Oromia, the Belg harvest was very low due to low amounts of poorly distributed Belg rainfall. Without this harvest and associated labor opportunities, poor households may face food consumption gaps, particularly in September. With less than usual Kiremt rains so far, planting of Meher crops has been delayed. Planted area will be well below average as the planting window for Meher closes at the end of August. This is expected to lead to below average Meher production.

    Current Situation
    • June to September Kiremt rains started in late July, three to four weeks late. Thus far, cumulative rainfall has been below normal in amount and erratically distributed over most parts of eastern Amhara, eastern Tigray, and eastern and central Oromia Regions. Central and eastern Oromia and southern Amhara have been the driest areas. Meher crop planting is underway. Accordingly, 71 and 89 percent of the average planted area has already been planted in Amhara and Tigray Regions, respectively. 65 and 90 percent of average planted area has been planted in East and West Hararghe Zones in Oromia, respectively. Planting has been delayed in central Oromia including in Arsi, West Arsi, and North Shewa Zones. For instance, only 51 percent of average planted area was complete in North Shewa Zone in Oromia by the end of July. The low planted area is mainly attributed to dry conditions from May through July and delayed land preparation due to the weakness of draught animals which had low access to pasture and water.
    • Long-cycle sorghum and maize were planted in April/May, but moisture stress has damaged the crops in most of eastern Amhara, Tigray, and Oromia. Wilting and drying of long-cycle sorghum has been reported in many parts of East and West Hararghe Zones in eastern Oromia.
    • Generally below normal, Kiremt rains have contributed to regeneration of pasture and refilling of water sources in most parts of Oromia, Amhara, and Tigray Regions. However, in some areas pasture and water availability remain low, so livestock that were migrated to the river valleys from the lowlands of East and West Hararghe Zones of Oromia Regions remain there, unable to return to pastures closer to homesteads. Pasture and water availability have also not returned to seasonally typical levels in Arsi Zone in Oromia. Since the start of the rains, there has been some pasture regeneration in these areas. Due to that and due to assistance programs providing fodder, fewer livestock died in June and July than in April and May.
    • Despite the normal onset of the June to September Kiremt rains in most parts of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), the cumulative rainfall from June to mid-August was below average in most eastern and central areas. Rainfall was more normal at the end of July and in early August, but much of June and July were a long dry spell. Crops have grown less than usual or developed more slowly than usual due to the dryness in lowlands in Gurage, Silte, some parts of Sidama, Wolayita, Gamo Gofa, Segen, and in Halaba Special Woreda. Among the affected crops are hot red peppers, maize, sorghum, haricot bean, and sesame. However, perennial crops such as coffee, chat, and banana are generally at normal developmental stages. Bacterial blight of coffee has been reported from some areas of Aleta Wondo and Dale Woredas in Sidama and Wonago Woreda in Gedio. Households are harvesting and consuming or selling root crops like sweet potatoes, taro, and cassava. Pasture and water availability remains normal except in lowland areas of Gurage and Silte Zones and Halaba Woreda where they are less available. In those areas, livestock body conditions are poorer, and milk production is below average.
    • Following rain that started in the last week of July, water and browse availability increased slightly. However, high temperatures in June hampered pasture growth in most parts of Afar Region, so rangeland conditions are still much poorer than usual. Livestock body conditions and productivity remain poor, and households continue to gain less food and income from their livestock than normal. Therapeutic feeding program (TFP) admissions are unusually high, particularly in northeastern Afar. For instance, in June in Amibara Woreda of Gabi (formerly Zone 3), TFP admissions were 34 percent higher than last year.
    • As the long dry season progresses, water, pasture, and browse availability further decreased in southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas. Water, pasture, and browse availability has decreased even in areas where they had recovered during the March to May Gu rains. Livestock body conditions are poorest, particularly goats, sheep, and cattle, and camels’ body conditions have also deteriorated. As a result, livestock productivity declined drastically. Milk availability is limited, and prices are high. With little income from livestock sales and high cereal prices, households have less purchasing power. Since mid-July, water trucking has occurred in Shebelle (formerly Gode), Afder, Liben, and Dollo (formerly Warder) Zones of Somali Region, and in parts of Bale and Borena Zones in Oromia Region. With 272 kebeles having ongoing water trucking, this is the highest demand for water trucking since 2011.
    • Following heavy rainfall, the Awash River in Afar Region flooded in early August. 1,138 households who live along the river were displaced, and 1,750 head of goats and sheep and 60 of cattle died as a result.
    • In late July in nine kebeles of Chinakson Woreda in East Hararghe Zone of Oromia Region, ethnic conflict erupted between pastoralists and the settled population. The conflict has so far displaced over 4,000 people.
    • Markets: Staple food prices remained stable at high levels in most parts of Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, and SNNPR. Cereal prices increased in pastoral areas, primarily due to poor production in June/July in nearby agropastoral areas and the seasonal end of Productive Safety Nets Program (PSNP) distributions in July. For instance, in Jijiga, the maize price increased 13 percent from June to July, and it was 40 percent above last year. Generally, livestock prices declined in central, eastern, and southern Oromia, Afar, and Somali Region, probably due to poor livestock body conditions. However, some livestock prices increased in parts of SNNPR.

    Updated Assumptions

    Most assumptions from the Ethiopia Food Security Outlook for July to December 2014 remain unchanged.

    Projected Outlook Through December 2014
    • Southern areas along the Kenyan border in the southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas in southern Somali, Oromia, and SNNPR: The current poor water and pasture availability is expected to further deteriorate through September during the dry season. This will further reduce livestock body conditions and productivity. Accordingly, household’s access to food and income will decline. Households will only be able to address their minimal food needs through humanitarian assistance. Poor and very poor households in these areas will be in Stressed (IPC Phase2!) only with the availability of humanitarian assistance. With the improved livestock body condition and productivity following the anticipated normal October to December Deyr/Hagaya rains, poor household are likely able to address their minimal food needs on their own and therefore they will move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from October to December.
    • Jarar (formerly Degehabur) and Nogob (formerly Fik) Zones and some northern areas in Korahe, Shebelle (formerly Gode), and Afder Zones: Livestock were migrated from Fafan to the Jarar Valley during the dry season, but they returned to Fafan following the start of Karan rains in July. This has reduced competition over resources in parts of the Jarar Valley. However, pasture and water availability remains much less than usual, and it is not expected to significantly increase before the start of the October rains. Poor and very poor households will not still be able to purchase non-food essentials like livestock drugs even after the onset of the Deyr rains in October. Higher cereal prices compared to recent years use almost all available income, so poor and very poor households will still remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through at least December.
    • Afar and northern Somali Region: After the Karma/Karan rains started in July, livestock that had been migrated to distant places are being returned to areas closer to homesteads, leading to a slightly increase in milk access. However, milk availability and livestock body conditions are unlikely to return to normal during the likely below average July to September rains. Low livestock to cereal terms of trade are likely to continue, reducing households’ purchasing power. Poor and very poor households in western and southern parts of Afar Region and Fafan (formerly Jijiga) and Sitti (formerly Shinile) Zones of the Somali Region will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) only with the continued presence of humanitarian assistance.
    • Northeastern Afar: Livestock births during the July to September rainy season are expected to be below normal as conceptions were lower than normal in previous seasons. Income from labor, especially from salt mining, is expected to decline following its seasonal pattern of not being a major source of income during the rainy seasons. The prevailing low livestock to cereal term of trade and low livestock holdings mean households are unable to purchase adequate quantities of food. Therefore, poor households in parts of Awsi (formerly Zone 1) and Kilbati (formerly Zone 2) Zones of Afar will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • In the Meher-dominant, eastern, marginal areas in eastern Oromia, Tigray, and Amhara Regions: While the Meher harvest is likely to be below average, households will still have more income and food after the harvest starts in October/November. Poor households around the Tekeze River catchment in Eastern Amhara and Tigray Regions and Arsi Zone in Oromia Region will improve from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) during to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in October. Similarly, poor households in most parts of central and southern Tigray and East and West Hararghe Zones in Oromia Regions who were using humanitarian assistance for food and were Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance during August and September will move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) even without assistance in October. On the other hand, poor households displaced due to conflicts in the lowlands of East Haraghe Zone in Oromia Region will likely remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).
    • Belg-producing areas in eastern Tigray, Amhara, and Oromia: The average Belg harvest in June/July allows poor households to meet their minimal food needs and continue to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    • SNNPR: Despite the below-average production in lowland areas, overall average Belg production in July improved food availability at for many households level and helped to continue stabilizing food prices, which are likely to remain stable through September in most midland and highland areas. Income from labor is likely to increase following an increase in labor demand related to Meher cropping. These areas are likely to receive continued normal amounts of rains and have a near average harvest in October/November. These areas will likely remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1). Lowland areas are likely to continue to receive below-average Kiremt rains, so livestock production and productivity will likely remain poor. However, due to the below-average Belg production in June/July, and the anticipated below-average Meher harvest starting in October, poor and very poor households in the lowland areas including parts of Gurage, Silte, Wolayita, Gamo Gofa, Segen, and Halaba Special Woreda will be at Minimal (IPC Phase1!) but only with continued presence of humanitarian assistance in August and September. However, some areas will move into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between October and December as stocks from the below-average Belg and Meher harvests are exhausted.
    Figures Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar in a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top