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Food security likely to deteriorate in eastern parts of the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Ethiopia
  • February 2013
Food security likely to deteriorate in eastern parts of the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through June 2013
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    Key Messages
    • According to the Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) released on February 28, about 2.5 million people are food insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance between now and June. Households requiring assistance are concentrated in Afar, Oromia, and Somali Regions.

    • Below normal to normal March to May Belg/Gu/Genna/Sugum rains are forecasted over much of northeastern and southeastern regions. Poor rains in pastoral areas means that pasture availability will remain poorer than usual and water sources will not fully refill, leading most pastoral areas to be classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to June.

    • Following two consecutive, poorly-distributed rainy seasons and a well below average Meher harvest in October/November 2012, East and West Hararghe Zones have deteriorated into Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Households have limited stocks from the harvest, and income from key sources including livestock sales, chat sales, and casual labor have declined.

    Current Situation
    • Currently, the majority of the households in the western and central parts of the country are able to meet their essential food and non-food needs, primarily due to the above-average Meher harvest in many of these areas. However, poor households in the eastern half and southern parts of the country are more food insecure since most of these areas had a below average Meher harvest. In January, the eighth round of relief was distributed to about 1.5 million people in “priority 1” woredas in Somali, Oromia, Amhara, Afar, and Harrari Regions..
    • In Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), the January Sapie rains were generally normal in amount and distribution both in the sweet potato-growing zones and the Belg-dominant southern special Woredas. Sweet potatoes planted in September/October 2012 are developing normally, but the planted area is far below average due to the shortage of cuttings during the planting window. Land preparation for Belg crops has begun though Belg rains in February have been below average.
    • With water for human consumption located at increasing distances in parts of East and West Hararghe Zones in Oromia Region,.the zonal administration requested water trucking in eight woredas in East Hararghe and seven woredas in West Hararghe Zones. In previous dry seasons, as many as 13 trucks were already operating by February; this year, only two are operational in Kumbi Woreda. Unusual water shortages have also been reported in Mida Weromo, Ankober, Kewet, and Minjar Shenkora Woredas in Amhara Region in January.
    • Pasture and water availability for livestock are estimated to be adequate in most parts of SNNPR, most eastern, marginal Meher-producing areas, parts of Afar, and most southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas. However, in areas where the previous season’s rainfall was below average, water shortages have been reported since October, including in northeastern part of Afar, Siti (formerly Shinile), Shabelle (formerly Gode), Afder, and Liben Zones in Somali Region, the lowlands of Arsi, West Arsi, and East Shewa Zones in Oromia, and Tselemt and Argoba Woredas in Amhara Region. Particularly, pasture and water shortages have been reported in Barey, Dolobay, parts of East Imey, Raso, pocket areas of Galadi, Mersin, Karsadula, Guredamole, Shaykosh, and pocket areas of Adadley Woreda in Somali Region, Yallo and Gulina Woredas in Zone 4 in Afar Region, lowland woredas in East and West Hararghe, and Raya Azebo Woreda in Southern Tigray Zone in Tigray Region. Early livestock migration to adjacent areas occurred in search of water and pasture.
    • Compared to normal, a significant reduction in livestock production and productivity, particularly milk production, was observed in pastoral areas where the last October to December Deyr or June to September Karma rains performed poorly. Camel, goat, and sheep abortions have been reported.
    • Food consumption from the October to January Meher harvest contributed to improved nutrition in many parts of the country and a seasonal decline in admissions has been observed. However, a considerable number of children under five years old continue to be admitted to outreach therapeutic programs (OTPs) despite the recent harvest.
    • Compared to December, the prices of staple foods largely remained stable but at elevated levels. Compared to prices last year, significant increases were recorded in some markets due to poor supply caused by low local production in many eastern areas parts of the country. For instance, maize prices increased by 17 and 18 percent in January compared to last year in Jijiga and Mekele, respectively.
    • Livestock supplied to the markets and demand remains stable and current prices are similar to recent months’ prices across much of Ethiopia, particularly in SNNPR. However, livestock prices in Afar and Somali Regions have shown a slight decline since November 2012 due to a seasonal decline in demand and poor livestock body conditions. For example, in Liben in Somali Region the middle size goat or sheep price declined by 12 percent from November 2012 to January. The increase in staple food prices and the decline in livestock prices in parts of Afar and Somali Regions has reduced household purchasing power as measured by the livestock to grain terms of trade. To counteract declining purchasing power, poor households are eliminating non-food expenditures, increasing sales of livestock, migrating to urban areas in search of work, and increasing their sales of firewood and charcoal.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the period of January to June 2013. However, the changing climactic conditions have caused revision related to the seasonal Belg rains:

    • In January, the assumption was that both the February to May Belg rains and the March to May Gu/Genna/Sugum rains were expected to be near normal in terms of total rainfall. This assumption remains unchanged in Belg-receiving central and southern areas, including in SNNPR. However, according to the National Meteorological Agency (NMA), although the Belg is likely to be better than 2012, Belg rains and March to May Gu/Genna/Sugum rains are expected to be below normal to normal in terms of total rainfall. The potential for below normal rainfall is highest in the northeastern and southeastern areas. 

    Projected Outlook through June 2013
    • The eighth round relief distribution in the lowlands of East Hararghe, West Hararghe, East Shewa, West Arsi, and Arsi Zones in Oromia Region contributed to stabilizing food access, and poor households are currently consuming relief food. The February to May Belg rains have not yet started, and they are expected to be below normal to normal in terms of total rainfall. Central Tigray, some parts of North and South Wollo, Oromia Zone in Amhara Region, and the lowlands of Arsi and Bale of Oromia Region that remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) as the Meher crops was relatively better in these areas, but the remaining parts of eastern marginal Meher producing areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from February to March. After the rains start, households will enter the April to June Belg lean season, and prices are expected to rise due to higher than usual demand. Since October, migration of livestock in search of water and pasture and labor migration have been observed. These are likely to continue in the northeastern highland and East and West Hararghe in Oromia Region. The majority of poor and very poor households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to June during the Belg lean season.
    • The poor households in the major sweet potato-growing zones and the dominantly Belg-producing southern woredas of SNNPR started consuming the new Meher harvest in October 2012 while crops were green. Now, they have exhausted their Meher stocks and are dependent on markets. The lean season has thus already started. It usually would not start until April and typically runs until green Belg crop consumption starts in June. Though the rate of admissions of malnourished children declined since May 2012, but it is likely to start rising again from March to June 2013 during the lean season. The total volume of the sweet potato harvest in March is expected to be lower than usual. Typically, sweet potatoes are a key source of food during the lean season. Poor coffee roduction had reduced labor income compared to usual due to less demand from nearby coffee-producing areas. Less labor income and the anticipated increase in staple food prices from February to June will further decrease the purchasing capacity of poor households. Therefore, poor households in the major sweet potato-growing zones and the dominantly Belg-producing southern woredas of SNNPR are likely to continue intensifying coping. Households are likely to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from February through June 2013. The exceptions will likely be in western Guraghe, Hadiya, Dawro, and much of South Omo which will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to relatively better Meher production and higher levels of household food stocks.
    • Below normal to normal March to May rains will lead to further deterioration of water and pasture availability in most parts of Afar, northern Somali, and the southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas. Poor pasture and water availability will reduce livestock production and productivity. Increasing staple food prices and declining livestock prices due to the anticipated poor body conditions will reduce terms of trade between livestock and cereals and thus, purchasing power. Resource-based conflict will limit access to markets and may lead to losses of assets. The food consumption gap is expected to be high due to the reduced food supply in these areas from milk and local production along with the reduction in income to purchase food. As a result, poor households in Afar, northern Somali, and southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas will increase livestock sales to buy food. From February to March, southern Afar, eastern Somali, and most parts of Borena and Guji Zones are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) while the remaining parts of Afar and Somali are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). However, the level of food insecurity is expected to worsen from April to June due the anticipated poor March to May Gu/Genna/Sugum rains. Poor and very poor households in all parts of Afar and Somali regions will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to at least June. The expected normal March to May Genna rains in Borena and Guji Zones will help poor and very poor households meet their minimal food requirements, and therefore they will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June.
    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET Ethiopia

    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.

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