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Anticipated rising prices will increase needs during the April to June lean seasons

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Ethiopia
  • February 2014
Anticipated rising prices will increase needs during the April to June lean seasons

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  • Key Messages
  • Current situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected outlook through June 2014
  • Partner
    Key Messages
    • According to the Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) released at the end of January 2014 by the Government of Ethiopia, 2.7 million people are food insecure, and they will need of humanitarian assistance between January and December 2014. Households requiring assistance are concentrated in Oromia, Somali, Amhara, Tigray, and Afar Regions.
    • While upcoming or just begun rainy seasons are expected to start normally leading to normally timed agricultural and livestock production, increasing staple food prices are expected to outpace compensation from agricultural labor and livestock sales, deepening food insecurity from April to June in most of eastern Ethiopia.

    Current situation
    • Wolayita, Kambata Tambaro (KAT), and Dawro Zones in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR): Sweet potatoes were planted in October and November, and unusual rains at that time supported planting, though area planted remained below normal. In January, there were only some light showers in a few areas, and the January/February Sapie rains that typically fall were limited. However, cloud cover and fairly low temperatures prevented the drying out of the soil. The February to May Belg rains started in the first week of February. Currently, sweet potatoes are at their seasonally normal growth stage. In these and other Belg-producing areas in SNNPR, land preparation for Belg crops has also started.
    • Hadero Tunto, Kacha Bira, and Tambaro Woredas of Kambata Tambaro (KAT) Zone in SNNPR: In these ginger-growing areas, households are planting short-cycle Belg crops on land traditionally used for ginger to control for a plant disease that led to losses of the ginger crop last year. However, poor and very poor households have limited income left from ginger sales this year, so they may experience difficulty procuring enough seeds.
    • Belg-producing areas in Amhara, Tigray, and eastern Oromia: There were some light showers in South Wollo and North Shewa Zones in Amhara Region in January. Most areas remained seasonally dry. However, land preparation for Belg crops has begun at a seasonally normal time.
    Livestock conditions:
    • In most pastoral areas, pasture and water availability are normal following above average total rainfall during the October to December Deyr/Hageya in southern pastoral areas and the June to September Karan/Karma in northern pastoral areas. These conditions are sustaining livestock body conditions and productivity.
    • In other pastoral areas, livestock body conditions and productivity have declined more than typical for the dry season in some areas in Afar and Somali Regions where the recent seasonal rains performed poorly. In response to the poor availability of forage and water, camel and cattle have been migrated earlier than usual in November instead of December/January from northeastern parts of Afar to neighboring Raya Kobo and Habru Woredas of Amhara Region in increasing numbers. They typically only migrate to these areas in very dry periods.
    • In Dassench Woreda in South Omo Zone in SNNPR, pasture and water availability are very low. Due to drier than normal rangeland conditions, livestock body conditions and productivity have declined. The calving rate and milk production are currently low.
    • Due to the improved consumption following the October to January Meher harvest, nutrition improved in most parts of Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and SNNPR. For instance, compared to November 2013, Outpatient Therapeutic Programs’ (OTP) admission in December 2013 declined by 20 and 35 percent in West and East Hararghe Zones in Oromia Region, respectively.
    • The biannual nutrition survey conducted by the government in December in Dessie Zuria Woreda in South Wollo Zone in Amhara Region found a global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of 12.8 percent (with a 95 percent confidence interval (CI) of 9.6 to 16.8 percent) and a severe acute malnutrition (SAM) rate of 1.5 percent (CI 0.7 to 3.3 percent).
    • Compared to prices in December, January staple food prices remained stable or showed some decline in many agricultural areas. This is mainly attributed to increased supply from the October to January Meher harvest. For example, the January maize price declined by about seven and six percent in Bahir Dar in Amhara Region and Awasa in SNNPR, respectively.
    • In addition to the increased supply from the nearby highland areas, the commencement of Productive Safety Nets Program (PSNP) food transfers contributed to an increase in cereal supply in Afar and declines in cereal prices. From December to January, maize prices declined 25, 20, 23, and eight percent in Yallo, Asaita, Awash Fentale, and Worer in Afar, respectively.
    • However, due to below average crop production in riverine areas in southeastern Somali Region and late dispatch of PSNP food transfers, staple food prices are have been increasing since November in southeastern pastoral areas.
    • Due to seasonally low demand, goat or sheep prices declined in most markets in Somali and Afar Regions. For instance, January goat or sheep price declined from December by 17 and eight percent in Gode and Korahe, respectively.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for January to June 2014. However, more recent forecast by the National Meteorological Agency (NMA) and others has caused a revision related to the February to May Belg rains:

    • In January, based on the preliminary, total February to May Belg rainfall over the northeastern highlands in Amhara and Tigray and total March to May Sugum rainfall over northern Afar was assumed to be below average. However, the assumption has been revised to be that the February to May Belg rains and March to May Sugum are expected to be near normal in terms of total amount of rainfall and to start at a mostly normal time. This assumption is based upon the official Belg forecast from NMA and other regional and international forecasts and models.

    Projected outlook through June 2014
    • Eastern, marginal, Meher-producing areas in eastern Tigray, Amhara, and Oromia: With some stocks from their own above average 2013 Meher production, households will consume from their own stocks and from income generated by crop sales during February and March. Therefore, most areas will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) at that time. However, as the lean season progress, households will deplete their stock and purchase more food from markets. Despite some income from agricultural labor and livestock sales, the anticipated increase in staple food prices will prevent households from meeting their nonfood essentials as all of their income will be spent on food. They will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from April to June 2014.
    • Due to the below average October 2013 to January 2014 Meher harvest, poor and very poor households along the Tekeze River in Amhara and Tigray Regions, eastern parts of Tigray Region, and lowlands in East and West Hararghe Zone in Oromia Region will only be able to address their minimal food needs but not able to afford some essential non-food expenditures. Therefore, poor households in these areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in February and March. They will move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to June, having exhausted their stocks and having their remaining purchasing power eroded by price increases.
    • Belg-producing areas in North and South Wollo Zones in eastern Amhara Region: Although some income from agricultural labor is expected following the start of the rains, the anticipated near normal total Belg rainfall will have few immediate effects of increasing income or food access before June. Poor and very poor households will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through June 2014.
    • SNNPR: With February to May Belg rains continuing, the sweet potato harvest in March will have mostly normal yields, but due to low area planted, the total volume of the harvest will be below average. During the February to May Belg rains, labor opportunities are expected to remain available at a normal level for land preparation, planting, and weeding. In February and March, most households will continue consuming their own production and making some small-scale food purchases. Most areas will remain at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) in February and March. However, during the April to June lean season, staple food prices are likely to rise, limiting household purchasing power. This will mean even in areas that had normal Meher production, the poor and very poor will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2).
    • In some areas of Silte Zone, Wolayita Zone, Sidama Zone, and Halaba Special Woreda in SNNPR, Meher crop production was below average, so the majority of poor and very poor will be Stressed (IPC Phase2) from February to June.
    • Ginger-producing areas in SNNPR: Unlike other areas in SNNPR, income from agricultural labors is likely to be less than usual during the February to May Belg rains. Many households are planting Belg maize as a substitute for ginger in an attempt to control the plant disease outbreak that damaged ginger last year. Maize is less labor-intensive, and overall, with less labor required, labor compensation rates are likely to fall. Other income sources such as self-employment, firewood sales, and grass sales though are likely to be normal. Households will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from February to March and in Crisis (IPC Phase3) from April to June.
    • Afar and northern Somali Region: The anticipated near normal March to May Sugum/Gu/Diraac rains are expected to increase the availability of pasture, browse, and water after the end of the dry season. This will help livestock body conditions, production, and productivity remain stable. Consumption of livestock products and income from livestock sales will increase. Increased cereal supply from nearby highland areas and emergency and PSNP food distributions are expected to keep cereal prices stable and near their current levels at least through March. Despite these improvements, households will still be unable to address their non-food needs as herd sizes remain inadequate to support enough sales. Most households will be meeting food needs but neglecting non-food needs and thus be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June.
    • However, the 2012 June to September Karan/Karma, 2013 March to May Sugum/Gu, and 2013 June to September Karma/Karan rains were below average in northeastern Afar, which decreased livestock productivity and reproduction rates. Herd sizes will not increase quickly, despite seasonal increases in pasture, browse, and water availability. Poor households in these areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through June.
    • Southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas in southern Somali, Oromia, and SNNPR: Near normal total rainfall for the March to May Gu/Genna rains is expected to maintain recent improvements in pasture, browse, and water availability. With these resources, livestock body conditions, production, and productivity can be maintained. Following the anticipated normal birth rates during the rains, the availability of milk and income from livestock sales will be sustained. Poor households are also expected to receive income from labor, particularly herding labor, during the rainy season. However, the rise in cereal prices in most of the markets is likely to outpace the rise in livestock prices, thus leading to a decline in livestock to cereal terms of trade (ToT). This means some poor and very poor households may still have difficulty covering necessary expenses to protect their livelihoods, despite improved livestock prices and healthier herds. In addition, the continuous increase in staple food prices since November 2013 and subsequent rise in livestock sales is following years of recurrent droughts, despite above average or near average total rainfall during the October to December Deyr 2012, March to May Gu 2013, and October to December Deyr 2013 in most areas. These areas are likely to remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June.
    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.

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