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March to May rains may not fully restore rangelands in pastoral areas

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Ethiopia
  • February 2015
March to May rains may not fully restore rangelands in pastoral areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through June 2015
  • Partner
    WFP
    Key Messages
    • Following the longer than usual dry season, due to the early end of the previous rains, the March to May Belg/Gu/Genna/Diraac/Sugum rains may be below average, not being sufficient to replenish water points and regenerate pasture and browse in pastoral areas. In particular, in areas where the June to September rains or October to December rains were below average, livestock body conditions and productivity will further deteriorate, reducing access to food and income. As a result, poor households in northeastern Afar and the lowlands of Borena Zone in Oromia will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through June. Furthermore, food security in southern Afar expected to decline from Stressed (IPC phase 2!) in February to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from May to June.

    • Due to average Meher production, households’ food access and nutrition improved in most Meher-producing areas. However, Meher production was below average in some areas, and as staple food prices seasonally rise and food stocks are depleted, households will remain or become food insecure in the lowlands in the Tekeze River catchment in Wag Himra and North Gondar Zones in Amhara Region and in the lowlands in East and West Hararghe and West Arsi Zones in Oromia Region.


    Current Situation
    • Overall, the Meher harvest was average to slightly above average in most areas. As a result, many poor and very poor households are currently primarily consuming food from their own production. However, drier conditions during the season means that the Meher harvest was below average in lowlands along the Tekeze River catchment of Wag Himra and North Gondar Zones in Amhara Region and central and southeastern Tigray Region and in the lowlands of West Arsi Zone in Oromia Region. Wheat rust reduced the size of the harvest in the highlands of Arsi, and in East and West Hararghe Zones in Oromia Region, hailstorms damaged crops, leading to a below average harvest.
    • Overall, in most parts of the country, the weather was seasonably cool and dry in January and February with some light showers in early January in northeastern Amhara and central Oromia.
    • In most parts of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), three-to-five days of Sapie rains fell in January. However, this year, the rest of January has been remained dry except in Bensa and Bursa Woredas of Sidama Zone and Konta Special Woreda where there were light showers fell during the third week of January. Belg rains typically start in early February in parts of SNNPR, but they have not yet started. Sweet potatoes, other root crops, and to some extent maize were planted in November, and they have reached the vegetative stage. However, many of the crops are wilting.
    • Pasture and water availability has declined more than usual since December in SNNPR due to the dry conditions. Crop residues have been used as main source of fodder, but they are being exhausted. With these residues, livestock have maintained their body conditions and productivity.
    • Similarly, pasture and water availability have deteriorated in some lowland areas of Arsi, West Arsi, East Shewa, and East and West Hararghe Zones in Oromia Region, and the lowlands of Wag Himra Zone in Amhara Region since November. Livestock body conditions in these areas have become poor.
    • Livestock body conditions and productivity remained normal in most parts of northern Somali and northwestern and central Afar Region. As a result, households have normal income and food access from their livestock.
    • However, in northern and southern Afar, forage is difficult to find. As a result, livestock body conditions are poor, and livestock products like milk are generally not available. Forage is difficult to find in Afedera and Bidu Woreda of Kilbati (formerly Zone 2) Zone, Elidar and Kurri Woredas of Awsi (formerly Zone 1) Zone, and southern Afar Region. Livestock have been migrated from these areas to Erebti and Teru Woredas of Khari (formerly Zone 5) Zone and other areas, primarily within Afar.
    • Water and pasture availability remains seasonally normal in most southern and southeastern pastoral areas. However, water and pasture are less availabile than would be seasonally normal in lowland  areas of the Hawd in Dollo (formerly Warder) Zone, lagahida and Selehad Woredas of Nogob (formerly Fik) Zone in Somali Region, lowlands in Dire, Miyo, Dillo, and Moyale Woredas in Borena Zone, Dawe Kachan, Dawe Sarar, and Raytu Woredas in Bale Zone, and most lowland areas in South Omo Zone. As a result, livestock body conditions are poor, and livestock productivity is low in the southern lowlands in Borena Zone. Livestock have been concentrated into the few areas with relatively better pasture and water availability. Due to similar conditions in neighboring areas in northern Kenya, about 60 households have unusually brought their livestock to Guchi and Goffa Kebeles in Moyale Woreda. Currently, the Oromia Water Bureau has requested six water trucks for use in Moyale, Dire, Dillo, Meyo, Teltele, and Yabelo Woredas.
    • Following the November/December Meher harvest, staple food supply on markets increased in Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, Afar, and SNNPR, stabilizing prices or, in some cases, causing slight declines in price from December to January. However, several cash crops, including ginger, hot peppers, and coffee had higher prices in January than last year. Low domestic supply led to an increase in ginger and pepper prices, and the increased coffee price is related to increases in prices in international markets over the past year. Due to low local production in agropastoral areas in southern Somali Region, cereal prices are still high, and the livestock-to-cereal Terms of Trade (ToT) have been reduced both by high cereal prices and the seasonal decline in livestock prices, following the end of the exporting period in October. For instance, goat-to-red-sorghum ToT in Dollo declined from 56 kilograms (kg) per goat in December to 46 kg per goat in January. Similarly, in southern lowland areas in Borena Zone, the livestock-to-cereal the ToT has fallen, reducing household incomes.
    • In December, nutritional status in most parts of Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, and SNNPR was stable or improved compared to recent months, last year, and two years ago. Nutrition generally improved following the near average Meher harvest. For instance, in SNNPR, the total number of malnourished children admitted to therapeutic feeding programs (TFP) in December was 13, 27, and 34 percent less than November 2014, December 2013, and December 2012, respectively. Similarly, outpatient therapeutic program (OTP) admissions in December were lower in eastern Oromia than last year. However, unlike the trend of stable or improving nutrition in many areas, a Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) nutrition survey conducted in December 2014 in Amhara Region found some areas with worse nutrition outcomes than would be expected during the post-harvest period. For instance, in Sekota Woreda in Wag Himra Zone in Amhara Region, global acute malnutrition (GAM) was 11.7 percent (a 95 percent confidence interval (CI) of 9.3 to 14.5 percent), higher than usual for this area and for Amhara.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the January to June 2015 Outlook except for the following change:


    Projected Outlook Through June 2015
    • Northeastern and southern Afar Region: In northeastern Afar, near average to below average March to May Sugum rains are not expected to result in significant improvements to livestock body conditions nor increase in livestock production and productivity. Therefore, food and income access are likely to remain low, and poor households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through June. In southern Afar, milk access is expected to be stable through March, as some pasture and water remain from the unusual rains in October and Dadaa rains in December. Poor households in southern Afar will be able to address their minimal food needs, but due to low holding of livestock, they will not be able to address their essential non-food expenses and remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) in February and March but only due to the continued presence of humanitarian assistance. However, livestock body conditions are expected to deteriorate and production decrease, reducing food access during the possibly below average March to May Sugum rains. Therefore, poor households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to June.
    • Northern Somali and northwestern and central Afar Region: In most parts of Sitti and Fafan Zones of Somali Region and most parts of Awsi , Kilbati, Fenti and Khari Zones in Afar Region, livestock body conditions, production, and productivity are seasonally normal following the near average June to September rains that increased pasture and water availability. Household food and income access remains stable. Also, the Meher harvest provided some own produced food in agropastoral and agricultural areas. Poor households in these areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June.
    • Lowlands of Borena, Guji, and South Omo Zones: While March to May Genna rains are expected to be near average to below average, this is not expected to lead to immediate improvements in livestock body conditions or increases in livestock production and productivity. Pasture and water availability may remain below average. Household incomes and food access from livestock are expected to remain less than usual. As food prices increase between now and June, households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) through June only with the presence of humanitarian assistance. However, poor households in the southern lowlands of Borena Zone will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through June as these areas have fewer rangeland resources.
    • Southeastern pastoral areas: The near average to below average March to May Gu rainfall is not expected to increase pasture, browse, and water availability to an extent that would lead to an immediate increase in household incomes. With increasing cereal prices and declining livestock prices being seasonally normal through June, pastoralists will need to sell even more livestock than in a typical year to buy food. As a result, poor and very poor will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through June.
    • Lowlands in the Tekeze River catchment in Wag Himra and North Gondar Zones in Amhara Region and some lowlands in central and eastern Oromia: With meager Meher production in November/December, poor households will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through June 2015 in the Tekeze River catchment. Household stocks from the below-average Meher production in the lowlands of West Arsi Zone and Meyu Muluke and Kumbi Woredas of East Hararghe Zone in Oromia Region are expected to be exhausted two months earlier than usual in February, instead of April.  Food access will fall further as staple food prices increase. Livestock body conditions are poor, and livestock productivity will continue to decline due to continued poor pasture and water availability. Therefore, poor households in these areas will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with ongoing humanitarian assistance through March. After stocks are completely exhausted and food prices are higher, poor households will likely move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to June 2015.
    • Northeastern Amhara and Tigray: With below-average Meher production in November/December, poor and very poor households are likely to deplete their food stocks earlier than normal. Households will then need to source food from the market, but staple food prices will be rising at that time. Poor and very poor households will likely be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March 2015, but in April and May during the lean season, Belg-dominant areas will have little income to purchase staple foods at rising prices, and poor households will become Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with emergency assistance from April to June.
    • Central and eastern Oromia Region: Due to low production in the highlands of Arsi Zone and the lowlands of eastern Oromia, poor households will deplete their food stocks earlier as early as February instead of April. They will be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March 2015. Near average to below average March to May rainfall will mean that pasture and water availability do not increase as much as seasonally expected. As a result, livestock body conditions will become poor and productivity will fall, reducing household incomes. With rising cereal prices and falling incomes, poor households will move into Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with ongoing emergency humanitarian assistance from April to June.
    • SNNPR: With the average Meher harvest in November/December and income from labor and livestock sales, household food access will likely continue to be stable with most parts of the region likely to remain Minimal (IPC Phase 1) through at least June. However, very little Sapie rains fell in January which along with the delayed start of Belg rains resulted in wilting of some root crops like sweet potatoes that were planted in November. Also, below-average production of maize, sorghum, haricot beans, and hot peppers along the Rift Valley in Gurage, Halaba, Sidama, Wolayita, and Gamo Gofa Zones means that own produced and purchased households stocks will be depleted earlier than normal. As a result, households are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from January to March, but as their stocks and other resources are exhausted, poor households will move into Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of emergency humanitarian assistance.
    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source:

    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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