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Expectations are for a near average Meher harvest except in some eastern and southern areas.

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Ethiopia
  • November 2012
Expectations are for a near average Meher harvest except in some eastern and southern areas.

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outcomes through March 2013
  • Partner
    Key Messages
    • Despite some unseasonal rains in November in some parts of the country, no major, large-scale damage of planted Meher crops is reported so far. If these unseasonal, heavy rains continue in Western Ethiopia, post-harvest losses would increase.

    • Although the October to December Deyr/Hageya rains have already improved pasture and water availability in southern and southeastern pastoral areas, flooding caused by above normal rains occurred in some places. The joint intervention made by the government and humanitarian organizations addressed most of the food and nonfood needs. 

    • With the start of the Meher harvest in October, prices of cereals are declining. From September to October, the annualized food price inflation rate declined for the eighth month in a row and stood at 13 percent. However, prices of staple foods remain high compared to their five-year averages.

    Current Situation
    • The performance of the June to September Kiremt rains was generally normal in terms of cumulative amount and spatial distribution. Harvest have started and preliminary estimates indicate a near average to slightly above average harvest in most surplus-producing areas of western Ethiopia.
    •  In October and November, in the southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas, normal and in some cases above normal Deyr/Hageya rains started mostly on time. However, in some areas, the rains have been poorly spatially distributed with some areas getting less than half of the expected level of rain. In much of the southern part of Somali Region, in the lowlands of Borena and Guji of Oromia Region, and in South Omo Zone of Southern, Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), pasture and water availability are improving. Rains have been insufficient and below seasonal averages in pocket areas in Dollo Ado and Dollo Bay Woredas in Liben Zone, Adadle Woreda in Shabelle (formerly Gode) Zone, and Gashamo, southeastern Gunagado, and Ararso Woredas in Jarar (formerly Deghabur) Zone in Somali Region. In southeastern parts of Somali Region, livestock have not yet fully recovered from previous droughts and both body conditions and conception rates remain rather poor. There is still some limited availability of milk. In contrast, good physical conditions of livestock in Borena and Guji Zones have been reported. Some cows have already started giving birth in these regions, increasing milk availability and augmenting herd sizes.
    • Similarly, in Afar and northern Somali Region, water and pasture is still available due to the receipt of mostly sufficient July to September Karma/Karan rains. However, woredas including Elidaar, Kori, Bidu, and Afdera in eastern and northeastern Afar Region are experiencing water shortages following below average rains. Water trucking is ongoing. Livestock body conditions and conception rates have been reduced by multiple droughts.
    • The overflow of the Fanfan, Jarar, and other, small seasonal watercourses in northern Somali Region led to flooding in Kabridaher and Shaykosh towns, Marato village in Kabridaher Woreda, Yocale town, and Elbahay Kebele in Gashamo Woreda, affecting more than 3,000 households. In response, food and non-food assistance has been delivered to affected households both by the government and humanitarian organizations. The joint intervention has addressed most needs.
    • Prices of staple foods are way above their five-year averages in almost all parts of the country. However, following the start of new harvest in October, the food prices are declining in most of the Meher-producing areas including in western Ethiopia and in the eastern, marginal Meher-producing areas. Harvesting is earlier in the South and the East, so markets in those areas are declining faster. The decline has yet to reach northern markets in parts of Tigray and Amhara Regions. Staple food prices are stable in pastoral areas, but this is largely attributed to continued distributions of relief food.
    • Livestock prices have increased, including in pastoral areas and SNNPR. For instance, in Jijiga town in Fanfan (formerly Jijiga) Zone, the October price of a goat or sheep was 20 percent more than it was in September. 

    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 October to March 2012. However, the changing climactic conditions have caused two revisions related to late, unseasonal rains:

    • In October, it was assumed that “some unseasonal rain is expected between October and December in Afar.” Recent climactic forecasts confirm the earlier predicted El Niño is far less likely and so far, unseasonal rains have not occurred in Afar. Thus, the assumption is updated to be that the unseasonal rains are not likely to occur in December. They will not to prevent early depletion of pasture and water in parts of Afar as earlier expected.
    • In late October and early November, two to three days of unseasonable but largely light showers were observed in several Kiremt-receiving areas. This might have caused some yield reductions of mature crops. Reports indicate that 64 hectares of teff and 70 hectares of wheat was damaged in Ahlefom Woreda in Central Tigray. Overall, the late rains were largely useful, benefiting late-planted, immature crops and contributing to improvements in pasture and water availability. While only assumed “in some pocket areas by increasing post-harvest losses or spoiling crops in the field,” these rains will likely be on an even smaller scale with even less of an impact on the national Meher harvest.

    Projected Outcomes through March 2013
    • A reduction in unseasonal, late rains in Kiremt-receiving areas in western Ethiopia and in Afar are unlikely to impact the outcomes of the previous scenario, though some areas of Afar may experience longer water shortages and water shortages earlier in the October to January dry season. Water-stressed areas of Afar are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least March. Kori, Serdo, Eliddar, Biidu, and Erebti Woredas in Afar region and Harshin and Babile Woredas in Fafan (formerly Jijiga) Zone and parts of Siti (formerly Shinile) Zone in northern Somali Region which are currently in Crisis (IPC phase 3) will remain so through at least March 2013 due to the poor performance of the June to September Karma/Karan rains. The other northern pastoral and agropastoral areas will continue to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) during November to December as they continue to recover from previous droughts.
    • Due to ongoing humanitarian assistance, milk availability, availability of the late harvested Belg maize, and increasing market supplies from late harvested Belg crops and the start of the Meher harvest, poor and very poor households in the major sweet potato-growing zones and the dominantly Belg-producing southern woredas of SNNPR will be able to address their minimal food needs in November and December. They will remain classified as Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, access to food and income is not likely to last long. Food consumption will start to decrease in December.
    • This year, the total national volume of coffee production is expected to be below average due to the poor February to May Belg rainfall, especially poor rainfall while coffee was flowering in March. Coffee berry disease (CBD), caused by Colletotrichum coffeanum, in coffee-producing areas of SNNPR, including Sidama and Gedeo Zones, has further reduced yields. In addition to yield reductions, prices are much lower than last year. The reduced income from coffee labor which will have adverse impact in both the major sweet potato-growing zones and dominantly Belg-producing southern woredas of SNNPR, particularly in the period after December when many laborers migrate to Sidama and Gedeo for work. Due to poor labor income and exhaustion of household stocks, many of these areas will move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between January and March as they become unable to meet their food needs. The lowlands in Segen, Gamo Gofa, Wolayta, Kembata Tembaro, Dawro, Hadiya, Gurage, and Silite Zones of SNNPR are likely to have significantly below average Meher production making them the most likely to experience Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between January and March.
    • Due to ongoing humanitarian assistance, improvements in livestock conditions and productivity, availability of the late harvested Belg crops, increasing market supplies, and increased household food access following the start of Meher harvest, poor and very poor households in most parts of the eastern, marginal Meher-producing areas will be able to address their minimal food needs in November and December. Therefore, with the exception of Belg-dependent localities in Tigray, Amhara, and Oromia that will be in Crises (IPC Phase 3), most areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, due to erratic distribution and early withdrawal of the June to September Kiremt rains, reduced planted area under long-cycle crops due to the late arrival of the Belg rains, and localized occurrences of hailstorms, flash floods, landslides, frosts, and pest infestations, significant yield reductions of the Meher crop are expected in most lowland areas of East and West Hararghe, some parts of West Shewa including Ada Berga, Jeldu, Meta Robe, Ginde Beret, Abune Ginde Beret, and Elfeta Woredas, some eastern parts of Tigray, and the lowlands of eastern Amhara including parts of Wag Himra Zone. A recent pre-harvest assessment conducted by the zonal Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Bureau in East and West Hararghe indicates that Meher crop production may be up to 25 percent below average. As households quickly consume the below average Meher crops, they will move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from January to March while areas with better harvests will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

    In the southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas, chronic food security problems caused by recurrent drought depleting household assets will not be alleviated by near average October to December Deyr/Hageya rains. Therefore, poor and very poor households in most parts of southern Somali Region and Borena and Guji Zones in Oromia Region will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in November and December since they are only be able to meet  minimal food consumption needs through ongoing humanitarian assistance supplementing their income from livestock products and sales. Livestock-related income will increase seasonally during the Deyr/Hageya rains. Since no seasonal improvement in water and pasture availability has been observed around Dollo Ado and Dollo Bay in Liben Zone of southern Somali Region, these areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through at least March 2013. Poor households in the areas with high risk of flooding along the Wabi Shabelle River in Somali Region may enter Crisis (IPC Phase 3) as the agropastoral crops will be delayed and floods will disrupt migration to sources of pasture and water. The areas at risk of intensified resource conflict in Liben Zone in Somali Region and Borena Zone in Oromia will move to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from January to March 2013, if they are cut off from access to resources and continue to receive less than favorable rains.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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