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Mid-October floods continue to limit access to grazing lands

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Ethiopia
  • November 2014
Mid-October floods continue to limit access to grazing lands

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook Through March 2015
  • Partner
    Key Messages
    • In mid-October, unusually late rains caused flooding along the Shebelle River in Somali Region, on the shores of Lake Turkana in South Omo Zone in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), and along the Awash River in southern Afar. The floods both destroyed and limited access to grazing areas, which has led to deterioration in livestock body conditions and productivity. This reduced households’ access to food and income.

    • In the lowlands of Borena Zone in southern Oromia, the March to May rains were below average and followed by a warmer than usual June to September dry season. This led to a faster deterioration of pasture and a faster decrease in water availability. These rangeland resources have yet to recover as the October to December Hageya rains have been below average so far. Unseasonal livestock migration has continued, and planting has been delayed in agropastoral areas. Poor households are Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance through December by when the remaining rains will likely lead to improved rangeland conditions.

    Current Situation
    • Harvesting and threshing of Meher crops are underway in eastern Amhara, eastern Tigray, and central and eastern Oromia Region. The June to September Kiremt rains extended into mid-October, supporting additional growth of late-planted, short-cycle crops. For example, some pulses and other late planted crops are at the seed-setting or maturity stages. However, late rains led to localized floods and associated hail that damaged crops and property, particularly in the highlands of Arsi and North Shewa Zones of central Oromia Region.
    • With the harvest well underway, preliminary assessments suggest that total Meher grain production will be near average, even in eastern parts of the country. However, below-average production is still probable in the lowlands of West Arsi and East and West Hararghe Zones of Oromia Region, lowland woredas along the Tekeze River in Waghimra and North Gondar Zones of Amhara Region, and the Central and Southeastern Zones of Tigray Region.
    • In Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR), most Meher crops are being harvested or developing normally. However, above-average rainfall in October flooded some parts of Wolayita, Hadiya, Gedio, Gurage, Silte, and Halaba, damaging approximately 450 hectares (ha) of crops. Meher crop harvesting has started in most lowland and midland areas, but it has not yet started in the highlands. Since mid-October, the coffee harvest has been underway in Sidama and Gedio Zones. Most Meher crops that are not being harvested are at their ripening stages. Sweet potato cutting availability is good, but there was not enough rain in the first week of November so sweet potato planting has not yet started.
    • In northeastern and southern Afar, both the March to May Sugum rains and the June to September Karma rains were below average and poorly distributed. This means that forage availability never fully recovered, and it is currently deteriorating even faster than usual for the dry season. In August, livestock migration started early while those livestock that do remain closer to homesteads must travel long distances daily in order to find sufficient amounts of forage and water. As a result, livestock body conditions are below normal. Household’s milk access is low as few females are lactating and those that are have very low milk yields.
    • On the other hand, in the other parts of Afar and northern Somali Region, near average June to September Karma/Karan rains extended unusually into October. Water and forage availability has increased in these area. Forage and water from the rainy season remain available for livestock. Consequently, household have stable access to food and income from livestock, including milk for the children. Since the rains extended into October crops in most agropastoral and agricultural areas are continuing to develop. Most of the planted crops are at the seed-setting or maturity stages.
    • Despite a normally timed start of the October to December Deyr 2014 rains in early October, they have been erratically distributed over time and space. There was a long dry spell at the end of October and beginning of November in most of southern Somali Region. However, cumulative Deyr rainfall has been near average to slightly above average. Farther west, the cumulative October to December Hageya rainfall has been near average in Arero, Yabello, Teltele, Dugda Dawa, and Melka Soda Woredas in Borena Zone, most parts of Bale Zone in Oromia Region, and South Omo Zone in SNNPR. This has increased pasture, browse, and water availability, contributing to improved livestock body conditions.
    • However, only erratic, low amounts of October to December Hageya rains have led to pasture and water availability remaining below average in the lowlands of Borena in Dilo, Dire, Dhas, Moyale, and Miyo Woredas. Agropastoral areas have yet to plant, which normally happens in October. Livestock have been migrated to other areas. Most of the rangelands in Kelafo, Mustahil, and Ferfer Woredas in Shebelle Zone and Dassench Woreda in South Omo Zone in SNNPR are still under flood waters following river and lake flooding in mid-October. Pasture is hard to find. There has been deterioration of livestock body conditions, a disruption of livestock breeding cycles, and increased livestock mortality. Milk production is very low.
    • As the new harvest is becoming available to the market, prices started declining in most of parts of Amhara, Tigray, Oromia, and SNNPR. However, October cereal prices either remained the same or have slightly increased since September in most pastoral areas, which have not yet been resupplied.
    • Livestock demand seasonally declines in October, and supply has increased as more households seek to sell livestock to purchase food. As a result, livestock prices declined from September to October in pastoral areas in Afar, Somali Region, and Borena and Guji Zones in Oromia Region. For instance, an average size goat or sheep in Jijiga and Shinile in northern Somali decreased from September to October by 10 percent and 17 percent, respectively. With an increase in staple food prices in these markets, the livestock-to-cereal terms of trade decreased.
    • Health and nutrition: Overall, health and the nutritional situation are improving in most of the country due to increased food access from the harvest. However, an emergency nutrition survey conducted in September by Concern Worldwide in Dassench Woreda of South Omo Zone found global acute malnutrition (GAM) of 33.8 percent (a 95 percent confidence interval (CI) of 28.9 to 39.0 percent) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) of 4.3 percent (CI 2.6 to 6.8 percent). Similarly, the nutrition situation deteriorated in most parts of Kilbati, Awsi, and Gabi Zones in Afar Region and Nensebo Woreda in West Arsi Zone mainly related to poor food and milk access as well as child care and hygiene practices. Following this, the government and partners are responding by expanding targeted supplementary feeding (TSF) and school feeding programs to more people in these areas. Programs are being introduced in Gabi Zone in Afar to new areas that previously were not covered.

    Updated Assumptions

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

    Projected Outlook Through March 2015
    • Mustahil, Ferfer, and Kelafo Woredas in Somali, Dassench Woreda in South Omo Zone, and some lowlands in Borena Zone: Flood waters still cover much of the pasture limiting grazing in flooded areas in Shebelle Zone of Somali Region and Dassench Woreda in South Omo Zone in SNNPR. Pasture will be difficult to find in these areas until the flood waters recede. Similarly, pasture availability will continue to be very low until near the end of the October to December Hageya rains in Borena. With likely continued poor livestock body conditions, livestock sales income is unlikely to recover soon. With less income from crop sales and from livestock, poor households in these areas will only be able to address their minimal food needs with humanitarian assistance and will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) through December. With the expected improvement of livestock body conditions and productivity after flood waters recede or the rains become established, households will slowly regain access to livestock products, related income, and will be at least address their minimal food needs on their own and move to Stressed (IPC phase 2) from January to March 2015.
    • Other southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral areas: More rain in November and December are expected to further increase livestock production and productivity, increasing household milk and income access. However, with higher cereal prices than recent years, the income from livestock and livestock product sales will not be able to cover both households’ non-food essentials and food expenses. Poor households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March 2014.
    • Northwestern, central, and southern Afar, and northern Somali Region: Rangeland resources should remain available through March when the Diraac/Sugum rains start. A near average harvest in November and December in agropastoral and agricultural areas is likely to increase food access in these areas. However, the livestock-to-cereals terms of trade are not expected to significantly increase between now and March. Therefore, these areas are expected to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through March.
    • Northeastern and southern Afar: Until the next Sugum rains start in March, the dry season will cause livestock body conditions to further deteriorate, livestock migration to become more widespread, and livestock prices to fall further. Poor households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through March 2014.
    • Lowlands of East and West Hararghe and West Arsi Zones in Oromia Region and lowlands along the Tekeze River: Due to the below average Meher production, stocks are likely to be depleted as early as January in some areas. Usually, stocks would last through March or April. Households will return to buying food from markets much earlier than usual. With lower income from other sources including harvest labor, households’ food access is expected to decline. Poor households in these areas will move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in November and December to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from January to March 2015.
    • Most of eastern Amhara, Tigray, and Oromia Regions: Following the near average Meher harvest from October to December, households will have typical levels of stocks and crop sales. Income from harvest labor will also allow households to buy more food, too, and most poor households in these areas will likely be at None (IPC Phase 1) through December. Belg-producing areas in North and South Wollo Zones of Amhara and Southern Zone in Tigray Region will move to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from January through March 2015 since their meager stock is likely to deplete by January when normally it would last until March.
    • SNNPR: With some households still having stocks from the Belg harvest in June/July, the October to January Meher harvest will further increase household stocks and the ability to sell crops. Stable food prices, normal income from different sources including labor, grass sales, and livestock sales will increase the purchasing power of households. Most areas in the region are likely to remain at Minimal (IPC Phase1) through December 2014. The window for planting sweet potatoes remains open through the end of November, so the availability of sweet potatoes next year during the April to May lean season is expected to be fairly normal this year.
    • Lowland areas of Gamo Gofa, Wolayita, Halaba, Gurage, and Sidama: Despite the expected average production of short-cycle Meher crops between now and January, households had a smaller Belg harvest than usual, so stocks are likely to be depleted faster than usual, in January instead of March. Poor households will rely more on purchases starting in January when staple food prices start to rise and incomes seasonally decline. Therefore, poor and very poor households in these areas will become Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from January to March 2015.
    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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