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Ethiopia Outlook February through June 2012

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Ethiopia
  • February - June 2012
Ethiopia Outlook February through June 2012

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  • Key Messages
  • Current food security conditions and outcomes
  • Most Likely scenario and projected food security outcomes
  • Partner
    Key Messages
    • Based on the Joint Government and Humanitarian Partners’ Requirement Document released on the 12th of January, about 3.2 million people will require food assistance in the first half of 2012. The highest needs are identified in Somali and Oromia regions where 34 percent of the total population of each region is estimated to be in need. The net food requirement is reported to be around 158,000 metric tons (MT).

    • Severe shortages of water and pasture are reported in parts of southern and southeastern pastoral and agro-pastoral areas as well as northeastern Afar and northern Somali regions. According to the National Metrological Agency, the February to May rains are expected to be below normal to near normal and begin erratically in these areas. 

    • Staple food prices are generally declining following the recent 2011/12 Meher harvest though food prices rose 41 percent from January 2010 to January 2012. The highest food price inflation rates were reported in Benishangul Gumuz (93 percent), Gambella (59 percent), and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s (SNNP) (51 percent) regions.

    Current food security conditions and outcomes

    Food security in most parts of the country remained stable as the harvest peaked in the Meher cropping areas of the country. The Meher season provides about 90 percent of the national annual cereal production. Resource transfers through the PSNP and other humanitarian programs have also contributed to the declining prices in the currently affected and chronically food insecure areas in the southern and eastern half of Ethiopia including the southern and southeastern pastoral and agro pastoral areas which have been affected by repeated droughts since 2008/09. However, No Acute Food Insecurity (IPC Phase 1) persists in the western surplus-producing areas. Poorer households in the remaining parts of the country are at Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity as a result of cumulative effects of poor and irregular seasonal rains in 2010 and 2011. Localized areas in some woredas in the southern lowlands continued to face severe water and pasture shortage which resulted from localized poor performance of the October to December Deyr/Hageya rains in 2011 (Figure 1).

    The good 2011 Deyr/Hageya (October to December) rains have positively impacted food security in the formerly drought-affected- zones of southern Somali, the lowlands of Oromia (Borena, Guji, and Bale zones), and South Omo zone of SNNPR. The rains have sufficiently replenished water and improved the pasture conditions in most parts of the seven Deyr- receiving zones in southern Somali. These pastoral resources are expected to last until the next rains begin in April. 

    However, severe water shortages are being reported in parts of the woredas which received limited or no rain during the last Deyr from October to December 2011 following the repeated rain failures of 2010 and 2011. These woredas are Guradamole in Afder zone, Shilabo in Korayhe zone, Geladi in Warder zone, Fik and Mayumuluk in Fik zone, and Dagahbour and Dagahamadow in Degahbour zone. Although livestock movements in search of water and pasture within the zones are normal in most of the woredas, migration started earlier than normal from the aforementioned woredas to areas where such resources are available. Early migrations and concentration of animals in woredas such as Sheykosh and Kabridahar of Korahye and Duhun of Fik zones are likely to cause early depletion of resources as the Jilal (December-March) dry season intensifies. Serious pasture shortages have been reported in Mustahil, Ferfer, and Kelafo of Gode zone due to the flooding of the Wabi Shabelle river in October 2011, which both destroyed pasture and affected the local crop harvests from December to January in the Shabelle Riverine Livelihood Zone. A poor crop harvest was also the case in Korahye Agropastoral Livelihood Zone due to inadequate rains and a soil moisture deficit during the Deyr season. Staple food prices are generally stable, but some areas are showing decreasing cereal prices due to the ongoing relief food distributions. However, the multi-agency seasonal assessment in November and December 2011 revealed that prices remained higher than prices over the last year. 

    On the other hand, prices in Warder and Korhaye in the Lowland Hawd Pastoral Livelihood Zone are still increasing due to poor market supply of both local and imported foods. In January 2012, the sorghum price in Kebridehar market of Korahye zone was reported to be 90 percent higher than last January. Critical water problems were also reported in the lowland woredas of Rayitu, Sawena, Guradamole, Berbere, Legehida, Delomena, and Dawe Kchen woredas of Bale zone of Oromia. In Borena zone, despite the 2011 good Hageya rains, water is still scarce in Miyo, Dehas, Moyale, Dire, Dilo, and Arero as water points were flooded and covered with silt during the last Hageya from October to December 2011. Though the rains improved the availability of pasture in the zone, pasture availability in the mentioned woredas is unlikely to sustain livestock through the long dry season. The physical conditions of livestock are normal in most of these areas including lowlands of South Omo in SNNPR with stable and improved livestock prices comparing to recent months leading to temporary improvement in the terms of trade. However, there is growing concern in woredas reporting water problems. Availability of water and pasture in South Omo delayed the normal migration of livestock to dry grazing lands which typically starts in December to February. Crop harvest from recessional farming woredas has further improved food security in this particular zone. Thousands of poor and very poor households in these areas continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity where relief interventions are ongoing in addition to PSNP. However, the food security situation in woredas with severe water and pasture shortages is a concern. Given the effects of the recent droughts, scarcity of water will have a significant impact on pastoral food security and livelihoods. 

    Despite the below-normal Karma/Karran rains from mid-July to mid-September season, the overall food security situation is stable in Afar and northern zones of Somali region due to improved access to food through relief transfers and the improved market availability of supplies from the Meher cropping areas. However, many woredas in these areas are facing critical water shortages both for human and livestock consumption. These include the chronically water deficient woredas of Kori, Elidaar, Bidu, and Erebti of Afar region, Harshin, Kabribayah, parts of JIjiga, Awbare, and Babile woredas of Jijiga zone, and Ayisha, parts of Afdem, Erer, Shinile, and Dambel woredas of Shinile zone in northern Somali region. Demand for water interventions will increase until the next Gu/Sugum rains begins around mid-March. Water trucking is ongoing in parts of Kori, Elidaar, Dubti, and Bidu woredas of Afar region. These areas are in the middle of their long dry season from mid-September to mid-March, and livestock body condition have deteriorated mainly in areas which received poor rains during the last Karma/Karran and which currently are facing poor water and pasture availability. Deterioration in livestock body condition is reported in most of these woredas, and unusual movements of livestock also observed in Shinile, Erer, Aysha, and Dembel of Shinile zone to other woredas within the zone where pasture and water availability is relatively better. Similarly, early livestock movements have also been reported to dry grazing lands in neighboring woredas and adjacent regions in Afar region. Livestock migration has been reported from Awura and Gulina woredas in Zone 4 of Afar region to Chifera woreda within the same region as well as to Kewet woreda of North Shewa zone in Amhara region. According to the latest regional food security update, admissions for severely malnourished children into TFPs have increased from 236 in September 2011 to about 2,000 in December in Afar region. Currently, poor households in Afar and northern Somali remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and still have high need for external assistance while those in woredas with critical water and pasture problems are now in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Following the 2011 Meher harvest from October to January, the food security situation in most parts of the eastern marginal Meher producing areas remains stable. However, there is concern of a possible deterioration from some parts of eastern, southern, and southeastern woredas including Alamata, Raya Azebo, Erob, Tankua-Abergele, Dega-Temben, Enderta, and Hawzen in Tigray region due to poor harvest during both the Belg and Meher seasons in 2011. Similarly, the below-normal harvests in the lowlands of Wag Himra zone of Sekota, Ziquala, Sahala, and Abergele woredas and some parts of North Gondar zone bordering the Tekeze basin has left many households with food gaps even in the immediate post-harvest period. As a result, migration of people is reported from Sekota woreda in Wag Himra zone and Tselemt woreda in North Gondar zone of Amhara region in search of temporary labor. Unusual livestock movements due to a shortage of pasture are reported in Wag Himra zone of Amhara region. Cattle migrated from Sahila and Ziquala woredas to East Belesa and Ebinat woredas of North and South Gondar zones, respectively.

    Serious water shortages are also reported in parts of Minjar-Shenkora woreda of Amhara region, and Siraro, Arsi Negele, Shasemane, and Shala woredas of West Arsi zone in Oromia region. In response to the problem, water rationing has started in some localities. Similar problems are reported in parts of Raya-Azebo, Tankua-Abergelle, Erob, Hintalo Wajirat, Medebay-Zana, Saesie-Tsaeda-Emba, Degatembien, Alamata, and Tselemti in Tigray region. Water problem will continue to be a concern in the coming months until the water catchments are fully recharged alongside the Tekeze basin in Wag Himra zone and in low-lying areas of North and South Wollo zones of Amhara region which border the dominantly pastoral region of Afar. Similarly, woredas including Kumbi, Golo Oda, Meyu, Fedis, Burka Dimtu, Hawi Gudina, Darolebu, Boke, Gemechis, and Meisso of East and West Hararghe zones of Oromia began to face pasture and water shortages in January. Staple prices are decreasing as cereal supply improved following the Meher harvest from October to January. However, prices are still high compared to last year and this is mainly associated with the reduced harvest of long-cycle crops during the Meher season which was a result of poor planting during the 2011 below-normal Belg season. The Belg rains which are normally expected to start during the second week of February have not yet started. Land preparation is underway in the Belg growing areas, and farmers have begun to dry plant using the residual moisture from the past Kiremt rains in some areas of North and South Wollo zones of Amhara region. Thousands of households in the dominantly Belg cropping zones of North and South Wollo as well as Wag Himra zones of Amhara are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of food insecurity whereas food security remain Stressed (IPC Phases 2) among the poor in most of the eastern marginal Meher cropping areas which include eastern parts of Tigray, Amhara, and Oromia regions. 

    Food security is stable in most parts of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) following the Meher harvests from October to January and subsequent declining prices for market purchase. However, cereal prices remain far above last year. In January 2012, the average price of maize in 14 woredas in the eastern and central food insecure parts of the region was 75 to 85 percent higher than the price in January 2011. Admissions to outpatient therapeutic programs (OTPs) and to stabilization centers (SCs) has recently declined due to the  improved food security situation coupled with ongoing targeted supplementary food (TSF) distributions for childre under-five-years-old and pregnant and lactating women in the 37 woredas of the region. Land preparation for planting in the upcoming Belg season has started across the region. The season is very important for the planting of high-yielding, long-cycle crops of maize and sorghum. The season also is key for the production of crops in the Belg-dependent woredas in the Segen zone and for root crops, mainly sweet potatoes in the growing zones of Gamu Gofa, Wolayita, Hadiya, and Kembata zones. While other crops such as taro and ginger  are already planted in some of these zones in January, sweet potatoes were planted in October or November with residual moisture from the Kiremt rains from July to September. These sweet potatoes are at the vegetative growth stage in all four of the above-mentioned zones. The short Sapie rains in December and January are crucial for the development of sweet potatoes during this season, but they have not performed well. The area planted under sweet potato was low due to a shortage of sweet potato cuttings as a result of repeated poor seasonal rains over the past several years. Consumption of sweet potatoes normally begins in February and following the harvest in March over the course of the March to May lean season until the Belg harvest begins in June. As the PSNP and other relief supports continue, thousands of poor and very poor households are currently facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity going into the lean season. 

    The good Meher harvests in Gambella and Benshangul Gumuz regions have improved the general food security situation. In Gambella, harvests from the recessional farming areas of Gog, Gambella Zuria, Itang, Lare, Jikawo, Makuway, Wontahwa, Jor, and Dimma woredas have further enhanced household food availability. Livestock conditions for cattle, sheep, and goats are good, and milk is abundantly available for consumption in both regions due to adequate rains since the conception period. The seventh and eighth round of relief food distributions in 2011 were completed for targeted households in Benishangul and Gambella respectively. Staple prices such as maize prices are decreasing as the Meher harvest comes into markets. In Kurmuk and Sherkole woredas of Assosa zone and in Guba woreda of Metekel zone of Benishangul Gumuz, however, food security is still under pressure due to the impacts of hosting refugees from neighboring Blue Nile State of South Sudan since September 2011.  As of February 25th, nearly 30,000 refugees were registered at the three camps in the region. Currently, some thousands of people are experiencing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity in both regions. Based on the recent seasonal needs assessment, about 33,000 and 48,000 people in addition to the refugees are estimated to require humanitarian assistance in Benshangul and Gambella regions during the first half of 2012. 

    Most Likely scenario and projected food security outcomes

    Southern pastoral and agro pastoral zones

    Pastoral resources normally deplete during the long Jilal season in the southern and southeastern pastoral and agropastoral zones. Even though the October to December 2011 minor rains were good in most of these areas, the April to June major rains are very important for the regeneration of pasture and replenishment of water points until the next Deyr rains begin in October. Many of the woredas that received limited or no rain during the 2011 Deyr already began to experience critical water shortages that have triggered emergency water interventions. Early movements of livestock within and across the woredas and zones also indicate water shortages. Based on the national weather outlook (Figure 3), water and pasture availability will decrease due to the anticipated late onset and potentially below-normal performance of the upcoming Gu/Genna rains. As calving begins in April for goats and in May for cattle from conceptions during the the Deyr from October to December 2011, conceptions are likely to have been affected in the areas that had limited or no Deyr rains. In these areas, due to the low expected livestock birth rate, it is likely that milk availability will remain well below average for household consumption from April through June. The extension of the dry season due to a delayed start of the rains is expected to increase abnormal migration patterns of livestock. As livestock will concentrate in areas where resources availability will be relatively better, concentration may lead to loss of livestock or deterioration of body conditions, along with related disease outbreaks, and lack of adequate water and pasture.

    The purchasing capacity of the pastoral and agropastoral households would be compromised by the likely increases in staple prices which typically begin in May.  As a result of likely decline in livestock body conditions, livestock to cereals terms of trade would degrade over the course of theseason. The situation is likely to be exacerbated by the potential low level of livelihoods assets in woredas where water and pasture availability is already poor. Households would need to sell additional livestock as the dry season may extend due to late and below average rains. However, the prices will fall as demand for livestock is likely to decrease due to the potential deterioration in physical condition while the supply of livestock on the market increases. The poor in the Hawd Pastoral Livelihood Zone covers 30 percent of their annual food requirements from livestock production. Milk consumption during the wet period is very high. Purchases cover 60 percent of annual food needs, and food aid covers the remaining 10 percent of consumption. Sales of livestock and livestock products are the primary sources of income. Below average rains in the April to June period will affect both livestock product availability for consumption and the key income source of livestock sales. February to April is the peak season for livestock of sales during the scenario period. Household food availability from own livestock production and purchase will therefore reduce among the poor households affecting consumption. In southern Deyr-receiving zones of Somali region, 25 out of the total 38 woredas were classified as hotspots (priority number 1) for immediate food allocation by DRMFSS in January. Similarly, five of the ten woredas in Borena zone of Oromia were also classified as hotspots for immediate food assistance from February onwards. The classification is normally done by the respective woredas and an inter-agency task force including FEWS NET. The most important consideration is that milk consumption during the wet season will be constrained as the result of limited pasture resources to last the normal milking period. Reduced consumption of livestock and livestock products as well failure to purchase adequate food due to the expected decline in livestock to cereals terms of trade will constrain food access. Despite ongoing interventions in the southern and southeastern pastoral areas, thousands of poor and very poor households are likely to continue facing Crisis levels of food insecurity through June 2012. Food insecurity in woredas that received limited or no rain during the 2011 Deyr season are likely to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) level during the April to June scenario period due to continued shortages of pasture and water. The needs for emergency water and nutrition intervention will be high in these areas.

    Southern National, Nationalities and People’s Region

    Based on the national meteorological outlook, the Belg rains will start late and are expected to be below normal. This is likely to affect the sweet potato harvests in root crop growing zones. Limited ability to harvest sweet potatoes will cause major food gaps over the course of the March to May lean season. Sweet potatoes are the major transitional crops consumed mainly among poorer households until the Belg harvest begins in June. Late onset and inadequate rains during the February to May season is also likely to delay or prevent planting and performance of Belg crops such as haricot beans, maize, and Irish potatoes. The expected reduction in the sweet potato harvests is likely to result in an extended lean season until the next Belg harvest begins in June. The eastern and central parts of the region are characterized by high population, small land holding and insufficient production and the poor households are vulnerable to acute food insecurity during poor agricultural seasons. The slightest shock particularly in sweet potato production coupled with the likely seasonal increase in staple prices will have significant implication on the nutritional situation during the March to May period. The Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity are expected to persist through March among poor households in the central and eastern zones of the region. This will deteriorate into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the second scenario period from April to June. In the Belg-dominant cropping woredas of Segen zone, the current Crisis (IPC Phase 3) level of food insecurity is likely to continue through June due to the near failure of the harvest in 2011 and likely increases in staple food prices. These conditions will persist despite resource transfers through the PSNP and ongoing relief operations. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar

    Source: FEWS NET Ethiopia

    Belg/Gu/Ganna/Sugum Season (February to May) Climate Outlook

    Figure 2

    Belg/Gu/Ganna/Sugum Season (February to May) Climate Outlook

    Source: National Metrological Agency’s Climate Outlook Forum, February 9, 2012

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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