Skip to main content

The level of conflict-induced displacement needs begin to surpass drought-induced needs

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Ethiopia
  • February 2019
The level of conflict-induced displacement needs begin to surpass drought-induced needs

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Partner
    Key Messages
    • The average Meher harvest replenished household stocks in Meher producing parts of the central and western parts of the country and major portions of these areas of the country will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity from February to September 2019. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to continue, however, in southeastern and northeastern Ethiopia through September 2019 due to drought and conflict related displacement.

    • In portions of the eastern lowlands of Oromia, eastern Amhara and southern Tigray, and conflict affected areas of SNNPR, and Oromia, Meher production is below average and access to food for the majority of households is constrained. These areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between February and September 2019. Southern parts of SNNPR and Oromia, southern and central Afar, northern Somali region of Shinile zone and major parts of eastern Amhara and southeastern Tigray will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from February to September 2019.

    • Conflict-induced displacement needs have increased across different parts of the country due to displacements that negatively affected households’ access to food and income – according to DTM 14, more than 3 million people were displaced from their homes by the end of 2018. This displacement limits livelihoods opportunities and restricts humanitarian access.  Some locations in Kemashe zone of Benshangul Gumuze, and Dawa zone of Somali region remain inaccessible until the end of 2018, hindering the delivery of much needed humanitarian assistance.


    Current Situation

    Seasonal Progress: In northern pastoral and Agro-pastoral areas of Afar and Fafan Zones in Somali region, the anticipated near normal short light Deda rains did not occur in January 2019. Moreover, the similarly light Sapie rains around mid-January did not rain in SNNPR, though, unseasonal rain experienced in October and November 2018, helped to improve the local WRSI.

    Most areas of the country that benefit from June to September 2018 Kiremt rains received average to above average rains. However, the lowlands of eastern Oromia, north eastern parts of Afar, eastern Amhara, and southern Tigray along the Tekeze catchment, experienced below normal cumulative and distribution of this rainfall. Despite sporadic atypical rain received in October 2018, these areas continue to be dominated by drier and hotter than normal climatic conditions.

    From the beginning of January to March, the season in the southeastern pastoral area has been referred to locally as the long dry Jilal season. This dry season began after the area received below-average October – December 2018 Deyr/Hageya rainfall and has resulted in limited regeneration of pasture and surface water in areas that are still recovering from the 2016/17 drought. Livestock from the nearby eastern areas where the Dyer rain season was below average migrated into the western livelihood zone that includes Filtu Dollo, Moyale Wayamo, and Afder Pastoral areas where pasture is relatively better - though this area is affected by ethnic tensions and is more insecure.

    In eastern and central Somali region, due to the limited availability of pasture and water, livestock body conditions have started to deteriorate. As the long dry Jilal season progress, livestock body conditions will continue to further reduce, and livestock market supplies are expected to increase, while prices will reduce farther. Seasonal rainfall between March and May is critically needed to improve body conditions, increase conceptions and improve livestock prices.

    In southern Afar and Sitti Zone of Somali Region (where seasonality is different than in the southeastern pastoral areas) poor households’ livestock holdings remain lower than normal (as herd sizes have not fully recovered following significant losses during the El Niño-related drought in 2015), access to food and income from the sale of livestock remains below average. This is also true for Southern Oromia pastoral areas of Borana and Guji zones where by livestock holdings remain lower than normal as households are still recovering from the 2016/17 drought.

    Recent Harvests: Overall national Meher crop production of 2018 is about average. Specifically, staple cereal crop production, mainly maize and sorghum, in most Meher-producing areas of Amhara, western Oromia Beshangul Gumuze, Gambela, Tigray, and western areas of SNNP regions is estimated to be average following the mostly favorable performance of the June to September 2018 Kiremt rainy season.

    However, there are areas where below average production reported in some eastern parts of the country. According to data from the Meher seasonal assessments, conducted in November/December 2018 indicate that, Meher 2018 cereal production in the West Hararghe zones of Oromia Region were 6 and 44 percent lower than last year and the recent five-year average

    respectively. In the north Wollo and Wag Himra Zones of Amhara Region, Meher 2018 production is estimated to be 44 and 31 percent lower than last year and the recent five-year average respectively. In the Wag Himra Zones of Amhara region, Meher 2018 production is estimated to be 6 percent higher than in 2017 and 42 percent lower than the five-year average. In the lowland areas of eastern and central Oromia, the lowland parts of Wag Himra Zone in Amhara Region, and localized areas of the Tekeze River catchments in Tigray Region, Meher 2018 production was below average.

    Chat and other irrigated periodic, annual, and perennial crops, vegetables, and fruits produced in East and West Hararghe zones of Oromia, Enset in Sidama, and Gedio Zone of SNNPR, were affected by frost, especially in the high and midlands. More than 18,000, and 14,958 hectares of enset from Sidama, and West Hararghe zones, respectively, were severely affected by the frost.

    The combination of erratic distribution of rainfall in some lowland areas of Haraghe, SNNPR, and parts of Amehara and Tigray, an infestation of Yellow Rust in the highland areas of Oromia and Amhara, unseasonable rains in October/November 2018, and conflicts among the different ethnic groups resulted in below-average total production in all crop types. However, crops like maize, sorghum, wheat and barley are the most affected crops.

    In Western and southwestern parts of the country, production of perineal crops including coffee, enset, and tree fruits are average to above-average due to generally conducive weather conditions. Similarly, most households obtained average to above-average production from root crops such as sweet potato, taro, and cassava. However, despite sweet potatoes planted in November 2019 having normal growth through January, due to the failure of Sapie rains in January the plants have started wilting and will be damaged severely if the Belg 2019 rains do not start early in southwestern SNNPR.

    Markets: Prices for major staple foods (sorghum, maize, and wheat grain) did not decline across most markets between December 2018 and January 2019, in line with seasonal trends due to conflict that disrupted markets combined with increase in transportation cost and low supply to the market in the eastern parts of the country where production was below average. Wholesale prices for sorghum were 10 to 20 and wheat grain were 30 to 40 percent above prices from January 2018 and the five-year average, respectively, in most major markets.

    In the eastern lowlands including east and west Hararghe, Dire Dewa, northern Somali and Harare Region, sorghum and maize are the major staples though production, specially of sorghum, in these areas did not meet local needs. Higher proportions of households are relying on cereals supplied from other parts of the country. Currently, sorghum prices are high. For example, compared to January 2018and the five-year average, sorghum prices are 47.2 and 45 percent higher, respectively.

    In central, northern, and southwestern parts of the country, supplies of food grain to the market seasonally increased following the Meher harvest in November and December 2018. However, the price of staple food remains stable compared to the

    December 2018 and that of last year, but much higher than the five-year average.  The price of wholesale maize in February in Hosanna market is 6, 1, and 30 percent higher than January 2019, February 2019 and the five-year average, respectively. When we see Ethiopian Trade and Business Corporation (ETBC) December 2018 sorghum price in Gonder market, Amhara Region,

    about nine and 74 percent higher than November 2018   and last five-year average price respectively. Similarly, ETBC price data for the month of December 2018 sorghum price at Mehoni market in Tigray was about, 61 and 64 percent higher December 2017 and last five-year average price respectively.

    Staple food prices have increased primarily because of sporadic civil unrest that disrupts market functioning and transportation of cost, in combination with fuel prices and the continued inflation of the Ethiopian birr.

    Livestock prices in southern pastoral areas are still stable while prices in central, northern and western areas are seeing improvements owing in part to the availability and regeneration of pasture and rangeland that helps to improve body conditions. Prices are below-average in parts of southeastern Somali as rangeland regeneration and water availability remains too low to improve livestock body conditions. For example, according to the Woreda Disaster Risk Management (DRM) office, goat prices in Chiro (west Hararghe) market were 25 percent higher in December 2018, compared to last year and 29 percent higher compared to the five-year average. In Gode -Shebele and Fike- Negobe markets, prices for average-sized locally consumed goats were reduced by 12.5 and 9 percent in December 2018 and January 2019 compared to September to October 2018 price respectively.

    Nutrition: Admissions into therapeutic feeding programs (TFP) remain above the six years average (2011-2016) across the country. In Somali Region overall, TFP admissions in October 2018 reached more than 6,673, which is 12 percent lower than in October 2017 but 198 percent higher than the six-year average.                                                                           

    Humanitarian Assistance: The level conflict-induced displacement needs have increased in 2019 compared to previous years, contributing more than a third of the acute food insecure population in the country. As reported by IOM-DTM round 14, conflict across different parts of the country currently become the leading cause of displacement for more than 3 million people. Since the release of DTM R14 report, there were new clashes in Central Gondar, Amhara region between   in February 2019 which resulted in the displacement of more than 44,708 individuals as per IOM DTM summary of Reports for the period from February 9-15, 2019. There are also areas that were not accessed by IOM including Dawa Zone of Somali and Kemashe Zone of Beshangul Gumize, that have an undetermined number of displaced people. These displacements, limits livelihoods opportunities and restrict access to humanitarian support. 44,708 individuals displaced from Central Gonder zone of Amhara region (East Dembia, West Dembia, chilga and Tseged Woredas) were reported to be within the same region (East Dembia, West Dembia, chilga and Lay Armacheho woredas). All the sites are accessible and the zonal and woreda administrations reported that the IDPs are in need of shelter and NFIs.

    In Dawa zone of Somali region, and Kemashe zone of Benshangul Gumuze, conflict has prevented humanitarian actors from doing an assessment and delivering much needed assistance since March 2018 in Dawa zone and October 2018 in Benishangul Gumuz to the eand of year 2018.

    However, in Dawa zone of Somali region WFP was able to begin distribution of food in 2019 following eleven months of disruptions due to insecurity in the region. Since January 15th, they have delivered over 1,000 metric tons of food to just under 200,000 beneficiaries in the zone.

    The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan released on March 7th estimates a total of 8.1 million people (2.8 million displaced persons, and 5.2 million non-displaced persons) will require humanitarian food assistance between February and June 2019.  The breakdown of humanitarian food assistance needs estimates by region is follows:  46 percent in Oromia, 22 percent in Somali, 12 percent in Amhara, 10 percent in SNNP, 4 percent each in Tigray and Afar regions, and the remaining beneficiaries comprise those in Gambela, Benishangul Gumuz, Harari and Dire Dawa.  However, the Response Plan does not show the requirement of assistance by IPC Phase (magnitude of the problem)


    The most-likely scenario from February to September 2019 is based on the following national-level assumptions:


    • The Gu/Genna/long rains (March to May 2019) are likely to be average with localized areas of dryness, based on the forecasted persistence of the ongoing El Niño through the March-April-May period, as well as neutral tending to positive IOD neutral over the Indian Ocean.
    • Belg (February to May 2019) rainfall is most likely to be average in Belg-producing areas of southwestern, central and northern Ethiopia.
    • The Dirac/Sugum rains (March to May 2019) in northern pastoral areas of Ethiopia are likely to be average.
    • Kiremt (June to September 2019) seasonal rainfall in Ethiopia is expected to be average.
    • Karan/Karma (July to September 2019) seasonal rainfall in Ethiopia is expected to be average.

    Pastoral Conditions:

    • In southeastern pastoral areas of Somali Region, southern Oromia, and southern SNNPR, pasture and water availability will begin to improve temporarily following the onset of Gu rainfall in March. The expected average Gu rains will result in average regeneration of water and pasture, which will support pasture and water needs of pastoralists and livestock during the dry season (between July and September 2019).
    • In northern pastoral areas of Afar and northern Somali, pasture and water availability will improve following the onset of Sugum/Dirac rainfall in March. The expected average Sugum/Dirac rains will support average levels of water and pasture availability, although forecasted hotter-than-normal temperatures through June 2019 will lead to earlier than normal deteriorations pasture and water conditions.
    • Livestock body conditions, production and productivity in northern pastoral areas will remain average throughout the scenario period. However, in southern and southeastern pastoral areas of the country, livestock body conditions and productivity will likely remain below average until the start of the Deyr/Hageya rains in October 2019.


    • Belg harvests starting in June expected to be near average in Belg-producing areas of SNNPR, parts of Gambella, and northern parts of the country such as eastern Amhara and southern Tigray.


    • Supplies of staple cereals on markets are expected to remain at seasonally normal levels in most parts of Amhara, Tigray, SNNPR and Oromia following the normal/average Meher 2018 harvests in most major cereal-producing areas of the country. However, sporadic and localized conflicts and continuous inflation of Ethiopian currency are will likely affect the supply to the local and national market. Moreover, staple cereals market supply will seasonally diminish prior to the start of Meher harvests in October 2019. Thus, staple cereals Market prices expected to remain at somewhat above average levels between February and September 2019.
    • Livestock prices are expected to be normal to above normal following the expected average Gu/Gena/long, Belg, Dirac/Sugum, Karan/Karma and Kiremt rains which will improve pasture and water availability that will in turn improves livestock body conditions.

    Labor Opportunities:

    • With an average performance of Belg rains, pre-harvest (planting and weeding) agricultural labor opportunities in Belg producing areas of the country are likely to be normal from February to May 2019. Moreover, due to the expected average Kiremt rains, agricultural labor opportunities are likely to be normal from June to September 2019 in Kiremt producing areas, resulting in average income from agricultural labor.


    • Acute watery diarrhea cases are likely to increase in parts of Somali, eastern Oromia, Afar, and Amhara Regions between February and September 2019, due to open water sources for human and animal consumption, potential risk of flooding and water shortages associated with warmer-than-normal surface temperatures over eastern and northern parts of the country, during the on-going dry season. 
    • PSNP resources are planned, funded, and likely to be transferred for about eight million chronically food insecure people in eight regions of the country for six rounds between January-June 2019. PSNP resource are expected to be a combination of cash and food grain.

    Humanitarian Assistance:

    • As per unofficial information from National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC,) and UNOCHA, Humanitarian Requirements estimate a total of 8.1 million people will require humanitarian food assistance between January and June 2019. Accordingly, between February and June 2019, JEOP, WFP, and NDRMC assistance is expected to address the need for the figure mentioned above, although delivery of this assistance is likely to be irregular and delayed. For the purposes of this scenario, no assistance is assumed beyond June as the appeal is expected to be revised after the Belg season and is yet to be funded. Though beneficiaries are not categorized by different level of IPC, the Government of Ethiopia through its NDRMC, expected to prioritize humanitarian assistance in the absence of full funding in order to prevent a more severe deterioration of outcomes.
    • Humanitarian partners in Ethiopia will continue to face access challenges for conflict related IDPS due to security related violence and tension for humanitarian assistance


    • Sporadic, localized conflict is likely to continue and to lead to additional displacement between February and September, in different parts of the country including along the Oromia and Somali, Oromia and Benishangul, Oromia and SNNPR, Afar and Somali and Amhara and Tigray Regional borders.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    As a result of below-average household access to food and income, households in the eastern half of the country will likely face livelihoods protection deficits and moderate food consumption gaps between February and May 2019. With forecasts for near average March to May 2019 Genna/Gu rains, pastural conditions, livestock body conditions, productivity, and prices will improve, which in turn slightly improve household access to food through purchase and nutritional statues until the end of the dry season in September 2019.

    Households food security is expected to remain stable from January to September 2019 particularly in the western and central surplus-producing areas of Oromia, western parts of SNNPR, Amhara, Gambela, Tigray and Benishangul Gumuz owing in part to the near-average October 2018- January 2019 Meher production. This has produced favorable pasture conditions that will address their food and non-food needs from their own production and from normal access to income from Meher crop and livestock sales. Thus, major portions of these areas of the country will remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity from February to September 2019.

    In Southeastern pastoral areas of the country (eastern parts of Somali), lowlands of Oromia (east and west Hararghe zones), northeastern Afar , Tekeze catchment areas of Amhara and Tigray, conflict affected areas of southern pastoral areas (Dawa Zone of Somali and Borena of Oromia),  areas bordering Guji zone of Oromia and Liben and Afder zones of Somali, areas bordering Guji zone of Oromia and Gedio Zone of SNNPR,  Kemashe Zone of Bshangul Gumuze bordering east and west Wollega Zone of Oromia and Cental Gondar Zone of Amhara) food access for poor and very poor households is currently constrained. Poor livestock body conditions have led to reductions in livestock to cereals terms of trade and low access to milk in pastoral areas. These households also face below-average production of staple foods, earlier than normal exhaustion of food stocks, in addition to significantly lower than normal access to income from harvest labor in agricultural areas, and intermittent ethnic clashes that erode farmers’ and pastoralists’ livelihoods. As a result, the majority of these areas will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between February and September 2019.

    However, southern and southeastern pastoral areas will likely see improved livestock body conditions, which will improve cash income and milk access for households, following the anticipated average Gana/Gu rain from March to May 2019. As a result, food security is expected to improve from Crisis (IPC phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) between June and September 2019 in central Somali and areas bordering Oromia and Somali region. Southern parts of SNNPR, Oromia, southern and central Afar, northern Somali region of Shinile zone and eastern Amhara and southern Tigray will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from February to September 2019.

    For information on specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of this page for the full report.

    Figures Map of Current food security outcomes, February 2019: Most of the western part of the country is in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) wit

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, February 2019

    Source: FEWS NET

    Title: Ethiopia seasonal calendar Description: Western agricultural areas in Ethiopia: Planting is from mid-April until mid-J

    Figure 2


    Source: FEWS NET

    Map showing October to December 2018 rainfall, anomaly in millimeters (mm) as a standard deviation (SD/z-score) from 2000-201

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. October to December 2018 rainfall, anomaly in millimeters (mm) as a standard deviation (SD/z-score) from 2000-2018 mean using Climate Hazards Group Precipitation with Stations (CHIRPS) data

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Graph showing TFP admissions in Somali Region : 2018 was above the 2011-2016 average, but followed seasonal trends

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. TFP admissions in Somali Region

    Source: ENCU

    Table 1: Number of people in need of humanitarian food assistance from January to June 2019

    Figure 5

    Table 1: Number of people in need of humanitarian food assistance from January to June 2019

    Source: UN OCHA

    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top