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In 2022, conflict and drought, coupled with poor macroeconomic conditions, will drive extremely high and persistent food assistance needs. In northern Ethiopia, food insecurity is expected to be most severe, with Extremely Critical levels of acute malnutrition and likely hunger-related mortality concentrated in Tigray. If conflict intensifies, the livelihoods of millions more people will be disrupted, with attendant rises in food insecurity including in typically food secure areas of the country.
Many areas of Tigray remain cut off from commercial and humanitarian supplies and agricultural activities, and income for market purchases is low while the de facto humanitarian blockade continues. Displaced populations face significant difficulty accessing food due to low income and limited supplies. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected with worst-affected households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). In Tigray, it is possible outcomes are worse than mapped, but evidence is insufficient to confirm or deny.
Conflict continues to spread in Amhara and is occurring at especially high levels in northeastern Amhara. The harvest is ongoing but is estimated to be well below-average and unlikely to lead to significant improvements in food security. In Afar, large-scale livestock losses are substantially limiting households' capacity to earn income. Across both these areas, market functioning is significantly disrupted, reducing access to a vital food source. While some aid has been distributed in areas of Afar, reports indicate that assistance has not been distributed in the last four months to areas of Amhara, particularly North Wollo and Wag Himra zones. In worst-affected areas of both regions, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are anticipated with worst-affected populations likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). In northeastern Amhara, it is possible that more severe outcomes could emerge if conflict restricts harvesting activities even more significantly than currently anticipated, there is prolonged substantial contraction of economic and market activities, and limited assistance reaches populations in need.
In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, October to December deyr/hageya rainfall is delayed and significantly below-average through mid-November. In some areas, rainfall deficits are substantial, marking the driest conditions for October in forty years and a third consecutive poor season. The impacts of drought are already visible, with diminishing pasture and water. Atypical livestock deaths have been reported in some southern areas such as Borena Zone of Oromia egion and Dawa Zone of Somali Region, and minimal to no improvements in livestock conditions are expected through late 2022 given the forecast for a poor March to May gu/gana season. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to be widespread, with worst-drought affected areas likely to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes starting in February 2022.
While the ongoing meher harvest is improving food access for many households across the country, the harvest is notably below average in areas of SNNPR, central Oromia, and the highlands of East and West Hararghe, and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present in the post-harvest period. On top of conflict and poor rainfall, poor macroeconomic conditions – driven by high government spending and low foreign reserves – are driving food prices higher across the country. High food prices – which are expected to persist throughout 2022 – are further limiting the capacity of many poor households across the country to purchase sufficient food to meet their needs.
*The year in which the highest level of humanitarian food assistance needs was recorded between 2014 and 2022, the time frame for which FEWS NET has comparable national needs estimates. Previously, the highest recorded needs were in 2016 following the El-Nino drought.
In northern Ethiopia, expanding and volatile conflict is significantly disrupting livelihood activities, driving displacement, and limiting humanitarian access. Tigray remains of highest concern. While the harvest has mitigated food consumption deficits for many households across the region, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes – at a minimum – are likely to persist. It is possible outcomes are worse, but evidence is insufficient to confirm or deny. In Amhara, where conflict is quickly widening to new areas, the harvest, labor migration, and market activities are being disrupted. In Wag Himra and North Wollo, the zones in which conflict and continued presence of armed combatants has most significantly disrupted livelihood activities and led to the destruction of assets, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are anticipated. More severe outcomes could emerge in Amhara if conflict significantly restricts access to crops; creates a prolonged and substantial contraction in economic and marketing activities; and food assistance does not reach populations for a prolonged period. In Afar, households have experienced large-scale livestock losses and displacement coupled with significant market disruption, driving Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. In all regions of northern Ethiopia, there are likely households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).
Conflict in northern Ethiopia has displaced over 2 million people as of late August, though the actual number of displaced is likely higher and has further grown with conflict through October. Some estimates indicate 700,000 people were displaced from Dessie and Kombolcha towns alone in late October as a result of the uptick in conflict as the Tigrayan Forces moved into South Wello and took control of Dessie and Kombolcha towns. Conflict was relatively low in most of Afar and Tigray in October, though previous conflict in both regions has resulted in large-scale loss of assets, limited economic and market activity, and low ability to earn income. Humanitarian access in these areas is also significantly constrained, with humanitarians reducing operations in Tigray due to an inability to transport resources, including food assistance and fuel, into the region. Since mid-August, no fuel for humanitarian use has entered Tigray, and no trucks carrying humanitarian aid have entered Tigray since mid-October.
FEWS NET anticipates that conflict and insecurity will persist, and economic activities will remain limited. Many poor households are still expected to engage in agricultural activities and income-earning activities to some degree, notably in areas where the presence of combatants is low, or conflict has subsided. However, the availability of cash is low, and market functioning is expected to remain limited. The lack of banking, electricity, and communication services will limit labor demand, and many people are likely to rely on bartering and other informal means to access some food. Displaced populations will face the most significant difficulty accessing income to purchase food.
Even in typical years, when there are no significant shocks, poor households in Tigray and Amhara exhaust their crops by March/April – or sooner in some areas – and rely on off-own-farm income and PSNP to meet their minimum food needs. In 2021, access to harvests will be significantly lower given conflict-related disruptions either before (in Tigray) or during (in Amhara) the season. In Afar, while some displaced populations have recently returned to their area of origin, access to food and cash is low due to diminished herds. Subsequently, poor households across northern Ethiopia will remain reliant on markets – but with low income – and humanitarian food assistance. While humanitarian food assistance distributions are expected to continue, significant constraints are limiting the capacity of humanitarians to respond. Multiple reports have indicated increasing levels of acute malnutrition. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes – at a minimum – are expected in Tigray, where the length and severity of the impacts of the conflict has been most extreme. In northeastern Amhara and Zones 2 and 4 of Afar, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist. In all three regions there are worst-affected households likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), with the largest share of these households in Tigray. In northeastern Amhara, particularly North Wollo and Wag Himra, there is the potential for worse outcomes to emerge in the event that many households face significant difficulty accessing food from own harvests and markets; prolonged conflict limits households’ capacity to engage in income-earning activities; and humanitarian assistance and PSNP does not reach populations in need. An end to the conflict and unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance is urgently needed in northern Ethiopia to save lives.
In October, the meher harvest is ongoing while the delayed belg harvest is also wrapping up, improving food access for millions in western and central cropping areas of Ethiopia. Despite this, humanitarian assistance needs in Ethiopia remain very high. This is primarily driven by conflict in northern Ethiopia, drought in central, southern, and eastern areas, and the poor macroeconomy. The conditions in northern Ethiopia remain of highest concern; however, there is now increased concern for the southern and southeastern pastoral areas with the extremely poor start of the deyr season.
Conflict: Conflict has occurred at extremely high levels across Ethiopia in 2021. Between June and September, conflict events have been five times more frequent than during the same period in 2020, resulting in 13 times the number of fatalities compared to the same time last year. Between late July and mid-October, ground fighting between the TPLF and ENDF notably declined, except in areas bordering Eritrea and Southern Tigray, but in late October airstrikes occurred mainly on military targets. While there has been relative calm in Tigray and population movement is possible, humanitarians and traders face extreme difficulty bringing supplies into the region.
Conflict expanded into areas of Afar and Amhara in July and August, resulting in disruption to livelihood activities and the ongoing agricultural season, and large-scale displacement and livestock loss. In October, conflict was concentrated in North Wollo, Wag Himra, and South Wollo zones of Amhara (Figure 1). The OLA, an Oromo militia, claimed control of Kemise, Segbete, and some neighboring areas of Amhara. The government imposed a state of emergency on November 2, resulting in the closure of government institutions, an 8 pm curfew, and a call to arms for civilians. Additionally, short-notice roadblocks and movements restrictions are likely. In Afar, conflict subsided in September as the offensive shifted southward. In October, conflict was relatively low, concentrated in a few woredas in areas where the Amhara, Tigray, and Afar borders come together.
Outside of northern Ethiopia, conflict is also occurring across Metekel Zone of Benishangul-Gumuz, western Oromia, SNNPR, Sidama, and a few other localized areas (Figure 2). Where it exists, conflict continues to disrupt livelihood activities for millions of households, including the ongoing harvest, market functioning and trade activities.
Displacement: Conflict-related displacement is also very high. Displaced households typically face difficulty engaging in their normal livelihood activities, having lost access to their land, often their livestock, and their social support. The loss of these critical livelihood assets puts them at a disadvantage and makes it difficult for them to engage in most agricultural and income-generating activities.
According to the IOM, as of August 2021, the total internally displaced population in Ethiopia is estimated to be around 4.17 million. The total displaced population is likely higher as it is not possible to conduct full assessments in many areas that are hard to reach, and displacement is fluid due to the volatility of conflict. There are likely new high levels of displacement in South Wollo Zone of Amhara as conflict has rapidly increased, with anecdotal reports indicating that as many as 700,000 people were already displaced in late October. Households displaced from Afar largely returned to their place of origin as conflict has been relatively lower in September and October.
Most of the displaced population in Benishangul Gumuz have returned to their place of origin and started re-engaging in their typical livelihood activities. However, most households had difficulty accessing agricultural inputs limiting their full engagement in the agricultural season.
According to UNHCR, as of September 30, the total refugee and asylum-seeking population is nearly 800,000. Most refugees originate from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan. The rate of arrival has slowed since November 2020, mostly among Sudanese and Eritrean populations. The main food and non-food sources for refugees is humanitarian assistance.
Rainfall: June to September kiremt/karma rainfall was generally favorable across the country; however, in areas of the central and eastern Oromia and the Rift Valley areas of Sidama and SNNPR, and Central Tigray, rainfall performed poorly. While rainfall was relatively more favorable late in the season, in August and September, overall kiremt rainfall in these areas was below average, which had significant impacts on crop development (Figure 3). Despite the poor rainfall in Gambella, available water was still sufficient for normal crop development.
October to December deyr/hageya rainfall is delayed and has performed very poorly to date, with prolonged dry conditions observed in many southern and southeastern pastoral areas. Based on observed and forecast rainfall estimates, between October 1 and November 15, rainfall was at least 60 percent lower than normal (Figure 4). Rainfall deficits are the largest in areas bordering Somalia and northeast Kenya. October is one of the most critical months for rainfall during the deyr/hageya season and without significant rainfall in the coming weeks, substantial deficits would occur and failure of the season would be possible.
Crop pests and disease: According to FAO, as of early November, there were reports of a few desert locust swarms in Afar and Somali regions. Swarms have likely formed in northern conflict-affected areas, though this cannot be confirmed due to limited access. Overall, desert locust swarm formation and spread is much lower than in the past two years. There are no other reports of large-scale crop pest or disease outbreaks.
Crop production: Assessed 2021 belg production was below average; the meher production will also be below average due to the compounding impacts of conflict, poor rainfall, and unfavorable macroeconomic conditions. The belg harvest wrapped up in September, over a month late, and is estimated to be below average. It is likely that there was minimal to no harvest in some northern belg-producing areas due to poor rainfall and conflict.
National meher production will likely be significantly below average. Despite the high cost of agricultural inputs and lower than average income among many households, the favorable rainfall supported engagement in the 2021 agricultural season in most western areas of the country; however, in West Tigray and some other isolated areas engagement in the season was lower than
normal. Long-cycle meher planting was timely and near average in most western surplus-producing areas. However, national production is assessed to be overall below-average for three main reasons. Firstly, in central and eastern areas of the country, planting of long-cycle meher crops was generally below average due to below-average belg rainfall, which facilitates planting. Because of the poor belg rainfall, many farmers in eastern and some central areas of the country shifted to planting short cycle meher crops, but the extent of area planted was still below average nationally. Secondly, across all conflict-affected areas, including northern Ethiopia and localized areas of western Oromia, southern SNNPR, and Benishangul Gumuz, the conflict drove the declines in cropping activities. Lastly, below average access to agricultural inputs negatively affected the capacity to plant among some poor households.
Currently, crops are in the green and dry harvest stages across most areas. But in areas of the Rift Valley in SNNPR, Sidama and Oromia and the lowlands of Guji, Bale, and East and West Hararghe zones cropping conditions are poor, with reports of crop failure in localized areas.
In Tigray, crop production was significantly disrupted due to displacement, lack of agricultural inputs, and oxen for plowing. Moreover, in central Tigray, poor kiremt rains are expected to reduce yields, even where households were able to plant. In Wag Himra and North Wollo zones of Amhara, while planting and cropping conditions were generally normal through July, many crops were looted or destroyed, driving significant crop losses. More recently, conflict in South Wollo and the State of Emergency have limited the ongoing harvest for some households, notably along major roadways where conflict is concentrated and for those who have to travel long distances to access their fields. Furthermore, the State of Emergency limits households’ ability to travel to search for harvesting labor activities in surplus producing areas of the country.
In cropping areas of Somali Region, due to the poor start of the deyr/hageya, land preparation and planting of crops is ongoing but at levels well below average.
Pasture and water condition: Most southern and southeastern pastoral areas have experienced two consecutive below-average seasons: the 2020 deyr/hageya and 2021 gu/genna. Poor conditions from these seasons and now the poor start to the 2021 deyr/hageya season are driving low pasture and water availability. In localized areas of the Hawd/Ogaden Plateau in Somali Region, where rainfall was somewhat better during the 2021 gu/genna, some pasture was available in August and September; however, with the delay of the deyr, pasture is now limited. Pasture and water availability are also limited in the Rift Valley areas of Oromia; southern Oromia; low-lying woredas of Guji and East Bale zones of Oromia; and Afder, Dawa, and Liben of Somali Region. Conversely, pasture and water availability in northern pastoral areas are above average due to favorable June to September karma rains. In the rest of the country, vegetation conditions are average to above average.
Livestock conditions and migration: Currently, livestock are atypically migrating in areas of Borena Zone in search of pasture and water. Most livestock are migrating from the southern to northern areas of the zone, specifically areas that border West Guji and Guji zones, where pasture is relatively better. In Bale and Guji zones, while pasture conditions are poorer in the low-lying areas, pastoral households are able to move to high and mid-lying areas where pasture is relatively better. Similarly, livestock migration is atypically occurring from parts of Liban, Afder, and Dawa to the Dawa River Valley in search of pasture and water sources.
In pastoral areas of the lowlands in Oromia, primarily East and West Hararghe, Bale, Guji, and Borena zones and bordering areas of Somali Region, as well as across Somali Region, livestock body conditions are poor and declining, and conceptions, births, and milk production are low. According to the government, as of November 4, about 36,804 cows and calves had died in Borena due to poor pasture and water availability. Humanitarians distributed livestock feed to some areas in Borena Zone in late-October, driving some improvements. In Somali Region and the Rift Valley areas of Oromia specifically, camel and goat conditions are generally good to fair, while the conditions of cows and sheep are poor.
Across northern pastoral areas, herd sizes are below average due to recurrent drought, though livestock body conditions and milk production improved with the favorable 2021 karma/keren season. The lower herd sizes are driving overall lower milk production and fewer-than-normal conceptions and births. That said, conditions among available herds are still favorable.
Based on anecdotal information, due to conflict in July in Afar, displaced households had a near-total loss of livestock herds. In areas of Afar adjacent to Tigray, where households are primarily pastoral, many households have fled without their livestock to central Afar and the adjoining areas of Amhara. In Tigray and conflict-affected areas of Amhara, livestock herd sizes are limited due to significant looting and slaughtering by armed forces.
Macroeconomy: Macroeconomic conditions remain poor due to the shortage of foreign currency, high debt burden, the decline in loan and budget support, and increased national spending on the conflict. The conflict continues to cause political and economic instability resulting in reduced functioning of small businesses, factories, and trade and – subsequently – a decline in foreign currency earnings. Additionally, the anticipated termination of Ethiopia from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) program in January 2022, announced in early November, is expected to negatively affect wage employment in construction, manufacturing, the service sectors, and governmental export earnings. The annual inflation rate is high, and the depreciation of the ETB continues. According to the Central Statistics Agency, annual inflation in September was 34.8 percent (Figure 6). This is the highest inflation rate reported since February 2012, with the annual inflation rate rising for the sixth consecutive month. The high and increasing inflation rate is primarily driven by food inflation.
The exchange rate of the ETB on the official market was 45.81 ETB/USD in September, two percent higher than in August and over 25 percent higher than the same time last year. While no official estimates are available, FEWS NET understands that the ETB on the parallel market is depreciating at a high and increasing rate, likely higher than on the official market.
Fuel availability is irregular both at formal and informal markets. Fuel shortages are frequently observed in Gambella and in towns in Somali Region. Despite the volatility in supply, fuel prices are generally stable in most markets, though above average. Diesel prices in October in Shashemene, Bahir Dar, and Degahbour markets are over 20 percent higher than the same time last year, and prices are over 30 percent above last year in Gambella. In Tigray, the availability of fuel is extremely limited, and, according to OCHA, the price of benzene in Shire market was around 2,300 percent higher in October than in June; in Mekele market over the same period, it was more than 360 percent higher.
Flow and supply of commodities: Movement of goods from surplus to deficit-producing areas across the country is occurring according to typical patterns in much of the country, with the notable exception of areas affected by conflict in northern Ethiopia. As the new harvest has not yet fully started, the supply of grain to central and eastern non-conflict affected areas remains below average. Typically, staple foods move from surplus-producing western Tigray, western and central Amhara, and central markets. Currently, all the trade routes into Tigray and neighboring areas of Amhara, Afar, and Tigray are closed. In remote areas and small towns in conflict-affected areas of Amhara, Afar, and Tigray, staple food supplies in markets are likely minimal to nonexistent (Figure 7).
Staple food prices: Staple food prices slightly declined or remained stable from August to September in most central, southern, and western markets due to the start of the green harvest; however, prices have not yet started their typical seasonal decline in eastern markets. Across the country, prices remain significantly above average. The high food prices are largely due to the poor macroeconomic conditions and below average belg and meher production. In Nekemte market in southwestern Ethiopia, a surplus producing area of the country, maize prices are nearly 150 percent above average. September prices for teff, sorghum, and wheat in Addis Ababa were as high as 140 percent above average (Figure 8). In Dire Dawa, in eastern Ethiopia, maize prices in September were over 150 percent above average (Figure 9).
In northern Ethiopia, staple food prices are high not only due the macroeconomy and poor production, but also due to restricted market activity and the reduced number of traders willing to travel to these areas due to conflict. In Mekele, September sorghum prices were nearly 55 percent above last year and 70 percent above the five-year average. Similarly, in Wag Himra, South Wollo, and North Wollo zones, the most conflict-affected areas of Amhara, prices are more than 75 percent above average. It is expected that prices in conflict-affected areas of northern Ethiopia are generally not as high as in other conflict-affected areas or the rest of the country due to a lack of effective demand since most households do not have sufficient cash to purchase food.
Livestock market supply and prices: Livestock market supplies are generally average across most of the country, with prices following seasonal trends. However, in Tigray and adjacent areas of Amhara and Afar, livestock market supply is limited to nonexistent due to market disruptions. As a result, prices of livestock and livestock products in these areas are somewhat lower due to low effective demand. In central and southern Afar and northern parts of Somali, the number of livestock sold per household remains lower than normal as herd sizes are small.
Overall, current livestock prices in southern and southeastern pastoral areas are generally stable or slightly lower than in recent months due to declines in body conditions. While prices remain above last year and the five-year average, average terms of trade (ToT) are lower than normal due in large part to the relatively steeper increase in staple food prices. In Chereti market in Somali Region, the sale of one goat in September of 2021 generated enough cash to purchase about 60 kg of maize, which is nearly 35 percent below last year and 25 percent below the five-year average (Figure 10).
Agricultural and labor income: Labor demand generally remains normal in western areas of the country aside from in western Tigray, where labor demand is low. In some western areas, labor supply is lower than normal due to conflict and limited labor migration. Furthermore, the economic conditions are driving somewhat lower than average labor opportunities across the country. The average national labor wage rate ranged from around 150 to 190 ETB/day between January and September 2021, while in Addis Ababa and surrounding areas, labor wages ranged from 160 to 270 ETB/day during the same period. On average across the country, casual labor wage rates increased by nearly 43 percent between January 2020 and October 2021. The wage rate increase is driven primarily by Addis Ababa and Warder, where wages rates have increased by over 200 percent since January 2021. Nominal increases are likely due to the high cost of living.
Due to conflict, the movement of people has been constrained; income from agricultural and migratory labor is well below average to nonexistent, especially in Wollega Zone in Oromia, in eastern Amhara, and in most of Tigray. In addition, labor demand has been severely curtailed in Western Tigray, where a large migratory labor pool typically depends on seasonal employment on the large sesame farms in this area. Production, and associated hiring, has not occurred this year due to displacement and lack of investment. As a result, households in eastern parts of the country who rely on income from seasonal migratory labor to these areas are facing severe reductions in income from agricultural employment.
Across the country, income from daily labor is below average due to disruptions in the seasonal labor market resulting from conflict and associated distortions. Labor demand in coffee-producing areas of the south and southwest is average. However, in most parts of central and eastern Oromia, the Rift Valley areas of SNNPR, and Sidama, labor demand declined due to the poor belg followed by the below average meher production. Labor demand on the state and private farms in southern Afar is lower than normal because irrigation systems are still being repaired following the destruction from flooding in 2020. As a result, poorer households in Afar who depend on seasonal agricultural labor to generate cash at this time of year are facing below-average income due to a reduced number of days available for work. Remittances from people who migrated to Arab countries have declined as migrants from these areas were returned, but remittances from Europe and the US are likely near normal and increasing in an effort to support conflict-affected populations. At the same time, conflict-affected populations face challenges collecting remittances as financial and banking sectors have been disrupted. Internal remittances from urban areas to rural areas are lower than usual due to the atypically high cost of living urban households face.
Humanitarian Assistance: Across much of the country, Round 3 and Round 4 distributions are ongoing normally with the exception of northern Ethiopia, where assistance delivery has been significantly disrupted due to continuing conflict and supply constraints into and within Tigray. Beneficiaries are meant to receive a distribution every six weeks; however, due to delays in distribution, rations are stretched for an extended period of time, notably in Tigray, as well as in Wag Himra and North Wello zones of Amhara Region.
In Tigray, humanitarian food supplies were depleted in August, at which point, humanitarians started relying on trucks transporting goods along the Semera-Abala-Mekele road, a notoriously slow and difficult route. According to OCHA, as of November 1, nearly 1,115 trucks have entered Tigray since mid-July, estimated to account for only around 15 percent of the trucks required to mount a sufficient response to meet estimated needs. Furthermore, minimal fuel availability is hampering the response within Tigray. As of October 27, Round 2 assistance had reached over 4.8 million people, with only 38,395 people reached by Round 3 assistance. Humanitarians were able to reach some populations with Round 2 (launched in mid-May) and Round 3 distributions (launched in mid-October); that assistance would meet over 60 percent of kilocalorie needs under the assumption that beneficiaries consume that assistance over a six-week period, in line with the original intention of assistance delivery. This also assumes no sharing of assistance (Figure 11). However, available reporting suggests that households are receiving a distribution every five months and spreading assistance over this longer period of time, which would equate to a ration size of less than 20 percent of required kilocalories per month. It is also worth noting that there are ground reports of instances of looting and diversion of assistance, which suggests assistance is likely covering an even lower percentage of the kilocalorie requirements. Since September, as humanitarian supplies are limited, beneficiaries have likely received a ration that covers up to 80 percent of their kilocalorie needs; however, this assumes no level of sharing and is minimal compared to the need in Tigray (Figure 12).
In Afar, as conflict has subsided, humanitarians and the government have started distributing assistance with 138,253 assisted in September and October. In conflict-affected areas of Amhara, including North Wollo and Wag Himra zones, assistance has not been distributed since July because access is limited. In less conflict-affected areas of Amhara, assistance continues to be distributed, though as conflict continues to spread in Amhara humanitarian access is becoming increasingly constrained. Between early August and late October, humanitarians reached 872,244 people in accessible areas of Amhara as part of Round 3 distribution.
Nutrition: Acute malnutrition is high in conflict-affected Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions due to inadequate access to food, along with limited availability of and access to nutrition and health services. A significant number of nutrition and health facilities are not functioning. Based on unusually high admissions of severe and moderate acute malnutrition cases, and very high proxy Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence recorded from recent nutrition screening in accessible areas, it is likely that many woredas in Tigray have continued to experience the high levels of acute malnutrition measured in June, with atypically high Critical levels (GAM (WHZ) 15 to 29.9 percent) of acute malnutrition in many areas, and Extremely Critical levels (GAM (WHZ) ≥30 percent) of acute malnutrition in IDP sites and some other rural areas are possible. Acute malnutrition in non-conflict affected areas, particularly the eastern half of the country, is also of high concern. The 2021 SAM admissions are at very high levels (Figure 13). Over 40 percent of the total SAM admissions were from Oromia, followed by Somali and SNNP regions. Nutrition outcomes are expected to improve in the coming months with the availability of the harvest in most western and central parts of the country.
Current food security outcomes: Despite October typically being the harvest period, millions of people across Ethiopia, especially in northern Ethiopia, face moderate to large consumption gaps due to extreme and sustained losses in access to food and cash income in conflict-affected areas over the past year. In conflict-affected areas of Tigray and adjacent areas of Amhara and Afar Emergency (IPC Phase 4) area-level outcomes with Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) among some households is likely, with associated high levels of acute malnutrition and excess mortality. More severe outcomes are possible in Tigray, but information is insufficient to confirm or deny. In Western Tigray and other areas in Amhara, although larger farms are not operating, market functioning is relatively higher, and given relatively better movement, populations residing in this area who were able to plant were likely able to obtain some harvest for their households. Outcomes are somewhat better than in other parts of Tigray, though food assistance needs still exist and are substantially higher than normal.
In northern pastoral areas not affected by conflict, below-average herd sizes, poor milk production, and low income from livestock coupled with high food prices are resulting in limited purchasing power. Additionally, the conflict between the Afar and Somali ethnic groups has also disrupted market functioning and access to grazing land. In some areas of southern Afar adjacent to Amhara and northern Somali of Fafan Zone, market access is relatively better and households' purchasing power and associated access to food, is somewhat better. As a result, these areas of the country are facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
Food and cash income access are lower than typical for this time of year in southern and southeastern pastoral areas due to declining livestock body conditions and in the reduced value of livestock assets. While livestock prices are higher than last year and higher than the five-year average, increases in staple food prices have outstripped those of livestock, reducing the amount of food households can obtain with the sale of their livestock. Furthermore, there are reports of households atypically selling livestock and other assets to purchase food. As a result, poor households with low livestock assets are facing difficulty accessing income to buy food to meet their needs and are beginning to engage in unsustainable livestock sales. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are ongoing across most areas.
In lowland areas of Guji, Bale, and East and West Hararghe of Oromia, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are ongoing driven by the lower-than-normal harvest coupled with the low income from labor and livestock sales. In Guji Zone, conflict with neighboring areas of SNNPR has disrupted the agricultural season and market activities. In the rest of SNNPR, Sidama, and cropping areas of Oromia, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are present.
While some conflict continues in western Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz, it has not significantly disrupted the harvest. Across most of the western half of the country, the harvest supports household consumption of food and income from crop sales. As a result, most of these areas are in Minimal (IPC Phase 1).
The most-likely scenario from October 2021 to May 2022 is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- The October to December 2021 deyr/hageya and March to May 2022 gu/genna seasons in southern and southeastern pastoral areas are expected to be below average. This is expected to mark the third and fourth consecutive poor seasons, respectively.
- February to May 2022 Belg/Sugum/Diraac seasonal rainfall is forecast to be below-average in belg-receiving and northern pastoral areas. Based on the forecast and lower than normal income for many households, land preparation and area planted for the belg is expected to be below average.
- While the 2021 deyr/hageya rainfall is expected to lead to short-term improvements in pasture and water availability, overall poor vegetation conditions are likely through March 2022, with limited pasture expected during the January to March dry season (jilaal). While the 2022 gu/genna rainfall is expected to be below average, some improvement in pasture is expected; however, pasture is still likely to remain below average.
- Pasture in northern pastoral areas will most likely be favorable through December 2021 due to near normal rainfall during the June to September 2021 period. Nevertheless, due to the anticipated below-average March to May 2022 rainfall, pasture availability will atypically deplete to below-average levels from January 2022 onward.
- Livestock body conditions and productivity in southern and southeastern pastoral areas are likely to be below average throughout the projection period, which will see the third and fourth consecutive below-average seasons. Further deterioration is expected during the jilaal period, with atypical livestock deaths likely. Overall, low conception and birth rates and higher livestock mortality is likely to result in reduced herd sizes that will led to low milk production and reductions in livestock-related income.
- In northern pastoral areas, livestock body conditions and productivity are anticipated to remain near average following the average karma/karen rainfall. However, it is not expected to improve calving, lambing, kidding, milk, and other livestock production due to low conception rates; herd sizes are most likely to show a slight decline due to the low birthing rate between March to May 2021.
- Livestock prices are likely to follow normal seasonal trends remaining above average across most of the country, with the exception of northern Ethiopia. However, in Somali Region and the lowlands of Oromia, livestock prices are expected to decline through April 2022 before livestock demand increases with the Hajj in April 2022. Overall, prices are expected to remain above average.
- Desert locust swarms are expected to continue to be present in Ethiopia despite ongoing control measures. The risk of damaging pasture, browse, and crops is likely, but the level of damage is anticipated to be lower compared to previous years as forecast rainfall does not support desert locust development. Desert locusts are anticipated to lay eggs with available moisture in Somali Region through December 2021, which will likely hatch between March and May 2022. The risk will remain in eastern Ethiopia.
- Macroeconomic conditions are expected to continue to deteriorate due to the cuts in budget support, the anticipated termination of Ethiopia from the AGOA, high government spending related to the ongoing conflict and government debt repayment requirements. This is expected to drive further depreciation of the ETB on the parallel and formal markets and a high inflation rate through at least mid-2022. The official exchange rate depreciation is likely to continue at least by 2 percent every month. The continued currency depreciation and limited access to hard currencies is expected to limit imports, including staple food from the international market. The government is anticipated to lift taxes imposed on imported food and some economically essential items, including fuel and agricultural inputs.
- Supply into the conflict-affected areas of northern Ethiopia is expected to remain disrupted, and the flow of commodities will most likely be limited but will not cease altogether due to a few risk-taking traders.
- Due to political tension and conflict, trade flows and market supply of staple foods and livestock are expected to be disrupted in both surplus producing and deficit areas. Additionally, market supply of locally produced foods in deficit-producing areas is expected to be below average.
- With anticipated macroeconomic deterioration, international food imports, mainly wheat, will likely remain below average and will likely compound domestic supply shortages. Transportation costs are likely to increase with the anticipated increase in fuel prices due to high import costs associated with the lack of hard currency.
- A slight decline or stabilization in staple food prices is expected with the meher harvest through January 2022. After January, prices are expected to increase (Figure 14). Regardless of these seasonal trends, prices will remain significantly above average across the projection period. In conflict-affected areas, prices are expected to further increase with minimal seasonal impacts.
- Purchasing power in southern and southeastern pastoral areas is expected to be below average due to very high food prices with livestock prices not keeping pace. In northern pastoral areas, particularly those adjacent to Tigray Region, for households that had livestock looted and killed, limited access to livestock-related income is anticipated during this reporting period. However, in central and southern parts of Afar, the terms of trade are expected to be relatively better due to higher income from livestock sales as most markets are expected to function normally.
- Migratory agricultural labor opportunities and wages are anticipated to be below average due to conflict and the poor macroeconomy with limited opportunities in some areas.
- Local agricultural labor in non-conflict affected meher producing areas and where kiremt rainfall is conducive for harvest activities between October 2021 and January 2022, particularly those in southern, southwestern, and western parts of the country (aside from western Tigray), is expected to be average. Agricultural labor is likely to be below average in southern and southwestern parts of the country. In the worst conflict-affected areas where the meher production was poor, local agricultural labor availability is anticipated to remain limited. Overall, wage rates are likely to be below average due to the expected reductions in labor demand and associated relative increase in labor supply.
- Household income from self-employment opportunities, including petty trading and street vending, and construction labor are expected to improve slightly and to be short-lived because of a below-average national meher harvest; however, in conflict-affected northern Ethiopia, income from these sources is anticipated to continue to be extremely limited.
- The frequency and quantity of remittances from Middle Eastern and neighboring countries are expected to remain below average throughout this reporting period; however, remittances from western countries are expected to increase. Households in the most severely affected conflict areas will find it difficult to receive these remittances given disruptions to electricity, telecommunications and the banking sector. Internal remittances from urban to rural areas, an important income source for many poor households, are likely to be lower than normal due to the high cost of living in urban areas.
- Conflict is likely to continue expanding and remain volatile in Amhara and move into Oromia. Moreover, given the presence of armed actors, the infiltration into areas of western Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz, where security forces have a limited presence, is likely. In Afar, key highways are likely to be disrupted.
- Inter-communal and ethnic violence between government-sanctioned regional militias, ethnic militias, and separatist political militias in several areas of the country has increased steadily since November 2020. Such incidences of conflict are likely to continue increasing as opportunities arise for ethnic and separatist political militias to assert themselves. At the same time, federal resources, funds, and armed forces are largely directed towards the conflict in Tigray, Amhara, and Afar.
- The number of IDPs is expected to increase with the anticipated increase in conflict due to political instability, competition for access to grazing areas and waterpoints, and regional and country boundary disputes. IDPs are likely to flee to Addis and other larger towns where conflict is not occurring.
- Resource-based tensions stemming from competition over rangeland and water in lowland southern pastoral areas bordering Somali and Oromia is likely to occur throughout the projection period at levels seen in other years when there were two consecutive poor rainy seasons, as was the case in 2015/16 and 2010/11.
- In much of the country, PSNP transfers will likely begin in early 2022 and continue through July 2022. In Tigray and conflict-affected areas of Afar and Amhara, PSNP is likely to continue to be distributed alongside humanitarian assistance, but with disruptions to assistance delivery due to conflict. All PSNP beneficiaries are not anticipated to be reached at the required levels due to the need for travel in distribution sites, displacement, and associated targeting issues.
- Based on historical trends, irregular and delayed assistance delivery is likely. Humanitarian food operators are expected to distribute only five rounds out of the planned seven rounds of distribution in 2021, and prioritization of responses are likely due to the expected limited funding available to cover the entire need across the country. In conflict-affected areas of Tigray and adjacent areas of Afar and Amhara, significant limitations on the deliveries of humanitarian assistance are likely to continue due to the anticipation of continued conflict and limited access.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Record-high levels of acute food insecurity are expected in Ethiopia through at least mid-2022, with northern Ethiopia of highest concern. The high level of need is due to the compounding impacts of conflict, drought, and poor macroeconomic conditions.
In northern Ethiopia, conflict is likely to persist throughout the projection period. The impacts of conflict – which will include continued disruption to trade flows and market functioning and minimal economic activity that will in turn limit income earning – will come on top of already significant losses to food and income. While the harvest will improve access to food for many, the impacts will be short-lived and unevenly distributed. In areas that have seen the most significant disruptions to food and income sources and where conflict is likely to continue, namely most of Tigray and northeastern Amhara, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist. In Tigray it is possible outcomes are worse, but evidence is insufficient to confirm or deny. Although not the most likely scenario, in northeastern Amhara, more severe outcomes could emerge if there is a significant uptick in conflict for an extended period of time that limits households’ capacity to engage in income-earning, market, and agricultural activities, and humanitarian assistance and PSNP does not reach populations into early 2022. In Afar, households have experienced large-scale livestock losses and displacement coupled with significant market disruption, driving Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. In all three regions, there are likely households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).
Most southern and southeastern pastoral areas are expected to face declines in food and cash income as four consecutive below-average seasons are expected. In the October to January period, households are expected to atypically sell livestock to purchase food but given likely poor livestock value relative to high food prices, income earned through sales will be insufficient to meet food needs. In early 2022, even with some regeneration of pasture expected, livestock conditions will continue to be poorer than normal. Atypical livestock deaths are expected. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in Borena Zone of Oromia, and Dawa, Liban, and Afder zones in Somali Region starting in early 2022.
Across the rest of the country, food security is expected to be relatively better, though assistance needs still exist in some areas. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in lowland areas of East and West Hararghe, Bale, and Guji zones of Oromia as a result of below-average harvests and anticipated low income from livestock sales. In most northern pastoral areas not affected by conflict, access to milk production for consumption and cash income is still expected to be lower than average and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely in most areas. Across belg and meher crops dependent areas of SNNPR, Sidama mainly along the Rift Valley area and South Wello Zone of Amhara Region, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to emerge in February as households deplete below-average harvests earlier than normal and face high market prices to meet their food needs.
Conflict is anticipated to be volatile and to generally increase in 2022, notably as the Tigrayan and Oromo forces attempt to move into Oromia. There is a risk of more widespread conflict across the country. This would translate into potential economic and related food insecurity for millions more people in the country, including in typically food secure areas.
Events that Might Change the Outlook
Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.
Impact on food security outcomes
Addis Ababa and surrounding areas
TDF and OLA surround Addis and limit the movement of goods
This would lead to declines in market supplies and increased food prices. There would likely be some unrest in Addis, migration out of Addis, and increased food insecurity, both in terms of severity and magnitude.
Southern and southeastern pastoral areas
Failed October to December deyr rainfall
While the current October to December rains are expected to be below average, the current scenario is not built on the expectation of failed rainfall. Should rainfall be significantly below average (<50 percent), more widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would be likely.
Southern and southeastern pastoral areas
Average March to May gu 2022 rainfall
Increases in pasture and water availability would support improvements in livestock body condition; however, productivity would be below average due to the impact of previous poor seasons. Overall, milk yield per cow and income from livestock will increase, driving some improvement in outcomes in worst-drought affected areas.
Southern and southeastern pastoral areas
Failure of March to May gu rainfall
Deterioration in livestock conditions would be more widespread and severe, driving limited livestock conceptions for the next season. This is also expected to drive massive livestock and people migration with increased mortality. More widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) would be anticipated.
Conflict more significantly restricts access to food and income
In Wag Himra and North Wollo, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are already anticipated, more severe outcomes could emerge in Amhara if conflict significantly limits access to crops; creates a prolonged and substantial contraction in economic and marketing activities; and food assistance does not reach populations for a prolonged period.
Current food security outcomes, October 2021
Source: FEWS NET
SEASONAL CALENDAR FOR A TYPICAL YEAR
Source: FEWS NET
Source: USGS/FEWS NET
Source: USGS/FEWS NET
Source: USGS/FEWS NET
Source: CSA; NBE; FEWS NET estimates
Source: FEWS NET
Source: Food Security Cluster
Source: Food Security Cluster
Source: FEWS NET estimates based on ETBC data
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.