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Food assistance needs remain high amid slow recovery of livelihoods in 2024

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Ethiopia
  • October 2023 - May 2024
Food assistance needs remain high amid slow recovery of livelihoods in 2024

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  • Key Messages
  • High levels of food assistance are still required given the long road to recovery of livelihoods
  • National Overview
  • Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
  • Areas of Concern
  • Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance
  • Partner
    WFP
    Key Messages
    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in northern, southern, and southeastern Ethiopia through at least early 2024. Household capacity to produce and purchase food remains low in areas of Tigray recovering from the 2020-2022 conflict and areas of the pastoral south and southeast recovering from the 2020-2023 drought. Additionally, the conflict in Amhara, El Niño-induced drought in some meher crop-producing areas and northern pastoral areas, El Niño-induced floods in the southern plains, and poor economic conditions are contributing to atypically high food assistance needs. The gradual resumption of food assistance deliveries by early 2024 is expected to moderate the size of kilocalorie deficits among beneficiaries, but not yet at a scale and frequency that would prevent high levels of food insecurity.
    • In southern and southeastern (S/SE) pastoral areas, the recovery of livestock holdings following large-scale losses during the nearly three-year drought is expected to take multiple years. While above-average rainfall during the late 2023 deyr/hageya season is broadly facilitating livestock reproduction and milk production, localized flash floods and elevated disease incidence is expected to result in further livestock losses for some affected households. Regional governments have already reported over 2,200 livestock deaths. More substantial improvement in access to milk, food, and income is not anticipated until the next rainy season begins in April/May and cattle and camels give birth, supporting improvement from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in several areas. Even then, however, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected to persist in parts of southern Somali Region and Borena Zone of Oromia where there are large displaced and destitute populations who lack sufficient livestock. 
    • In northern Ethiopia, food security conditions continue to remain of concern. The degree of seasonal improvement associated with the ­2023 meher­ harvestand livestock production is significantly below normal. While the harvest is currently providing food and income to households through either their own-production or in-kind payments and gifts, the harvest is well below average due to low financial access to inputs, poor rainfall, and the conflict in Amhara. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are widely expected during the post-harvest period; furthermore, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected in remote areas of Wag Himra and North Gondar zones of Amhara, where the meher­ harvest failed and market functionality is typically limited, as well as in western Afar, where pastoralists lost many livestock due to conflict and drought. By early 2024, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to spread, especially in Tigray, as households exhaust their food stocks, food prices remain exceptionally high, and income-generating activity remains low.
    • While Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes with households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) are expected in the most likely scenario, close monitoring of the risk of more extreme outcomes remains imperative in pastoral areas of Borena, Afder, Dawa, and Liban zones. During the October 2023 to May 2024 outlook period, worse outcomes could materialize in these zones if seasonal increases in food and income from livestock production do not occur to the degree that is currently anticipated. In northern Ethiopia, this risk is considered low through May; however, there is concern this risk will re-emerge at the peak of the 2024 lean season between June and September.

    High levels of food assistance are still required given the long road to recovery of livelihoods

    Ethiopia remains one of FEWS NET's countries of highest concern as recovery from prior severe shocks is slow, El Niño-induced weather shocks and sub-national conflict are impacting agricultural production, and poor economic conditions persist. Areas of Tigray, Amhara, Afar, Somali, and Oromia regions have seen the highest levels of acute food insecurity over the past three years, and while the severity of household food consumption deficits is declining in some areas, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are still expected in parts of these regions in late 2023 to mid-2024. The loss of productive assets continues to limit the population’s ability to access food and income and undermines coping capacity, which in turn slows the rebuilding of livelihoods. At the same time, household access to food assistance remained low in 2023 due to widespread diversion followed by the pause on USG-funded food assistance deliveries. As of June, over 3.3 million people remain displaced by drought or conflict in the country excluding Tigray, in addition to destitute and poor households, who heavily rely on community support, in-kind aid, charity, and begging. In late 2023, proxy global acute malnutrition (GAM) data continue to suggest Serious (10 to 14.99 percent) to Extremely Critical (≥30 percent) levels of malnutrition among children under five, largely driven by reduced food intake and multiple disease outbreaks. 

    Following the end of the historic 2020-2023 drought, the pastoral S/SE is among the areas of highest concern. Although seasonal goat births are now providing a source of milk and income to pastoralists, livestock holdings among drought-displaced and destitute households remain negligible. In many areas of Borena Zone of Oromia and Afder, Dawa, and Liban zones of the Somali Region, displaced and destitute households represent over 20 percent of the population, and they face considerable difficulty accessing food and income without sufficient numbers of livestock. These households are expected to predominately rely on community support, firewood/charcoal sales, a scarcity of labor opportunities, and a gradual increase in food assistance, with nearly all of their meager income devoted to buying food. Moreover, additional short-term displacement and asset losses are expected during the above-average October to December deyr/hageya rains due to flash floods. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes with households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) are considered most likely through early 2024; however, there is a credible risk for more severe outcomes if anticipated food and income from livestock production does not materialize. 

    Food security conditions are expected to more substantially improve at the start of the gu/genna season in April/May, when camels and cattle give birth and provide milk. Additionally, in local agropastoral areas, the deyr harvest in January will also provide a source of food for some households. At this point, it is expected that two consecutive favorable livestock reproduction cycles will begin to facilitate the marginal recovery of livestock holdings among the drought-displaced population; for others who have no means of rebuilding their herds, they are expected to benefit from seasonal agricultural labor demand, which has been unavailable since the drought. These modest increases in food and income are expected to remove the risk of more extreme outcomes and facilitate improvement to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in several woredas in early 2024, along with a significant decline in the population facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). However, given the very high proportion of households with limited to no livestock, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will still likely persist in some woredas.  

    Northern Ethiopia also remains of high concern, including areas of Wag Himra and North Gondar zones of Amhara, displaced populations in Tigray, and western Afar. While the ongoing 2023 harvest is expected to moderate food consumption deficits in Tigray in the near term, households in areas of Wag Himra and North Gondar zones have little to no harvest due to drought-induced failure of meher cereal crops during the June to September kiremt rainsConflict in northeastern Amhara is also severely reducing household income from livestock production and labor migration and restricting the movement of goods into these areas, driving limited market supply and a surge in food prices. In these areas, there are reports of increasing levels of malnutrition and anecdotal reports of hunger-related mortality. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely ongoing and expected to spread within Wag Himra and North Gondar through at least May 2024. The evolution and impacts of conflict must be closely monitored, as there is potential for an escalation in conflict to further limit the movement of people and goods. 

    In Tigray, deterioration to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes is expected by early 2024. In the near-term, the ongoing meher harvest is expected to last households several months, easing food consumption deficits among a large proportion of the population. Households who were unable to cultivate are likely to receive in-kind payments for renting out their lands for others to cultivate. There will be a fraction of the population that will experience Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), predominately the displaced. By early 2024, however, household harvest stocks will become depleted, and households are expected to have very limited income to purchase food from local markets. Income-earning prospects are restricted by low livestock holdings, a weak labor market, and a low likelihood that the standard Productive Safety Net Programme will resume in Tigray in 2024. While the risk of more extreme levels of acute food insecurity is considered low through May, there is concern this risk will re-emerge during the lean season’s peak between June and September 2024. In Tigray, as well as in other areas of northern Ethiopia, it is important to prepare for the likelihood of high and increasing needs in mid-2024. 


    National Overview

    Current Situation

    Rainfall: The June to September kiremt/karan/karma rainy season ended with average rainfall in many central and western areas (Figure 1). However, drought conditions, ranging from moderate to exceptional drought, are present in southwestern, northern, and northwestern areas, most areas along the Rift Valley, some northern pastoral areas, and isolated areas of the west. The season ended as one of the driest on record in areas of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR). In areas impacted by drought, the kiremt season was marked by long dry spells and poor rainfall in July and August, the most critical time for crop development. Rainfall amounts in September relatively improved; however, amounts were inadequate to diminish deficits accumulated from earlier in the season. Conversely, kiremt rainfall then continued atypically into October, with some areas receiving up to 200 mm of precipitation in what was the wettest October on record.

    Figure 1

    Rainfall as a percent of normal from June 1 to September 30, 2023
    Rainfall as a percent of normal in Ethiopia

    Source: UCSB Climate Hazards Center

    Figure 2

    Rainfall as a percent of normal from October 1 to 30, 2023
    Rainfall as a percent of normal in Ethiopia

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    In the pastoral south and southeast, October to December deyr/hageya rainfall started on time. Cumulative totals are already above average (Figure 2) as of late October, with some areas receiving more than twice the monthly average. Heavy rainfall is also forecast in early November in many areas, making this season among the wettest on record for this time of year. Floods occurred in late October in Afder, Jarar, Liban, Nogob, and Shabelle zones. The flooding resulted in the deaths of over 2,200 livestock and damaged more than 6,400 hectares of crops.   

    Figure 3

    Trends in conflict in key regions in Ethiopia from Oct. 2022 to mid-Oct. 2023
    Conflict graph for ethiopia

    Source: ACLED

    Conflict: Nationally, conflict spiked in August and September reaching levels not seen since late 2021, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) (Figure 3). Conflict and insecurity events have been concentrated primarily in Amhara and Oromia regions (Figure 4). In addition to conflict within Ethiopia, conflict between Al-Shabaab and Somalian security forces across the border in Somalia has decreased cross-border trade flows and movement between Somalia and the southern Somali region of Ethiopia.

    In Amhara, Fano militias and government forces have been clashing periodically since April, with most incidents occurring in towns and along roadways. The number of clashes peaked in September; however, security has relatively improved in October. On October 22, the State of Emergency Command Post decreased the hours of the curfew imposed on the Amhara region, citing an improved security situation.

    In Oromia, conflict is primarily between government forces and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF)-Shane, but a number of clashes have also involved Fano militias as well. Particularly in Wollega, West Shewa, North Shewa, and East Shewa zones, conflict increased in early May after the peace talks between the OLF and the government ended without an agreement. Levels of active conflict have subsequently declined over the last three months, but conditions remain tense as kidnappings and abductions of civilians have continued. 

    Levels of active conflict have been relatively low in other areas of the country, including Tigray. However, tensions remain elevated in Tigray amid the continued presence of Eritrean Defense Forces, mainly around bordering areas. According to the UN, acts of violence targeting civilians persist in Tigray, and minority communities residing in close proximity to the Eritrean border are particularly vulnerable to attacks. 

    Figure 4

    Concentration of conflict in Ethiopia from July to October 2023
    Heat map of conflict in Ethiopia

    Source: FEWS NET's analysis of ACLED data

    Displacement: According to the most recent data available from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), released in June, over 4.38 million people were internally displaced nationally. Conflict and drought remain the primary reasons for displacement, with most displaced populations concentrated in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and Somali regions (Figure 5). Since June, it is likely that the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) has moderately increased due to continued conflict driving displacement that outpaces the number of people returning to their area of origin. 

    In northern Ethiopia, the full extent of displacement as of October is difficult to quantify amid active conflict concentrated in Amhara. In Amhara, there are both longer-term displaced households associated with the 2020-2022 conflict in Tigray and recently displaced populations due to the uptick of conflict in East and West Gojam, North and South Wello, North Shewa, and Central and South Gondar zones in 2023. Most IDPs displaced from outside the region reside in IDP camps, while some live within the host communities. In Tigray, according to IOM, over 1.0 million people remain displaced. IDPs in Tigray are mostly located in towns, residing in schools or other informal sites. In September, the humanitarian community facilitated return of over 6,000 households, and funding has been secured to facilitate the return of nearly 25,400 IDPs.

    In the pastoral south and southeast, displacement remains high with over 2.3 million people displaced in Oromia and Somali Regions. Few returns among households that were displaced have taken place. In late October, heavy deyr rainfall resulted in the displacement of over 2,200 households, according to OCHA. 

    Refugees: According to UNHCR, Ethiopia hosts over 946,000 refugees and asylum seekers as of October, predominantly from South Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea. Most refugees live in 29 refugee camps across five regions. According to OCHA, as of October 17, 85,800 people have arrived in Ethiopia through border crossing points in Metema and Kurmuk from conflict-affected Sudan in the last six months. Refugees from Sudan are concentrated in Sherkole, Tsone, and Bambis in Benishangul Gumuz and Kumer and Alemwac areas of Amhara.

    Food assistance to refugee populations resumed in October after the Ethiopian government and implementing partners made reforms to Ethiopia's refugee food assistance structure. OCHA reported in early October that WFP resumed food distributions to nearly 900,000 refugees in Ethiopia following a full revamp of its refugee operations.

    Cropping conditions: The meher harvest typically begins in the north in September/October and slowly advances southward. In northern areas, the harvest is currently ongoing, while the green harvest is ongoing in central and southern areas, with many crops in the flowering to grain-setting stages. Overall, total meher production prospects for cereal and cash crops are lower than normal, despite the relatively favorable rainfall in surplus-producing western Ethiopia. The cropping season was disrupted by drought during the kiremt season; below-normal access to agricultural inputs due to financial constraints and reduced import volumes; and localized instances of flooding, pest damage, crop diseases, and conflict, driving reductions in crop yields. 

    Figure 5

    Internally displaced population represented as a percent of the total population by woreda
    Displacement in Ethiopia

    The displaced population represented combines people who have been displaced either from within or outside a given woreda. This analysis does not account for total population movement, meaning that the displaced population can exceed the officially recorded base population. 

    Source: FEWS NET's analysis of IOM data

    In Amhara and Tigray, near-complete crop failure occurred in a few areas due to drought conditions, and farmers had to replant short-maturing crops towards the end of the season in August. While late season rainfall is allowing for late-planted crops to grow and mature, crop yields are not expected to be significant. As a result, the meher harvest is anticipated to be well below average. Eastern and southern zones of the Tigray region will likely have the most significant meher production losses, notably in woredas located along the Tekeze River catchment in Wag Himra and in the North and South Gonder zones. 

    Along Rift Valley areas of Sidama and Central and Southern Ethiopia, the erratic and cumulatively below-average kiremt rains resulted in decreased area planted and poor crop development, significantly reducing yields. A shortage of agricultural inputs also contributed to low area planted and the use of low-quality seeds that ultimately will result in low yields. For instance, according to the regional government in Central Ethiopia, only about 77 percent of the area was covered by meher crops as of the end of September. As a result, the harvest is likely to be significantly below average in most of these areas. 

    In cropping areas of the pastoral south and southeast, which are predominately concentrated in riverine areas along the Shebelle River, land preparation for the January deyr/hageya harvest is complete. In Oromia, despite the lack of draft power due to the large scale of cattle deaths during the 2020-2022 drought and declines in access to improved seed and fertilizer, most households are engaged in land preparation, and planting occurred at normal levels. Most households are using local seeds to plant teff and haricot beans, the primary crops planted during this season. In the Somali Region, the government and some NGOs distributed improved seeds, while some households have also used some seeds remaining from the last 2023 gu/genna harvest.

    Pasture and water availability: In the pastoral south and southeast, pasture availability was lower than normal prior to the start of deyr/hageya rains, but still available for livestock consumption. Since the start of the rains in mid-October, pasture conditions have somewhat greened, and water sources have been replenished (Figure 6). Livestock are no longer traveling large distances to access pasture and water. 

    In the northern pastoral areas, where the local July to September karma/karan rains were minimal, there is already a shortage of pasture and water availability for livestock in areas of Afar at the start of the October to February dry season. However, availability is mixed across the Afar region, with moderate availability in most areas of Zone 1, Zone 3, Zone 5, and some parts of Zone 4 due to the favorable early 2023 seasonal rainfall and continued rainfall through June. Ongoing unseasonable rainfall is somewhat improving pasture availability and replenishing water sources, but pasture availability remains low overall. 

    In eastern Amhara and Tigray, there is a shortage of pasture for livestock consumption due to the poor performance of kiremt rainfall. However, the main source of livestock feed is crop residue and hay, which are currently available at normal levels for livestock consumption. 

    Figure 6

    Vegetation conditions as a percent of normal during the October 16 to 25 period
    Pasture conditions in Ethiopia

    Source: USGS/FEWS NET

    Livestock body conditions and productivity: In the southern and southeastern pastoral areas, livestock body conditions are generally good. In September and October, goats started producing milk with near-average milk yield per head of livestock; however, total milk availability per household remains low due to limited livestock holdings following the prolonged drought. Moreover, there are households without livestock altogether or without milk-producing livestock due to the losses incurred during the drought and they still lack access to milk, most notably in the areas of highest of concern in Borena Zone of Oromia and Afder, Dawa, and Liban zones of the Somali Region. 

    In northern pastoral areas, body conditions of goats, sheep, and camels are currently within the normal range, while cattle show moderate to normal body conditions in most areas. Milking of livestock typically starts in June/July, and while there is some milk available, it is generally at low and declining levels associated with low livestock holdings and declines in livestock body conditions. 

    Lastly, in woredas along Tekeze River catchment in Wag Himra and North and South Gonder zones in Amhara, livestock body conditions have declined, and a small number of livestock deaths have been reported.

    Macroeconomic conditions: Macroeconomic conditions remain poor, driven by low export revenue, low levels of hard currency, and high government spending (Figure 7). After easing for four consecutive months, annual headline inflation stabilized at 28.3 percent in September, which is similar to August and one of the lowest rates observed since July 2021. Food inflation, which stood at 27.1 percent in September, continues to comprise a large component of total inflation. However, it is likely that the belg and ongoing meher harvests played a key role in the declining trend in total inflation since April, as these harvests moderated market supply concerns and contributed to a decrease in market demand. 

    Figure 7

    Official exchange rate (left axis) and headline inflation rate (right axis) from January 2021 to September 2023
    Economic indicators in Ethiopia

    Source: Central Statistics Authority and Central Bank of Ethiopia

    The Ethiopian Birr (ETB) continues to lose value on both the official and parallel markets. As of October, the ETB depreciated by about 5 percent on the formal market since the same time last year, trading at around 54 ETB/USD. Anecdotal information indicates that the ETB is exchanging at over 100 ETB/USD on the parallel market, rendering the value of the ETB over 50 percent lower than that of the official market.

    High and rising fuel prices continue to drive increases in already high transportation costs. In September, the government increased the price of fuel by around 4 percent compared to the previous month, the second price hike in two consecutive months as global fuel prices have increased. Fuel prices vary nationally but tend to be higher in areas distant from the ports in Djibouti and in areas where trade routes are disrupted, as these factors contribute to higher transportation costs.  

    Market functioning and trade flows: While most markets and trade routes are functioning normally, market activity and trade flows are disrupted in some conflict-affected areas, most notably in the north (Figure 8) and along the southern Ethiopia-Somalia border.In Amhara, conflict is disrupting both the internal movement of goods and flows from Bahir Dar to Addis Ababa. In Afar, livestock trade to Amhara and neighboring zones of Tigray and the movement of staple food from these regions is below- normal, particularly with Tigray due to the previous conflict and with North Wollo Zone of Amhara due to ongoing conflict between Fano armed groups and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF).

    Figure 8

    Status of market and trade route activity in northern Ethiopia as of October 2023
    Market function map of northern Ethiopia

    Source: FEWS NET

    This is also resulting in reduced market activity in Tigray and disruptions to the flow of commodities coming from or being transported through Amhara.

    In southern Somali region, clashes between Somalian security forces and Al-Shabaab continue to cut off trade routes to the area, which remain inaccessible to external traders. Northern Somalia (specifically the Wajale trade route) is the only option available for importing food and exporting livestock to and from the southern zones of the Somali region, which increases transportation costs. Consequently, market activity is significantly disrupted, and shortages of food and essential non-food goods are a concern.

    Staple food prices: Market supply from western surplus-producing areas to the eastern part of the country is seasonally low, particularly for staple foods as the harvest has yet to reach markets. In most areas, staple food prices have increased in September compared to previous months and are significantly higher than last year's prices and the three-year average (Figure 9). The price of maize, which serves as the primary staple food for pastoral and agropastoral communities, has particularly surged in recent months. In Addis Ababa, September maize prices were 5 percent higher than August, 80 percent higher than last year at the same time, and 126 percent higher than the three-year average (Figure 10). In conflict-affected Amhara and Tigray, food prices also remain high due to limited supply and elevated demand. 

    In the Somali Region, cereal supply shortages are occurring due to the aforementioned disrupted trade flows, pause of food aid distributions – which were reported to be diverted and sold in local markets – since May/June, and declines in locally produced food supplies. The low availability of wheat and sorghum is extremely worrying, particularly in areas where demand is very high (Afder, Liban, Shabelle, Korahe, and Dollo zones). As such, maize prices across key monitored markets in areas of concern were over 50 percent above the three-year average in September.

    Livestock supply and prices: Across most of Ethiopia, livestock markets are functioning normally with normal supply; however, due to inflationary pressure and favorable livestock conditions, livestock prices are increasing and are well above average (Figure 11). Nevertheless, there are some deviations from this trend across the country, notably in the south and southeast and northern Ethiopia. Furthermore, in Tigray and adjacent areas of Amhara and Afar, many households have minimal livestock to sell, and they are unable to access income and food from this source.

    Figure 9

    Maize prices in key monitored markets in September 2023 compared to the three-year average
    Maize prices across key markets in Ethiopia compared to average.

    *In Tigray and some neighboring areas, price data collection was disrupted due to conflict, and the comparison is between Sept. 2023 and Sept. 2020.

    Source: FEWS NET

    In the south and southeast, livestock market supply remains low as households focus on restocking and religious holidays in September. These factors, coupled with improved livestock body conditions, are driving increases in livestock prices. In Chereti, goat prices have increased by 24 percent compared to the previous month, 107 percent compared to the same time last year, and 52 percent compared to the three-year average. In Yabello, goat prices were stable between August and September but over 26 percent higher than in September 2022. 

    In the southern and southeastern pastoral areas as well as areas of northern Ethiopia, many poor households are unable to access this food source. While livestock prices have increased, these increases have not kept pace with cereal prices, and the terms of trade are below average in many areas. In Chereti market, for instance, the terms of trade (ToT) were 10 percent below average in September; however, this is significantly better than the steep loss in value observed at the same time in 2022 (Figure 12). A single sheep can buy about 45 kgs of maize, which is sufficient to feed a household of seven for about 11 days. 

    In northern pastoral areas, specifically in Afar, livestock prices have increased in 2023 and are significantly above average. While market supply has increased, inflationary pressures continue to contribute to rising livestock prices. Despite the increasing trend in goat prices, however, the prices of staple foods have increased at an even higher rate. As a result, the terms of trade have declined by over 25 percent since early 2023 and 2020. In September a goat could only purchase 67 kg of maize, down from nearly 100 kg three years ago. 

    Figure 10

    Price trends of maize in Addis Ababa
    Maize price trends in Addis Ababa

    Source: FEWS NET

    Agricultural labor: Agricultural labor opportunities have seasonally improved in October due to meher-season harvesting activities, as well as land preparation and planting activities in agropastoral areas of the south and southeast. Despite seasonal improvements, agricultural labor availability is overall lower than normal due to the poor meher harvest in meher-cropping areas. In northern Ethiopia and other conflict-affected areas, the availability of and access to agricultural labor opportunities, including income from migratory labor, remains limited. Households in the better-off and middle wealth groups have limited financial capacity to hire workers, and conflict is also disrupting some agricultural labor activities. Meanwhile, in agropastoral areas of the south and southeast, seasonal labor demand is offering some means of income generation, but availability is still well below normal. 

    Nationally, daily wages have increased compared to 2022 and the three-year average in most markets, largely due to inflationary market pressures (Figure 13). However, in most markets, wage rates have not kept pace with food prices. As a result, the amount of maize a household is able to purchase with a day's labor wage is far below normal (Figure 14). 

    Figure 11

    Change in the price of one goat in September 2023 compared to the three-year average in key monitored markets *
    Goat prices in Ethiopia

    *In Tigray and some neighboring areas, price data collection was disrupted due to conflict, and the comparison is between Sept. 2023 and Sept. 2020.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Non-agricultural labor and self-employment: Income from non-agricultural labor and self-employment activities, such as firewood and charcoal sales and petty trade, is normal across many areas of the country based on regional and zonal government information. However, income from these sources in northern conflict-affected areas and drought-affected areas of the pastoral south and southeast remain restricted since household asset holdings have not yet returned to normal levels. 

    In northern Ethiopia, ongoing conflict and the aftermath of conflict continue to severely impact household access to income. In Amhara, ongoing conflict has had adverse effects on the circulation of cash, the movement of construction materials, and the creation of employment opportunities, resulting in lower-than-normal opportunities and income from this source. In Tigray, while the economy has marginally improved in the aftermath of conflict, income-earning opportunities remain limited, notably for poor and displaced households. In areas not previously impacted by conflict in Afar, there has been a relative improvement in income from construction, as well as from firewood and charcoal sales and transportation services. However, in areas previously impacted by conflict, the improvement is marginal, and income from these sources remain significantly below average. Mining activities in the Afdera salt mines in Afar continue to provide some employment opportunities. 

    Figure 12

    Amount of maize (kg) that a household can buy with the sale of a goat in Chereti, Afder Zone of Somali region
    ToT trends in Chereti markets

    Source: FEWS NET

    In the south and southeast, poor households are engaging in seasonal income-generating activities like collecting firewood, bush products (gums and incense), salt production, and construction work in refugee camps in the Liban zone and nearby urban areas. They also engage in petty trade activities in pastoral villages. Those who are destitute engage in these activities more than others, but the income generated from these sources is minimal. Additionally, the high number of households engaging in these activities is increasing the level of competition, reducing total per household income-earned by these opportunities. 

    Remittances and community support: Nationally, remittances from abroad and from domestic urban areas (sent to rural areas) are trending lower than normal, as households' capacity to send remittances is reduced due to the high costs of living. In Tigray, key informant information gathered during FEWS NET’s field assessment in September suggests poor households are receiving small amounts of community support and remittances, but the quantities have decreased with the decline in active conflict as many people assume that the low levels of conflict have in turn resulted in significant improvements in food and income access. In Amhara, the ongoing conflict also resulted in some declines in households accessing remittances as the functionality of financial sector is sporadically disrupted. In Afar, the provision of gifts and social support remains at a low level due to the adverse effects of drought, conflict, and displacement. Finally, in southern and southeastern pastoral areas, typical sources of community support are very limited, as wealthier households within the community are unable to assist poorer households through lending milking animals. This is largely due to only goats milking at this point, with cattle and camels yet to give birth.

    Figure 13

    Change in wage rates in September 2023 compared to the three-year average in key monitored markets *
    Labor wages in Ethiopia

    *In Tigray and some neighboring areas, price data collection was disrupted due to conflict, and the comparison is between Sept. 2023 and Sept. 2020.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Humanitarian food assistance: During the pause of USG-funded humanitarian assistance from April/May to October, food aid distributions by WFP and the Joint Emergency Operation (JEOP) were very limited. Distributions have continued on a small scale by the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) and various NGOs to some of the country's populations considered most at risk of acute food insecurity. According to the Food Cluster, WFP's pilot Vulnerability Based Targeting program distributed assistance (15 kg of wheat) to nearly 789,000 people between late July and early October in nine woredas in the northwestern and southern zones of Tigray. Households considered most at risk of severe food insecurity, predominately IDPs, are being prioritized for targeting; however, the total population reached over a 3-month period with only 15 kg ration has not significantly moderated consumption deficits. In mid-October, WFP commenced a second cycle of food aid distributions targeting nearly 677,000 people in eight woredas in Tigray, with over 206,000 people assisted as of late October. 

    In Amhara region, in August, the government finished the distribution of food to nearly 112,000 people in government operational areas. Recently, the third round of assistance started for about 710,000 people, covering Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Commission (EDRMC), Joint Emergency Operation Program (JEOP), and WFP operational areas. This is very low compared to the total need in the region.

    In the Somali Region, according to the regional Disaster Risk Management, the regional government distributed one to two rounds of food (25 kg rice, 3 liters oil, and 12 kg corn-soya blend) in September to 83,000 households considered most at risk of acute food insecurity, including IDPs. In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, NGOs are also providing various livelihood interventions. For example, in Oromia, more than 600,000 households have received agricultural inputs, livestock destocking and restocking support, provision of multi-purpose cash-based assistance, other livestock interventions such as vaccinations, medicines, and animal feed, and the rehabilitation of water access points. 

    Acute malnutrition: High levels of acute malnutrition, based on screening data and admissions of children under five years of age to therapeutic feeding programs (TFP), continue to be reported in many parts of the country and are likely due to food consumption deficits, shortages of safe drinking water, and large-scale outbreaks of diseases, such as cholera, malaria, dengue fever, and acute watery diarrhea. While TFP admissions have exhibited a declining trend from May to August (Figure 15), both the atypically high number of TFP admissions and available screening data indicate total levels of acute malnutrition remain high. Additionally, it is important to note that the national average of acute malnutrition has been increasing in recent years. In August, a total of 49,694 acutely malnourished children under five were admitted to the TFP program, which was 15 percent lower than the same month last year, but 53 percent higher than the recent five-year average.

    Figure 14

    Change in the amount of maize a day’s labor wage could purchase in September 2023 compared to the three-year average in key monitored markets*
    Labor to maize terms of trade compared to average

    *In Tigray and some neighboring areas, price data collection was disrupted due to conflict, and the comparison is between Sept. 2023 and Sept. 2020.

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 15

    Total admissions to therapeutic feedings program in key regions compared to the national monthly average from January 2022 to August 2023
    Graph of acute malnutrition admissions in Ethiopia

    Source: Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit (ENCU)

    Available nutrition information from the Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit and the EDRMC, collected between April and September, continues to indicate a persistently alarming malnutrition situation, with levels of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) exceeding the WHO emergency threshold. In conflict-affected Tigray, parts of Amhara and Afar, and the drought-affected south and southeast, acute malnutrition outcomes range from Serious (GAM 10-14.9%) to Extremely Critical (GAM ≥30%). In contrast, acute malnutrition outcomes are currently at an Acceptable level (GAM <5.0%) in most western and central parts of the country.

    A rapid nutrition assessment conducted by CARE in the first week of August in Meyu Muluke woreda of East Hararghe Zone of Oromia Region estimated a proxy GAM rate of 24 percent – suggesting Critical (GAM 15-24.9%) levels – and a proxy Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rate at 5.4 percent. Similarly, a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) mass screening of children under five was undertaken in July 2023 by the Afar Regional Health Bureau in collaboration with UNICEF and the Nutrition Cluster revealed a proxy GAM rate of 23.1 percent – again suggesting Critical (GAM 15-24.9%) levels – across the 34 rural woredas and five town administrations of the region. 

    According to WHO, as of October 23, a total of 24,787 confirmed cholera cases and 324 deaths were reported from 10 regions (Oromia, South Ethiopia Region, Central Ethiopia Region, Sidama, Amhara, Afar, B. Gumuz, Dire Dawa, Harari, and the Somali Region). This represents a 23 percent increase in total cases and a 20 percent increase in reported deaths since August 30, 2023, and a three percent increase in cases and four percent increase in deaths since September 23, 2023.

    Current Food Security Outcomes

    Food security has seasonally improved in areas of western and central Ethiopia that are not facing notable conflict or weather shocks. Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely ongoing as households in cropping and agropastoral areas start consuming crops from the meher harvest and selling crops to earn income to purchase their essential non-food needs. However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist in parts of northern, southern, and southeastern Ethiopia due to the limited recovery of agricultural production capacity, labor demand, and other income-generating activities in the aftermath of the 2020-2022 conflict and 2020-2023 drought, in addition to more recent conflict- and weather-related disruptions to the agricultural season. Levels of acute food insecurity are most severe in Somali, Oromia, Tigray, northeastern Amhara, and Afar regions, where prior or ongoing drought and conflict have severely impeded poor households' ability to engage in typical food and income generating activities and eroded their capacity to cope. Additionally, the majority of households in need have not received food assistance since at least April/May, given the protracted pause of USG-funded assistance programs to ensure appropriate measures were put in place to reach those most in need and prevent diversion of aid. 

    Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes remain widespread across southern and southeastern pastoral areas, with many displaced and/or destitute households experiencing food consumption deficits or only mitigating the size of their consumption deficits through the utilization of extreme coping strategies, like selling off their last livestock and begging. Livestock holdings remain low to negligible as drought recovery is in its nascent stages, and it is predominantly the middle and better-off households who currently have saleable livestock, particularly goats and sheep. While goats that gave birth in September/October are producing milk, this source of food is minimal for many poor households, especially drought-displaced and destitute who own few to no livestock due to the earlier drought. These population groups are relying on the accumulation of debt, community support, and income earned from atypical livelihood activities, like labor migration and firewood and charcoal sales, to purchase food; those who remain displaced and destitute are also resorting to begging. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely widespread in worst drought-affected areas, including Borena Zone of Oromia and the southern Somali region, with some portions of the population continuing to face extreme hunger reflective of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes.  

    Food security conditions in Tigray and neighboring areas of Amhara have generally seasonally improved due to the availability of food and income from the meher harvest, which is moderating the size of poor households’ consumption deficits. However, the harvest is below-average, limiting the scale of improvement. Furthermore, many households are sharing their harvested stocks. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are ongoing across most of Tigray. However, in areas of Wag Himra and North Gondar Zones of Amhara, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely present. The meher harvest was extremely poor, and poor households are unable to access food from own production or the market. Markets are also difficult to access by traders due to the remote location of these zones, resulting in sparse market supply and high food prices. Households are currently surviving by consuming crop residues and what some crops from the low harvest. 

    In areas of western Afar that border Tigray, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are also likely ongoing. Households continue to have significant difficulty accessing food and income given the scale of livestock losses associated with the 2020-2022 conflict, drought during the 2023 karan/karma season, and given that several livestock reproduction cycles are needed to rebuild livestock holdings to sustainable levels. Displaced households and those with limited livestock holdings remain of highest concern as their financial access to food remains low. Households are primarily earning cash for food purchases from labor, self-employment, and remittances, but at very low levels. On the other hand, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely ongoing in southern Afar, where access to the harvest and income from agricultural labor is allowing poor households to purchase staple foods, although household purchasing power still remains somewhat lower than normal. 


    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year
    Seasonal Calendar for Ethiopia

    Source: FEWS NET

    Assumptions

    The most likely scenario from October 2023 to May 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:

    • Cumulative October to December 2023 deyr/hageya rainfall in southern and southeastern Ethiopia is highly likely to be above average (Figure 16), with a notably elevated probability of rainfall in the highest 20 percent of average.

    Figure 16

    Most likely scenario for rainfall in Ethiopia for October to December 2023
    Projected rainfall for Ethiopia

    Source: USGS/NOAA/UCSB/FEWS NET

    • High levels of flooding are anticipated from October through at least December around the Wabi Shabelle catchment in the lowlands of Bale Zone of Oromia; the Genale Dawa River catchment in lowland and plain areas of Borena Zone in Oromia and the southern regions; and in the southern lowland plains of the Shabelle River catchment in the Somali Region. This will most likely lead to displacement, crop and infrastructure damage, and some livestock losses. On the other hand, this will have a positive impact on flood recession agriculture, which typically commences in October. 
    • Cumulative February to May 2024 belg rainfall in central and southern Ethiopia is forecasted to be above average. Similarly, cumulative March to May 2024 gu/genna rainfall in southern and southeastern Ethiopia and diraac/sugum rainfall in the northeast are forecasted to be above average.
    • Desert locusts were present in Ethiopia in August and September, damaging cropland and pasture. However, with ongoing control measures, the situation is expected to remain stable throughout the scenario period. 
    • Unseasonable rainfall in parts of Afar, eastern Amhara, eastern Tigray, central and eastern Oromia, and northern parts of SNNPR in October and November is expected to allow late-planted crops to reach maturity and replenish pasture and water resources, especially in areas where June to September rainfall was poor. However, these gains will be offset by production losses that will likely occur due to prolonged rainfall during the final growth stages of fully mature crops, driving declines in yields. 
    • In Tigray, the security situation will most likely remain stable through May 2024. However, some violence – such as EDF attacks against civilians, small-scale clashes between Tigrayan returnees and farmers that have occupied their land, and communal violence stemming from land disputes between Tigrayan and Amhara communities – is likely to continue, albeit at significantly lower levels than those observed during the conflict from November 2020 to November 2022. The issue of the legal status and administration of Amhara-majority enclaves within Tigray – namely the Welkait, Humera, Tselemt, and Raya areas – is a likely flashpoint for further conflict.
    • In Amhara, clashes between Fano militias and the ENDF are expected to continue, albeit at a higher intensity compared to the levels of violence seen in August. An increase in clashes between Fano militias and the military in urban areas is also expected along Addis Ababa to Gondar via Bahir Dar, which is a major trade route. In western Oromia, tense conditions along Rift Valley areas will likely lead to increasing violence in the short term, while ENDF resources and focus are shifted toward Amhara and Addis Ababa; however, levels of violence are unlikely to reach the levels seen in early 2022.
    • Nationally, the total internally displaced population is expected to increase due to anticipated conflict and floods. In Tigray, current IDPs are unlikely to return, as disputes in Wolkayit and Humera are not expected to be resolved in the short term. In conflict-affected areas of Amhara, Oromia, and Somali Region, conflict-related displacement will likely increase. 
    • In the southern and southeastern pastoral areas, the replenishment of rangeland resources during the deyr/hageya rainy season is expected to encourage displaced households with some livestock holdings to return to their areas of origin; however, displaced households that remain destitute are not expected to return and will instead seek aid and other, atypical sources of food and income. 
    • Nationally, the total refugee population in Ethiopia is expected to moderately increase, given that further conflict in Sudan will result in people fleeing to Ethiopia. New refugees are likely to enter through the Kurmuk and Metema border points. 
    • Nationally, the 2023 meher harvest, starting in October and continuing through November, is expected to be below average due to moderate to large rainfall deficits and conflict-related disruptions, particularly in the north and areas along the Rift Valley. However, in western surplus-producing areas, the meher harvest is likely to be average. 
    • Despite below-normal purchasing power for agricultural inputs, area planted in belg-producing areas in 2024 is expected to be normal under a favorable February to May belg rainfall forecast and use of seeds reserved from the previous harvest. 
    • Area planted in agropastoral areas of the south and southeast is expected to be near average for the gu/genna season due to the favorable rainfall forecast. However, household seed reserves are low, and limited financial capacity to purchase agricultural inputs, sporadic conflict, and flooding will most likely drive lower-than-normal production.
    • In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, pasture and water availability is expected to be sufficient for livestock consumption during the 2023 deyr/hageya season. During the dry January/February jilaal season, pasture is expected to decline but remain sufficient for remaining livestock until pasture regenerates during the March-May gu/genna season. 
    • Water and pasture availability in most northern pastoral areas is likely to decline until February 2024 and then will start to improve following the start of the March to May 2024 sugum rains. Pasture and water availability in the remaining part of the country is also likely to be average throughout the scenario period.
    • In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, livestock body conditions, reproduction, and productivity are expected to improve. Sheep and goats are expected to give birth in September through October, allowing for milk availability through late 2023. Cattle births are expected to start in March 2024, further improving milk availability. Additionally, livestock are expected to conceive in both the gu/genna and deyr/hageya seasons. However, overall milk availability will remain below average because of low herd sizes due to the previous drought, which left thousands of households destitute.
    • In northern pastoral areas, livestock body conditions and productivity will remain below average through at least March because of the impact of below-average 2023 karma rainfall. With the start of the sugum/diraac season in March, pasture and livestock body conditions will improve, but herd sizes and overall milk availability will remain below average. 
    • In Afar, atypically high livestock disease prevalence may impact livestock health and body conditions. However, some control measures are ongoing and are expected to limit the spread and prevent a substantial decline in production.
    • Macroeconomic conditions will likely remain poor. A hard currency shortage and associated depreciation of the ETB on the official and parallel markets will remain the key drivers of high inflation, which is expected to remain above 20 percent on an annual basis through at least May. 
    • High prices of fuel, along with fuel shortages, will continue affecting transportation and supply chains, leading to higher food and non-food commodity prices in local markets.
    • Most markets are expected to function normally, except in conflict-affected areas in Amhara, Tigray, and Oromia and the border regions of Afar and Somali Region. In these areas, traders' movement will be limited due to insecurity, thereby disrupting the movement of goods to and from these areas. The conflict in Amhara will disrupt the movement of goods between Addis Ababa and Amhara, leading to supply shortages and price increases of different commodities on both ends.
    • Average meher production in the western half of the country is expected to improve market supplies through the end of January 2024 in most parts of the country. This is expected to drive modest declines in food prices; however, food prices will remain well above average due to continued macroeconomic pressures and transportation costs. Beginning in February, as market supplies decline and market demand rises, food prices are expected to increase even further. In conflict-affected areas and in Tigray, food prices are expected to be higher than in the rest of the country. 
    • In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, livestock prices are expected to increase as market supply remains low due to the impact of the previous drought on herd sizes and increased demand. For areas where conflict is expected to occur and affect the market flow, the supply might decline. 
    • In northern pastoral areas, livestock prices are expected to decline and be below average due to declining livestock body conditions. Market supply of livestock is expected to remain below normal throughout the scenario period, especially in areas bordering Tigray, due to reduced herd sizes in the aftermath of conflict.
    • Despite declines in the conflict in Tigray and adjacent areas of Amhara and Afar, migratory labor opportunities are expected to remain limited. Daily labor opportunities, such as for mining and construction, to western Tigray – which were previously the main sources of labor income – are expected to remain disrupted. Unresolved disagreements over administrative issues in Wolkayit and Raya zones of Amhara are likely to continue as a source of potential conflict, further disrupting labor migration. As a result, income from this source is expected to be below average in these areas. 
    • Agricultural labor opportunities in meher-dependent areas are expected to be below normal due to the anticipated below-average production, resulting in below-average incomes from this source. In the western half of the country, agricultural labor opportunities are likely to remain normal through November. Given the forecast for an average belg season, the demand for agricultural labor is expected to be normal in belg-dependent areas as the belg begins in February.
    • Income from self-employment such as petty trade, firewood and charcoal sales, and construction labor in towns is likely to remain average in much of the country; however, due to disruption in economic activities in conflict-affected areas and areas of Tigray previously impacted by conflict, income from these sources is expected to remain low. In the southern and southeastern pastoral areas, poor households will likely continue relying on collecting firewood and charcoal making, due to low food and livestock income; however, income from this source will be low. 
    • The increased cost of living globally will continue putting pressure on people living abroad, limiting the amount of money they can send to their relatives and keeping remittances below average. For the same reason, remittances from urban to rural areas within Ethiopia are likely to remain lower than normal. 
    • The pause of USG-funded food assistance deliveries is expected to formally end in late 2023, following the implementation of targeting and accountability reforms, the successful resumption of food assistance to refugees in October, and the successful implementation of pilot food distribution programs in mid-to-late 2023 in Tigray. Food assistance deliveries are expected to gradually resume and scale up in early 2024, with prioritization of deliveries to drought- and conflict-affected populations in Afar, Amhara, Somali, and Tigray regions. While plans for assistance levels to gradually increase to reach 3.2 million people, the scale and frequency of distributions is expected to be limited relative to the size of the total population in need and depth of household kilocalorie deficits in the medium term.
    • The Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) transfer will likely begin in February and continue as planned through June/July 2024. However, PSNP is unlikely to resume in Tigray due to unresolved targeting issues and financial sector setup.

    Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes

    Many areas of the country are expected to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes, supported by the consumption of meher crops; however, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are most likely in areas where conflict and drought have severely eroded household livelihoods and limited coping capacity among many poor households. Starting in early 2024, food security conditions are expected to decline in central, northern, and western areas of the country where household food stocks decrease faster than normal given the below-average meher harvest, and households become increasing market reliant amid high and increasing food prices. Conversely, improvement is expected in the south as largely favorable seasons support slowly recover from the drought. Overall, the size of the food insecure population is expected to rise throughout the projection period, as the deterioration in the more densely populated northern, western, and central areas outweighs the improvements expected in the south. 

    While the drought has ended in the pastoral south and southeast, many areas remain of high concern where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist until the next livestock production season begins in early 2024. Food and income from livestock are improving across many areas, notably among the middle and better-off households. However, a large share of the population who remain displaced and destitute face extreme difficulty accessing food. These households are anticipated to rely on atypical livelihood strategies to earn income for food purchases, such as charcoal/firewood sales, labor migration, and petty trade. The better-off who have access to milk from livestock for food and income are expected to share some of this resource with the poor and destitute. However, this sharing is not expected to have a significant impact in Borena Zone of Oromia and Liban, Afder, and Dawa of the Somali Region, where the displaced and destitute population is high. Furthermore, with the high likelihood of further flood-related displacement and addition asset losses. There is also the potential flood waters will isolate households for a period of time. While some moderate improvements in household food and income access are expected, households who are displaced and/or have lost their entire herd are not expected to benefit from seasonal improvements, and it is among the worst-affected within this population that Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes are likely.  

    As the pastoral lean season in the S/SE in early 2024 ends, further milk production is expected as cattle, camels, sheep, and goats are expected to give birth, improving milk availability both for sale and consumption across these areas. Again, while the main beneficiaries of improved milk access are those who still have livestock, sharing and gift giving among households is expected. In agropastoral areas, the harvest is expected to allow for moderate improvement in food security outcomes. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to become more widespread. Some areas are expected to remain Emergency (IPC Phase 4), though, where there are large displaced and destitute populations with limited food and income access. In these areas some households are expected to be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Furthermore, those who are significantly impacted by flooding in late 2023 are also likely to experience more severe food security outcomes. Acute malnutrition outcomes in these areas will most likely fall between Serious (GAM of 10-14.9 percent) to Critical (GAM of 15-29.9 percent) levels throughout the projection period as some moderate improvements in nutrition will likely occur with increased milk availability in early 2024.

    In northern Ethiopia, despite the below-average harvest, millions of households will still be able to access food from their own production improving household food consumption through early 2024. The harvest is not expected to completely close food consumption deficits in Tigray and northeastern Amhara, though, and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to be widespread. Additionally, households that did not have access to the harvest or gifts, predominately the displaced, are likely to remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In areas of Wag Himra and North Gondar zones of Amhara, food security conditions are anticipated to be poor as many households had an extremely limited access to markets and limited to no harvest due to conflict and the extremely poor kiremt rainfall. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in these areas through early 2024. 

    In early 2024, with the likely early start to the lean season in northern Ethiopia, household food stocks are depleted and poor households are expected to rely on income-generating activities to afford food; however, income from sources like firewood/charcoal sales, labor, petty trading, and livestock are expected to remain low. This will drive a resurgence of wider spread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in many areas of Tigray and northeastern Amhara. In the rest of northeastern Amhara, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely in many areas where the meher harvest was below average due to conflict related disruptions and poor rainfall. Moreover, households purchasing power is expected to be below average associated with the high food prices and lower than normal income. In Zones 2 and 4 of Afar, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist where the large-scale losses of livestock herds due to the conflict in Tigray and drought conditions during and following the 2023 karan/karma are expected to leave poor households with minimal access to food and income from this critical food source. Displaced and poor households are expected to engage in some minimal income earning activities to earn cash primarily for food purchases, but this food will be insufficient to meet their basic needs. Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely in the rest of Afar where rainfall for the 2023 karan/karma season was relatively better. Households in these areas are expected to access some food and income from livestock as well as agricultural labor. This is anticipated to allow poor household to have sufficient food for consumption. However, due to the high cost of living, households are not expected to meet all of their needs. 

    Table 1
    Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalA scale up and increased frequency of humanitarian assistance deliveries at a rate more rapid than currently anticipatedAreas that have been significantly impacted by drought and conflict will experience improved access to food, likely mitigating food consumption deficits among beneficiaries. The scale up of humanitarian assistance holds the potential to further reduce the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes. Ultimately, this could also support improvements from Emergency (IPC Phase 4) to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) or from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) in northern and southern Ethiopia. This is contingent on the area where assistance is distributed, the number of people reached by assistance, whether assistance reaches those most in need, the frequency of assistance delivery, and the ration size. 
    TigrayImplementation of PSNPPSNP has historically been a key source of food and income for many poor households in Tigray, providing up to 50 percent of annual household kilocalorie needs prior to the 2020-2022 conflict. If PSNP resumes in Tigray between February and May, millions of poor households would see a significant improvement in their food security. In this scenario, the share of the population facing large food consumption deficits would be much lower than currently projected, and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes at a minimum would likely be sustained in Tigray during the February to May period. 
    AmharaPSNP is not implementedIn Amhara, there is the potential for conflict to disrupt PSNP distributions, including both to supply chains and the financial sector. If PSNP is not distributed as planned, it is likely that Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes would become more widespread, as PSNP provides up to 50 percent of annual household kilocalorie needs typically.
    AmharaEscalation in conflict beyond what is already anticipated An escalation in conflict exceeding initial expectations would limit population movement and further disrupt trade, likely causing a further decline in typical livelihood activities and market functioning and supplies. Additionally, if there is an uptick of conflict during the harvesting season from October to January or as the 2024 belg agricultural season begins in April/May 2024, this could further disrupt agricultural labor opportunities driving down income as well as resulting in declines in access to own produced foods among households. This could result in more widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes during the scenario period.
    Borena zone of Oromia and southern Somali RegionMore extreme flooding than anticipatedThe October to December 2023 deyr/hageya season in southern and southeastern Ethiopia is anticipated to be above average, and episodic flash floods and riverine floods are already incorporated into the most likely scenario. However, if the frequency and extent of flooding is more extreme than anticipated and drives higher levels of displacement and damage to pasture and crops, then widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would persist during scenario period.
    Borena zone of Oromia and southern Somali RegionLivestock production does not materialize as anticipated In the most likely scenario, displaced, destitute, and poor households are expected to predominately rely on community support, firewood/charcoal sales, a scarcity of labor opportunities, and a gradual increase in food assistance, with nearly all of their meager income devoted to buying food. However, seasonal milk and income from livestock births during the projection period will also be critical, and there is a credible risk of an alternative scenario in which more extreme outcomes materialize. Namely, if anticipated food and income from livestock production does not materialize, then there more extreme outcomes than currently projected would likely occur. 

    Areas of Concern

    There are multiple areas of high concern in Ethiopia, primarily located in Tigray Region and the pastoral south and southeast in Somali and Oromia regions, in addition to northeastern Amhara Region and western Afar Region. FEWS NET has selected two areas of concern for this report to illustrate the long-term impacts of the 2020-2022 conflict in Tigray and the 2020-2023 drought in the pastoral south and southeast. 

    Enderta Dry Midland (EDM) Livelihood Zone of Tigray Region (Figure 17)

    Current Situation

    Figure 17

    Reference map for Enderta Dry Midland Livelihood Zone
    Reference map highlighting EDM

    Source: FEWS NET

    Rainfall: The EDM livelihood zone received extended February to May belg rainfall, with rainfall atypically continuing right through the start of the June to September kiremt season. Although kiremt rainfall totals were normal through June, rainfall deficits emerged and strengthened during July and August, which coincides with the typical peak of the rainy season. Furthermore, rainfall ended nearly a month early in late August/early September. Overall, cumulative seasonal rainfall was well below-average, resulting in drought conditions.

    Crop conditions: Currently, the meher harvest is ongoing. Households are expected to have access to either several months of own-produced food stocks or in-kind payments and sharing of food stocks from other community members upon completion of the harvest. Despite the shortage of oxen for plowing, farmers maximized their capacity to plant by borrowing oxen or opted to contract out their land through crop-sharing agreements. Shortfalls in seed availability were also ameliorated through a combination of NGO support, borrowing, and some purchases. Altogether, these strategies facilitated timely planting at normal levels. However, FEWS NET observed severe water shortages and wilting of crops during a field assessment in September, including evidence of complete crop failure earlier in the season in some areas that prompted farmers to replant. The replanted crops are in the vegetation stages with poor prospects due to low soil moisture and no rainfall expected. In particular, crop development was visibly very poor in the northeastern and eastern areas of the livelihood zone. 

    Livestock body conditions: Dry pasture is generally available, as livestock are feeding on pasture that developed after the extremely favorable belg season. In some areas, farmers are also feeding livestock with fodder and dried crop residue from failed crops. Consequently, livestock body conditions are generally favorable. However, while current livestock feeding is adequate, there is high concern for the potential depletion of pasture and the likely shortage that will occur before the next rainy season in June 2024. Furthermore, household livestock holdings remain extremely low due to excessive sales, looting, and slaughtering. 

    Market supply and prices: Market supply levels declined from August to September, in part owing to trade disruptions resulting from the conflict in Amhara and in part due to typical, seasonal declines in national and local food supplies. In October, market supplies are moderately increasing although remains below average. Lower-than-normal market supply, coupled with high market demand, is driving high and increasing staple food prices. Prices have notably increased since April, when the conflict in Amhara first began and led to disruptions in market dynamics and demand. In Mekele, maize prices in September were over 35 percent higher than in April, albeit lower by around 50 percent than September 2022. Prices have declined since the same time last year due to the lifting of the blockade of Tigray in November 2022, which has increased movement of goods to and from the region. After recording a notable increase since the cessation of the conflict in Tigray, prices of livestock in Mekele remained stable between April and October.

    Income: Income-earning opportunities for poor households have marginally improved since the cessation of the conflict in 2022 due to the resumption of some labor activities, such as construction. Agricultural labor is not generally available, as households cover their own labor needs or rely on traditional collective labor arrangements. Households are also trying to access income through livestock sales, support from family members, and self-employment activities such as firewood and charcoal sales. Community support and remittances, which became important following the conflict, continue to exist. However, the level of support has significantly dropped due to the reduced capacity of community members to provide support and the perception that peace has been restored and the need for support is lower. Overall, household incomes continue to be limited, despite a slight improvement compared with the 2020-2022 conflict period.

    Humanitarian food assistance: While the pause of large-scale humanitarian food assistance remained in effect in October, humanitarians are delivering food assistance through pilot programs in some areas. Namely, WFP is implementing Vulnerability Based Targeting (VBT) food distributions in the southeastern zones of Tigray. According to the Food Cluster, over 716,000 people received assistance in the southern and northwestern zones in August and September. 

    Malnutrition: While screening data has been collected in other areas of Tigray, MUAC screening data are not readily available in this specific livelihood zone. Screening activities are low in this livelihood zone because nutrition interventions have been limited. Still, inferences can be drawn from MUAC screening data in neighboring areas, where data suggests acute malnutrition levels remain atypically high, though on a declining trend due to the seasonal availability of food and income. Findings from a SMART survey conducted by ENCU in August found levels of acute malnutrition within the Critical (GAM 15 to 29.9 percent) in areas of Tigray that are within this livelihood. cute malnutrition was of the highest concern among IDPs.   

    Current food security outcomes: Across this area, many poor households are consuming food from the 2023 meher harvest and sharing the harvest with those who do not have access to it. Additionally, the availability of the harvest is also improving market supply. While livelihood strategies such as labor employment continue to provide some income for food, many poor households face food consumption deficits. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely ongoing at the area-level, but it is likely that this is inclusive of some populations that are experiencing more severe outcomes. In particular, displaced households within camps and informal settlements are of concern as they have limited ability to access food from the ongoing harvest and rely on extreme levels of coping, such as begging to access food. These populations are likely in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). 

    Assumptions  

    The national-level assumptions also apply to this area of concern.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes 

    Despite the below-average 2023 meher harvest, poor household food stocks are expected to last from October 2023 through at least January 2023. Poor households are expected to be able to consume food from their own-production or access food through in-kind payment or sharing. The available poor household stocks are not expected to completely alleviate consumption deficits. Income from cash is expected to remain low with the expectation that purchasing power is expected to remain low.  As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist at the area-level. At the household-level, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes are expected among some of the population, predominantly IDPs, as these households are unable to access food from the harvest and have extreme difficulty accessing income. Most of these populations are expected to rely on severe coping strategies such as begging. 

    Starting in February 2024, poor household food stocks are expected to become exhausted, and poor households will face a shortage of income to purchase food. Staple food prices are expected to start increasing further in early 2024 as market demand increases. This will put food purchases further out of reach for many poor households. Additionally, IDPs will continue to face extreme difficulty accessing food and income. The population facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes is expected to rise sharply as food consumption deficits increase, leading to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes at the area level. Levels of acute malnutrition are expected to remain high and increase, and some level of hunger-related mortality is expected. Some households are likely to face Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). 

    Filtu-Dolow Pastoral (FDP) Livelihood Zone of Somali Region (Figure 18)

    Current Situation

    Figure 18

    Reference map for Filtu-Dolow Pastoral Livelihood Zone
    FDP reference map

    Source: FEWS NET

    Rainfall: Rainfall October to December deyr season rainfall was slow to start in early October; however, rainfall picked up in mid-to-late October. As of late October, rainfall was 200 percent above average, marking one of the wettest Octobers on the historical record. The heavy rainfall led to severe flooding, submerging grazing areas but also improving water availability. 

    Pasture and water availability: In early October, pasture and water availability was still seasonally low as rainfall had yet to start for the 2023 deyr seasonDuring this time, livestock were migrating as normal to access pasture and water. However, with the onset of rainfall in late October, pasture has started to green, and livestock are able to access pasture closer to their homesteads. Pasture availability in late October was well above average, and the government paused water trucking as the favorable rainfall began refilling water points. 

    Livestock body conditions and productivity:  Livestock body conditions are generally seasonally normal. As pasture greened and livestock started to consume more pasture, their body conditions further improved. Household livestock holdings of sheep and goats have moderately improved, as these livestock gave birth in September and October. However, these livestock holdings are low to nonexistent among displaced and poor households, due to large livestock losses associated with the prolonged drought. No kidding or calving occurred for large ruminants, with most livestock currently in their gestational period and to give birth in 2024. While goats and sheep are currently milking at normal rates per animal, the availability of milk per household is extremely low among the poor and displaced households, as many do not have access to livestock. 

    Staple food and livestock prices: Poor harvests, disrupted supply chains, and high fuel and transportation costs are driving high and increasing food prices. Additionally, the pause of food assistance has contributed to decreases in market supply and high market demand. In Filtu in Liban zone, maize prices in September were over 50 percent higher than in September 2022 and nearly 200 percent higher than the five-year average. 

    Due to atypically high livestock deaths and low births in the past seasons, the total supply of livestock for sale on the market is below average. Additionally, households with livestock are focused on restocking and are not selling their livestock. In Filtu, goat prices in September were at 3,400 ETB/head, which is about 10 percent lower than in August but nearly 50 percent higher than in September 2022 and roughly 130 percent higher than the five-year average. 

    Terms of trade: Both livestock prices and local cereal prices have been increasing in the Filtu market; however, livestock prices are generally rising at a lower rate than staple foods. The moderate increase in livestock prices has been supported by the end of the drought and subsequent improvement in livestock body conditions. As a result, the goat-to-maize terms of trade have moderately risen since April, but still remain below that of last year and the five-year average. In September, the terms of trade were only 7 percent below those of the same time in 2022, but it is important to note that the terms of trade in 2022 were already low due to the drought. Comparisons to the five-year average are more unfavorable, with the terms of trade nearly 25 percent below the five-year average. Additionally, it is important to note that livestock sales benefit only those households with livestock holdings, which – in the aftermath of the drought – are generally the middle and better-off households. 

    Income: According to FEWS NET’s key informant interviews and focus group discussions, pastoral households are facing significant reductions in their income-earning due to a reduced number of salable livestock and decreased income from milk sales. As a result, many are engaging in atypical livelihood strategies such as selling firewood and charcoal and taking on further debt. Additionally, many poor households receive zakat, gifts in the form of food from the better-off wealth group, and remittances from relatives in urban areas. While these income sources are available, they are generally small and insufficient to fill the gap left by limited to no livestock holdings. 

    Humanitarian food assistance: Large-scale food assistance through WFP remains paused as of October; however, smaller-scale assistance programs are ongoing in some woredas within this livelihood zone. While the assistance is helping mitigate the impact of the loss of livestock among recipients who previously relied on livestock as their primary income source, the number of people receiving assistance is very low relative to the number of people in need. The Rural Agency for Community Development and Assistance distributed cash to nearly 550 households in Filtu and Dolow-ado woredas. The first cycle of the cash transfer was made in late August and September, while the second and third cycles started in October. Each household receives nearly 4,000 ETB per cycle. Additionally, a cash-for-work program is ongoing, with incentive payments of 2,500 ETB per household made to 200 households in Fikow and Shambal woredas. Lastly, multipurpose cash was distributed in three rounds to 300 households in Dolow-ado, Filtu, and Bokolmayo woredas. 

    Malnutrition: While representative data on acute malnutrition prevalence have not been collected recently, proxy data on acute malnutrition levels are available from a malnutrition screening conducted in August. Around 43,000 children under five years of age were screened for acute malnutrition in Dolow-ado and Bokolmayo woredas by the health department. The proxy levels of acute malnutrition were found to be within the Extremely Critical (GAM WHZ ≥30 percent) range in Dolow-ado and Critical (GAM WHZ 15.0-29.9 percent) in Bokolmayo. 

    Current food security outcomes: Poor and very poor households are unable to rely on livestock to access food or income as the milk from livestock is minimal, and they have limited sellable livestock. These households and many displaced households are relying on limited amounts of credit, gifts, and humanitarian assistance, while increasing their debt burden. As a result, poor and very poor households in this livelihood zone are currently in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    Assumptions 

    The national-level assumptions also apply to this Area of Concern. 

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes 

    While there will be a slight improvement in food security conditions due to increased milk production following the likely above-average deyr season, overall milk availability will remain low, notably among very poor and destitute households due to the massive loss of livestock during the previous drought. These households are expected to have limited access to credit and milk and few salable livestock to fund purchases of cereal and other essential goods. Other income sources will be inadequate to prevent large food consumption gaps. As a result, these households are expected to rely on purchasing less expensive foods, borrowing food or depending on help from friends or relatives, continuing to limit portion sizes at mealtimes, and maintaining a reduced number of meals eaten per day through at least early 2024. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are most likely through early 2024, with some households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). There is a credible risk of more severe outcomes if anticipated income and increases in livestock production do not materialize, notably among the displaced populations in these areas.

    Milk production and availability are expected to improve starting in February, when most of the breeding animals conceived during the 2023 gu are expected to give birth. Similarly, livestock holdings are anticipated to improve somewhat, as all breeding sheep and goats are expected to give birth to their second cycle in March/April 2024. This will represent the first significant improvement in household income from both livestock and livestock product sales since the drought first began in 2020. The anticipated improvement in milk production and availability is based on the likely continuation of high water and pasture availability during consecutive favorable rainfall seasons during the deyr 2023 and gu 2024, which will support good livestock health and body conditions. Improved milk availability in the area and increased sharing between households are expected to support an increase in household food consumption, driving improvement to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes in several woredas. However, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in some areas where the high number of displaced/destitute households will not be able to access milk production through community support or will have limited purchasing power due to high food prices and low incomes. 


    Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Ethiopia Food Security Outlook October 2023 - May 2024: Food assistance needs remain high amid slow recovery of livelihoods in 2024, 2023.

    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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