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Continued conflict in Tigray coupled with low economic activity drives Emergency (IPC Phase 4)

  • Key Message Update
  • Ethiopia
  • January 2021
Continued conflict in Tigray coupled with low economic activity drives Emergency (IPC Phase 4)

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As conflict and access constraints for humanitarian actors, traders, and populations continue in Tigray, many households are expected to have already depleted their food stocks, or are expected to deplete their food stocks in the next two months. Additionally, economic activity and associated labor and income-earning activities are now expected to remain extremely low through at least May 2021. This, coupled with significant disruption to market activity and delayed PSNP distribution, will most likely continue to sharply limit household food access. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to emerge across more extensive areas of central and eastern Tigray.

    • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist in some central, northwestern, and eastern areas of Tigray. In these areas, the conflict has somewhat subsided, and households are expected to start engaging in some labor and self-employment activities; however, economic activity is expected to be low due to ongoing low levels of insecurity. Additionally, in these areas, especially in southern Tigray in the Raya Valley, the harvest was relatively better, with food stocks expected to last through at least May 2021. Additionally, there is some engagement in trade with neighboring areas allowing for some food purchases.  

    • In western Tigray, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are most likely through mid-2021 as economic activity is relatively better than in other areas of Tigray, with market function gradually improving. Many households are able to access food from own production and engage in labor activities, although labor availability is somewhat limited. However, many households are expected to focus their income on accessing food, which will limit their ability to meet their non-food needs.

    • According to OCHA, as of January 19, over 495,000 people have been displaced in Tigray or to bordering areas of Amhara. Moreover, according to UNHCR, as of January 31, over 60,000 Ethiopians have fled to Sudan. Outside of Tigray, conflict has increased in recent months, primarily in areas of Benishangul Gumuz and Oromia.  According to OCHA, since mid-2020, around 180,000 people have been displaced in Metekel Zone of Benishangul Gumuz and neighboring Amhara. In the second half of 2020, over 98,000 people have been displaced in Wollega zone of Oromia and nearly 30,000 people are displaced in southern Afar. Many displaced populations have lost their livelihood assets and face limited access to normal livelihood activities and markets. Humanitarian assistance across most conflict-affected areas is limited by the security environment.

    • In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, below-average October to December hagaya/deyr rainfall resulted in below-normal pasture and water availability. This has driven declines in milk production, livestock body conditions, and income from livestock sales. The impacts of flooding in northern pastoral areas, including livestock losses in central and southern Afar, coupled with the high staple food prices and weak labor market, are resulting in low food access. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are anticipated to continue. The forecast below-average gu/genna March to May 2021 season is likely to mark the second consecutive below-average season. While some improvement of pasture and livestock body conditions are likely during the season, milk production and income from livestock sales will likely continue to be lower than average.

    • According to FAO, as of late January, immature desert locust swarms were beginning to spread throughout southern Ethiopia, including areas east of the Rift Valley in Oromia and moving northwards along the Rift Valley in rural areas of SNNPR. Ground conditions remain dry, not favoring the spread of locusts; however, with the start of the belg season in February and gu season in March, conditions are expected to drive swarm maturation and laying of eggs, favoring locust hatching. As vegetation is currently below-normal and the belg/gu/genna seasons are expected to be below-average, moderate to high impacts on both crop and pasture are expected in areas where desert locusts are present and control measures are minimal.

    • While COVID-19 restrictions across the country have been lifted and some economic activity has increased, it generally remains below-average. Many poor households rely on movement to urban areas or towns for construction labor, and with many construction activities still at a standstill, income from this source is limited. This has negatively impacted income for urban and rural poor households when agricultural labor is not available. Available information suggests that in some of the most extreme cases, the loss of this income has led some populations to resort to begging for food or money.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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