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Deyr 2022 rains end with marked deficits, contributing, alongside conflict in the North, to high needs

  • Key Message Update
  • Ethiopia
  • January 2022
Deyr 2022 rains end with marked deficits, contributing, alongside conflict in the North, to high needs

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Ethiopia is expected to continue facing multiple severe shocks in 2022, including sustained conflict in northern areas of the country, drought conditions in southern and southeastern pastoral areas, and persisting inflation. Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes likely through at least May across Tigray, bordering areas of Amhara and Afar, and some southern zones of Oromia and Somali regions. In Tigray, it is possible worse outcomes are ongoing, but information is insufficient to confirm or deny. In Amhara, the likelihood that outcomes more severe than Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will emerge is diminishing, though many still face large food consumption gaps. Overall, food assistance needs will remain notably higher in 2022 than last year.  

    • Despite the lull in conflict in January, extreme food insecurity persists in northern Ethiopia. With livelihood systems severely damaged, displaced populations still face significant barriers to generating income, which restricts their ability to buy sufficient food. While market supplies are reportedly improving as trade routes open in Amhara, household ability to purchase food remains limited. In Afar, the large-scale loss of livestock has resulted in extremely low access to income and food. While some crops are being shared among households in Tigray, it is still likely that food access and income are extremely limited. 

    • In late December 2021, conflict subsided in northern Ethiopia as government forces regained control of Amhara and Afar, although conflict and displacement in select areas continued to occur in late December and January. According to OCHA, IDPs returned to their areas of origin in Amhara and Afar in January, due to the relative calm in conflict. While there are reports of over 8,800 returnees within Tigray, this number represents a small portion of the total displaced population in Tigray. At the same time, displacement continues in localized areas of Amhara and Afar bordering Tigray. With continued population movement, reliable figures on the number of people displaced versus returned are difficult to obtain. Displaced and recently returned populations are likely having significant difficulty meeting their food and non-food needs.  

    • Extremely poor rainfall during the October to December 2021 deyr season in southern and southeastern pastoral areas was preceded by two consecutive poor seasons in late 2020 and early 2021, and the compounding impacts are limiting pasture and water availability. Unusually dry conditions have resulted in extremely poor livestock conditions across much of the region, notably for less drought-tolerant livestock such as cattle. High levels of atypical livestock migration and large-scale livestock deaths have been observed. According to the government, over 455,000 livestock have died across Shebelle, Afder, Korahe, Nogob, and Dawa zones in the Somali Region; Borana, Guji, West Guji, East Bale zones of Oromia; and Dasenech Woreda of South Omo Zone in SNPPR between early October 2021 and late January 2022. As many herds have migrated, tracking the precise number of total livestock deaths is difficult, and the number of livestock deaths is likely higher. Due to poor to emaciated livestock body conditions, pastoral households are expected to have very low income from livestock and livestock product sales.

    • The forecast fourth consecutive below-average season in southern and southeastern pastoral areas in early 2022 will result in further deterioration in livestock holdings as livestock mortality is expected to increase, and births will likely be limited. Milk from livestock, a key food and income source for pastoral households, is expected to be significantly below average. Purchasing power among pastoralists will also likely be much lower than normal due to high staple food prices and low income from livestock sales. The areas worst affected by these shocks, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely, include Borena of Oromia Region, and Dawaa, Liben, and Afder of Somali Region, though widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are still expected in the rest of southern and southeastern Ethiopia.

    • Most belg cropping areas of the country had below-average 2021 production due to inadequate rainfall and conflict, hindering poor households’ access to food and income. The increase in staple food prices, particularly during the March to May lean season, will result in low purchasing power. With forecast below-average February to May 2022 belg rainfall, planting for belg crops this year is likely to be delayed and below average, resulting in another year of below-average belg production. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely across most of these areas through May. ​

    • Macroeconomic conditions continue to decline due to increasingly high annual inflation and depreciation of the Ethiopian Birr (ETB). According to the Central Statistics Agency, annual inflation in December was 35.1 percent, a six percentage point increase over November. According to the National Bank of Ethiopia, the average official exchange rate in January 2022 is about 49.5 ETB/USD, about 12 percent higher than January 2021. Ultimately, these factors are driving high food prices. Despite the mixed prices trends in October and December, prices of most staple foods remain very high in both local and central markets. In Addis Ababa, December maize prices were over 100 percent higher than in December 2021, and nearly 200 percent higher than the five-year average. 

    • Deliveries of Round 4 of humanitarian assistance reached about 9.6 million people with over 153,000 MT of food between November and early January 2022. Humanitarian assistance deliveries are minimal compared to the need in Tigray due to the ongoing de facto humanitarian blockade; food supplies have not reached Tigray since December 14. According to OCHA, as of February 1, less than 1,000 MT of food aid remain available in Tigray with only 300 MT of stock to feed only around 20,000 people with a three-commodity food basket. Furthermore, deliveries of assistance in Tigray are limited due to ongoing fuel shortages. In Amhara and Afar, while humanitarian access is still precarious in conflict-affected areas, deliveries have been scaled up with humanitarians reaching 5.7 million and 534,000 people between late November and mid-January, respectively. Humanitarians distributed assistance to 1.65 million people in Round 4, while Round 5 dispatch is ongoing in the Somali Region. The rest of the aid for Round 4 was distributed to nearly 3.0 million people in non-conflict affected Amhara, Dire Dawa, Oromia, Sidama, and SNNP regions. Overall, the humanitarian response in 2021 was lower than typical, with only four of the standard six to seven rounds distributed by early 2022. 

    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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