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Despite favorable start to gu/genna, Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!) persists

  • Key Message Update
  • Ethiopia
  • March 2023
Despite favorable start to gu/genna, Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!) persists

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Forecasts as late as February 2023 called for a sixth below-average gu/genna rainy season in southern and southeastern Ethiopia, but a shift in climatic conditions in March caused a revision to above-average rainfall. Rainfall totals in the first month of this season saw the revised forecast come to fruition: March rainfall totals were as high as 100 millimeters, or more than 300 percent above average. Coupled with dry soils, the heavy rainfall caused flooding in some of the worst drought-affected areas, damaging infrastructure and agricultural land and driving displacement. The February to May belg rains were also above average through March in most areas, with the exception of western belg-receiving areas where moderate deficits were observed.

    • In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, March rainfall has allowed for modest regeneration of pasture and water points. However, the subsequent flooding and sharp temperature drop resulted in more than 70,000 livestock deaths, according to authorities in Oromia and Somali regions. Zonal authorities are reporting that the rainfall has allowed households in agropastoral areas to plant, though the area planted currently stands at around 50 percent of normal due to limited access to inputs. The rainfall is overall alleviating drought conditions and allowing for some livestock conceptions, and the June harvest will support gradual recovery; however, significant food security improvements are not expected in the near term, given the large-scale loss of assets and coping capacity caused by the historic drought. With the support of continued humanitarian food assistance, Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are likely.

    • The planting of belg crops started on time in most areas, though was delayed by two to three weeks in the south and southwest amid a late start to the rains. Overall planting is likely to conclude as usual around mid-April, and given the forecast of above-average rainfall, the 2023 harvest is expected to be favorable overall. However, conflict is expected to limit households’ access to seeds, fertilizer, and draft power in conflict-affected areas of Amhara, SNNP, and Oromia regions, driving below-average belg production in localized areas. In Tigray, access to agricultural inputs is of concern, limiting belg planting. Furthermore, a below-average belg harvest is expected in southern and southeastern Ethiopia, where the previous drought has limited seed access.

    • In Tigray, gradual economic recovery is resulting in slight improvements in income-earning opportunities, including those associated with the availability of land preparation activities. However, overall access to income remains lower than pre-conflict levels. In part because labor migration, a typically vital income source among poor households in Tigray, remains limited as many lack the means to travel. In addition to low access to income, staple food prices remain high. According to WFP, most food prices in March 2023 are eight to 60 percent higher than at the same time last year. While purchasing power is low, improved humanitarian access compared to the same time last year is is supporting Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes. Some of the woredas in Tigray, located along Eritrea's borders, are partially inaccessible for humanitarian activities due to armed groups.

    • Across Ethiopia, overall poor economic conditions persist, driven by low government revenue and high import costs. According to the Central Statistical Agency (CSA), yearly headline inflation in March was 34.2 percent, more than two percentage points higher than in February. Prices of staple foods increased between February and March and continue to be well above average as a result of below-average 2022 harvests and high transportation costs. Maize prices in most markets of Yabello, Sikela, Jinka, and Dessie increased by more than 10 percent from February to March and are more than 90 percent higher than the three-year average.  

    Recommended Citation: FEWS NET. ETHIOPIA Key Message Update, March 2023: Despite favorable start to gu/genna, Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!) persists, 2023. 

    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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