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Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes likely until October harvest

  • Key Message Update
  • Ethiopia
  • May 2024
Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes likely until October harvest

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) and Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes are ongoing and expected to persist through September in many areas of northern Ethiopia and parts of the pastoral south and southeast, where humanitarian food assistance is significant and likely preventing worse outcomes. Humanitarians are likely to continue prioritizing food assistance delivery to severely conflict- and drought-affected areas to mitigate food consumption deficits and further erosion of livelihoods and livelihood assets. In many neighboring areas where humanitarian food assistance is not significant, however, households are expected to continue to face moderate to extreme difficulty accessing food and income for food purchases, and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected. In Tigray, more extreme outcomes would be anticipated if humanitarian food assistance and social support substantially decline or are disrupted for an extended period prior to the harvest in October.
    • Nationally, the February to May 2024 belg rainfall season has been largely favorable, facilitating belg crop development, land preparation, and planting of long-cycle meher crops like maize, sorghum, and groundnuts. Most belg crops are in good condition and in a normal vegetative state. However, in areas of East and West Hararghe zones of Oromia and along the Rift Valley, a two to four-week dry spell occurred in March and led to some delays in planting. While households in these areas are now planting at near-normal levels and the return of the rains is supporting crop growth, the harvest will subsequently be delayed by about a month. This delay may potentially affect the land typically used for planting short-maturing varieties for the meher season following the belg harvest.
    • In areas of northern Ethiopia, such as Tigray and Wag Himra Zone of Amhara, households are continuing land preparation activities for the upcoming June to September kiremt season by plowing, with light rainfall (up to 200 mm) is softening soils slightly. In South Tigray, where February to May belg rainfall occurs, rainfall has generally been above average, facilitating crop production. The kiremt rainfall is expected to be above average, motivating households to engage in the season and facilitating favorable crop development. Households are expected to make every effort to engage in the upcoming kiremt planting season, such as borrowing or using credit to access seeds for cultivation and/or renting out land to better-off households in exchange for in-kind payment, in order to harvest or access some food from the October harvest. 
    • Heavy April and May rainfall in areas that receive diraac/sugum and gu/genna rains led to localized flooding, predominantly in areas of the Somali, Afar, and Oromia regions. According to the Ethiopia Disaster Risk Management Commission (EDRMC), the floods have affected over 590,000 people and displaced around 95,000 people. Flooding in the southern Somali Region resulted in some of the largest-scale damage, with 18,000 hectares of cropland inundated and nearly 350 livestock killed. In southern and southeastern areas of Oromia Region, over 2,500 hectares of farmland were damaged and over 35,500 people were displaced. In Afar, the Afar Disaster Risk Management Bureau reported that the overflow of the Awash River has affected over 20,000 households and displaced nearly 9,000 households. In contrast, flooding in belg-receiving areas of southern Ethiopia have been localized; while the floods damaged some crops, the overall impact on belg crop production in June/July is projected to be minimal. 
    • In the southern and southeastern pastoral areas, favorable rainfall early in 2024 has resulted in lush pastures and crop development in agropastoral areas. In agropastoral areas of Somali Region, more households have engaged in crop production than is typical, as some households switched to cropping as a key source of food and income after the pause of food assistance in 2023. Households accessed seeds through small distributions, seeds from their own stocks, and some purchases. While crops are generally in favorable condition, flooding along riverine areas and flood plains destroyed some crops; households are expected to replant once the flood waters recede. 
    • In East and West Hararghe zones, as well as some adjacent areas, khat is a key cash crop that contributes up to 50 percent of annual income for households. According to FEWS NET/WFP key informant interviews with khat traders, the khat price has significantly declined by over 50 percent compared to last year, reducing labor demand and opportunity for khat picking and packaging. Despite the excess labor supply, the daily labor wage rates remained similar compared to last year and those who can access labor from khat production are earning stable income; however, there are many outside the labor market due to the declining labor availability, decreasing household access to this important income source. 
    • The Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) conducted new SMART+ surveys of global acute malnutrition (GAM) in Amibara woreda of Afar in March 2024 and Dolobay and Guradamole woredas of Somali Region in April 2024. The weight-for-height (WHZ) GAM prevalences were estimated at 12.2, 12.9, and 23.7 percent for Amibara, Dolobay, and Guradamole woredas, respectively. These point prevalences of acute malnutrition are within the Serious range (GAM WHZ 10-14.9 percent) in both Amibara and Dolobay and Critical (GAM WHZ 15-29.9 percent) in Guradamole. Between January and April 2024, about 746 cholera cases were reported in Somali Region, which is 13 percent higher in comparison to the January-March 2024 total. Cholera cases are associated with limitations on households’ day-to-day activity and earning potential due to illness, and families will divert funds to increased medical expenses instead of food purchases.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Ethiopia Key Message Update May 2024: Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes likely until October harvest, 2024.

    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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