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Expanding drought and conflict are expected to drive severe food insecurity in 2022

  • Key Message Update
  • Ethiopia
  • November 2021
Expanding drought and conflict are expected to drive severe food insecurity in 2022

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Households across northern Ethiopia face extreme difficulty accessing food, with limited access to harvests and markets. Millions remain cut off from humanitarian assistance due to both the ongoing de facto humanitarian blockade and conflict. Most of Tigray, and some neighboring areas of Afar and Amhara, face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, with populations likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). In Tigray, it is possible outcomes are worse, although available information is insufficient to confirm or deny. Additionally, more severe outcomes could emerge in northeastern Amhara if there is a prolonged and substantial contraction of economic and market activities; conflict restricts harvesting even more substantially than currently expected; and limited assistance reaches populations in need. 

    • Levels of malnutrition continue to be very high and concerning. A nutrition screening in northern Ethiopia and the find-and-treat campaign in Tigray continue to show high levels of acute malnutrition. As of mid-November, the find-and-treat campaign found a proxy GAM of over 14 percent in Central Tigray. In Neksege woreda of Southern Tigray, a find-and-treat campaign found a proxy GAM of 10.55 percent, and in Afar, the find-and-treat campaign conducted across the region found a proxy GAM of 28 percent. Nutrition data for conflict-affected areas of North Wollo and Wag Himra is not available. However, anecdotal reports express concern over hunger-related deaths in parts of Wag Himra Zone of Amhara. 

    • In November, conflict in northern Ethiopia continued to expand into southern parts of Amhara and east into Afar, driving further displacement. Conflict has spread further south from northeastern Amhara to South Wello, Oromia special, and North Shewa zones of Amhara. Additionally, conflict in late November was observed in Chifra Woreda in Zone 1 and some areas of Zone 5 of Afar. As of mid-November, some estimates indicate the displacement could be as high as 1 million people in Amhara and over 375,000 people in Afar. There are likely populations that have been displaced multiple times as conflict continues to shift. With the expected spread of conflict into areas of South Wello and North Shewa zones of Amhara, driving further displacement and disruption to livelihood activities, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to emerge in early 2022. Concern continues to be high that conflict may shift and disrupt major trade routes between Djibouti and densely populated areas of Ethiopia. 

    • Conflict in other parts of the country and drought are also driving increased displacement. Since June, according to the government, nearly 335,000 people in Wollega and Guji zones have been displaced due to conflict. Intercommunal conflict also resulted in the displacement of over 40,000 people in East Hararghe. Overall, as households are fleeing conflict, they often leave behind their assets and face a sudden loss of livelihoods, driving significant declines in food and income access for these populations. 

    • As of November 25, deyr/hageya rainfall has largely failed, with less than 55 percent of average rainfall across most southeastern and southern pastoral areas where moderate to extreme drought conditions are present. With the forecast for a below-average March to May gu/genna season, there is high concern for a historical fourth consecutive poor rainy season, which would be historic on the forty-year rainfall record. Due to pasture and water shortages, livestock body conditions are poor to critical, milk production is limited to none, and atypical livestock deaths are ongoing. As of November 30, over 100,500 livestock have died in Borena and Guji zones, with the most significant losses in Borena. In Somali Region, as of mid-November, while livestock deaths are reported in many zones, deaths reported in Dawa Zone have reached nearly 120,000. Further large-scale livestock deaths are anticipated in southern and southeastern pastoral areas. In areas where cropping activities take place, the crops have failed. Livestock prices are expected to decline further and affect income and food access from purchase.  In Borena and Guji zones of Oromia and most parts of southern Somali regions, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to emerge in early 2022. Drought also affected cropping areas across the Rift Valley areas of SNNP and central Oromia regions, which is expected to drive persistent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.

    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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