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Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) widespread across southern pastoral Ethiopia

  • Key Message Update
  • Ethiopia
  • November 2022
Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) widespread across southern pastoral Ethiopia

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Severe levels of acute food insecurity –  associated with high and concerning levels of acute malnutrition and hunger-related mortality – persist in drought- and conflict-affected areas of Ethiopia. Ongoing and planned humanitarian assistance is likely preventing worse outcomes in many areas,  but the size of food and income deficits and the scale of the population in need exceeds the humanitarian response. Drought-affected areas of southern and southeastern pastoral areas, particularly Borena Zone of Oromia Region and Dawa, Afder, Liban, and parts of Shebelle zones of Somali Region, are of highest concern. In the aftermath of the two-year conflict in northern Ethiopia, Tigray Region and the bordering areas of Afar and Amhara regions also remain of high concern. 

    • In southern and southeastern areas, the ongoing historic drought continues to result in widespread livestock deaths, limited access to food and income, and displacement. At the end of November, cumulative rainfall during the October to December 2022 deyr/hageya season was mixed across the region, ranging from well below average in southern areas bordering Kenya to favorable in localized eastern areas. Even as early as November, it is likely that the deyr/hageya season failed in Dawa, Liban, and Dawa zones of the Somali Region and in Borena Zone of Oromia. Due to low livestock conceptions, poor body conditions, and reductions in herd sizes, calving and kidding levels have been extremely low or nonexistent in successive seasons. Ongoing and planned humanitarian assistance distributions are mitigating more extreme food consumption deficits and levels of destitution for recipients. As a result, Emergency! (IPC Phase 4!) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are expected to persist. In the absence of continued humanitarian food aid, however, outcomes worse than Emergency (IPC Phase 4) could occur. 

    • While levels of conflict have significantly decreased since mid-2022 in Tigray, access to both typical food sources and humanitarian assistance has yet to improve considerably. According to the Food Cluster, humanitarians distributed aid to nearly 1.0 million people in November, most of which occurred in Mekelle and Hintalo woreda. This is the lowest number of people reached with assistance since May, generally attributed to logistics and supply constraints. Roughly half of the people that received assistance only received wheat due to stock shortages. Furthermore, population movement from Tigray to other areas of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Eritrea continues to be limited, as well as households’ ability to earn income and purchase food. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected through at least May, except in western Tigray, where households are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). 

    • In Afar, declines in conflict have facilitated the return of displaced households to their homesteads. According to the multi-partner meher assessment, of the 900,000 people displaced between 2021 and mid-2022, 70 percent have returned to their area of origin. However, many rural households have lower-than-normal financial access to food due to the loss of livestock from conflict and weather shocks coupled with high food prices, which are reducing purchasing power; the impact is particularly concerning in areas adjacent to Tigray, where herd sizes are extremely low due to conflict-related losses. From August to November, WFP and the government delivered food assistance to around 712,000 people to mitigate food consumption gaps. However, acute malnutrition data collected in Afar by the Bureau of Health between October 15 and November 8 still found a proxy Global Acute Malnutrition rate of 27.1 percent. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected to persist in the worst-affected areas of Afar through May. In adjacent areas of Afar, humanitarian assistance is expected to prevent worse levels of food insecurity, resulting in Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) and Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes. 

    • Conflict and insecurity have increased in recent months in parts of Oromia, notably in East, West, Horo Guduru, and Kelam Wollega zones, Guji Zone, and localized areas of West Guji, North, and West Shewa zones. While information on the extent to which conflict has impacted households is limited, anecdotal information suggests that over one million people have been displaced across these areas in the last year. Additionally, the conflict has disrupted both local market supply flows and the movement of grain from western surplus-producing areas to deficit-producing areas in the east, south, and southeast, driving lower market supply and price increases. Furthermore, displaced populations typically face some difficulty engaging in their normal livelihood activities, having lost access to their land and social support and relocated to new areas. The loss of these assets makes it difficult for them to engage in most agricultural and income-generating activities. 

    • Macroeconomic conditions remain poor across Ethiopia, marked by high and increasing annual inflation. According to the Central Statistic Agency (CSA), annual inflation rose from 31.7 percent in October to 35.1 percent in November, driven mainly by high food and fuel prices. While staple food prices are slightly declining from October to November as the meher harvest continues, prices remain very high. For example, maize prices in Addis Ababa fell five percent from October to November, but were still over 125 percent higher than the five-year average. According to the National Bank of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Birr (ETB) traded at around 52.90 ETB/USD on the official market in November, reflecting over a 10 percent decrease in value since November 2021. The low value of the ETB limits the capacity to import commodities, which in turn drives up the cost of imported goods, such as wheat. 

    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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