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Severe flooding in the pastoral south restricts household recovery from drought

  • Key Message Update
  • Ethiopia
  • November 2023
Severe flooding in the pastoral south restricts household recovery from drought

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to be widespread in northern, southern, and southeastern Ethiopia through at least mid-2024. While the ongoing meher harvest is supporting household and market food availability and access for millions of people in central, western, and northern Ethiopia, households in areas recovering from conflict and the 2020-2023 drought still face extreme difficulty accessing food. Additionally, the El Niño-induced drought in 2023 is driving limited access to food in some areas, including north Gondar, eastern Amhara, and eastern Tigray. There is increasing concern for localized areas of Tigray and Amhara where the meher harvest failed and households have limited food stocks. Additionally, the risk of more extreme levels of acute food insecurity persists in the pastoral south and southeast, particularly in a scenario where ongoing improvements in livestock production and other income sources do not occur to the degree that is anticipated. Food assistance distributions are expected to gradually resume by early 2024, which are expected to mitigate the size of kilocalorie deficits among beneficiaries; however, planned assistance is not yet at a scale and frequency that would prevent Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. 
    • In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, the extreme flooding associated with the ongoing El Niño conditions during the October to December deyr/hageya rains have limited the degree of household recovery from the historic 2020-2023 drought. Rainfall levels during the October and November period have been among the highest on the historical record, with total rainfall amounts in excess of 300 percent of normal. Flooding has been notably severe in areas of Shabelle, Afder, Liban, and Dawa zones of the Somali region. Flood waters started to recede in late November, and households started recession planting; however, large-scale damage more severe than that observed in 2019 had already occurred. According to OCHA, 632,000 people have been displaced due to flooding as of late November. Additionally, the flooding caused large-scale damage to cropland and pasture and around 21,500 livestock deaths. Notwithstanding these livestock losses, other livestock have conceived as previously forecasted; goats, cattle, and camels are expected to give birth at the start of the next rainy season in April/May. 
    • Staple food prices in most markets across the country have been stable at very high levels over the last few months. Prices have been driven by lower-than-normal market supply and high and increasing fuel prices. In November, maize and sorghum prices were similar to October prices, but ranged 55 to 80 percent higher than the same period in 2022, and over 100 percent higher than the three-year average. The increase in staple food prices, compared to the previous year, continues to weaken the purchasing power of market-dependent households. Similarly, the price of maize atypically increased in markets like Nazareth-Adama (100 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa) and Logia market in Afar, as the meher harvest has yet to reach these markets. 
    • Even with the announcement to resume humanitarian food assistance, food distributions are slow to start. Nationally, dispatch of food aid is ongoing with some distributions of USAID-funded assistance beginning in November. Meanwhile, the government of Ethiopia was able to provide some assistance prior to the resumption of USAID-funded assistance. The government distributed one to two rounds of assistance in most regions in August and September, targeting around 3.7 million people each round. According to the Food Cluster, WFP and the government continue the Vulnerability Based Targeting program in the Central and Northwestern zones of Tigray. In the Northwestern Zone, Round 2 distributions began in mid-October. As of mid-November, nearly 515,000 people had been reached with food assistance in eight woredas of the Northwestern zone. In Amhara, the government has allocated food assistance for around 713,000 people since October, with distribution currently ongoing. 

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Ethiopia Key Message Update November 2023: Severe flooding in the pastoral south restricts household recovery from drought, 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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