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Poor kiremt rainfall, amid conflict, drives poor meher production prospects

  • Key Message Update
  • Ethiopia
  • September 2023
Poor kiremt rainfall, amid conflict, drives poor meher production prospects

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The 2023 belg harvest and associated increases in agricultural labor availability and livestock prices have resulted in increased food and income access in some areas of the country, reducing the number of people in need of food assistance. Nevertheless, millions of people are still awaiting the meher harvest, facing continued severe levels of acute food insecurity. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist in most northern, southern, and southeastern areas. While food and income are expected to increase from October to January, there is a credible risk of more extreme levels of acute food insecurity in the pastoral south/southeast and Tigray if this does not materialize to the extent currently anticipated, particularly amid an uncertain timeline for the end of the United States government’s pause on funding for food assistance deliveries.
    • In September, near-normal levels of rainfall moderated the magnitude of June to September kiremt rainfall deficits, mitigating some of the poor cropping conditions observed in August. Notably, in areas of West Arsi and East Shewa zones, rainfall resumed after a long dry spell. The green harvest has started for maize, especially in the northern areas of Amhara and Tigray, while other crops have reached or are approaching maturity. However, cropping conditions remain poor in some areas, and drought conditions persist in many areas that rely on the June to September rains. In Oromia, the shortage of rainfall, coupled with an outbreak of pests and disease, has negatively impacted crop conditions, driving further reductions in harvest expectations.
    • In the Amhara region, levels of conflict between Fano fighters and the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) have intensified after large-scale clashes began in early August. A significant increase in ENDF airstrikes and shelling occurred in September, with most attacks conducted in the East and West Gojjam zones against Fano contingents. While the government claims that the situation has returned to normal, ambushes and intense fighting are still ongoing in different parts of the region. Clashes are likely to continue, causing frequent blockages of roads and disrupting the movement of goods and people. In several parts of Amhara, the clashes have already disrupted the movement of both people and commodities and resulted in price increases. However, it is important to note that there have not been any reports of prolonged disruptions in transportation, except on roads such as Addis-Bahir Dar, which frequently experiences disruptions.
    • In northern conflict-affected areas, IDPs, returnees, and poor households with difficulty accessing typical food and income sources and poor households have very low purchasing power due to very high staple food prices along with low incomes. Many preferred staple foods such as teff, sorghum, and wheat have become unaffordable, and households in conflict-affected areas of the north have shifted to maize, a less preferred substitute, driving increased market demand and sharp increases in maize prices. In many markets in Amhara and Tigray, maize prices increased 25 to 35 percent between April and August 2023. Based on FEWS NET price monitoring data, in Sekota market in Amhara region, the price of white sorghum in August 2023 was 66 percent higher than last year and 93 percent higher than the three-year average. 
    • Since the pause of humanitarian assistance, the provision of food aid has been constrained. In August, the government provided support to approximately one million people across all nine regions. In the Tigray Region, efforts continue to pilot Vulnerability Based Targeting food distributions, but progress is slow. Since the pilot was launched in late July, WFP has distributed food to approximately 730,000 people residing in the Northwestern and Southern zones. Additionally, WFP is slated to begin rolling out food distributions to nearly 900,000 refugees in Ethiopia, including new arrivals from Sudan, in October following a series of reforms to ensure assistance reaches those most in need.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. Ethiopia Key Message Update September 2023: Poor kiremt rainfall, amid conflict, drives poor meher production prospects, 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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