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Extreme outcomes are likely in Tigray, Ethiopia, amid high food insecurity in rest of region

  • Key Message Update
  • East Africa
  • June 2021
Extreme outcomes are likely in Tigray, Ethiopia, amid high food insecurity in rest of region

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The scale and severity of food insecurity in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Yemen are among the worst humanitarian crises globally. Available evidence indicates Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely in conflict-affected areas of Tigray region of Ethiopia, with some of the worst-affected households likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Given that multiple areas in Tigray remain inaccessible and millions of households face large food consumption gaps, high levels of acute malnutrition and mortality are likely occurring. In South Sudan, food insecurity remains similarly severe during the ongoing lean season and localized conflict in Pibor, Jonglei, Warrap, and Greater Equatoria. In Yemen, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes with households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) persist as the conflict enters its seventh year amid the macroeconomic crisis and severe floods. In all three countries, an end to conflict, full humanitarian access, and a scale-up of food and nutrition assistance are urgently needed to save lives.

    • Macroeconomic shocks linked to foreign exchange shortages, high fuel prices, economic contraction during the pandemic, and other factors are pushing up food prices, reducing household income, and diminishing household purchasing power across much of the region. Sudan, Ethiopia, and Yemen are among the worst affected countries. In Sudan, cereal prices ranged from 400 to 500 percent above the five-year average in April. In Yemen, fuel prices were double the five-year average in April, while staple food prices ranged up to 65 percent above the April 2020 average. In Ethiopia, high government spending, the withdrawal of some international economic support, and hard currency shortages drove annual inflation to 19.2 percent in April. Reflecting this trend, Ethiopian teff, sorghum, and maize prices were up to double the respective five-year averages in April.  

    • In agropastoral and pastoral areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and northeastern Uganda, multiple weather shocks have caused crop losses, reduced livestock productivity, and water shortages. Harvests occurring between June and September in the eastern Horn and Karamoja, Uganda, are expected to be moderately to significantly below average, affecting local supply and food prices. In some areas, atypical livestock migration patterns, below-normal milk availability, and above-average water prices also signal increased pressure on rangeland resources and livestock health. As a result, many poor rural households have food consumption gaps or are engaging in negative livelihood coping strategies, such as accelerated livestock sales and increased indebtedness, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse.  Given climate forecasts that multi-season drought will likely persist in late 2021, a scale-up in food, water, and nutrition assistance is needed to prevent more severe deterioration in food insecurity.

    • According to UNHCR, the total number of internally displaced persons reached 12.75 million people in the region in May, located in Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen. An additional estimated 4.75 million refugees are sheltering in settlements in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania. Most refugees and internally displaced populations have limited livelihood opportunities and depend on humanitarian food assistance. However, inadequate funding has resulted in cuts to monthly in-kind and cash assistance rations[1] by 16 to 32 percent in Burundi, Ethiopia, and Tanzania and by 40 to 60 percent in Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Uganda. Given low access to income-generating activities, the effects of weather shocks on crop production, and reduced coping capacity due to the economic impacts of the pandemic, food assistance is too low to prevent an increase in the share of displaced populations that are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!).


      [1] A full general food assistance ration typically covers a minimum of 2,100 kilocalories per person per day.

    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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