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There is the potential for extreme food insecurity in conflict and drought-affected areas of Ethiopia

  • Key Message Update
  • Ethiopia
  • July 2022
There is the potential for extreme food insecurity in conflict and drought-affected areas of Ethiopia

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    • While the level of severity of acute food insecurity is expected to decline across some areas of Ethiopia in October due to the availability of the meher harvest, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely persist through at least mid-2023 in northern, eastern, and southern Ethiopia. The prolonged conflict in the north and persistent drought conditions in the east and south since late 2020 continue to drive elevated levels of acute malnutrition and hunger-related mortality. Ongoing food assistance distributions have helped mitigate the size of food consumption deficits among recipient households; however, current assistance levels have yet to lead to widespread improvements in food security, given the scale of existing needs. An urgent scale-up of aid is needed to save lives and livelihoods. 

    • In southern and southeastern pastoral areas, livestock production conditions remain very poor and continue to deteriorate. Pasture and water are largely unavailable, and over 3.8 million livestock have died as of late July, according to regional governments. Thousands of households have lost their entire herds and are destitute. As a result, there are reports of large-scale displacement to local IDP settlements and towns, as well as distant locations in Kenya, as households search for humanitarian assistance or wage labor opportunities for income to purchase food. Furthermore, households are reportedly begging for food and money to buy food. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are ongoing. 

    • The 2022 deyr/hageya season is likely to be below average, which would be the fifth-consecutive poor rainfall season in southern and southeastern Ethiopia. Based on forecast simulations by the Climate Hazards Center, NOAA, and USGS, there is an increased likelihood that rainfall will be 60 percent or lower than average based on historical analog years. Protracted drought will further diminish household food and income derived from livestock production, ultimately driving deterioration in acute food insecurity in pastoral areas well into 2023. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will most likely be widespread by October, with populations in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). It is possible that food assistance is preventing more extreme outcomes; however, the information required to confidently establish the role assistance is playing is insufficient. Overall, there is a risk that more extreme outcomes could materialize, especially if humanitarian assistance delivery is not timely and consistent.

    • Humanitarian convoys continue to arrive in Tigray, with over 1.4 million metric tons of aid arriving since April 1; however, the inadequate availability of fuel and cash is limiting assistance distributions within Tigray. Despite the improved availability of supplies, assistance delivery remains well below the need. A significant number of households are engaging in emergency coping strategies and some income-earning activities. Food prices are extremely high relative to neighboring areas, driving significant consumption deficits. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are ongoing, with the potential for worse outcomes. In October, the harvest is expected to somewhat mitigate some of the most severe food consumption deficits and sustain Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. High concern remains for the potential for more severe food insecurity as household food stocks run out in early 2023.

    • In belg-receiving areas of northeastern Amhara, the 2022 belg cropping season failed on top of already severe disruptions to livelihood activities due to conflict in 2021. Similar to its neighbors, humanitarian assistance supplies have relatively improved in most areas, but it is still low compared to the scale of total need, especially when household food access is low as the lean season is ongoing. Kiremt seasonal rainfall has been relatively favorable, facilitating planting activities; however, overall engagement in the season is lower than usual due to the low availability of seeds and the high cost of agricultural inputs. In areas affected by conflict in Amhara and Afar, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to be widespread through early 2023. 

    • In southern Afar, the ongoing karma rains are generally favorable. While the diraac/sugum was among the driest on record, the karma provides some relief. This facilitates the recovery of pasture, water resources, and livestock body conditions. Due to the likely improvement in livestock conditions and, subsequently, their value, households are likely to have increased purchasing power. As a result, this will likely improve household food access with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in late 2022.   

    • Failed belg and poor kiremt rains have been reported across southern and central Rift Valley areas and areas of the southeastern highlands of Oromia. Some areas have received less than 350mm of rainfall since March, reflecting similar conditions in the historical drought years of 1984 and 2011. Belg crops have failed in these areas, with minimal planting of long-cycle meher crops. Crop cultivation for short-cycle meher crops is up to 50 percent of average in drought-affected areas, with many farmers having to replant. While the planting window has yet to close for short-cycle meher crops, there is high concern for the ongoing kiremt rainy season in these areas. Planted crops are in the vegetative state across meher areas, although in poor condition in areas with insufficient rainfall. 

    • Annual inflation remains high, driven by rising food and fuel costs, which puts pressure on households’ ability to access market foods. Annual inflation in July was at 33.5 percent, slightly lower than June 2022, and reflects a minor decline in food inflation. In early July, however, the government eased fuel subsidies, which drove a 30 percent increase in petrol and a 40 percent increase in diesel prices. The increases in fuel and transportation costs will likely put further pressure on market goods. The continued market pressure drives price increases, with prices in July, 10 percent higher than in June. 

    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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