By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
We have reached a stage where the ugly possibility of hunger is feared to reach the 15 million population threshold, and thus the need for massive humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia between October and December 2015 and in early 2016. While hoping it won’t develop into that if already good work is accomplished, nonetheless, tve prospect is worrying United Nations officials, as the AFP implicitly made reference to it last Friday.
That story seemed to have gripped the AFP itself, which ably reported on the speed how things change fast during humanitarian crises. The news agency pointed out, “That number has nearly doubled since August, when the United Nations said 4.5 million were in need — with the UN now warning that without action some “15 million people will require food assistance” next year, more than inside war-torn Syria.”
This is the ugliest situation, especially when one recalls the many humanitarian situations the people of Ethiopia have been exposed to, including those in recent memory that happened in 2002-03 and 2006.
When something like this hits citizens, one cannot help looking back. We recall distinctly the past with utter dismay for two reasons: First for the trouble that had befallen our people; and the ugliness of human behavior, especially with the TPLF sending to Nordic countries an envoy without the fear of God in his heart to apprise the diaspora of the situation, the goal being to collect money. Interestingly, Ethiopians discussed his actions and to this day remember how he dared to stay at the famous Hotel Kämp in Helsinki – usually exclusively reserved/frequented by heads of state and investor bankers.
As Ethiopians, there wad fast exchange of messages across Nordic nations and thought the envoy was fake, like his ruling party good at butchering and tearing crocodile tears, with no heart whstsoever. We later heard the embassy in Stockholm was bankrupted within two months of his arrival. They could check the records and the embassy had to be rescued from its bankruptcy with additional transfer of funds, largely to cover for the envoy’s extravagance. Interestingly, unaccountable and in total disregard of the financial regulations, which his regime itself does not respect,Ethipians in diaspoea learned that he did it again bringing his family in December 2006 to the Dane hotel. Check this from the Stockholm embassy records and there are individuals with copy of the envoy’s fantastic bills.
That is why Ethiopians to this day saw the TPLF envoy, who now hapens to be Ambassador in Nairobi. The envoy is a person who is born with enticing tongue and a cruel heart. That’s not his regime’s perception of him, when a fisherman should have known another fisherman for a distance, as Gerd on Gecko put it in the movie Wall Street!
No doubt, these poisoned gifts have served the envoy well in the loot! Anyone doubting this, let him check the embassy records and that of tje foreign ministry!
As far as the present drought and hunger situstion is concerned, in an article titled Conflict and drought continue to lead to high phases of acute food insecurity, the US government-organized fews.net now predicts again that the food crisis (IPC Phase 3 sage) “is anticipated to change into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) in the period from September to December 2015. This transition is assumed to be considered as ameliorating, if only good humanitarian assistance assistance action is taken “in most of eastern Amhara and Tigray, in eastern and central Oromia, and along the Rift Valley in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) in Ethiopia.”
As we discussed for the second time this year on June 3, 2015 in an article entitled Failed Belg rains worsen Ethiopia’s food insecurity on wider basis; food prices escalate as TPLF stumbles by its lack of appropriate policies or money to feed the nation, IPC stands for Integrated Food SEcurity Phase Classification, stage IPC 2 in particular:
“[R]epresents a situation, wherein household group experiences short-term instability. It is also the case where the household’s food consumption is reduced and is minimally adequate, preventing the need to engage in irreversible coping strategies. While the ‘Belg-dominiant’ areas of SNNPR and northeastern Amhara are/would be in Crisis IPC Phase 2; they already could manage “only with humanitarian assistance in May and June” only to move into IPC Phase 3 from July to September.”
The “stressed” qualifier speaks to the need for emphasis. Thus parts of the country that would go in difficult time on account of unheeded early warnings were and are:
” Northeastern and southern Afar, Harshin Woreda of Fafan (formerly Jijiga) Zone, and Aisha, Meisso, Afedem, Erer, and Shinile Woredas of Sitti (formerly Shinile) Zone: Household food access is expected to further deteriorate until the start of Karan/ Karma rains in July. Poor households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in May and June. With the anticipated improvement of livestock body conditions and likely increased livestock production, poor households will move into Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from July to September.
* Northwestern and central Afar Region and the rest of northern Somali Region: Despite the below normal March to May Sugum/Dirac rains, some pasture and browse from earlier seasons has helped and will continue to sustain livestock body conditions, production, and productivity. Following the start of Karan/Karma rains in July, livestock body conditions are expected to improve slightly and productivity to increase. However, continued cereal prices higher than last year will likely keep households Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September.
* Lowlands of Borena, Guji, and South Omo Zones: Despite some increase in pasture and water availability following the late start of Genna rains, livestock body conditions and livestock production has not yet fully recovered. These will likely decline during the June to September dry season. Due to low planted area, far below average maize production is expected in agropastoral areas in July. Most areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance through September, but the southern lowlands of Borena will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September due to even lower availability of rangeland resources.
* Southeastern pastoral areas: Despite the improvement on livestock body conditions, production and productivity following the normal Gu rains, continued increases in staple food prices and still small herd sizes will continue to limit purchasing power. Therefore, poor households will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September. However, in some southern parts of Korahe, Afder, and Liben Zones, lower water availability and a low level of camel calving during the June to September Xagaa dry season may reduce livestock production further. In these areas, poor households will be Stressed (IPC Phase2!) but only with the presence of humanitarian assistance from July to September.
* The lowlands in East Shewa Zone and some midlands in West Arsi Zone are likely to remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) with the continued presence of humanitarian assistance from May to June. However, as more households exhaust their food stocks and agricultural labor demand remains low, poor and very poor households will likely move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September.
* Lowlands of Gamo Gofa, Wolayita, Hadiya, Kambata Tambaro, Gurage, Halaba, and Sidama in SNNPR: Even the Belg crops that have survived may not mature and be ready to harvest until September. With the lean season extending until then and low agricultural labor demand, households will likely consume less from July to September. These areas are likely to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) but only with the continued presence of humanitarian assistance in May and June. However, as staple food prices seasonally increase, these areas will move into Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from July to September.”
Fews.net early at the beginning of this year forecasted that parts of Ethiopia would find themselves in IPC 3 stage. Households in this situation typically experience short-term instability. As we explained last June, two significant dangers of this are: (i) the affected household households would have significant food consumption gaps with high or above usual acute malnutrition. (ii) It is also possible that a household group in this situation is marginally able to meet minimum food needs only with irreversible coping strategies, such as liquidating livelihood assets or diverting expenses from essential non-food items.
Fews.net now confirms that the below-average rainfall since February in many areas resulted in both seasons in 2015 having well below-production in the eastern, Belg-producing areas. This has reduced the availability of labor opportunities, a key source of income for poor households in many areas.
Still the forewarning is that “While the lean season is likely to begin earlier in 2016 in eastern agricultural areas in, areas of Wag Himra Zone in Amhara Region and lowlands in central and eastern Oromia may remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) even during the October to January Meher harvest.”
At the same time, it is indicated that in southern Afar and Sitti (formerly Shinile) Zone in northern Somali Region in Ethiopia, Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) is expected to continue through at least December but likely through the start of the next rainy season in March 2016.
Fews.net confirms that below-average rainfall through most of 2015 have led to very low availability of rangeland resources and substantial livestock mortalities. Livestock body conditions have deteriorated sharply, while milk production is low, and livestock-to-cereal terms of trade have declined markedly, constraining food access for poor households.
The consequences of all these failure of rains and inaction (denials there was hunger) by the TPLF regime have led to huge rises in staple food prices have increased in recent months in Ethiopia, as household and market stocks are drawn down and as conflict disrupts markets in some areas [of the sub-region].
Interestingly, in absolute rejection of the sanctity of data, the TPLF regime dabbled into falsifying statistical data. We saw in the August data, Ethiopia’s headline inflation goes down to 11.6 percent in August from 11.9 percent in July.
How inflation could go down in time of drought and hunger, falling commodity exports and earnings or the politics of hating the repressive and corrupt regime remains unclear.
What fews.net foresees in the period from October to December 2015 is a bit uncertain, although in the broader Horn of Africa, it clearly indicates:
Due to the ongoing El Niño rainfall in the eastern Horn of Africa “is likely to lead to average to above average crop and livestock production in many areas. However, likely flooding along lakes and rivers and flash floods in lowlands in southern Somalia, southern Ethiopia, coastal and northeastern Kenya, northern Tanzania, and around Lake Victoria are likely to lead to displacement, outbreaks of water- and vector-borne diseases, crop and livestock losses, and constrained physical access to food and labor markets. Food security could deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) during the floods, in the worst-affected areas such as some riverine areas along the Juba and Shabelle Rivers in southern Somalia.”
Stage IPC 4, mentioned in the paragraph, above, describes of a household experiencing short-term instability; and it is possible that a household group may have extreme food consumption gaps. This would result in very high acute malnutrition or excess mortality.
It is also possible that a household may have extreme loss of livelihood assets. This is likely to lead to food consumption gaps and difficulties in restore themselves to status of non-dependence.
Rain failure in some parts of Ethiopia worsens food insecurity between now & Sept, as inflation also rears its head