FAO April 2016 Situation Report:       A third of Ethiopia’s woredas officially classified as facing food security & nutrition crisis

22 Apr

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin, The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
 

The needs are enormous, as outlined by the April 2016 FAO Situation Report. Relying on the TPLF regime issued document, like the other United Nations bodies closely collaborating with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also has put out that the total number of food insecure population is 10.2 million.

FAO’s concern is that of these, 1.7 million households that are in need of emergency seed support. It is also shown in the Situation Report, 654,000 households require livestock feed assistance.

The FAO is in need of $50 million for the implementation of its El Niño Response Plan, of which at present it is experiencing funding gap of $41.7 million to support 1.8 million households.

FAO Situation Report
 
Key findings:

    *   Humanitarian needs in Ethiopia have tripled since the beginning of 2015 as one of the strongest El Niño events on record
    has caused severe drought, leading to successive crop failures and widespread livestock deaths.

    *   Food insecurity and malnutrition rates remain high. Insufficient access to and availability of food has caused humanitarian needs to increase. The current situation requires simultaneous and immediate scaling up of multi-sectoral lifesaving and livelihood support along with investment in resilience building efforts in the most affected and at-risk areas.

    *   Escalating needs require scaled up response. With extremely limited means of production for the upcoming planting season,
    farming communities will remain vulnerable and increasingly unable to access food.

    *   The El Niño-induced drought is not just a food crisis – above all, it is a livelihood crisis. Over 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture for their food and income – significant production losses have severely diminished households’ food security and purchasing power, forcing many to sell their remaining agricultural assets and abandon their livelihoods

 

Map of Hotspot Classification and Seed Insecurity

Map of Hotspot Classification and Seed Insecurity

Hotspot woreda classification has been derived using six multi-sector indicators, including agriculture and nutrition, agreed at zonal, regional, federal levels. A hotspot matrix is often used as a proxy for the Integrated Phase Food Security Classification (IPC). Seed insecurity was determined at woreda level and reviewed by regional Bureaus of Agriculture.

The agriculture sector in Ethiopia typically supplies up to 85 percent of the country’s food supplies and employs more than 80 percent of the labour force. With insecure sources of food and income as a result of the drought, vulnerable rural households face widespread hunger and malnutrition, huge economic losses and long-term environmental damage. In late 2015, a Government-led multi-agency meher assessment found that 10.2 million people were food insecure, while 2 million required agricultural input support to resume food production.

Malnutrition rates are staggering, with over one-third of Ethiopia’s woredas now officially classified as facing a food security and nutrition crisis. These figures are increasing as the effects of drought continue to grip the country. The recent revision of hotspot woreda classification data conducted in April indicates that 15–20 percent of woredas identified as Priority 2 or 3 in December 2015 have slipped into Priority 1 or 2, respectively.
 

CHALLENGES FACING FOOD AND AGRICULTURE

The ongoing belg rains arrived late, impacting planting especially in the north. While the season contributes to only about 10 percent of national annual crop production, the spring rains are extremely important for crops in the northeast and south, the establishment of long-cycle crops in the west (making up 45–50 percent of annual cereal production). In pastoral areas, the extended dry spell is delaying long-awaited recovery and threatening food and income security. If the belg harvest is below average, this is likely to further increase humanitarian requirements beyond the current scale.

Seed reserves are severely depleted – nearly 1.7 million households do not have seed to plant in the meher agricultural season according to regional Bureaus of Agriculture. This is a doubling of the figure reported in January 2016 (838 000 households) and a near-quadrupling of the figure reported in the Humanitarian Requirements Document in December 2015 (477 000 households). The vast increase is a result of several factors, most notably increased availability and accuracy of information and the increasingly dire situation – for example, the ongoing lean season and related food insecurity, high food prices and constraining purchasing power have caused many households to consume their remaining seed stores as food.

High livestock mortality rates and worsening animal body conditions due to poor grazing resources, feed shortages and limited water availability have led to sharp declines in milk and meat production and increased incidence of disease and death. Current estimates indicate 654 000 livestock-dependent households require animal feed support. Access to pasture and water will continue to deteriorate until the expected peak of the ongoing rainy season in April.
 

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