Ethiopian drought:                         Projected outlook through September 2016 foresees Belg prospects improving with April rains, while emergency situation continues

1 May

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)</em>

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the humanitarian situation in the eastern and southern Africa region has in the last six months significantly deteriorated as a result of continuing climatic and economic shocks and an increasing level of conflict. The global El Niño event has had a significant impact in southern Africa, parts of Sudan, Djibouti, north Somalia and northeastern parts of Ethiopia.

According to the Food and Nutrition Security Working Group, the number of people suffering from severe (crisis and emergency – IPC Phases 3 & 4) food insecurity and malnutrition in eastern Africa has increased from 18.2 million to 19.49 million; while in southern Africa an estimated 31.6m people remain food insecure.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
It is reported that a recurring theme during the regional World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) consultations, scheduled rom 23-24 May 2016 in Turkey, is the need for humanitarian and development actors at all levels – local, national, regional and international – to recommit to deliver effectively and innovatively on the existing agendas for reform and transformation.

As far as the Ethiopian drought situation is concerned, forecasts:

*   Following the late onset and poor performance of Belg rainfall throughout March, rainfall since early April has significantly improved and reduced rainfall deficits. Although late planting will delay harvests in SNNPR, national Belg harvests are expected to be average to slightly below average. Additional rainfall during the next few weeks will recharge water sources, improve browse and pasture, allow land preparation/planting of Meher crops, and favor development of cash crops.

*   National-level admissions of malnourished children under five-years old to Therapeutic Feeding Programs (TFP) in February 2016 increased 14 percent compared to January 2016, and 47 percent compared to February last year. Without substantial increases in humanitarian assistance, increases in acute malnutrition are likely through the peak of the lean season in September 2016.

*   Current contributions to the humanitarian appeal for food assistance have only funded approximately half of identified needs, while Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) transfers also typically end in June. In the absence of additional funding, assistance will cease just as needs begin to peak between June and September.

Updated Assumptions

The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used in the Ethiopia Food Security Outlook for February to September 2016. However, the following assumptions have been updated:

*   Belg harvests in SNNPR are likely to be delayed from June to July, delaying household access to own-produced crops and harvest labor.

*   In South Tigray, Belg production is likely to be below average, reducing household access to food and labor income from harvests.

*   No Belg production is expected in East and West Hararghe of eastern Oromia as they failed to plant Belg crops.

*   Improvements to livestock body conditions will likely take longer than expected because of delays in pasture regeneration in Afar and Northern Somali.

Projected Outlook through September 2016

Belg-producing areas of Southern Tigray (South Tigray) and eastern Amhara (South and North Wello, North Shewa): Improved food access from own production is unlikely in Southern Tigray as the prospect of the current Belg harvest is poor. This, together with rising prices of staples and low cash income, will keep the areas in either Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through September. On the contrary, Belg-producing areas in South and North Wello and North Shewa of Amhara will experience improvement in food access from June 2016 onwards. This is due to the anticipated near-average Belg harvest in June and improved cash incomes from livestock sales, thus an improvement from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is expected between June and September.

Non Belg-dominant areas of Eastern Amhara, Eastern and Southern Tigray, Eastern and Central Oromia:

    *   In Wag Himra, and mid- and low-altitude areas of East and West Hararghe, no improvement in both cash income and food from own sources is foreseen in the coming months. Poor households in these areas are likely to remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through September.

    *   Lowland areas of eastern Amhara (lowlands of north and South Wello, parts of North Gondar along the Tekeze catchment) are likely to face increasingly large food consumption gaps and an associated deterioration of nutritional outcomes during the peak of the June to September lean season. During this period, these areas are likely to move from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Emergency (IPC Phase 4).

    *   In eastern and southern Tigray, most parts of Eastern Amhara, some areas along the Tekeze and Abay River catchment, and some low and midland areas of Arsi, West Arsi, North and East Shewa of Oromia, no improvement in access to cash income or food is anticipated over the next five months. There will be, however, improvement in availability of water for human consumption and some improvement in livestock conditions as availability of water and pasture improve with continued rainfall. Still, households are likely to face significant food consumption gaps and will be in need of emergency food assistance. These areas will therefore continue to be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through September.

    *   SNNPR: lowlands of Sidama, GamoGofa, Wolayita, Hadiya, Kembata Tembaro, Guraghe, Silte and Halaba: Livestock conditions will improve as the good Belg rains enhance water and pasture availability. However, a full recovery to normal milk production levels is unlikely over the short term. This is true especially in the Rift Valley areas of the region where feed shortages have been critical. Belg harvest prospects look normal, even if it will come somewhat late, prolonging the lean season. Although harvesting of sweet potato has already started in some of the areas, it will be inadequate to fill major food gaps. Given the exhaustion of food stocks from previous harvest, declines in income from labor and expected increases in staple food prices, these areas are likely to stay in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through June 2016. However, Belg growing areas expect improvement with the start of fresh but late harvest in July, improving their food security to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through September.

    *   Pastoral areas of Afar and Sitti Zone of northern Somali Region: In central and northern Afar, poor households will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) until May 2016. Starting in June, improvements in livestock body conditions and seasonal increases in prices of livestock are likely to result in a slight improvement in food access and to improve food security outcomes to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the absence of assistance. Poor households in southern Afar and Sitti Zone of Somali are likely to continue facing substantial food consumption gaps and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes until at least September.


Keys to some the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC):

IPC Phase 1

    IPC Phase I relates to a situation that would not lead to acute food insecurity. This means that household groups do not experience short-term instability; or it is possible that they may experience short-term instability but are able to meet basic food needs, without engaging in disruptive coping strategies.

IPC Phase 2

    IPC Phase 2 represents 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.


    In IPC3, a household group experiences short-term instability. The affected household would have significant food consumption gaps with high or above usual acute malnutrition. It is also possible that a household group 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.


    In IPC 4 household group experiences 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.


    A household group experiences short-term instability and also would have near complete lack of food and/or other basic needs. This would make starvation, death, and destitution an inescapable reality.


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