Special report: FAO/WFP crop and food security assessment mission to Ethiopia (Phase 2)
The CFSAM phase-2 mission sought to integrate the findings from two assessments that took place in November and December 2008: the FAO Crop and Food Supply Assessment (phase-1) and the government-led, multi-agency Meher Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA). The highlights are as follows:
Food production, markets and prices
- In 2008, very significant progress was made by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) and the Central Statistics Authority (CSA) in reconciling the long standing differences in crop area estimates through the EC-funded FAO project "Support to Food Security Information System". Accordingly, the Mission used, for the first time, pre-harvest planted area estimates generated by the annual sample survey of the CSA.
- CSA's post-harvest data for the 2008 Meher season indicate a cereal and pulse production from the private peasant sector of 16.46 million tonnes, about 6 percent above the previous year's postharvest estimates. This was the fifth consecutive good Meher harvest. Adding the output of the commercial sector and a conservative forecast for the 2009 Belg season, the total estimate of cereals and pulses production in 2008/09 is put at 17.39 million tonnes.
- With an estimated total cereal and pulse utilization of about 18.26 million tonnes, total import requirements for 2009 marketing year (January/December) are forecast at 695 000 tonnes. Latest available data indicate that up to end of April 2009, 283 000 tonnes have already been imported (of which 259 000 as food aid).
- Throughout the country, cereal prices reached a record level in September 2008 and dropped by 26 percent in December 2008, reflecting the improved 2008 Meher production and the general decrease in international food prices. Cereal prices have since stabilised throughout the first half of 2009, but still remain at above average levels, with national cereal prices 15 percent above a two year average (May 2007 - May 2009) in May 2009.
Household food security and emergency needs
- Although the overall Meher crop production has been improving over the last five years there are still households that are food insecure. These are the 7.5 million persons chronically food insecure under the productive safety net programme (PSNP) and an additional 4.9 million people facing acute food insecurity for the period January to June 2009. This population is mainly due to the failure of 2008 Belg rains that affected crop production; the poor coffee and root crops especially in Southern Nations Nationalities Peoples' Region (SNNPR) and three almost consecutive poor Gu rains affecting pastoralists. Hence, the populations in need of food assistance are spread mostly over the eastern half of the country, with the most affected areas in Somali, Amhara, SNNP, Tigray and Afar regions. As a result, in addition to supporting the PSNP beneficiaries, the government and its partners needed approximately 591 503 tonnes of food to support the extra caseload of 4.9 million persons between January and June 2009.
- Reports from the field indicate that the 2009 Belg rains have performed poorly but not as badly as the 2008 Belg that were considered as total failure. The 2007 Meher assessment had predicted that a total population of 2.2 million would need food assistance for the 2008 calendar year. However after the failure of 2008 Belg, this figure was revised upwards to 4.6 million in April and again to 6.4 million by August. Judging by performance of the 2009 Belg so far, this mission believes that the total number of persons in need of food assistance will be similar to the 6.4 million in 2008. While the ongoing Belg assessment will shed more light on proper estimates of persons in need of food assistance, if the numbers in need of food assistance increase, there will be a corresponding increase in the amount of food needed.
Recommendations for future CFSAMs and associated Meher assessments
- There have been improvements in the way Meher assessment is carried out. Previously the assessment used to come up with only food needs. The 2008 Meher assessment identified other factors that affect food security at the household level and included emergency needs for water, sanitation, health, nutrition. In some cases education needs were also identified. This mission recommends that this trend be enhanced through training of teams on how to assess needs in other non food sectors.
- All the Meher assessment teams, except in Gambela and Benshagul Gumuz, used the household economy approach (HEA) to derive the numbers of people in need of food assistance. There is need for a closer linkage in the analysis of the food and non food needs, as different approaches seem to be used.
- As in other years, for the Meher need assessment, the multi agency assessment teams and regions compiled reports and sent them to the federal government. After reports are received at the federal level, most of the participating agencies are not consulted when the federal and regional governments revise some of the numbers of persons in need of food assistance. In the true spirit of partnerships; it is recommended that the whole assessment process remains transparent from the training, data gathering and processing and final analysis at the federal level.
Recommendations to deal with anticipated food insecurity
- The government has intervened by supporting the urban poor through the stabilization program. The rural poor who depend on crop and livestock production should continue to be supported with food assistance up to November 2009 when it is expected that the Meher green crops will start to be consumed and livestock condition may have improved (if Meher rains are normal).
- The monitoring of food prices in affected areas should be continued and enhanced, especially in Somali region.
- In view of the poor performance of Belg rains the government and agencies are encouraged to put in place contingency plans to address possible increased food assistance needs up to December 2009.