Ethiopia: Belg and pastoral area assessment and food requirement - August - December 2006



The situation in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas of the country during the Sugum/Gu rains of 2006 showed mixture of normal to below normal performance. This had been the actual occurrence in Somali and Afar regions, South Omo Zone of SNNPR and Borena Zone of Oromiya that constitute the vast pastoralist communities. Findings of the assessment are indicative of complexities associated with weather irregularities and the resultant effect on the life of the communities in these areas.

As a consequence a total of 2.8 million people are estimated to require emergency food assistance during the second half of the year (2006). Out of these, about 63% are from the pastoral areas of Somali and Affar regions and Borena Zone of Oromiya Region while the remaining 37% are from cropping areas. The majority of the beneficiaries from the cropping areas on the other hand, are from Oromiya Region (67%) while the other (33%) are from Dire Dawa Administration including the flood victims and Amhara and SNNP regions. Apart from Oromiya Region, this shows a considerable improvement in the overall food security situation in other parts of the cropping areas.

The total food aid requirement to address the need of this people during the period noted above is estimated to be 215,202 MT; of which 84%, 5%, 8% and 3% are cereals, blended food, pulses and oil respectively.

The emergency relief food intervention starts in August with a population of 2.8 million and gradually reduces reaching its minimum of 1.9 million in December 2006. Relief food distribution will continue to be implemented at a monthly ration rate of 500g/person/day of cereals, 150g/person/day of blended food only for 35% of the beneficiaries in selected severely affected woredas, 50g/person/day of pulses and 15g/person/day of vegetable oil. Short summary of the regional overview is presented below.

Situation in the Pastoral and Agro-pastoral Areas

In Somali Region onset of the Gu rains was generally good in most zones. However, in April and May Afder, Liben, Jijiga, Shinile, Degahabour and parts of Fiq received normal to below normal rains. Different areas of the region experienced rains characterized by erratic distribution and low intensity. Rainfall variability in terms of amount was widely reported throughout the region. Particularly, in Fik Zone water sources were not adequately replenished and there was immediate need.

The three southern zones (Afder, Liben and Gode) were particularly hit hard by the drought in the dry Jilaal season. The rains started on time and had temporarily alleviated the water and pasture problems, but gradually decreased in amount. In pocket areas of these zones the rains were very poor. Most areas of Warder and parts of Fiq had below normal to poor rains.

An unidentified camel disease also severely affected camel productivity. Prices of shoats showed mixed trend with improvements in some zones and decline in others. A significant increase in the prices of basic cereals and other consumables due to different factors worsened the terms of trade for the pastoralists. Regarding health, there were persistent reports of clinically detected cases of measles, incidence of endemic diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria and increased respiratory tract infections in all zones.

The food security situation of the region once again is unsatisfactory with deteriorating condition on top of the prevailing needy population. Apparently, 1.6 million people require emergency food aid amounting to 144,283MT.

In Afar Region onset of Sugum rains, which is between the beginning and middle of March, was late this year in most of the zones but its distribution when it rained was largely better than the past few years. The rains were somehow adequate and uniform in most parts of zone 1, 3 and 5 except some scarcities in certain localities. Most parts of Ewa and Aura woredas of Zone 4 also had good precipitations. Relative improvements in pasture mainly browse as well as good physical condition of the livestock was observed. Areas bordering Tigray and Amhara regions, lower parts of Zone 2 as well as some parts of Zone 4 on the other hand, were reported to have been affected by moisture stress.

Water continued to be scarce in areas of Zone 1, Zone 3 and Zone 5 due to impact of the past successive drought years and lack of adequate precipitation in Sugum despite various water sources momentarily containing water. In parts of Zone 4 and Zone 2 some water trucking was underway. Under the circumstance most livestock, mainly the cattle moved to other areas in search of pasture and water.

Given improvements in physical condition of livestock, access to market mainly for goats and camels and implementation of the Safety Net program, the food security situation of the region for the remaining part of the year is believed to remain stable with less need and close monitoring compared with the first part of the year. Areas that need assistance as well as monitoring are particularly Zone 2 and Zone 4. In these areas, 10,400 people need food assistance amounting to 353MT.

In Borena Zone of Oromiya onset of Genna rains was normal in some woredas while somehow late in others. The rains were rated as average in Yabello, Teltele and Dugda Dawa but generally very poor in Dire, Moyale, Meyo and Arero in particular. In these woredas it was insufficient in amount, erratic in distribution and ceased early. Food insecurity situation was critical due to factors like the recent drought and subsequent loss of livestock asset in the lowlands; crop failure (95-99 %); low supply of livestock product; unfavourable market condition and hailstorm. Displacement caused by tribal conflict in Arero, Dire, Dugda Dawa and Yabello woredas was another factor that exacerbated the food shortage problems. Under such circumstance substantial population remains highly vulnerable and continued support is needed up to end of the year. To this effect, a total of 152,400 people need emergency relief. The food requirement is estimated to be 13,886MT. Genna rains in South Omo Zone of SNNPR were timely; sufficient in amount; balanced in distribution, coverage and duration in most parts. Apparently, crop performance was good except in the lowlands where the rain ceased early. Abundant water and pasture helped maintain good body condition and productivity of livestock. Price for livestock also increased significantly. Thus, the finding of the assessment indicates that there won't be food shortage that goes beyond the capacity of the community to cope.

Situation in the Cropping Areas

Southern Zone of Tigray Region is the only Belg producing zone in the region. Belg harvest contributes about 12% of the annual production in the zone and 2% in the region as a whole. The stabilized food security is attributed to the better harvest of the Belg this year and Meher of last year along with various food security packages (safety Net in particular) and the market price favoring the rural community. Apparently, there would be no emergency need assistance up to the end of this year.

Belg rains in Belg benefiting zones of Amhara Region were late by about a month and a half with some variations in distribution and amount. Pocket areas in all the zones were affected by lengthy dry spells before the rains began and moisture stress after cessation. Even then most of agricultural lands prepared for planting were planted owing to favourable situation when the rains began.

Crop performance was also good except in pocket areas in North and South Wollo and near failure in Oromiya Zone. Overall, the food security situation in the region was generally rated to be stable. But as a result of both last Meher and Belg production reduction, some pocket areas in North and South Wello, Oromiya, N. Gonder, N. Shewa and Wag Hamra zones need emergency food assistance. The total number of people needing emergency food assistance in the region during the second half of the year is estimated at 258,400. The total food requirement of these people is estimated to be 16,455MT.

In Oromiya Region although good rains in terms of amount and distribution were observed in most parts, in some areas the rains were excessive associated with hailstorm and flood which hampered appropriate planting. In some lowland areas, the rains were insufficient in amount and erratic in distribution with occurrences of dry spell that affected crops. Even then the rains can be generally rated favourable and better than the previous year particularly in mid and highland areas of the region despite occurrences of weather adversities.

Production prospect in Guji, Bale and high lands of West Hararghe was expected to be normal due to favourable weather condition. However, in East Shoa, some woredas of Bale and Arsi, East Hararghe and lowlands of West Hararghe decrease in both crop and livestock production was anticipated as the result of weather irregularities. Displacement caused by tribal conflict in Odo Shakiso Woreda of Guji was another major cause of food shortage in the region. As cumulative effect of adverse weather condition and the tribal conflict, about 712,500 people were identified to be dependent on emergency food aid. The total food requirement is estimated at 37,466 MT.

The SNNP is a region where large numbers of livelihood zones are identified. This is attributed to the diverse agro ecological setup conducive for heterogeneous activities. The region also benefits from dual rainy seasons - Belg and Meher. The overall contribution of Belg production reaches about 40% for the whole region, about 60% for Wolaita Zone while in some woredas like Konso the contribution goes as high as 80%.

The Belg rains this year showed slight variability in onset and cessation. Delays and early cessation were observed in few areas. Even then the rains were sufficient in amount and good in coverage. The findings of HEA that considers yearly food availability and gap by combining the Meher and Belg productions together identified many woredas facing chronic food insecurity. Prevalence of malnutrition, although not well verified, was also indicated because of which emergency food assistance was recommended for about 48,900 people. The total food requirement for these people is estimated to be 1,812 MT.

Dire Dawa town has been affected by flash flood that killed over 250 and displaced over nine thousand residents recently. Following the disaster that took place on August 6, 2006 coordinated efforts have been exerted to take care and rehabilitate the displaced. The DPPA allocated food and non-food items to assist the victims. Dire Dawa Administrative Council has been doing its part to address their needs through coordinating efforts of all concerned. Including the flood victims, a total of 41,160 people will be dependent on food aid. The total food requirement is estimated to be 948 MT. In S.West Shewa Ilu,Ejerie and Sebeta-Awas woredas were also affected by floods. The food need of these people is also included in the food requirement. Clear details on similar incidents elsewhere have not been available. As a result, the food need of other flood affected population is not included but shall be publicised as soon they are organized and made ready.