As of early May, drought conditions intensified across much of Ethiopia, leading to deteriorating food security as water and pasture resources diminish. To date, the February to May gu/genna and belg rains have produced below normal precipitation. Scarce rains compound the poor food security situation in southern and southeastern pastoral and agro-pastoral areas. The USAID-funded Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) expects the current food security situation to persist through June and deteriorate from July to September. On April 12, in response to the developing drought in the south and southeastern portions of the country, the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (GFDRE) issued a revised version of the February 2011 Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD). The revised HRD increased the estimated number of beneficiaries requiring food and other relief assistance in Somali Region and parts of lowland Oromiya and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s (SNNP) regions. Approximately 3.1 million people require emergency food assistance throughout Ethiopia from January through June 2011, including more than 2 million individuals in Somali, Oromiya, and SNNP regions, according to the GFDRE. The revised HRD identifies $75 million in food and other humanitarian needs during April and May in the southern and southeastern drought-affected regions. In addition, the GFDRE announced plans to conduct a multi-agency national needs assessment in early May instead of July as previously scheduled.
More than 12,200 Somali refugees crossed into Ethiopia from January through March, an increase when compared to the same period in 2010, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Both refugee camps hosting Somalis near Dolo Odo town were nearing the 30,000 person maximum capacity as of early April, and UNHCR has appealed for resources to construct a third camp, according the U.N. World Food Program (WFP).
From March 24 to 26, USAID representatives conducted a field assessment in Somali Region, documenting significant water shortages. During a separate March 29 to April 1 fact-finding visit to Somali Region, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) staff confirmed the efficiency of WFP’s food relief operation and identified the need for additional food aid resources if drought conditions continue to worsen.
To date in FY 2011, USAID/OFDA has provided more than $9.6 million to support nutrition, agriculture and food security, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions, as well as logistics and relief commodities and humanitarian coordination and information management in Ethiopia.