Ethiopia: Complex Health/Food Insecurity Emergency Situation Report #5 (FY 2005)

Situation Report
Originally published



Note: This report updates situation report #4 dated June 9, 2005.


In 2002, failed belg, or secondary rains from March through May, combined with delayed and sporadic meher, or main rains from July through September, led to severe drought conditions and widespread food insecurity in Ethiopia, affecting more than 13.2 million people during 2003. Humanitarian conditions improved in 2004, but the destitution that accompanied the crisis of the previous year complicated recovery efforts. Although relatively good meher rains improved harvest prospects in western parts of Ethiopia, most of the eastern lowlands experienced a poor meher harvest due to below average and erratic rainfall. Further, the situation in some belg-producing areas remained precarious due to poor rains and failed crops. In September 2004, USAID's Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) reported signs of growing distress in pastoral lowland areas due to drought conditions and shortages of water, pasture, and food in affected areas. The arrival of the deyr rains in October mitigated a widespread disaster in Somali Region; however, overall humanitarian conditions in the region remain concerning. Similarly, inadequate Karan/Karma (July-September) rains have not improved the situation in Afar Region, where conditions continue to deteriorate. Since early 2005, Ethiopia has experienced worsening food insecurity, rapidly increasing malnutrition rates, distress migration, and erratic climatic conditions. Field assessments confirm widespread food shortages and the likelihood that 12 million people will be vulnerable. Initiatives aimed at tackling chronic food insecurity have been hobbled by delayed implementation, underestimation of emergency needs, and underresponse. As overall food security deteriorates in many areas, these contributing factors presage the spread of man-made famine conditions.

Vulnerable Population in 2005 12 million USAID Field Assessments, May-July 2005
Total Food Aid Requirements in 2005 464,385 metric tons (MT) DPPC, May 4, 2005

Total FY 2005 USAID/OFDA Assistance to Ethiopia: $26,341,107

Total FY 2005 USG Humanitarian Assistance to Ethiopia: $401,540,602


Humanitarian situation remains critical. Humanitarian hotspots continue to proliferate in eight of Ethiopia's nine regions, creating food insecurity and emergency health, nutrition, water and sanitation needs for an estimated 12 million people. As the hunger season sets in and many areas become inaccessible due to rains, food insecurity is expected to become more widespread between July and September. The pattern of hotspot emergence bears a striking resemblance to the 2002-2003 crisis, and humanitarian agencies are poised to anticipate hotspots. Despite the advantage of previous experience, however, with so many Ethiopians struggling to survive, delays in the government's safety net programming, and cumulative shocks have created localized famine conditions.

Adjustments to the PSNP. While cash and food distributions through the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia's (GFDRE) Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) are currently underway, slow start-up and problematic implementation of the program have contributed to increased food insecurity. From June 3 to 17, the GFDRE met with a multi-donor team to review the implementation of the PSNP and to discuss immediate actions to improve the effectiveness of the program. The group registered concern about the progress of the PSNP, and agreed on several adjustments. The modifications include an increase in lump sum payments to beneficiaries, and replacing cash transfers with food aid in some regions, in accordance with current conditions in local grain markets. In addition, the PSNP will more closely monitor grain prices, disseminating price and PSNP transfer information in order to improve local market responses to cash distributions.

USAID/OFDA Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) continues assessments. In response to the growing humanitarian concerns in Ethiopia, USAID/OFDA deployed a USAID/DART on May 31 to coordinate, assess, report, and respond rapidly to increasing needs. The USAID/DART is assessing and responding to needs in health, nutrition, water and sanitation, agricultural and livelihoods sectors, and is coordinating closely with the GFDRE, the United Nations (U.N.), and existing USAID/OFDA implementing partners in Ethiopia.

USAID/OFDA water and sanitation assessments. From May 16 to June 1, USAID/DART Water and Sanitation Technical Specialists assessed the current water and sanitation situation in Ethiopia and visited ongoing USAID/OFDA-funded water and sanitation programs in Arsi, and East and West Hararghe zones in Oromiya Region, Sidama and Wolayita Zones of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR), and Southern Tigray Zone of Tigray Region.

Water and sanitation coverage in Ethiopia remains a serious and chronic concern, as the majority of the rural population lacks access to potable water and adequate sanitation facilities. Water scarcity, unsafe water supplies, inadequate sanitation, and lack of hygiene awareness have even more detrimental impacts on populations suffering from malnutrition due to the increased susceptibility to water-borne diarrheal diseases. In the May 2005, the GFDRE and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners issued a Flash Appeal Update, identifying more than 2.6 million people in need of emergency water and sanitation services, of which, only 17 percent of the $22.2 million requirement was resourced by May 2005.

Famine Conditions in SNNPR. With a population of 13.5 million, SNNPR is a densely populated patchwork of multiple agro-ecological and livelihoods zones. While some areas in the region are enjoying record harvests, pockets of green famine have emerged in some zones, posing a daunting challenge for humanitarian agencies to respond uniformly to varying conditions across the region.

Localized green famine conditions, coupled with livelihoods crises, have rendered increasingly fragile Sidama, Wolayita, and Gamo Gofa zones, where household coping mechanisms have been depleted by the cumulative effects of major drought and famine episodes in 1984-1985, 1993 to 1999, and in 2002- 2003. In contrast, the southern SNNPR woredas of Mirab Abaya, Kemba, Konso, Hamer, Jinka, and Kuraz are currently experiencing the most productive harvest in a decade. The inaccessibility of many parts of SNNPR and the deceptively green and lush appearance of famine-stricken areas further complicate efforts to identify vulnerable areas before they evolve into hotspots.

Malnutrition increases in Amhara region. From June 16 to 24, USAID/DART members traveled to Wag Hamra, South Gondor, and North and South Wollo zones of Amhara Region to assess conditions in humanitarian hotspot areas identified by U.N. agencies. The DART met with regional and woredalevel officials from several government offices, including the Bureaus of Agriculture, Health, Rural Development, and Food Security Coordination. In addition, the team conducted site visits, interviews, and observations throughout the region.

Health officials interviewed by the DART throughout the Amhara Region reported increases in malnutrition. Save the Children UK's (SC/UK) June 2005 nutrition surveys of Sekota and Dehana woredas, Wag Hamra Zone, indicated Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates of 14.8 to 16.1 percent, and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rates of 0.9 and 1.1 percent, respectively. With the exception of the MOH-managed CTC programs are currently operational in these areas. The USAID/DART is meeting with NGOs to ensure an appropriate and rapid emergency nutrition response in Amhara.

Nutrition concerns in Oromiya Region. In early July, USAID/DART members traveled to Oromiya Region to assess the current drought, crop, health, and nutrition situation in hotspot areas as a follow-up to USAID staff visits to East and West Hararghe and Bale zones in May.

The 2005 belg rains were fairly consistent and well distributed in the region. However, in East Hararghe and Bale zones, the timing was erratic, and in the highlands, heavy rains and hail storms caused extensive crop damage and flooding. According to the USAID/DART, the health and nutrition situation in East Hararghe is tenuous and emergency nutrition interventions are critically needed in Fedis and Alemaya woredas. All 17 woredas of East Hararghe are considered food insecure and have been receiving food aid for the past several years. In 2005, 338,187 people are targeted for the PSNP and 360,911 for emergency food aid. The GFDRE's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) April nutrition survey in Fedis woreda measured GAM at 20.3 percent, SAM at 3.06, and under-five mortality rate of 4.08 per 10,000 per day.

Locust Warning. In mid-June, swarms of mature desert locusts were sighted in Western, Northwestern, and Central zones of Tigray Region, as well as in North Gonder Zone, Amhara Region. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD), close monitoring and surveys are underway to control the spread of the swarms before they cause significant damage to standing crops and vegetation. Through a regional NGO, Desert Locust Control, the MoARD deployed an aircraft to Axum to conduct locust surveillance and treatment as necessary. In addition, the GFDRE is providing information to farmers regarding locust control.

On July 12, USAID staff attended the inaugural Desert Locust Control and Preparedness Steering Committee meeting, convened by MoARD to share information and coordinate response activities. The MoARD indicated that current resources and response efforts are adequate, and that monitoring throughout the Horn of Africa will continue.


On October 12, 2004, U.S. Ambassador Aurelia E. Brazeal redeclared a disaster in response to the continuing health and food insecurity emergency in Ethiopia. Heavy flooding in localized areas of Somali Region prompted the Ambassador to issue a second disaster declaration for floods on May 25, 2005. On June 4, USAID/OFDA airlifted emergency relief supplies including 500 rolls of plastic sheeting, 10,000 blankets, and 5,000 jerry cans to assist residents affected by the flooding.

To date in FY 2005, USAID/OFDA has provided more than $26.3 million through 14 implementing partners, including three U.N. agencies, to support humanitarian activities in Ethiopia. USAID/OFDA FY 2005 programs focus on emergency response in the sectors of emergency health, nutrition, food security and agriculture, water and sanitation, while strengthening the local capacity of early warning and crisis management structures to respond rapidly to and mitigate new crises.

The USG is the largest donor of food assistance to Ethiopia. To date in FY 2005, USAID's Office of Food for Peace (FFP) has pledged 807,441 MT through a combination of P.L. 480 Title II emergency food assistance, valued at more than $264.2 million, and Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust (BEHT) valued at approximately $95 million through the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and NGO implementing partners to support the 2005 Humanitarian Appeal, as well as areas targeted for the PSNP. The emergency food assistance provided through BEHT is funded as part of the $414 million famine prevention initiative for the Horn of Africa announced by President George W. Bush on June 7, which is part of a broader $674 million assistance package to address urgent humanitarian needs in Africa. The commodities provided by USAID/FFP include a combination of cereals, pulses, and vegetable oil, as well as corn soya blend for therapeutic and supplementary feeding. USAID/FFP assistance is provided to vulnerable populations through direct distribution, food-for-work programs, emergency school feeding, maternal and child health, and therapeutic and supplementary feeding programs.

In April 2005, the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM) contributed $500,000 to WFP to ensure full rations for Sudanese, Somali, and Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia. In addition, State/PRM has provided more than $2.0 million to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for refugee assistance countrywide and $1.4 million to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) for refugee programs in Shimelba camp, Tigray Region, and in Yarenga and Sherkole camps, Beneshangul-Gumuz Region.

MAP: Ethiopia: FY 2005 Programs

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