Ethiopia’s humanitarian situation became increasingly precarious during the first quarter of 2020 due to a cholera outbreak, decimation of food crops by locusts, and the increasing threat of COVID-19. Simultaneously, the humanitarian response has become more difficult to deliver due to access constraints caused by insecurity and network connectivity challenges.
There have been more than 2,725 cases of cholera in 2020 and 44 deaths. UNICEF is providing cholera treatment kits, rehabilitating water sources to make them safe for drinking and non-food items such as soap that reached 54,616 people in March. Some 44,334 people received water treatment materials.
5,361 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in cholera-affected areas in Guji benefited from installation of 1,372 pit latrines in February, and 6,279 people were provided with new and rehabilitated latrines in March to reduce open defecation.
Ethiopia is experiencing its worst desert locust invasion in 50 years (FAO January 2020 Locust Update) that in a best-case scenario will make an additional 199,000 people food insecure. UNICEF estimates that the subsequent effects of the locust invasion will increase severe acute malnutrition (SAM) by approximately 70,000 children under the age of five (a 15 per cent increase in the SAM caseload).
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
The Ethiopia Public Health Institute (EPHI) had reported 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the end of March in Addis Ababa, Oromia, Dire Dawa and Amhara, with 314 probable cases and no deaths. On 16 March, the Ministry of Education announced the closure of all 42,000 schools due to the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving over 23 million pre-primary, primary, secondary students in need of quality educational services.
Since January, 2,725 cholera cases have been reported in SNNPR, Oromia and Somali regions, with 44 deaths.
Circulating Vaccine-Derived Polio Virus-type2 (cVDPV2) was reported from West Arsi Zone in Oromia Region with the onset reported from 23 February. The Vaccine-Derived Polio Virus-type2 (VDPV2) case reported from Shashemene Town is also classified as cVDPV2, making a total of six outbreak clusters in Ethiopia since May 2019. A total of 23 cVDPV2 and three VDPV2 cases from human samples (including contacts) have been reported in Somali, Oromia and SNNP regions, in addition to three cVDPV2 isolates from two Environmental Surveillance Sites in Addis Ababa. The nationwide measles and polio vaccination campaigns planned for April have been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, affecting approximately 17 million children. A yellow fever outbreak was reported on 5 March in SNNPR, with 85 cases and four deaths reported. Details of the subsequent UNICEF-supported vaccination campaign are provided in the health section.
As the dry season continues in many parts of Ethiopia, water shortages remain critical across some regions affecting 1.2 million people including an estimated 685,620 children. There is a need for safe drinking water, water treatment materials, and water tanks to prevent potential cholera outbreaks.
The unstable security situation due to intercommunal violence in areas of Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia (Bale, Borena, East Guji and East Hararghe zones), Somali (West Imay and Kebridehar woredas) and SNNPR (Bensa Woreda) is hampering emergency assessments of conflict and potentially creating new displacement sites. Humanitarian operations in boundary areas between Guji and Borena zones are heavily constrained by insecurity. Clashes in Gumi Eldelo are reported daily, while in Liban, few kebeles are accessible and others inaccessible since mid-2019. Limited access has compounded critical humanitarian activities such as malnutrition screening. Projects in health, nutrition, WASH, and NFI distributions in Gora Dola, Gumi Eldelo, Liban, and Saba Boru woredas are temporarily suspended, impacting thousands of IDPs (23,000 in Gumi Eldelo, 18,000 in Liban, 5,000 in Gora Dola, and 3,000 in Saba Boru).