Ethiopia - Drought Fact Sheet #1, Fiscal Year (FY) 2000

Situation Report
Originally published

This fact sheet constitutes a change in the reporting schedule for this disaster. Fact sheets on the situation in Ethiopia will now be issued weekly, while Information Bulletins on the drought in the Horn of Africa will be reported separately on a monthly basis.

Numbers Affected

Currently, the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (GFDRE) estimates that 8 million people are affected by the drought, primarily in the southern and southeastern portions of the country. Due to the recent failure of the secondary harvest, or belg season, this number may increase to as many as 10 million people to include northern drought-affected regions (the highlands) of the country.

Current Situation

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and other relief organizations state that although the drought situation is serious, it is not yet at the level of a famine. Should sufficient assistance reach drought victims in a timely manner, these organizations predict that further deterioration of the situation can be averted.

According to USAID's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS), the short belg rains, which normally begin in mid-February in the northern regions of Ethiopia, did not arrive until the latter part of April. As a result, the GFDRE's Ministry of Agriculture estimates that less than 1% of the expected belg crops were actually planted, signaling total crop failure. However, some farmers in these areas have already begun planting maize and sorghum in preparation for the meher harvest that begins in October. These farmers are reported to be in need of seeds for cereals.

FEWS reports that the situation in the pastoralist areas remains extremely fragile. Recent rains in Borena (Oromiya region) resulted in additional losses to weakened cattle herds due to water-borne diseases. Intermittent rain has recently been falling in the Somali region, with certain parts reportedly receiving moderate to heavy rain over the past few days.

The Somali region (including Gode, Korahai, and Fik zones) remains the worst affected area, however, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports that the situation is very serious, but not unmanageable in the four districts where the organization is working in Gode zone. Rough estimates indicate that the mortality rate in Gode is around 3.5/10,000 people per day. Normally, a mortality rate above 1/10,000 people per day is indicative of an emergency situation.

According to Action Contre la Faim (ACF), the situation in Korahai zone, population 242,000, has recently deteriorated, with an estimated malnutrition rate of 7%. ACF also reports that Korahai received heavy rain on May 3.

Various sources report that people are migrating in increasing numbers from drought-affected areas in search of food and water. These victims are often in a weakened state prior to beginning their long journeys in search of assistance.

U.S. Government Response

Emergency Food Aid: USAID's Office of Food For Peace (FFP) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently plan to contribute approximately 436,600 tons of food assistance valued at almost $160 million in response to the emergency in Ethiopia this calendar year. (This does not include an additional 61,000 tons that are planned to support ongoing development programs in the country this year.)

As of April 24, a total of 131,346 tons of U.S. food aid was reported to have arrived at the port of Djibouti for distribution. Approximately 269,000 tons are planned for delivery during the period April - June, with an additional 201,800 tons scheduled for July - December.

A U.S. vessel carrying 86,000 tons of U.S. food commodities arrived at the port of Djibouti on April 22. This food is currently being offloaded in stages for transport via truck to distribution points in Ethiopia. A second shipment of 30,000 tons of U.S. food aid arrived in Djibouti on May 3.

Non-Food Relief Activities: In FY 2000 to date, USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has committed an estimated $7.6 million to fund emergency water/sanitation, health, nutrition, and logistical support programs in Ethiopia. This amount does not include USAID/OFDA's in-kind contributions of $340,000 for an airlift and funding of $600,000 to WFP to improve capacity at the port of Djibouti. The majority of the work to the port will be finished by late May.

A number of USAID/OFDA-funded emergency programs are already operational in Ethiopia. ICRC is providing supplementary feeding to approximately 188,000 people in Somali region, and Concern is providing similar nutrition assistance to approximately 6,000 children and pregnant or lactating women in North Omo zone. SCF/US has established two supplementary feeding centers in Gode to benefit 2,000 children, and one therapeutic feeding center to treat an estimated 170 malnourished children. Save the Children Fund/US (SCF/US) is also providing clean water to affected populations through the establishment and rehabilitation of water sources.

CARE is implementing an emergency water and food program in Borena zone to benefit an estimated 146,000 people. In Liban zone (Somali region), COOPI is benefiting approximately 20,000 people through water and agriculture initiatives. SCF/UK is working in Fik zone to establish feeding centers and water points for affected populations. The nutrition initiatives will treat an estimated 6,900 children. SCF/UK reports that large numbers of migrants have been moving into Fik (an insecure area) from Gode, stressing the relief capacity in Fik.

In April, USAID/OFDA deployed a logistics team to the region to assess infrastructural capacity and access to Ethiopia for distribution of food and non-food commodities. The team determined that, given planned improvements to the port of Djibouti, the port and long-haul truck capacity in country is sufficient to handle transport of humanitarian food and non-food aid to main distribution points.

The logistics team also stated that logistical coordination will be key since this capacity will be utilized to its fullest limits during the coming months. Based on the team's recommendations, USAID/OFDA is currently reviewing several proposals to support projects to improve infrastructure vital to relief operations.

The Director of USAID/OFDA and the head of USAID/FFP/ER (Emergency Response) are currently en route to Ethiopia to assess the current situation and determine future USG response activities. In addition, USAID/OFDA is deploying a team in mid-May to coordinate and monitor USG programs.

Relief Efforts

To date, donor pledges of food aid received total 690,033 tons in response to the GFDRE's current appeal for 836,000 tons. Food assistance to Ethiopia for this calendar year will approach one million tons including repayments by donors of 250,000 tons to the Ethiopian Food Security Reserves.

Planned regional purchases of food include 100,000 tons by the GFDRE, 10,000 tons by WFP from Sudan, and 32,000 tons by the EU and EURONAID.

Between January and March, food distribution throughout Ethiopia totaled 75,503 tons. The Somali region is reported to have received 22,194 tons, representing only 34% of its estimated quarterly requirement.

WFP reports that the GFDRE's Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) has established 105 distribution points in the Somali region. WFP plans to work with DPPC in Somali region to augment their ability to track relief commodities distribution and report results.

On May 1, the UN Secretary-General's office announced the appointment of Manuel Aranda da Silva, senior member of WFP, as the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the drought in the Horn of Africa.

Some of the major constraints identified by numerous relief organizations include lack of adequate water, fuel, and veterinary services and irregular or insufficient food distribution. Insecurity in various parts of the country is also a serious issue hindering distribution and implementation of relief programs.


As a result of three years of drought conditions, an estimated 8 million people are currently at risk of food insecurity in Ethiopia. The situation is exacerbated by the ongoing border conflict with Eritrea, which has created vulnerable refugee and internally displaced populations.

The drought is currently affecting most countries in the Horn of Africa, primarily Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, and Djibouti. However, Ethiopia is by far the worst affected country in the region.

Relief efforts have been continuously hampered by lack of adequate infrastructure, poor coordination amongst governmental and relief organizations at the field level, and insecurity in various parts of the country.

Because Ethiopia is land-locked, food and relief commodities must be trucked from the ports of Djibouti and Berbera (Somalia) to the Ethiopian border. The capacity of these ports will be stretched to their limits to handle the influx of food and relief commidities. Additionally, the roads from Djibouti and Somalia to the Ethiopian border are in poor condition, causing significant delays in deliveries. The situation could become worse if certain roads become impassable during the upcoming rainy season in June.

U.S. Government Assistance

The following table summarizes USG funding to date in response to the drought in Ethiopia. See attached map for geographic references.

USG Agency
Implementing Partner (if applicable)
(if applicable)
Dollar Amount
USAID/OFDA WFP Airlift Somali
ICRC Nutrition Somali
SCF/UK Water/Nutrition Somali
CARE Water/Livestock Oromiya
SCF/UK Nutrition Amhara
Concern Water/Nutrition Oromiya
CISP Water Oromiya
COOPI Water Oromiya
World Vision Agriculture Amhara
American Red Cross Nutrition Amhara
USAID/Addis Ababa Airlift Somali
IRC Water Somali
UNDP-EUE Monitoring/Coordination Addis Ababa
ACF Water/Nutrition Somali
SCF/US Water Somali
CRS Logistical Support N/A
WFP Logistical Support N/A
USAID/Addis Ababa In-kind Contributions Somali
USAID/FFP and USDA N/A Food Assistance All affected regions
Total USG Assistance (to date)


* This dollar figure represents emergency food assistance designated for both drought and war-affected/displaced victims, but does not include additional food aid planned for this year to support development programs (valued at $36,551,500).

Public Donation Information

In the interest of effective coordination of public response, we encourage concerned citizens to provide monetary donations to appropriate organizations. USAID encourages the public to contact directly those private voluntary organizations (PVOs) currently working in the region to provide monetary donations. A list of relevant PVOs may be obtained from the USAID web site ( The list is composed of PVOs that are registered with USAID and/or listed by InterAction, a coalition of voluntary humanitarian and development organizations that work overseas. Information can also be obtained via InterAction's web site at Those interested in providing specific technical services or commodities should contact Volunteers in Technical Assistance's (VITA) Disaster Information Center for information and guidelines at (703) 276-1914.

For more information on the USG's response to the drought in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, please refer to USAID's "Horn of Africa - Drought" information bulletins. USAID/OFDA fact sheets and information bulletins can be obtained from the USAID web site at

OFDA Drought Response, Ethiopia View Map