Ethiopia - Drought Fact Sheet #10, Fiscal Year (FY) 2003

Situation Report
Originally published


Note: This Fact Sheet updates USAID/OFDA Ethiopia Fact Sheet # 9, dated June 9, 2003.


In 2002, below-average belg, or secondary rains that occur from March through May, coupled with delayed and sporadic meher, or main rains that occur from July through September, led to widespread food insecurity in Ethiopia affecting pastoral and agricultural areas, particularly the lowlands and midlands of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region, (SNNPR), Tigray, Oromiya, and Amhara Regions. The Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s (GFDRE) Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC), along with the U.N.’s Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (EUE), issued an appeal on the food security situation in the country on September 30, 2002.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate that Ethiopia’s food deficit in 2003 will reach more than 2.3 million metric tons (MT), with increased food assistance, commercial imports, and internal production needed to meet the deficit. Current estimates indicate that 12.6 million people require more than 1.5 million MT of food assistance in 2003 and an additional 1.4 million people require close monitoring.

As many rural households dependent on agriculture and livestock had not yet fully recovered from the drought of 1999/2000, the capacity of the affected population to cope with the current food shortages was greatly reduced. The severity and duration of Ethiopia’s current food security emergency have left people in an extreme state of vulnerability and coping strategies have been exhausted. In addition to the perilous food security situation, the ensuing deterioration in health, nutrition, and sanitation conditions have made this a full-scale humanitarian crisis.

Despite ongoing drought conditions throughout most of Ethiopia, heavy rains in May caused flooding in localized areas of SNNPR, Somali, and Oromiya Regions. The flooding displaced 104,000 people, and damaged homes, schools, and health clinics, further straining the government’s overstretched disaster response capacity.

Numbers at a Glance
Total Affected Population in 2003 12.6 million Source: GFDRE
Total Food Aid Requirements in 2003 1.5 million MT Source: WFP/FAO

Total USAID/OFDA Humanitarian Assistance in FY 2003 (to date): $17,629,388
Total USG Humanitarian Assistance in FY 2003 (to date): $416,159,241

Current Situation

USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART) field assessments report deteriorating conditions in SNNPR, Afar, and Somali Regions, while Amhara, Oromiya, and Tigray Regions require continued monitoring. The overall situation requires intensified efforts and immediate interventions in agriculture, health and nutrition, and water and sanitation to prevent further increases in excess mortality.

From June 11 to June 13, Carolyn McAskie, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), visited Ethiopia to review the overall humanitarian situation, raise awareness among the international community, and mobilize additional support for emergency relief operations.

On June 4, the GFDRE’s Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) reported an estimated $10 million seed shortfall countrywide. In response, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) announced a contribution of $3.3 million to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for emergency seed distributions. In addition, USAID’s Mission (USAID/Ethiopia) will provide $4 million to the GFDRE for seeds.

DART field assessments indicate serious nutritional and health deficiencies in Fik Zone, Somali Region. A March/April 2003 nutritional survey conducted by Save the Children/UK reported rates of global acute malnutrition above 30 percent.

According to USAID/DART field assessments, water availability is the most critical issue in Afar Region. With temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) in July and August, water shortages become acute with an inadequate rainy season. The regional DPPC reported that the 2003 sugum rains from March to April brought only four to five days of rain compared to the 30-day norm for the region. DPPC estimates animal losses of 45 percent in Afar due to disease and drought.

The Ministry of Health, U.N. Children’s Fund, and the World Health Organization continue to provide measles immunizations and Vitamin A distributions to children between the ages of six months and 15 years in seven different zones in SNNPR, Amhara, Oromiya, and Somali Regions.

According to UN OCHA, an estimated 188,000 people are displaced throughout Ethiopia due to the border conflict or the drought conditions. An additional 90,000 are displaced by the recent flooding in southern Ethiopia. The U.S. Department of State reports that there are 129,000 refugees in Ethiopia, mainly from Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea.

The International Committee of the Red Cross reports food shortages in flood-affected areas in East and West Imi, Somali Region, due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of villages.

U.S. Government Response

On October 29, 2002, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa declared a disaster in response to the continuing drought situation. Heavy flooding in localized areas from concentrated rains prompted the U.S. Embassy to issue a second disaster declaration on May 9, 2003.

On June 1, Walter Kansteiner, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, traveled to the drought-affected areas of Dire Dawa City in eastern Ethiopia to visit food distribution centers and a local health center as well as meet with GFDRE officials in Addis Ababa regarding the ongoing drought situation.

On May 9, USAID/OFDA deployed a DART to enhance the non-food response to the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia. Since arrival, the USAID/DART has conducted field visits in all six of the drought-affected regions and made recommendations based on field assessments of priority areas. In response to the serious seed needs countrywide, USAID/OFDA has funded emergency seed distribution projects in SNNPR, Amhara, Oromiya, and Tigray Regions. In addition, USAID/OFDA has funded water and sanitation and supplementary feeding projects in SNNPR, nutritional programs in Afar Region, and water and sanitation and agricultural assistance projects in Oromiya Region. The USAID/DART will continue to monitor the situation and provide recommendations.

In FY 2003 to date, USAID/OFDA committed funds of more than $17.6 million to support emergency water and sanitation, health and nutrition, and agricultural recovery activities in drought-affected areas of SNNPR, Oromiya, Afar, Amhara, Somali, and Tigray Regions.

In response to the recent flooding in southern Ethiopia, USAID/OFDA provided $110,000 in assistance through the International Committee of the Red Cross for the purchase of emergency supplies, jerry cans, cooking pots, plastic sheeting, and blankets.

USAID/Ethiopia has been very responsive to the drought situation. To date, the Mission has channeled $21 million of Development Assistance (DA) funds for agricultural assistance and health and nutrition programs, as well as devoted considerable personnel resources, to alleviate the effects of the emergency. USAID/Ethiopia’s programs at the national and regional levels focus on building organizational capacity as well as supporting food security initiatives, rapid response, food assistance, nutritional surveillance, therapeutic feeding, and the measles campaign. USAID/Ethiopia also provides ongoing support to the DPPC and the MOH.

The United States Government (USG) is the largest donor of food assistance to Ethiopia, contributing 698,230 MT valued at approximately $321.6 million since January 2003 through WFP and NGOs. Total U.S. contributions since the onset of the emergency are more than 878,000 MT ($400 million), representing more than 50 percent of the total contributions to date.

USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) has provided more than 806,430 MT of P.L. 480 Title II emergency food assistance in FY 2003 to date, valued at more than $372.4 million. USAID/FFP has also deployed personnel to augment USAID/Ethiopia's Food and Humanitarian Assistance Unit.

The Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration (State/PRM) has provided $5.1 million in FY 2003 to support refugee assistance and protection, feeding, and literacy programs.

Implementing Partner
FY 2003 (TO DATE)
ACF Nutrition Afar
AmRC Water/Sanitation Oromiya
CARE Water/Sanitation, Seeds Oromiya
CISP Seeds, Tools, Water/Sanitation Tigray
CRS Agriculture, Water/Sanitation Oromiya
FHI Agriculture Amhara
GAA Water/Sanitation, Seeds SNNPR, Amhara, Oromiya
GOAL Health/ Nutrition Afar, SNNPR
IMC Primary Health, Nutrition Orimiya, SNNPR
ICRC Disaster Support Somali
IRC Water/Sanitation Oromiya
Oxfam Water/Sanitation SNNPR
Oxfam GB Seeds SNNPR
SC/US Water/Sanitation, Livelihoods, Health Somali
SC/UK Seeds Amhara, Oromiya
WorldVision Health, Livelihoods, Seeds Afar, SNNPR
UN FAO Coordination Countrywide
UNICEF Health/Nutrition Countrywide
UN OCHA Coordination Afar, Somali
USAID Administrative All
GFDRE Seeds Multiple
Carter Center Health/Nutrition Multiple
GOAL Health/Nutrition Afar, Oromiya
Other NGOs Health/Nutrition Multiple
UNICEF Health/Nutrition Multiple
WFP Nutrition Multiple
WHO Health/Nutrition Multiple
World Learning Nutrition Amhara, SNNPR
WFP 408,030 MT of P.L. 480 Title II Emergency Food Assistance Countrywide
JEOP 368,660 MT of P.L. 480 Title II Emergency Food Assistance Countrywide
ICRC 29,740 MT of P.L. 480 Title II Emergency Food Assistance Countrywide
Embassy Addis Ababa Refugee Literacy Program Oromiya
IRC Refugee Assistance Tigray
UNHCR Refugee Assistance Countrywide
WFP Refugee Assistance Countrywide
Total USAID Humanitarian assistance in FY 2003 (to date)*
Total USG Humanitarian assistance in FY 2003 (to date)
* USAID/OFDA funding figure represents committed and/or obligated amounts as of June 16, 2003.

Public Donation Information

The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. A list of humanitarian organizations that are accepting cash donations for their drought response efforts in Ethiopia can be found at Information on other organizations responding may be available at

USAID encourages cash donations because they: allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, warehouse space, etc); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; ensure culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

More information on making donations and volunteering services can be found at:

  • USAID: -> "Disaster Assistance" -> "How Can I Help?"
  • The Center for International Disaster Information: or 703-276-1914
  • InterAction: -> "Guide to Appropriate Giving"

Information on relief activities of the humanitarian community can be found at

USAID/OFDA bulletins can be obtained from the USAID web site at