Ethiopia - Drought Fact Sheet #12, Fiscal Year (FY) 2003

Situation Report
Originally published


Note: This Fact Sheet updates USAID/OFDA Ethiopia Fact Sheet #11, dated July 1, 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): $23,268,654
Total USG Humanitarian Assistance in FY 2003 (to date): $493,798,687

Current Situation

From July 2 to 6, U.N. Special Envoy for the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, Martti Ahtisaari, traveled to Ethiopia to meet with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, DPPC Commissioner Simon Mechale, and the Chairman of the Task Force on Food Security. In addition, the U.N. Special Envoy reviewed the overall humanitarian situation in Ethiopia with a special focus on chronic food insecurity and strategies on how to reduce the dependency on food assistance and the country’s vulnerability to drought.

USAID/OFDA’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (OFDA/DART) field assessments indicate worsening conditions and emerging hotspots despite ongoing relief efforts. In Shinile Zone, Somali Region, the OFDA/DART reported that the 2003 main gu rains were significantly below normal, representing the fourth consecutive season of failed rains in the region over two years. This has resulted in deteriorating livestock conditions, acute water shortages, and minimal crop production this year. In addition, the OFDA/DART reported increasing health needs and limited resources in the zone, with one medical doctor for the 446,060 residents.

From June 24 to 26, the OFDA/DART returned to Arsi Zone, Oromiya Region to assess additional woredas (districts). While the extent of the emergency in Arsi Zone remains unclear, OFDA/DART findings confirmed previous reports of deteriorating humanitarian conditions, with 19 out of 22 woredas affected by the drought. The OFDA/DART requested an immediate nutritional survey from the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit to identify areas under acute nutritional and health stress.

In response to the deteriorating nutritional conditions, an estimated 56 therapeutic feeding centers (TFCs) will be operational in SNNPR, Somali, Oromiya, and Amhara Regions by the end of July. If current trends prevail and new hotspots continue to emerge, UNICEF estimates that 52,000 to 105,000 severely malnourished children will require therapeutic care in an additional 70 to 100 TFCs by the end of 2003.

UNICEF reported 95 percent coverage for the June measles campaign. The next phase of the campaign will begin on July 12, and will cover four zones in SNNPR over seven days. Vaccinations in additional areas may be moved forward from October to July if vaccines are available and areas to be covered are accessible.

According to USAID’s Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), early and well-distributed belg rains provided favorable farming and pasture conditions in northeastern, central, and eastern Ethiopia. Harvesting of the belg season has begun and its impact on food security will be determined after the conclusion of the June pre-harvest and food security assessments. However, the belg season normally only provides 15 percent of annual food production.

According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), an estimated 188,000 people are displaced throughout Ethiopia due to the border conflict or the drought conditions. An additional 104,000 people were temporarily displaced by the flooding in southern Ethiopia in May 2003. The U.S. Department of State reports that there are 129,000 refugees in Ethiopia, mainly from Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea.

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 OFDA/DART 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 GFDRE’s estimated $10 million seed shortfall countrywide, USAID/OFDA contributed $3.3 million to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for emergency seed distributions. In addition, USAID/OFDA 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. In response to increasing needs, USAID/OFDA funded quick impact projects for start-up of emergency interventions and distribution of commodities in various locations countrywide. OFDA/DART will continue to monitor the situation and provide recommendations.

In FY 2003 to date, USAID/OFDA committed funds of more than $23.2 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 May floods 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 health and nutrition and agricultural assistance programs, including a recent contribution of $4 million to the GFDRE for seeds. USAID/Ethiopia has also 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 878,790 MT valued at approximately $393.5 million since January 2003 through WFP and NGOs. The second extension of the NGO consortium Joint Emergency Operation (JEOP) was signed for 180,560 MT valued at $71 million. This contribution puts USAID/FFP’s total Ethiopia response at more than 1 million MT valued at $475 million since the emergency began in August 2002. This represents more than 50 percent of the total contributions to date. In addition, USAID/FFP has 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.

U.S. Government Humanitarian Assistance to Ethiopia
Implementing Partner
FY 2003 (TO DATE)
ACF Nutrition Afar
ADRA Nutrition SNNPR
AmRC Water/Sanitation Oromiya
CARE Water/Sanitation, Seeds Oromiya
CISP Seeds, Tools, Water/ Sanitation Tigray
Concern Nutrition SNNPR
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
MERLIN Water/Sanitation Oromiya
Oxfam GB Water/Sanitation, Seeds SNNPR
SCF/US Water/Sanitation, Seeds, Health Various
SCF/UK Seeds Amhara, Oromiya
Tufts University Animal Health Somali
WorldVision Health, Livelihoods, Seeds Afar, SNNPR
UN FAO Coordination Countrywide
UNICEF Health/Nutrition Countrywide
UN OCHA Coordination Countrywide, SNNPR
UN WFP Nutrition SNNPR
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 549,220 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 July 9, 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

MAP - Ethiopia: USAID/OFDA Humanitarian Assistance