Ethiopia - Drought Fact Sheet #13, Fiscal Year (FY) 2003

Situation Report
Originally published


Note: This Fact Sheet updates USAID/OFDA Ethiopia Fact Sheet #12, dated July 11, 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 resulted in 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): $24,728,270
Total USG Humanitarian Assistance in FY 2003 (to date): $495,258,303

Current Situation

From July 11 to 18, USAID/OFDA's Director, Bernd McConnell, traveled to Ethiopia to assess drought-affected areas and review USAID/OFDA funded projects. McConnell met with other donors and GFDRE officials in order to focus attention on the deepening humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia and evaluate current response efforts.

The USAID/OFDA Disaster Assistance Response Team's (USAID/DART) July 15 analysis of the current humanitarian situation in Ethiopia noted the magnitude and geographic diversity of areas of concern despite ongoing relief efforts. Since August/September 2002, hotspots have emerged in almost all areas of the country including Afar Region, West Hararghe Zone in Oromiya Region, pockets of SNNPR, Shinile and Fik Zones in Somali Region, and the lowlands of Amhara Region.

On July 16, the Tufts University Feinstein International Famine Center released a study of the current drought situation in Ethiopia. Commissioned by USAID/OFDA and the USAID Mission, researchers spent three months in six drought-affected regions. The report characterized the 2002/2003 crisis as one of the most widespread and severe emergencies to strike Ethiopia. The team's key recommendations included augmenting early warning systems in the areas of health and agriculture, prioritizing needs and resources for disaster response, and promoting context specific livelihood intervention strategies.

In response to deteriorating health and nutrition conditions, USAID/OFDA provided additional funding to Save the Children/U.S. (SCF/U.S.) to expand rapid response activities and mobilize additional assessment, monitoring, and implementation teams throughout the country.

WFP reports that the current meher rains appear to be favorable, encouraging farmers to finalize input supply and land preparation. The main harvest will begin in October for short-cycle crops, which will improve food availability. In spite of good rains however, long-cycle maize in the Rift Valley areas, especially in East Shewa Zone of Oromiya Region, and neighboring areas of SNNPR, may be affected by the long dry period in April/May.

USAID's Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) Director, Lauren Landis, traveled to Sidama Zone in SNNPR and East Shoa Zone in Oromiya Region, from June 28 to 29, accompanied by the USAID/Ethiopia Mission Director and the DPPC Deputy Commissioner. The team observed increasing rates of malnutrition and reported the need for stronger links between general ration distributions and supplementary and therapeutic feeding programs.

On July 14, the GFDRE announced that emergency food rations would be increased to 15kg from 12.5 kg. Although the increased rations will enhance relief efforts, WFP reports a critical need for improved targeting and distributions of food assistance at local levels.

The U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) reported that the congestion in Djibouti port due to the high number of deliveries of food assistance has been partially addressed by the deployment of 100 GFDRE trucks for the transportation of food commodities. The GFDRE plans to deploy an additional 100 trucks in the next few weeks. WFP is intensifying efforts to improve the delivery of urgently needed vegetable oil and corn-soya blend that recently arrived in Djibouti.

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 May 9, USAID/OFDA deployed a DART to enhance the non-food response to the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia. Since arrival, the USAID/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 emergency interventions and distribution of commodities in various locations countrywide. USAID/DART will continue to monitor the situation and provide recommendations.

To date in FY 2003, USAID/OFDA has provided more than $24.7 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 in 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 nationwide measles campaign. USAID/Ethiopia also provides ongoing support to the DPPC and the Ministry of Health.

The United States Government (USG) is the largest donor of food assistance to Ethiopia through USAID/FFP, contributing 878,790 MT of P.L.480 Title II emergency food assistance valued at approximately $393.5 million since January 2003 through ICRC, WFP, and NGOs. USAID/FFP's total Ethiopia response has reached more than 1 million MT of emergency food assistance valued at $475 million since the emergency began in August 2002. The USG has provided 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.

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
DPPC and SCF/US Non-food Commodities, Transport Various
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, Oromiya, Afar, Somali
SCF/US Water/Sanitation, Seeds, Health, Various
SCF/UK Seeds, Cash for Relief 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
Administrative Costs
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 25, 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

MAP - USG Assistance in Ethiopia

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