Ethiopia - Drought Fact Sheet #14, Fiscal Year (FY) 2003

Situation Report
Originally published


Note: This Fact Sheet updates USAID/OFDA Ethiopia Fact Sheet #13, dated July 25, 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 13.2 million people require more than 1.5 million MT of food assistance in 2003 and an additional 1.4 million people require close monitoring.

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. The diverse causes of the ongoing emergency in Ethiopia, including poverty, environmental degradation, and the collapse of livelihood systems indicate a high-probability for long-term food insecurity.

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
13.2 million
Source: GFDRE (Aug. 12, 2003)
Total Food Aid Requirements in 2003
1.8 million MT
Source: GDFRE (Aug. 12, 2003)

Total USAID/OFDA Humanitarian Assistance in FY 2003 (to date): $27,347,306
Total USG Humanitarian Assistance in FY 2003 (to date): $503,045,703

Current Situation

On August 12, the DPPC issued an updated appeal for emergency food assistance based on July DPPC-led assessments of pastoral areas following the belg rains. An estimated 13.2 million people face ongoing food insecurity and require 1.8 million MT of emergency food commodities in 2003, an increase of 600,000 people and nearly 300,000 MT since September 2002.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) stated on August 12 that the combination of malnutrition, the environmental impact of the drought, and the end of the rainy season could lead to widespread malaria epidemics. To date in FY 2003, USAID/OFDA has provided over $1.6 million to UNICEF for malaria intervention activities.

According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the GDFRE's Ministry of Health (MoH) appealed to the international community for assistance in combating a major malaria outbreak in Ethiopia on August 5. According to the MoH, since early May approximately 132,976 people in SNNPR and 63,000 people in the Amhara region have contracted malaria.

On August 3, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa reported an alarmingly high level of kwashiorkor, or severe wasting, among severely malnourished children under five years in SNNPR. A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Borecha Woreda found that 77 percent of severely malnourished children are suffering from kwashiorkor, representing a serious medical emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa stated on August 3 that SNNPR is currently in the midst of a debilitating livelihood crisis that is not adequately captured using current assessment methods. Prevailing methods of emergency assessment rely heavily on crop production estimates, and while crop production failures have a significant impact on food security, factors such as low labor wages, insufficient livestock production, and fluctuating market prices are other important contributors to household food insecurity.

Due to low levels of routine vaccine coverage and high levels of malnutrition affecting the Ethiopia population, the potential for a large-scale measles epidemic threatens the health of Ethiopian children. To respond to this growing threat, the USAID/OFDA Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART), CDC, and USAID/Ethiopia strongly encouraged an acceleration of the measles campaign planned for 2003/2004. On August 3, the USAID/DART reported that the GDFRE plans to immunize approximately 23 million children against measles by the end of October, an increase of 4.4 million from the originally target for 2003.

The Special Envoy of the Secretary General of the U.N. for the Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa met with a range of United States Government (USG) entities during a July 31 - August 1 visit to Washington, outlining the current emergency response requirements and the longer term policy reforms needed to overcome chronic food insecurity.

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.

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. Ambassador to Ethiopia Aurelia E. Brazeal to issue a second disaster declaration on May 9, 2003.

On May 9, USAID/OFDA deployed a USAID/DART to enhance the non-food response to the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia. Since May, 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.

To date in FY 2003, USAID/OFDA has provided more than $27.4 million to support emergency water and sanitation, health and nutrition, and agricultural recovery activities in drought-affected areas nationwide.

USAID/OFDA provided nearly $9.3 million to support health and nutrition programs nationwide through implementing partners UNICEF, WFP, Action contre la Faim (ACF), Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA), Concern, GOAL, the International Medical Corps (IMC), Save the Children USA, and World Vision to support more than five million beneficiaries.

In response to the GFDRE's estimated $10 million seed shortfall countrywide, USAID/OFDA contributed more than $5 million to its implementing partners CARE, Comitato Internationale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli (CISP), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Food for the Hungry (FHI), German Agro Action (GAA), Save the Children UK, Oxfam, and World Vision for emergency seed distributions for approximately 347,790 drought-affected households in Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, and SNNPR regions.

USAID/OFDA provided more than $4.3 million to support water and sanitation programs through the American Red Cross (AmRC), CARE, CISP, GAA, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Merlin, Oxfam, and World Vision to provide potable water for approximately 328,000 beneficiaries in the Afar, Amhara, Oromiya, SNNPR, and Tigray regions.

In addition, USAID/OFDA provided $575,175 to UN OCHA and UN FAO for coordination of humanitarian assistance activities nationwide; $4,070,082 to CRS, Oxfam, and Save the Children USA for multi-sectoral projects for approximately 400,000 beneficiaries nationwide; $468,102 to Tufts University for animal health projects in Somali Region; $949,948 to Save the Children UK for cash for relief projects in South Wollo, Amhara Region; $1,728,708 to Save the Children USA and the DPPC for nationwide rapid response projects and distribution of humanitarian assistance commodities; and $353,839 to USAID/Ethiopia for administrative support.

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

To date, USAID/Ethiopia 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 technical support to the DPPC and the Ministry of Health.

The 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 Oromiya, 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, Water/Sanitation 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, Refugee Computer Literacy Program Oromiya
IRC Refugee Assistance Tigray
UNHCR Refugee Assistance Countrywide
WFP Refugee Assistance Countrywide
* Non-food humanitarian assistance commodities for flood victims in Somali Region.

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 - USG Programs in Ethiopia