Ethiopia - Drought Fact Sheet #15, Fiscal Year (FY) 2003

Situation Report
Originally published


Note: This Fact Sheet updates USAID/OFDA Ethiopia Fact Sheet #14, dated August 13, 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. Insufficient rains affected pastoral and agricultural areas, particularly the lowlands and midlands of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR), Tigray, Oromiya, Amhara, Somali, and Afar Regions. In July 2003, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) announced that the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia's (GFDRE) Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission's (DPPC) initial September 20, 2002, appeal for 1.5 million metric tons (MT) of emergency food assistance for 12.6 million beneficiaries was fully funded. However, despite the substantial donor response, current estimates indicate that 13.2 million beneficiaries will require an additional 300,000 MT of food assistance in 2003. In addition, 1.4 million Ethiopians require close monitoring.

Ethiopia is currently facing three public health crises: malnutrition, malaria, and measles. Widespread malnutrition in Ethiopia is a public health crisis resulting from crop production failures, inconsistent distribution of food rations, single commodity cereal rations, high rates of diarrheal and infectious diseases, and lack of dietary diversity. According to a USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA)-funded report by the Feinstein International Famine Center at Tufts University, national nutrition surveys estimate that 11.1 percent of the rural population suffers from severe malnutrition. As a result of high malnutrition rates, the Ethiopian population is increasingly vulnerable to diseases. Under normal circumstances, 75 percent of Ethiopians are at-risk for malaria. The malaria threat increased significantly during 2003 due to the large numbers of severely malnourished children and adults. Despite an accelerated vaccination campaign, a measles outbreak in 2003 remains a serious health risk for unvaccinated Ethiopian children under the age of five.

According to USAID's Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET), a trend of insufficient rainfall during the past 17 years in Ethiopia has adversely affected crop production. Many local households are able to cope with the effects of a single poor rainy season. However, the cumulative effects of consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in some households experiencing chronic food insecurity while exhausting traditional coping mechanisms. The humanitarian situation for affected Ethiopians is exacerbated by a livelihoods crisis resulting from a decline in world coffee prices, decreasing labor wages, insufficient livestock production, environmental degradation, and market instability.

According to the Feinstein Center's report, even if the rains return soon to normal levels, affected populations will have significant debt, poor overall health, decreased seed stocks, and fewer livestock than in 2003.

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): $28,823,812
Total USG Humanitarian Assistance in FY 2003 (to date): $499,363,870

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 Ethiopians face ongoing food insecurity and require 1.8 million MT of emergency food commodities during the remainder of 2003, an increase of 600,000 beneficiaries and nearly 300,000 MT since September 2002. In addition, the DPPC appealed to donors for 200,000 MT of cereals that, if not used in 2003, can be used as contingency supplies during 2004.

Food insecurity, malnutrition, and disease in SNNPR continue to be a primary humanitarian concern. In response to the crisis in SNNPR, USAID/OFDA provided approximately $6 million to date in FY 2003 for emergency seeds, nutrition, water and sanitation, and project coordination activities in SNNPR.

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.

Ethiopian children remain vulnerable to a measles outbreak in 2003. The GDFRE plans to immunize approximately 23 million children against measles by the end of October, an increase of 4.4 million from the original target for 2003. High levels of malnutrition affecting the Ethiopian population increase the measles threat.

The updated DPPC appeal highlighted the situation in the Afar Region, appealing for increased potable water, health, and emergency food assistance for 740,000 drought-affected pastoralists living in Afar.

On August 22, the Relief Society of Tigray (REST) reported that the number of residents in Eastern, Southern, and Central Tigray zones requiring food assistance increased from 1,831,600 to 2,035,080, an additional 203,480 beneficiaries since September, 2002. REST collaborated with the Tigray Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Bureau (DPPB) and a multi-sector team of GFDRE experts to assess ten drought-affected woredas in Tigray.

On August 20, WFP confirmed an increasing number of beneficiaries of emergency food assistance in Arsi, Oromiya Region, including highland areas. UNICEF agreed to coordinate nutritional surveys in the affected areas.

On August 18, GFDRE officials reported that 15,000 MT of emergency food assistance from the European Commission (EC) arrived in the Somaliland port of Berbera, representing the first shipment of humanitarian assistance through Berbera in 2003.

FEWS NET stated that the distribution of rainfall in July 2003 over Ethiopia indicates that most of the country experienced normal to above normal rainfall for the month of August, with the exception of the central and northeastern agricultural areas of the country, where rains have been more erratic.

FEWS NET also reported that in July 2003 cereal retail prices declined or were stable in many markets for the first time since November 2002. Lower prices resulted from good weather conditions in many areas during the belg and the ongoing meher season and the prospect of average to above average harvests in the meher crop producing areas. Nevertheless, prices are still above historical averages.

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 for floods on May 9, 2003.

On May 9, USAID/OFDA deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (USAID/DART) to enhance the non-food response to the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia. The USAID/DART continues to conduct field visits in all six of the drought-affected regions and recommend areas requiring humanitarian support.

To date in FY 2003, USAID/OFDA has provided more than $28.8 million to support emergency water and sanitation, health and nutrition, and agricultural recovery activities in drought-affected areas nationwide.

USAID/OFDA provided approximately $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 (ADRA), Concern, GOAL, the International Medical Corps (IMC), Save the Children/USA (SC/USA), and World Vision (WV) to support more than five million beneficiaries.

USAID/OFDA and USAID/Ethiopia contributed approximately $9.5 million in response to the GFDRE's estimated $10 million seed shortfall countrywide. USAID/OFDA provided approximately $5.5 million to its implementing partners CARE, Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli (CISP), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Food for the Hungry (FHI), German Agro Action (GAA), Save the Children Fund/United Kingdom (SCF/UK), Oxfam, and WV for emergency seed distributions for approximately 347,790 drought-affected households in Afar, Amhara, Oromiya, Somali, and SNNP Regions. USAID/Ethiopia provided $4 million to the GDFRE for the procurement of seeds.

USAID/OFDA provided more than $5.5 million to support water and sanitation programs through the American Red Cross (AmRC), CARE, CISP, Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI), 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, SNNP, and Tigray Regions.

USAID/OFDA also provided $575,175 to UN OCHA and the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) for coordination of humanitarian assistance activities nationwide; $4,070,082 to CRS, Oxfam, and SC/US for multi-sectoral projects for approximately 400,000 beneficiaries including; $468,102 to Tufts University for animal health projects in Somali Region; $949,948 to SAVE/UK for cash for relief projects in South Wollo, Amhara Region; $1,728,708 to SC/US 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 water containers, cooking pots, plastic sheeting, and blankets.

To date, USAID/Ethiopia has channeled $21 million in Development Assistance (DA) funds for emergency-related health and nutrition and agricultural assistance programs. 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. USAID's office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) contributed 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 non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Since the emergency began in August, 2002, USAID/FFP's response to Ethiopia has reached more than one million MT of emergency food assistance valued at $475 million. The USG has provided more than 50 percent of the total donor 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 in 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
COOPI Water Amhara
CRS Agriculture, Water/Sanitation Oromiya
DPPC and SC/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
SC/US Water/Sanitation, Seeds, Health Various
SCF/UK Seeds, Cash for Relief Amhara, Oromiya
Tufts University Animal Health Somali
World Vision Health, Livelihoods, Seeds, Water/Sanitation Afar, SNNPR
UN FAO Coordination Countrywide
UNICEF Health/Nutrition Countrywide
UN OCHA Coordination Countrywide, SNNPR
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