Conflict likely to drive extreme food insecurity in Tigray through at least January 2022
The Tigray region of Ethiopia continues to experience one of the worst food security emergencies globally. Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed to save lives. Extreme outcomes are likely through at least January 2022 across the region, with Central, Northwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern Tigray of highest concern. Ultimately, an end to hostilities and unhindered humanitarian access are needed.
Since late June, the status of conflict across Tigray has significantly shifted, with the Tigrayan regional forces reportedly claiming to have retaken several major towns, including the regional capital of Mekele, while the government of Ethiopia declared a unilateral ceasefire that has since likely unofficially ended. The decline in active conflict in much of Tigray has opened up the potential for improved humanitarian access and the movement of people within the region; however, the movement of people, goods, and cash into Tigray, including humanitarians and humanitarian assistance, has been significantly restricted, and fuel shortages and weather-related transportation constraints continue to limit access to remote areas of the region. Additionally, as of mid-July there are no available routes overland for the movement of assistance into Tigray. This is contributed to the severe shortages of already limited basic services and supplies, including food, water, fuel, and electricity. It is expected that Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are widespread across Tigray, with associated high levels of acute malnutrition and excess mortality likely. There are likely populations in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). It is possible that outcomes are worse in some areas, but available evidence is insufficient to confirm or deny.
Many southern and southeastern pastoral areas experienced consecutive poor seasons in late 2020 and early 2021, resulting in lower than normal pasture and water availability. These conditions are expected to drive atypical livestock migration and further declines in livestock body conditions and milk production through at least October. Forecast models indicate a third consecutive below-average season is likely during the October to December deyr/hageya period, driving prolonged drought conditions through early-2022. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in southern and southeastern pastoral areas throughout the projection period, with some households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4). The exception to this is the Hawd, where Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are ongoing in June and July due to increased access to milk as gu rainfall was favorable, though Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are still anticipated after July.
The 2021 belg harvest is expected to be delayed and below average due to a poor distribution of rainfall that led to delayed planting. The harvest is now expected to start in July and August, driving many households in belg-dependent areas to rely on markets longer than normal. This is resulting in an extension of the lean season, and given that the harvest will be below average, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to continue until the start of the harvest. Food security is expected to improve with the harvest as households start consuming their own crops.
In northern pastoral areas, drought conditions through late June resulted in lower than typical pasture availability. However, the karan/karma seasonal rainfall is forecast to be above average, leading to improvements in pasture and water availability in July/August. However, due to previous poor seasons and declines in herd sizes associated with 2020 flooding, poor households' access to food and income is limited, driving Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes across much of the region throughout the projection period.