Ethiopia Food Security Outlook Update, December 2019

Despite average Meher production, currency devaluation drives atypically high food prices

Key Messages

  • National Meher production is expected to be average with localized areas of below average production due to the impact of poor Kiremt rainfall, the ongoing desert locust infestation, and unseasonable rainfall. In parts of northeastern Amhara and Tigray along the Tekeze river catchment and Belg producing parts of Amhara and Tigray, parts of SNNPR, and lowlands of East and West Hararghe Zones in Oromia Regions, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present. In most areas where Stressed (IPC Phase 2) are present, outcomes are expected to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3). This is the result of the below average harvest and atypically high food prices.

  • The significantly above-average performance of the October to December Deyr/Hagaya rains is expected to have long-term benefits on vegetative and pasture conditions and water availability. This will likely facilitate the improvement of livestock conditions, household access to milk, and food security outcomes from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) across much of Somali region in January/February. In riverine areas affected by flooding particularly along the Shabelle River, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected among some households until the harvest is available in March 2020.

  • According to the Central Statistics Authority, annual inflation was 20.8 percent in November 2019, the highest inflation rate since August 2012. The Government devaluated the Birr (ETB) against the US Dollar (USD) by nearly 0.35 percent daily in the past month. This devaluation resulted in price increases for some imported items, keeping staple food prices atypically high as transportation costs are high and increasing. Staple food prices will likely remain near their current levels, higher than last year and five-year average despite the ongoing Meher harvest.