Ethiopia Food Security Outlook Update, October 2020 to May 2021

Situation Report
Originally published
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Food security Crisis expected to continue despite timely start to deyr season in areas of Somali Region


  • The start of the meher harvest is improving food access in many crop-dependent areas and Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes are present. In some areas of Afar, SNNPR, Gambella, where flooding and landslides destroyed crops, households are experiencing Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes as humanitarian food assistance is improving food access. In southern, eastern, and some northern areas of the country, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are present. This is due to atypically high reliance on markets as desert locusts and flooding resulted in crop losses. Moreover, households in these areas are expected to have continued below-average purchasing power due to continued high food prices and the weak labor market.

  • Generally, continued high inflation, the prolonged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the negative impacts of flooding and desert locusts are expected to continue to negatively affect food access from own crops, livestock production, and markets. Therefore, most poor and very poor households in the eastern half of the country will most likely continue facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes through May 2021. These outcomes are likely to persist beyond the projection period due to the forecast for consecutive belowaverage rainfall seasons in southern and southeastern pastoral areas.

  • The start of the deyr/hagaya October to December rainfall season was timely in many areas; however, rainfall was at least 10-days late across some areas. In the later part of October, rainfall was established resulting in average to above-average cumulative rainfall across many southern and southeastern pastoral areas. There are some areas with localized deficits, with the largest deficits observed in border areas of Somali/Oromia. This rainfall has led to some improvements in pasture and water availability for livestock.

  • Beginning in June 2020, high levels of desert locust breeding, and hatching occurred in northwestern Afar and bordering areas of Amhara and Tigray. Furthermore, swarms migrated from Yemen and Somalia into northeastern and southeastern areas. Unlike the 2019 meher season, where desert locusts arrived after the harvest was mostly complete, this year, desert locusts are present as meher crops are maturing. This, coupled with the increased scale of the upsurge, has resulted in large-scale crop losses. In pastoral areas, particularly in Dire Dawa, northern Somali and agropastoral areas of eastern Oromia, desert locusts consumed pasture, resulting in pasture losses between September to mid-October.

  • Favorable Kiremt rainfall facilitated crop development; however, heavy rainfall in the latter half of the season resulted in severe flooding in parts of southern Afar, eastern Amhara, eastern and central Oromia, including Dire Dawa, northern and southern Somali, along with Rift Valley areas of SNNPR regions. This resulted in the damage and loss of crops, waterlogging of pasture and cropping areas, livestock deaths, and damaged infrastructure. According to NDRMC, flooding affected about 1.1 million people, and more than 342,000 people were displaced due to flooding.