Drought exacerbated by El Niño, combined with extensive flooding, disease outbreaks and the disruption of basic public services, is having a negative impact on the lives and livelihoods of 9.7 million Ethiopians. Food security and agricultural production are severely affected, with cascading effects on livelihoods, nutrition, health, water, sanitation, education and other sectors.
Food insecurity and malnutrition rates remain high with the number of people requiring humanitarian assistance having tripled since early 2015. The national hotspot classification was updated in early July based on the findings of the belg assessment, conducted by the Government and humanitarian partners, resulting in a slight decrease in the number of priority woredas from 429 to 420, of which 206 are now ‘priority one’ woredas. Some 420,000 children under age 5 are expected to require treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2016.
Failed rains in 2015 and the El Niño-induced drought in 2016 significantly eroded coping capacities. Many regions experienced severe flooding with unusually heavy belg/ spring rains in April/May 2016. However, some areas did not receive sufficient rainfall, and some people still do not have access to adequate water. While these rains reduced emergency water trucking requirements in most areas, flooding affected more than 480,000 people, displaced close to 190,000 people, damaged several water points and presented an urgent need for water treatment chemicals and rehabilitation of water points. Reported cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) increased since mid-June as a result of poor hygiene and sanitation practices. Initially reported in Oromia, Somali and SNNP regions, cases were later reported in Addis Ababa on 9 June 2016. Other endemic diseases such as measles, meningitis, malaria and scabies are burdening an already overstretched health system. There is a high risk that AWD can spread to all the regions with high speed as there is frequent population movement between Addis Ababa and other regions.
Drought and flooding in Ethiopia continue to have a particular impact on women and children. Temporary displacement, flooding of schools, and financial constraints within families resulted in closure of schools in some areas, and increased teacher and student absentee rates.
Nearly four million children require school meals and school supplies once schools reopen in September. As is the case globally during drought and flood disasters, meal rationing in food-insecure areas disproportionately affects women, exacerbating existing health problems, especially for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Girls’ schooling is more affected than boys’ due to increased household demands and dwindling finances.