Changes in Context
Below-normal Deyr rains at the end of 2020 led to drought conditions in 128 woredas in Somali and Oromia region affecting 5.8 million people. These conditions were further exacerbated by below-normal Belg rains in March-May 2021. Other parts of the country experienced erratic rainfall during the Belg season which caused flooding, affecting nearly 450,000 people, and displacing over 171,000 in 26 woredas in Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP), Oromia, Afar, and Somali regions. 18 woredas in Hari, Gabi, and Awsi zones in Afar along the Awash Basin were affected by the worst flooding in a decade.
In addition, it has been reported that desert locusts have moved toward the western lowlands of Afar while new swarms are expected by September. Continued investment in effective survey and control operations will be required to reduce breeding.
In view of continued risk of disease outbreaks, there is a need to strengthen routine immunization programmes. COVID-19 remains a concern in Ethiopia with a spike in recorded cases during March and April and a reduction of cases in May and June. However, the number of cases started increasing in July and August. The likelihood of a new spike is high given the new delta variant, low vaccination rates (2,326,531 doses administrated as of 17 August 2021), and decreased adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures. By 17 August, there were 290,818 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 265,663 recoveries and 4,495 deaths.
Ongoing armed conflict, intercommunal violence, climatic shocks, Desert Locusts, and disease outbreaks including COVID-19 continued to be the key drivers of humanitarian needs in Ethiopia during the first half of 2021. Conflicts have erupted, deteriorated, or escalated in various parts of the country, with severe impacts on civilians and particularly on vulnerable and marginalized groups. Fighting has taken place in various areas, including Metekel and Kamashii zones of Benishangul Gumuz Region, along the Afar-Somali border, and between Amhara and Oromo communities in North Shewa and Oromia Special zones of Amhara region. In addition, the security situation in Amhara and Afar has deteriorated due to the spillover of the Tigray conflict. The situation has been particularly volatile in Fanti Rasu zone in Afar where pastoral communities in Yallo woreda were affected by hostilities. Subsequently, fighting continued to spread to other woredas in Fanti Rasu zone including Golina, Awra, Ewa, and Teeru woredas.
During the first half of 2021, a total of 1,399,474 persons in Ethiopia (not counting Tigray) have been displaced due to armed conflict.
Insecurity remains the main impediment to relief operations in some parts of Ethiopia. Partners faced multiple limitations on their movements due to security issues and restrictions by parties to the conflict. In Benishangul Gumuz, lack of access entailed a substandard response to the needs of affected communities. The population continues to bear the brunt of violence in some parts of Ethiopia, with restricted access to essential services highly affecting their livelihoods. Albeit at different scale, access restrictions have impacted local communities in Amhara, Afar, Benishangul Gumuz,
Oromia and Somali regions, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced since 2018-19.
In 2021, the safety and security of aid workers have been extremely affected by the upsurge of violence in various parts of the country, including in Tigray. Since the start of the conflict in Northern Ethiopia in November 2020, 23 humanitarian workers have died. Humanitarian partners’ ability to respond to humanitarian needs is likewise hampered in northern Ethiopia due to looting of vehicles, ambulances and warehouses by parties to the conflict.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.