Ethiopia

Ethiopia Key Message Update: Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes likely among households in Tigray, May 2021

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Key Messages

  • Widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely across Tigray through at least September, and worst-affected populations in eastern, central, and northwestern areas are likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). The ongoing conflict is significantly restricting millions of households' access to their typical sources of food and income. According to IOM, as of April, over 1.6 million people are displaced within Tigray, with the highest concentration of IDPs in Shire, though displacement is likely higher than official reports suggest. Many households across Tigray have likely received humanitarian assistance, though multiple areas remain inaccessible across central, southern, eastern, and northwestern Tigray. As millions of households face large food consumption gaps, high levels of acute malnutrition and increased mortality are likely occurring.

  • Belg/Gu/Genna rainfall has been erratic, with little to no rainfall at the start of the season, but heavy rainfall occurring in late April. While this rainfall decreased cumulative deficits, on its own it is unlikely to result in significant sustained improvements in cropping conditions or pasture and water availability. Moreover, planting was delayed by up to a month because of insufficient rainfall, and according to government reports, as of mid-May, only 35 percent of typically cropped areas had been planted in Oromia and between 40 to 65 percent had been planted in Amhara and SNNPR. The *belg *and long-maturing *meher *harvests are expected to be well below-average with delayed harvests starting in July and October, respectively.

  • Across most pastoral areas of the country, the erratic and poor *gu/genna *season follows a poor 2020 deyr season, and the consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in low pasture availability, atypical livestock migration, and declines in livestock body conditions and milk production. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are ongoing and expected to persist throughout at least September 2021, with some households expected to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). On top of high staple food prices, livestock prices are not keeping pace with food prices, resulting in lower-than-normal purchasing power among pastoral households. Concerningly, the forecast calls for an increased likelihood of a third consecutive poor season over the Horn of Africa in late 2021.

  • In belg-dependent areas, where the lean season is ongoing, households are primarily market dependent but face below-average purchasing power, and many poor households are unable to cover their basic food needs. Some improvements in food security are expected with the *belg *harvest, although not until July/August due to delays in the harvest. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected among many poor households until the harvest comes in.

  • Conflict also persists in Oromia, Benishangul Gumuz, Afar, and Amhara Regions. Based on unconfirmed reports, more than 129,000 people have been displaced due to conflict in North Shewa and Oromia Zones in Amhara. In Amhara, the recent conflict resulted in short-term disruption in trade flows and the closure of shops, and traders reportedly still cannot move at normal levels. Moreover, in cropping and agropastoral areas of the country, conflict is disrupting agricultural activities. Even among farmers who are not displaced, and who have access to land, some have lost assets such as plow oxen and other farm equipment due to the burning of homes or theft. A below-average meher harvest is likely among affected households in localized areas, including in North Shewa and Oromia Zones of Amhara, Wollega areas of Oromia, and Metekel Zone of Benishangul Gumuz.

  • According to the May FAO desert locust report, there was a steady decline in desert locusts across Ethiopia during the 2021 dry season. However, through mid-June there is still a likelihood of hatching and the formation of small hopper bands in northern Somali Region, eastern and southern Oromia, and southern SNNPR, and the newly formed swarms are expected to move to Afar with hatching in *kiremt *dominant areas. However, the overall level of desert locust swarms is expected to be lower than last year due to control operations and lower rainfall. As such, a lower overall impact on crops and pasture is anticipated in 2021 relative to 2019 and 2020.

  • Economic conditions continue to deteriorate due to high government spending and declines in economic support. According to the Central Statistics Authority, annual inflation continues to be high, at 19.2 percent in April. The value of the ETB on the official and parallel markets continues to depreciate, exchanging on the market at nearly 43 and 55 ETB/USD, respectively, ranging 20 to 25 percent lower than the same time last year. The continued deterioration in the macroeconomy, marked by the continued depreciation of the ETB and limited hard currency, is limiting imports, including of staple foods. This is resulting in high staple food prices, driving low purchasing power for many households. The imposition of international restrictions in response to the conflict in Tigray, including the withdrawal of some budgetary support, may have further negative effects on the already-poor macroeconomic conditions.