Ethiopia Key Message Update: Desert locusts and late unseasonable rainfall continue to threaten the ongoing Meher harvest, November 2019
Desert locusts continue to threaten the ongoing Meher harvest. According to FAO, locusts are present in an estimated 56 woredas of Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali, and Tigray regions. In Amhara, nearly 75,000 hectares of both crop and rangeland were infested according to the Regional Bureau of Agriculture. Some localized areas are reporting crop losses and households are harvesting immature crops to avoid largescale crop losses. In affected pastoral areas of Afar, Oromia, and Somali Regions, desert locusts are consuming pasture. decreasing the availability for livestock. Desert Locusts are expected to continue hatching, specifically in Somali Region due to the favorable rainfall. Current protection measures are unable to control the outbreak due to conflict in some areas and largely favorable conditions for locust breeding.
In addition to desert locust infestation, rainfall continued after the typical end of Kiremt rainfall. This is impacting the Meher dependent areas of Oromia, Amhara, and Tigray regions. In many of these areas, this is among the wettest October/November on the historical record. Since most Meher crops are at the ripening stage and not yet harvest, the unseasonable rainfall is causing some crop seed shattering and rotting. There is likely to be a decrease in the Meher harvest at the household level in affected areas, although, the full extent of the impact of both the unseasonable rainfall and desert locusts is yet to be fully assessed. However, national Meher production is still expected to be average.
Cumulative rainfall for the October to December Deyr/Hagaya season is significantly above average due to heavy rainfall in October. Rainfall continued in November, although not as heavy as in October. The heavy October rainfall resulted in flooding in riverain areas resulting in the damage of household assets, infrastructure, and the displacement of households. Despite the short-term impacts, flooding in the long term typically has a positive effect, improving pastureland and water for livestock. This is expected to improve livestock production and productivity in the medium term. Since reports of flooding in mid-October, no new flooding events have been reported.
Due to the combined impacts of conflict and below average Belg and Kiremt 2019 seasonal rains in areas of the country, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are present along the Tekeze catchment of Tigray and Amhara and north pastoral areas of Afar, east and west Hararghe, lowlands of Bale and Guji and Borana Zones of Oromia. Additionally, most parts of Somali Region are also in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) where households continue to have below average herd sizes. The rest of the country is facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Minimal (IPC Phase 1), specifically areas where the Meher harvest is ongoing.