Ethiopia slow onset natural disaster, Sep 2015

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El Niño-driven emergency

Failed spring/belg rains increased food insecurity and malnutrition, wreaking havoc on planting and livestock production across the country. This was quickly followed by the arrival of El Niño weather conditions in June that affected rainfall patterns of the summer/kiremt rains that provides much of the country’s agriculture harvest and potable water. This combination will result in a slowonset emergency in Ethiopia. This potentially can lead to significant losses, including escalating malnutrition that threaten to overwhelm national disaster and social protection response capacity. Recognizing the increased need, the Government has initiated internal responses and issued calls for international assistance well into 2016.

The Ethiopia Humanitarian Country Team (EHCT) has analyzed a wide range of data recommended by Ethiopia’s National Meteorological Agency’s analogue years of El Niño episodes of 1997 and 2002 to learn the lessons of the past and to inform future needs and implementation strategies. The major conclusion of this analysis is one of warning: without a robust response supported by the international community, there is a high probability of a significant food insecurity and nutrition disaster.

The two El Niño events studied saw dramatic increases in food insecurity and malnutrition, and decreases to GDP from one year to the next due to lost harvests. There are concerns that the hunger season for a much larger number of Ethiopians could be extended to eight months from as early as February through the October harvest. Whilst the full scope of humanitarian need in 2016 cannot be definitively predicted, without rainfall it is clear that life-saving needs will climb dramatically.

This EHCT document has been prepared to underscore the gravity of the humanitarian situation today, as detailed in the mid-year review of Ethiopia’s Government-led Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD), and act as a catalyst for action now ahead of next year’s appeal.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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