Total cereal food aid requirement for 2003 is about 1.3 million metric tons. About 670,000MT of this amount has already been pledged so far or 50 percent. While this is sufficient to cover needs through the end of May, a break in the food aid pipeline is expected as of June.
Although many districts require food assistance in January, on-going food aid distributions are mostly targeting areas with confirmed or elevated risk of high malnutrition and/or migration.
According to an FAO/WFP forecast, Ethiopia's 2002/03 meher (main) cereal and pulse production is 8.9 MMT, down by 25 percent from last year and 21 percent from the average for the previous five years.
FAO/WFP estimates that Ethiopia faces a 2.3 MMT of cereal deficit in 2003. After taking into account commercial import capacity and undelivered food aid from last year, there still remains an uncovered gap of about 1.83 MMT.
Cereal prices continued to increase in December 2002 in most reported markets, reflecting the abnormal food supply situation in the country. Prices are expected to increase further in the coming months.
Although December is usually a dry period in most parts of the country, southern and southwestern Ethiopia received rain at this time this year.
Deyr season (late September through November) rainfall has been near normal in Somali Region, but food insecurity remains very high in Shinille and Fik Zones due to little recovery from the impact of previous droughts.
Break in food aid pipeline expected as of June
Current cereal food aid pledges are only sufficient to partially cover needs through the end of May1. Unless additional food assistance is immediately pledged and delivered, a break in the food aid pipeline is expected as of June (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Cereal Food Aid Pipeline (Jan -- Dec 2003)
Data Source: World Food Program (17
Graphics by FEWS NET/Ethiopia
There is an even more urgent need for supplementary food (Corn-Soya blend or CSB) for malnourished children because available stocks will only cover 60 percent of January's requirements, and 36 percent of February's. While this will increase in March through May, a breakdown is expected by June. Delivery of already-pledged food and additional food aid pledged for the June-December period is essential in order to prevent a break in relief food distribution.
Although many districts require food assistance in January, on-going food aid distributions are mostly targeting areas with confirmed or elevated risk of high malnutrition and/or migration (Figure 2). Most of these areas are found in East Tigray (Tigray Region), Zones 1, 2 and 3 (Afar Region), Wag Hemra, Oromiya, North Gonder, South Gonder, South Wello and East Gojjam (Amhara, Region), North Shewa, East Shewa, West Hararghe and East Hararghe (Oromiya Region), Shinille, Fik, Jijiga and Gode Zones (Somali Region), Kembata-Tembaro and Hadiya Zones (Southern Nations, Nationalities and People's Region-SNNPR).
Ensuring sufficient and timely food assistance to these areas is of critical importance, particularly as many are chronically food insecure and/or have suffered several shocks in recent years. As a result, household and community coping mechanisms have been severely eroded making this year's shocks even more difficult to bear. Figure 3 illustrates this for poor households in Sekota District of Wag Hemra Zone (Amhara Region).
Figure 3. Illustrative Impact of the 2002 Drought on Food Access by Ppooor Households in Sekota District
Source: Save the Children/UK (December 2002)
In a baseline or 'typical year', poor households in Sekota District obtain food through their own crop production (41 percent) and food purchases (31 percent), but are also reliant on relief food to cover 31 percent of their food needs.2
However, as a result of the drought, poor households in Sekota are facing a significant reduction in their own crop production as well as their purchasing power (due to a decline in income from crop and livestock sales combined with an increase in the price of staple foods).
Even after these poor households exploit the limited coping options available to them (additional firewood sales, extra seasonal labor and pulse sales) they still face a 67 percent food deficit that can only be filled by relief food.
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1 Total cereal food aid requirement for 2003 is about 1.3 million metric tons. About 670,000MT of this amount has already been pledged so far or 50 percent.
2 In Sekota, the poor constitute 46 percent of the rural population or 50 percent of the tota