Famine Early Warning System – Tigray war will lead to acute food shortages and malnutrition in Ethiopia

(Source: FEWS, Ethiopia Food Security Outlook Update, 31 December 2020) –
Note: Eritrea is never included as there is no information – but the Phase 3 crisis extends right along the Eritrean border. This is what a Phase 3 crisis means: “Acute Food and Livelihood Crisis: “At least 20 percent of households have significant food consumption gaps OR are marginally able to meet minimum food needs only with irreversible coping strategies such as liquidating livelihood assets. Levels of acute malnutrition are high and above normal.”

Food security Crisis across much of western Ethiopia drives significantly above-normal needs for 2021

Key Messages

  • Since the outbreak of conflict in early November between federal and regional forces in Tigray, nearly 54,000 people have been displaced to Sudan as of December 26, with many likely displaced in Tigray and to bordering areas of Amhara and Afar. Additionally, market function and economic activity were significantly disrupted, which led to significant price increases, limiting many households’ ability to access food and income. While some improvement in economic activity has been reported in accessible areas since conflict subsided in early December, economic activity in many areas continues to be limited.

  • Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected in many parts of Tigray as households are expected to continue to have limited ability to access food and income. In the absence of humanitarian assistance, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely ongoing in some central and eastern areas of Tigray; however, as economic activity is expected to improve as the conflict remains at lower levels, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to emerge in February/March 2021.

  • Below-average October to December hagaya/deyr rainfall across southeastern pastoral areas has driven below-normal pasture and water availability for this time of year, resulting in a decline in milk production. In southern pastoral areas, pasture conditions are relatively normal. The decrease in livestock prices, coupled with the high staple food prices, is resulting in low purchasing power for poor households. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist through at least May 2021.

  • The likely below-average February to May 2021 rainfall is likely to negatively impact belg production in most of SNNPR, central and eastern Oromia, eastern Amhara, and southern Tigray. In addition to the below-average rainfall, the likely below-average area planted is expected to drive a below-average harvest, which will likely negatively impact food availability from June onward. Furthermore, the forecasted below-average gu in southern and southeastern pastoral areas and sugum in northern pastoral areas are expected to drive pasture and water availability deterioration.

Ethiopia Projected food security outcomes, February to May 2021

The impacts of conflict in Tigray and bordering areas of Amhara and Afar are expected to continue as it will take time to restore the market function and trade systems to normal levels. As a result, as household food stocks are depleted, more people are expected to face food consumption gaps with much of Tigray, notably central and eastern areas, northeastern Amhara, and Afar, expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes, with some households in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) across many areas through at least May 2021. Continued disruption to markets and declines in household food stocks are likely to lead to many households engaging livelihood coping strategies indicative of Crisis or worse.

In areas of the Tekeze and Mereb River Catchments, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected into early 2021, access to food is expected to improve with economic activity, with households increasing their engagement in income-earning activities, which is, in turn, increasing market food access. Additionally, with the likely resumption of PSNP, food security outcomes are expected to improve slightly, with Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes anticipated to emerge during the February to May 2021 period.

In Western Tigray, where economic activity is slightly better than in central and eastern areas, households are expected to meet most of their food needs with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes persisting. Anecdotal reports suggest that IDP in bordering areas of Amhara and Afar are also having difficulty accessing food and other basic supplies due to limited market activities with Tigray; Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are also likely among these populations.

With the reduction in milk production due to shortages in pasture and water for livestock, declines in income from livestock coupled with the high and increasing staple food prices, many households are likely to continue to face difficulty meeting their food needs in southern and southeastern pastoral areas. As a result, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to persist. Sitti and Fafan Zones are likely to remain in Stress (IPC Phase 2) through May 2021 due to better livestock conditions, water, and pasture availability assisting many poor households to continue accessing somewhat better milk production.

Many households are expected to access their own foods through January 2021 in most parts of SNNPR and the western and central parts of Oromia and Amhara. This, coupled with the high staple food prices, also helps most households improve their purchasing capacity. As a result, most parts of these areas are likely to remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, in February or March, as most households exhaust food from their production coupled with the continued low incomes and high food prices, most areas of SNNPR and some parts of Oromia along the rift valley areas are likely to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between the February and May 2021 period

Read the full Outlook here:


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