Ethiopia: Food insecurity intensifies despite late Gu and Belg season rainfall (24.05.2017)
Despite enhanced rainfall at the end of April into early May over many areas of Ethiopia, food security outcomes are still expected to deteriorate, particularly in southern and southeastern pastoral areas due to the late start, erratic, and below-average Gu/Genna rains. In portions of Somali Region, the accelerated loss of livestock has significantly expanded food consumption gaps, and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely in the absence of sustained assistance during June to September. In lowland areas of SNNPR along the Rift Valley and in East and West Hararghe, southern Tigray, and portions of northern Amhara, projected outcomes are expected to move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), beginning in June, due to low household purchasing power and a lack of confirmed humanitarian assistance.
Late Gu/Genna season rainfall has partially rejuvenated water points for both livestock and human consumption across some woredas of Somali Region, and improved water availability has been reported in Borena and Guji zones of Oromia and South Omo in southern SNNPR. However, the rainfall has not continued into mid-May, and the short-term forecast indicates only moderate rainfall as the season concludes. The current marginal improvements in pasture and water are likely to be depleted by early June, which will mean rangeland resources will rapidly decline, and subsequently livestock body conditions and productivity, until the Deyr/Hageya season in October.
Over most Belg-producing areas of the country, extended dry spells through much of April suppressed the growth of Belg crops as well as Meher long-cycle crops. As a result, even if the Belg rains continue through the end of May, lower yields are likely for maize crops in particular, especially in lowland areas of SNNPR along the Rift Valley. Due to late planting, the green and dry Belg maize harvest in SNNPR is likely to be delayed by more than two months. Poor households are already experiencing constrained food access as they are highly market dependent during the peak of the lean season. Staple food prices, especially for maize, remain atypically higher.
The 2017 HRD initially estimated that 5.6 million people needed humanitarian assistance through June 2017, but the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) has revised higher the number to 7.81 million. In addition, the NDRMC has projected that in Belg-dependent areas, additional PSNP beneficiaries past the traditional six-month period of transfers will need extended support. The NDRMC, JEOP, and WFP completed the first two distribution rounds, and the third round is underway. However, there are logistical constraints that might impede timely distributions.