Reference Date: 12-November-2015
FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT
Drought conditions affecting pasture and water availability in most pastoral and agro-pastoral areas
Mixed prospects for 2015 main “meher” cereal crops
Cereal prices easing in October with beginning of “meher” crop harvest, while prices of livestock products and vegetables remain high
Food security conditions sharply deteriorated in recent months due to drought conditions
Severe drought results in livestock deaths and mainly impact on pastoralist livelihoods
Significant rainfall deficits are recorded in several pastoral areas, with the most severe drought conditions in northern parts, including Afar and northern Somali regions, which had two consecutive poor rainy seasons. The March to May rains, which constitute the main rainy season in eastern and southern pastoral areas, were up to 50 percent below average. The July to September “kiremt” rainy season started late and was followed by intermittent dry spells. Rangeland conditions and water availability in these areas were also acutely stressed, resulting in severe emaciation and unusual livestock deaths. In response, the Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners responded with the provision of feed (hay/straw and concentrates) in order to help livestock keep their body weight and productivity in terms of milk and meat; and medicine in order to maintain their health. Given the severity of the impact, mainly in pastoral areas, several appeals for assistance were made.
Mixed prospects for 2015 main “meher” cereal crop production
Harvesting of the 2015 main “meher” season cereal crops has recently started in lowland areas. Overall, crop prospects are mixed as the June to September “kiremt” rainy season was erratic in several cropping areas. According to satellite-based remote sensing analysis, crop conditions are generally favourable in western Oromia, western Amhara and SNNPR. However, yields in eastern Amhara, eastern Oromia and eastern Tigray have been negatively affected by a prolonged dry spell in July as well as very poor rainfall amounts received thereafter. In addition, in some bi-modal rainfall lowlands of Tigray and Amhara regions, production of long-cycle crops, including sorghum, is expected to decline as the poor performance of the 2015 secondary “belg” rainy season (March/July) prevented the timely preparation of land, inducing farmers to plant short-cycle crops such as wheat, barley and teff.
Harvesting of the secondary “belg” season crops was concluded in September, with about one-month delay, and production is estimated well below-average due to unfavourable rains. March to May rains started in April in most of the “belg” growing regions causing delays in plantings and reductions in planted area. Subsequently, rains were erratic and below average, with prolonged dry spells which caused wilting of a significant proportion of crops. The most affected areas are northeastern Amhara, the highlands and midlands of eastern Oromia and eastern areas of SNNPR.
Cereal prices eased in October and are at low levels, while prices of dairy products and vegetables soared
In October 2015, maize prices declined in several monitored markets by 4-9 percent with the imminent start of the 2015 “meher” main season harvest. October prices were below their year-earlier levels despite the reduced 2015 “belg” secondary harvest, due to large carryover stocks from the above-average 2014 cereal production.
By contrast, other food items such as livestock products and vegetables are at high levels. In September, the year-on year rate of inflation was 13.2 percent for meat, 16.7 percent for milk, cheese and eggs, 21.1 percent for vegetables. Overall, the year-on-year food inflation rate in September was 16.1 percent, higher than the general inflation rate of 11.9 percent. At regional level, the highest rates of food inflation are recorded in drought-affected Afar (21.5 percent) and in the Addis Ababa region (28.6 percent), due to sustained local demand coupled with tight national supplies.
Sharp increase in wheat imports
In response to the drought-induced food shortages, the Government is planning to significantly increase the country’s commercial imports of wheat. At the end of October, one of the biggest import tender in recent years has been launched seeking for 1 million tonnes of wheat. This figure compares with an average of about 420 000 tonnes of commercially imported wheat during the last five years and well above the quantity of about 750 000 tonnes of wheat imported in 2011 during the latest drought in the Horn of Africa.
Food security conditions sharply deteriorate in recent months due to drought conditions
As a result of the impact of drought conditions, the food security situation has sharply deteriorated in recent months, with the estimated number of food insecure people increasing from 4.5 million in August to 8.2 million by end-October. The current figure is more than double than in the same period of 2014, when it was estimated at 3.2 million. Most food insecure people are concentrated in Oromia, Somali, Amhara and Tigray regions. Wheat and maize from the Government’s food reserve are being distributed in the worst affected areas, while the Government is planning to substantially increase its wheat imports in 2016.
By late September, Ethiopia hosted about 733 000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and the Sudan. In particular, as of October, over 277 000 refugees were from South Sudan, mainly hosted in Gambella Region. Financial constraints have seriously limited the level of humanitarian assistance to date and environmental degradation in camps, the fragile eco-system and the scarcity of resources have led to tensions between host communities and refugees in some locations.