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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 24-August-2022


  1. Dire food security situation, with more than 20 million people estimated to be severely food insecure

  2. Major concern for conflict-affected northern regions and for drought-affected southern areas

  3. Dismal seasonal rains affecting cereal production of 2022 “Belg” secondary season

  4. Substantial wheat import requirements, with concerns about the country’s import capacity

  5. Food prices increasing to very high levels, constraining access to food for large segments of the population

  6. Severe pasture and water shortages resulting in widespread livestock deaths in southern pastoral areas

Dire food security situation due to multiple shocks

According to the 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, 20.4 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure, 2.4 million up from last year. The difficult and worsening food security situation is the result of multiple shocks affecting food availability and access:

  1. The conflict in northern Tigray Region and in adjacent areas of Amhara and Afar regions, which began in November 2020. Despite some improvements of the security situation following the cease‑fire signed in late March 2022, economic activities and market functioning have not yet fully recovered. Almost 2.5 million people remain displaced, and in Tigray region alone, 5.3 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure.

  2. The failure of the 2022 March‑May “Gu‑Genna” rains in southern pastoral areas of South West Ethiopia Peoples' Region, southern SNNPR, Borena zone in southern Oromiya Region and southern Somali Region, which exacerbated drought conditions prevailing since late 2020, causing severe crop and livestock losses. The drought is affecting more than 8 million people, and in the Somali region alone, the worst affected area, 4.1 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure. As the June‑September dry season has recently started and forecasts point to a poor October‑December “Deyr/Hageya” season, food security conditions are expected to further deteriorate.

  1. Severe macroeconomic challenges. They include insufficient foreign currency reserves and the continuous depreciation of the national currency, with the exchange rate vis-à-vis the United States dollar in June being almost 20 percent higher than a year earlier. As a result, inflation is at very high levels, with the year‑on‑year food inflation rate estimated at 35.5 percent in July, one the highest of the last decade. These difficulties are exacerbated by the ripple effects of the Ukraine war, which triggered hikes in international prices of wheat, fuel and fertilizers.

Dismal seasonal rains affecting 2022 secondary season “Belg” crops

Harvesting of the secondary “Belg” season crops in southern Tigray, eastern Amhara, eastern Oromiya and northeastern SNNP regions started in July with about one month of delay and production prospects are highly unfavourable. Crop failures are expected in several areas, raising food security concerns for local households that had a poor harvest also last year.

The onset of the rainy season, normally occurring in February, was delayed by 20-40 days. Subsequently, cumulative seasonal rainfall amounts ranged from 20 to 50 percent below average, with an erratic spatial and temporal distribution. In SNNP region, about half of the total seasonal rainfall amounts was received just in the second half of April. According to FAO’s Agricultural Stress Index (ASI), as of late May, immediately before the onset of the dry season, in most cropping areas between 40 and more than 85 percent of cropland was affected by severe drought. In the Southern Zone of the Tigray Region and in adjacent areas of Amhara region, the security situation improved following the cease-fire declared in late March, but by then the planting window was almost closed. According to a multi‑agency assessment conducted in Amhara region, as of mid‑March less than 40 percent of the planned area was sown due to early‑season dryness and insecurity. Overall, in Tigray region and in neighbouring areas of Amhara region, a very poor performance of the “belg” season is expected, with a negative impact on the already dire food security situation.

Planting of the 2022 main “Meher” season crops, for harvest from October, is almost complete in key producing areas of western Oromiya, western Amhara and Benishangul Gumuz regions. Cumulative rains until late July were average to above average in most cropping areas, benefiting sowing and germination. According to the latest forecast by the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), average to above‑average rainfall amounts are expected in most major cropping areas between August and October.

In Tigray region and in neighbouring areas of Amhara region affected by the conflict, shortages of inputs including seeds, draft oxen and fertilizers have constrained planting operations. However, due to the improved security situation following the ceasefire, higher levels of household engagement in agricultural activities compared to the previous year are reported. As a result, cereal production is expected to be below‑average but higher than in 2021.

Substantial wheat import requirements, but there are concerns about the country’s import capacity

The most consumed cereals in the country are maize and wheat. While the country is self-sufficient in maize, it imports about 30 percent of its wheat requirements.

About 20 percent of wheat imports in 2021, estimated at about 1.5 million tonnes, were sourced from Ukraine. The impact of the war caused trade bottlenecks and contributed to increases in international prices of wheat, exacerbating the existing macroeconomic challenges affecting the capacity of the country to import.

Food prices at very high levels constraining access to food for large segments of the population

Prices of locally produced maize increased seasonally by 10 to 15 percent between January and June 2022 and reached levels up to 80 percent higher year on year. Prices of wheat declined in the capital Addis Ababa by about 10 percent between April and June but remained at near-record levels and 44 percent higher than a year earlier. The high levels of cereal prices are mainly the result of the continuous depreciation of the national currency, which inflates prices of imported inputs and exacerbates the high oil prices prevailing on the international market.

In drought‑affected southeastern pastoral areas, livestock prices increased in recent months as the prolonged drought had a negative impact on the availability of marketable live animals and hence resulted in a low market supply. However, cereal prices increased at faster rates, resulting in a sharp deterioration of the livestock to cereal terms of trade for pastoralists. In Chereti market, located in the Afder zone of Somali Region, the equivalent in maize of a medium sized goat in June was about 50 kg, more than 50 percent below the levels of one year earlier.

Severe pasture and water shortages resulting in widespread livestock deaths

Prolonged drought conditions are significantly affecting southern pastoral areas, where the failure of the March‑May “Gu/Genna” rainy season hampered the regeneration of rangeland resources and the recharge of water sources.

Livestock body conditions are currently poor due to lack of pasture and water, and herd sizes have significantly declined due to the death from starvation of about 3.8 million animals and widespread distress sales.

Due to the prolonged drought, most livestock have not conceived in at least the past two seasons, resulting in minimal milk production. The lack of milk, both at household and market levels, is severely affecting food security and nutrition, particularly of children.

In northern pastoral areas of Afar Region and Sitti Zone of northern Somali Region, the performance of the March‑June “Diraac/Sugum” rainy season has been among the worst on historical record, severely affecting pasture and water availability and hence livestock body condition, reproduction, and milk availability. Weather forecasts for the “Karan/Karma” rains, normally spanning from mid-July to mid‑September, point to above‑average precipitation amounts. So far, rainfall amounts have been average, and even if the favourable weather forecasts will materialize, a significant improvement in milk availability is not expected, stemming from low conception rates during the previous season and reduced herd sizes due to massive livestock losses caused by the war in Tigray, which spilled over to Afar in July 2021.

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