Ethiopia: Drought Situation Update #1 – As of 10 March 2023


Ethiopia’s drought situation continues to worsen following five consecutive failed rainy seasons and the looming “lean season” (period between harvests), with the southern and eastern parts of the country mainly affected. Rains have been erratic and scarce, in turn significantly diminishing the crops produced by farmers and severely affecting the pastoralists who had barely had the time to recover from the last heavy drought of 2016-2017 and the subsequent locust infestation. Entire communities are without sufficient food reserves to survive until the next harvest in the next few months. Pastures and water availability are depleted in southern and eastern zones of the country further endangering already depleted livelihoods.

Drought induced humanitarian conditions – a snapshot

24 million people currently living in drought affected areas

11 million people estimated to be food insecure

About 6.85 million livestock deaths since late 2021

Dire and complex conditions are expected to further drive humanitarian needs of the drought affected population well into 2023, thus requiring urgent funding and a strengthened response. In 2023, Humanitarian organizations aim to assist more than 13 million Ethiopians in drought affected areas with life-saving assistance, including food, nutrition, health, and protection services this year. For this to happen, the 2023 Ethiopian Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) requires an estimated $US2.05 billion for the drought response out of a total ask of $US 3.99. Donors must mobilize and commit urgently as the time is now, if not overdue, for humanitarian actors to scale up their response to save lives.

Last year, an estimated $US928 million was secured out of the $US1.66 billion required for the drought response as of end December 2022, inclusive of funding from OCHA pooled fund mechanisms namely, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund (EHF). Urgent additional funding is needed to scale up the response by humanitarian partners to support most vulnerable populations across the highly drought affected areas in the eastern and southern parts of the country, with five out of nine clusters having assisted only 50 or less per cent of the people targeted due to insufficient resources and access challenges in some areas in 2022.

Response to the affected people in drought impacted Somali, Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP) regions was inadequate in 2022. During the time, partners assisted an estimated 11 million people or 66 per cent of the 17 million targeted population with at least one type of life-saving assistance. Remaining 6 million people or 44 per cent of the target were not provided with at least one type of humanitarian assistance in 2022, due to different operational challenges including low financing, access to hard-to-reach areas, limited partner presence, as well as growing needs created from continued displacements and worsening drought conditions. Particularly, 21 per cent of the targeted people in need having not been provided with emergency shelter and non-food item assistance, 50 per cent of target not having received food at least one time, 22 per cent not having received nutrition supplements, 52 per cent remained without agricultural support, as well as 50 percent without water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Owing to a focus on life-saving assistance for the most vulnerable, and due to challenges facing humanitarian organizations, including security, limited capacity and insufficient financial resources, in Somali, 32 per cent of the targeted 5.4 million drought affected people had not received humanitarian assistance by December. In the same period, 34 per cent (out of 6 million targeted) in Oromia, and 38 per cent of the targeted 2.1 million in SNNP did not receive humanitarian assistance.

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


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