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OCHA says Over 5 million people affected by drought-like condition in Amhara, Tigray 

OCHA Ethiopia Situation Report
May 2023. Following the outbreak of conflict in Sudan, asylum seekers, refugees, returnees and third country nationals, arrive at Metema Yohannes border crossing point in Ethiopia. Credit: UNHCR/Lucrezia Vittori ( source : OCHA Ethiopia )

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In its bi-weekly digital Situation Report covering the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia, OCHA said “Over 5 million people are reportedly affected by drought-like conditions in Amhara and Tigray.” It was released on Tuesday.

The organization added that the need for humanitarian assistance is high due to a combination of factors of climate, conflict, intercommunal violence, and disease.

Below is the full report from OCHA:

“BACKGROUND

Situation Overview

The humanitarian needs in Ethiopia remain high and continue to be triggered by the combined effects of climate events, conflicts and intercommunal violence, and disease outbreaks. Despite improved agricultural outputs due to improved access and adequate rainfall across Ethiopia during Belg and Kiremt rainy seasons this year, food security remains a great concern throughout the country amid the ongoing pause in food response by main partners, high malnutrition rates and recent reports of drought-like conditions in the northern regions. Accordingly, more than 10 per cent of Ethiopia’s total population continue to be targeted for food assistance until the end of the year, and another more than 4 million people will continue to be targeted for non-food assistance.

Partners in five regions of Ethiopia are currently rolling out food distribution to refugees after an exceptional authorization for refugee populations (close to 946,700), 11 per cent of whom have received assistance as of 19 October. The Ethiopian government also continues to fill food gaps with Round One implemented in July/August and Round Two in September/October food and cash distribution for IDPs and other people in need. Accordingly, the Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Commission (DRMC) dispatched about 25,000 metric tons (MT) of food for close to 3.8 million internally displaced persons for the first round of distribution in July and August across the country. In the second round (September/October), EDRMC allocated 61,310 MT of food for nearly 3.6 million people. Access challenges due to insecurity continue to hamper food deliveries in some locations.

Meanwhile, food partners have provided US$ 27.8 million in cash support to an estimated 3.6 million in Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harari, Oromia, Somali and southern regions. Partners have also been working with the communities and authorities to roll out data-driven targeting exercises, improve beneficiary data verification and management, strengthen commodity tracking, establish procedures for distribution directly to individual households (HHs), and enhance monitoring and community engagement.

Amhara

An estimated 3.5 million people are reportedly affected by drought-like conditions due to crop failure, their food insecurity further aggravated by a shortage of agricultural input, disease, and pests, as well as interruption of farming due to ongoing hostilities. Multi-partner needs assessments have been undertaken in affected zones of North Gondar, North and South Wello, North Shewa, and Oromia Special zones to inform the required humanitarian response. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian government is implementing an emergency response with food aid to nearly 170,000 people in North Wello and a ration for 35,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Wello. However, a gap remains for 1,700 IDPs, for whom advocacy is ongoing to ensure their inclusion. Security improvements via humanitarian routes/roads have enabled access opportunities to support hundreds of displaced persons and returnees in North Shewa, South Wello, North Wello, Oromo Special, and Wag Hamra zones. However, movements to rural areas require further monitoring. Furthermore, improvement in internet capacity is reported in the cities of Gondar, Dessie, and Bahir Dar, although unavailability in other areas continues to constrain data collection and humanitarian operations. Scale-up of resources and response capacities are critical to aid ongoing assistance.

Tigray

According to regional DRMC data and a recent food security assessment, there will be below-average Meherproduction, leading to early depletion of stocks and giving way to an atypical lean season in early 2024. According to recent food security analysis, while the Meher harvest may provide some respite in food availability and access in some parts of Tigray between October 2023 and January 2024, it is anticipated that there will be below-average production, leading to early depletion of stocks. In addition, a 50 per cent animal feed shortage is likely in the following months. According to the assessment over 2 million people are at risk of food crisis.

The Ethiopian Government is responding to food shortage gaps where possible. Accordingly, some 361,000 vulnerable IDPs in 24 woredas in Tigray received food assistance as part of the Government’s food response for 2023, with the first cycle distribution completed in August. A second cycle commenced in early October for some 750,000 people across 65 woredas, out of which 800 people in three woredas have so far been assisted as of mid-month. Over 700,000 people (99 per cent of the targeted population) also received in the first cycle of safety net food assistance across nine woredas between 31 July and 5 October.

Resuming full-scale food dispatch and distribution in a targeted and accountable manner based on assessed vulnerability and needs remains the top priority for all partners. While the pause of food assistance for non-refugee food insecure populations continues, partners have been testing the improved processes through small-scale distributions in Tigray since 31 July. Moreover, cash-based food assistance for around 247,000 IDPs and host community members are being conducted (October-November). Food shortage, however, remains to be a challenge for many vulnerable groups including those affected by drought-like conditions amid the pause in food assistance activities from main non-governmental food partners (since April) and where resources for response are lacking.

As the need for life-saving food assistance remains primary, support to agriculture is critical for community resilience in food security. Relatedly, food partners are supporting with 8,500 MT of fertilizer for the 2024 irrigation season in 50 woredas, while 30 per cent has reached the region so far. Water harvesting, irrigation schemes maintenance, short cycle seed, and pest control support also remain primary, for which resource mobilization is necessary.

Without sufficient assistance, the drought-like condition resulting in critical food and animal feed shortage risk increased negative coping strategies, malnutrition, reduced groundwater recharging, and animal disease outbreaks.

Afar

The region reports increased levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. More than 663,600 people in 15 conflict-affected woredas of Afar are targeted for government emergency food assistance between June and December 2023. Out of these, 16.4 per cent (108,831) are children under five years old, and 20.5 per cent (136,038) are pregnant and lactating women (PLW) who need emergency food assistance. Currently, all these people are affected by the food suspension.

Out of 42 high priority hotspot woredas, 36 are categorized(1) as Priority 1 and remaining six woredas are under priority 2 for the nutrition sector. Nutrition NGO partners currently do not cover 72 per cent of the 36 woredas (27 priority woredas). TSFP (targeted supplementary feeding programs) in 22 priority woredas have been implemented, but significant supply and resource gaps in the MAM (moderate acute malnutrition) intervention necessitate a comprehensive plan. Accordingly, MAM intervention in priority-1 woredas have been reduced due to insufficient resources in Afar (33 per cent of priority woredas (11) are currently not covered with MAM response in Afar).

Children are also affected in the education sector, with only 52 per cent of 264,492 students expected to enrol this academic year remaining out of school. Lack of interest and adequate school materials, and insufficient back-to-school campaigns are in part factors. Reportedly, only 25 per cent of children in need have been supported for this academic year. The need for scholastic materials for children registered in schools remain a key priority for response.

Oromia

Food shortage has been reported across 50 woredas of Oromia due to poor belg season rainfall (March to May) and an early cessation of Kiremt rains (July-September), having contributed little to fresh harvest. Moreover, inconsistent food rations from government stocks, the pause in food aid and insecurity in pocket areas further impact food security. Meanwhile, an estimated 143,000 people (97 per cent of people targeted for assistance) have received food assistance as part of the government’s life-saving food response that commenced in August. The government is targeting more than 916,000 people in 20 zones for a second distribution cycle. Compounded with the food shortage, lack of nutritional supplementary feeding response has contributed to persistent malnutrition rates as high as 86.7 per cent of SAM (severe acute malnutrition) cases (over 21,000) admitted for treatment in August. Admission rates have, however, decreased compared with the previous month and the same time last year due to find and treat campaigns.

Somali

Acute malnutrition in the Somali Region remains at an emergency level, recording a proxy global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate of more than 15.5 per cent as of August. Insufficient response, including lack of routine drugs and therapeutic supplementary foods, is a major challenge in outpatient therapeutic programs and in MAM response, and which aggravates patient progression to SAM.

Diseases

Cholera, malaria, and measles remain major public health emergencies in the country.

The cholera outbreak at more than 24,700 cases as of 23 October, continues to affect 85 woredas across the regions of Afar, Amhara, Benishangul Gumz, Central Ethiopia (CER), Harari, Sidama, Somali, South Ethiopia (SER), as well as Dire Dawa administrative city. Forty-three woredas have not reported any new cases for over 21 days. Meanwhile, Somali has relapsed into an outbreak after 11 weeks of reporting zero cases. So far, an estimated 6.1 million people have been vaccinated in four rounds of oral cholera vaccination (OCV) campaigns in CER, Oromia, SER, Sidama, Somali, and Amhara (ongoing) regions.

Malaria cases in the Oromia reached its peak with a reported more than 774,500 cases with 180 deaths between January and September. Malaria remains one of the top diseases in the West Wellega Zone, with a reported 120,000 cases between July and September. Treatment is inaccessible to many due to a shortage of drugs, and health posts stay non-functional in areas affected by hostilities. Humanitarian agencies are engaged with concerned entities to create safe access for chemical spraying activities in all areas. In Amhara, regional figures compound to an estimated 278,700(2) malaria cases, having exceeded the threshold of the previous five years. Health authorities are responding with indoor residual chemical spraying and patient treatments, however, lack funding for medicines and diagnostic laboratory supplies. In the Sidama Region, many cases are reported and remain over 3,600 as of 9 October. More than half of the cases reported are of the Plasmodium Falciparum type, which often is severe and life-threatening. The Regional Health Bureau of Sidama implements anti-malaria spraying activities in some woredas. Health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) responses are prioritized to control the malaria vector.

The measles outbreak in two zones of the Southwest Ethiopia Region has reportedly reached over 3,900 cases (suspected, confirmed, or epi-linked) since July and as of 23 September. Health partners assist rapid response, case search and management, health education, and enhancing routine immunization, with medical supplies and technical support. Since January 2023, Afar has reported close to 900 suspected measles cases, eight deaths, and a case fatality rate (CFR) of 0.9 per cent. Somali reported more than 300 suspected and confirmed cases and 4 deaths (CFR 1.9 per cent) across four zones between September and October. In the Sidama Region, a reported 58 cases (CFR 3.4 per cent) were confirmed. Case management including vitamin A provision, catchup vaccination campaign, reinforced routine immunization services, surveillance, and awareness creation activities, are the major responses to the measles outbreak in Sidama. A shortage of operational budget, and inadequate partners’ presence remain as some of the challenges in the response to the measles outbreak in both SWER and Sidama regions.

Floods: Gambela, Somali, Southwest Ethiopia Peoples’ Region (SWEP), and the South Ethiopia Region (SER)

Flood hazard in the Gambela Region is a recuring phenomenon during the July-September rainy season causing displacement and hindering access to food and social services. A flood assessment by regional authorities (6-7 September) found more than 52,300 people (over 10,400 HHs) affected and over 37,000 people (more than 7,500 HHs) displaced in flood prone woredas of Agnewak and Nuwer zones, and Itang Special Woreda due to the over flow of Baro and Gilo rivers. Over 8,700 hectares (ha) of farmland out of a cultivated over 141,600ha of crops were also damaged. Moreover, the floods caused more than 1,000 livestock deaths and over 21,700 cattle, goats, sheep, and chicken to fall ill from livestock diseases. Similarly, on the health front, two health centers and 24 health posts were found to be non-functional from flooding, thus causing health service access challenges. In addition, close to 90 schools were partially damaged, affecting learning activities of more than 63,000 students. In response the Ethiopian DRMC provided more than 317 MT of wheat and about 169 MT of flour. Other humanitarian organizations have committed to provide non-food item kits, and scholastic material for 140,000 students. Reportedly, primary needs remain to be food (including for over 7,800 infants and children under five as well as 1,058 PLW), clean drinking water and other WASH services, school materials, and the transfer of the displaced from school grounds to enable teaching-learning process.

In Somali, floods from heavy Deyr 2023 rains reported from 27 to 29 October across the Region have affected over 15,500 HHs and displaced more than 2,200 HHs. Flash floods and from overflowing rivers impacted 42 sites in Afder, Jarar, Liban, Nogob, and Shabelle zones, taking the lives of 12 people and of more than 2,200 livestock, while damage was also made to over 6,400ha of crops, a health post and 3 schools, among others. Key needs for the displaced communities include food, shelter, and WASH response including water purification chemicals. Notwithstanding the damage, where there was sufficient rainfall, the Dyer rains improved both water and pasture availability for communities.

The SWEPR and the SER, similarly, receive rainfall in the month of October. Due to global and regional rain feeding systems (El Nino and Indian Ocea Dipole-IOD), however erratic heavy rainfalls were reported in the SER (Gamo, Konso, South Omo and Wolayita zones), ensuing floods that affected an estimated 1,200 people residing in Gamo on 29 October. The zonal DRMC has committed to provide shelter and relief assistance based on a rapid assessment it is undertaking, however requires further support to respond to the emergency. In the Konta Zone of SWEPR, a reported 180 community members have been displaced (with three deaths) caused by heavy rainfall and landslides on 28 October. Currently, the displaced community is sheltered in schools and farm training centers, and has received from the regional DRMC plastic sheets, and grains and supplementary food each in the amount of 10 MT.


Footnotes

(1) Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Commission

(2) Amhara Public Health Institute ”

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1 COMMENT

  1. Witnessing helpless women, children, and elderly people in such agony is sad and truly heartbreaking. It is all the product of the Eritrean government and Amhara elites, who were among Abiy Ahmed’s former supporters. It is heartbreaking to witness innocent people suffering in the current Middle East conflict as well, let alone fellow Ethiopians. The image and likeness of Almighty God are shared by all the offspring of Adam and Eve.
    ——–Put an end to the fighting(sustain a cease fire) and let the victims get basic supplies.——

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