Food insecurity intensifies in Ethiopia despite late and erratic Gu/Gena/Belg season rainfall

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June- September 2019 Map of Ethiopia . Credit: FEWSNET

By NECJOGHA TEAM

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA:Despite enhanced rainfall in the second dekad of May 2019 over many areas of Ethiopia, due to the late starting, erratic, and below-average Gu/Genna rains, particularly in southern and southeastern pastoral areas, food security outcomes in these areas are expected to deteriorate.

This is contained in statement released by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) on June 1 in an update of the food situation in Ethiopia and a forecast of the June to September period. FEWS NET which is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity in 28 countries was created by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises.

“In East and West Hararghe zones of Oromia food consumption gaps consistent with a food crisis likely from June to September. Northern Somali, major parts of East and West Hararghe, Northeastern Amhara, and Borena and Guji zones of Oromia are expected to move from Stressed (to Crisis  in June due to low household purchasing power, a lack of confirmed humanitarian assistance, and lack of pasture for livestock,” the statement said.

The statement says that the Gu/Genna season rainfall in the second decade of May 2019 rejuvenated water points for both livestock and human consumption in some woredas of Somali Region, Borena and Guji zones of Oromia, and  South Omo in southern SNNPR, where improved water availability is reported.

“Pasture and water are expected to remain improved for a short period, but improved livestock body conditions and productivity are not expected until the Deyr/Hageya season in October. In East and West Hararghe zones of Oromia, livestock deaths are being reported,” the statement says

The statement adds that below normal area-planted and suppressed crop growth in Belg-producing areas due to the below-average rainfall season will likely lead to Belg crop failure in East and West Hararghe. In other parts of the country below-average Belg production is likely despite improved rainfall in May. Meher long-cycle crops, and Belg-planted Meher maize and sorghum, especially in East and West Hararghe, the Rift Valley of Oromia, and SNNPR also suffered growth delays due to the poor rainfall which will negatively affect production.

“In East and West Hararghe, Bale lowlands, parts of Guji and Borena Zones of Oromia and Somali region, 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, and wheat flour remain atypically high.Children’s nutrition status is deteriorating in East and West Hararghe and Bale zones of Oromia and in large parts of Somali and North-eastern Afar. The situation may further deteriorate as the lean season progresses,” the statement warns. 

The statement concludes that with some improvement in the security situation across the country, the Government of Ethiopia has begun to facilitate the return of IDP households to their homes in East and West Wolega, Gedio, and Amehra. This has been a smooth transition for IDPs in East and West Wollega zones of Oromia, and North Gonder zone of Amehra. However, Gedio IDPs did not feel secure returning to their homes and returned only at the insistence of the government.  Monthly food assistance rations are being provided to IDPs by CRS (using JEOP resources), WFP, and the government of Ethiopia. This is expected to continue until IDPs are readjusted and able to return fully to their normal livelihoods and incomes.

(Source: Famine Early Warning Systems Network -FEWS NET)

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