Above average rainfall expected to cause flooding in Ethiopia


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) has warned of severe flooding in Ethiopia due to the above-average October to December (Deyr/Hageya) rains.

“The most likely ENSO Neutral conditions and positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) through December 2019 will most likely result in above-average October to December (Deyr/Hageya) rains over southern and southeastern parts of Ethiopia. In November and December, heavy Deyr/Hagaya rainfall is likely to generate atypical levels of flooding, particularly over flood-prone areas of Shebelle and other riverine areas of the Somali and Oromia Regions. Flooding is expected to temporarily displace households and have localized crop and livestock losses, and potentially limit humanitarian access to flood-affected areas,” says a food security outlook for Ethiopia for the October 2019- January 2020 period and February-May 2020 released by FEWS NET today Thursday.

FEWS NET is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries.

According to FEWS NET, below are other most-likely scenario from October 2019 to May 2020 based on the following national-level assumptions;

  • Temperatures, in north-eastern and parts of central and southwestern Ethiopia, are anticipated to be warmer than average temperature, while southwestern Ethiopia is most likely to experience near average temperatures. This will likely lead to the drying of pasture and surface water availability slightly earlier than normal.
  • The start of February to April 2020 Belg/Sugum/Diraac/Gu rains is most likely to have a timely start with average cumulative rainfall.
  • Southeastern pastoral areas are expected to have normal regeneration of pasture and water availability to above normal levels following above-average Deyr/Hagaya These seasonal improvements of pasture and water availability are expected to lead to normal livestock body conditions, near-normal level of conceptions, and seasonal livestock productivity. However, due to high livestock deaths in 2016/17, cumulative livestock conceptions and product production are expected to remain below average.

  • In pastoral areas of Afar and northern Somali (Sitti and Fafan zones) Regions, availability of pasture and water is expected to be near normal following average Karan/Karma/Kiremt  In these areas, livestock body conditions, conceptions, productivity, and production will most likely remain near average. Although, localized areas of northern Afar with below-average rainfall, are likely to have below-average water and pasture availability. This is expected to lead to a slight deterioration in body conditions of livestock, production, and productivity with slightly below average rates of conception.
  • Livestock prices and price trends are likely to follow seasonal trends and remain above the five-year average. However, prices are expected to gradually decrease between February and March 2020 in much of Somali, northern Afar and the southern lowlands of Oromia due to the long dry season and localized below-average Kiremtrainfall in northern Afar. 
  • Access to food and income from own production is likely to improve to normal levels between October 2019 and January 2020. However, poor households and the middle and some better-off households in northeastern Amhara, southern and eastern Tigray, and eastern Oromia are likely to start, as typical, exhausting own harvest starting February 2020 and rely more on markets as the lean season approaches from March to May 2020.
  • Staple food prices are likely to follow seasonal trends; however, prices are likely to remain significantly above last year and the five-year average due to anticipated inflation and increasing fuel, spare parts, and transportation costs. 
  • The Ethiopian Birr is expected to continue gradually depreciating through the outlook period due to tight foreign reserves, global strengthening of the USD, and increasing interest due on USD-denominated debt. As a result, domestic fuel and transportation costs are likely to increase. Imported agricultural inputs prices are expected to be atypically high limiting household planting ability.
  • Livestock to staple food ToT is likely to continue to favor cropping households as price increases for staple food are higher than the price increase for livestock, this is deteriorating the purchasing power of the pastoralists.
  • With anticipated average seasonalMeher 2019/2020 and perennial crop harvest, including coffee and fruit, October 2019 to January 2020, agricultural labor opportunities and wage rates are likely to be normal.
  • The number of cases of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD)/cholera is expected to increase, particularly in Holly water areas of Amhara, and Tigray regions. Moreover, with the anticipated average Deyr/Hageyarains, pastoral communities who are dependent on open water sources in Somali, Afar and southern Oromia regions are expected to be affected by AWD/cholera. The possibility of increased AWD/cholera outbreaks is also of concern in state farm areas of Afar, Metema and Humera areas of Tigray and Amhara in October 2019 to January 2020 due to the concentration of daily labors in state farms for harvesting without having proper sanitation facilities and access for potable water.
  • In eastern and northeastern parts of the country where production will be below average, a high number of admissions of children to nutrition programs is anticipated. The nutritional status of children and PLWs, it is expected to improve between October 2019 to January 2020 following the anticipated Meher2019 production as TFP admission rates are expected to return to near the five-year average. However, starting in February 2020 nutrition outcomes are anticipated to start deteriorating due to exhaustion of own production and the long dry season.
  • Conflict between ethnic groups is most likely to remain a constant concern among communities after the Meher harvest in agricultural areas and during the Deyr/Hagaya rains in pastoral areas due to tension overgrazing, pasture, and water resources. This is expected to result in a temporary increase in displacement and disruption in normal livelihood activities, movement of people for labor activity and livestock, and trade flows.
  • Resource transfers through the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) are expected to take place following the typical schedule from January to June 2020 with most beneficiaries being reached in the eastern half of the country (Figure 6). Humanitarian food assistance is planned and funded through the start of 2020. Although, it is anticipated delivery of assistance will follow current trends with the continued occasional delays.

Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

Food security is expected to remain relatively stable across the country from October 2019 to May 2020 owing to the average Meher harvest and generally favorable conditions across the country. Households in central and western surplus-producing areas of the country are expected to continue facing Minimal (IPC Phase 1). In general, while average Meher production is anticipated at the national level, crop production is expected to be below average in areas of northeastern Amhara, eastern Tigray, and East and West Hararghe Zones of Oromia. In these areas, Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected from October 2019 to January 2020. However, from February to May 2020, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to emerge in these areas as household food stocks are expected to be limited or exhausted. Additionally, market food access is anticipated to be limited since household purchasing power is below average due to high staple food prices.

In areas where flooding occurred and is expected along riverine and low-lying areas in Deyr/Hagaya rainfall areas, localized areas are expected to have crop and livestock losses with some temporary displacement.  In these areas replanting may not be possible due to waterlogging and livestock may have difficulty finding forage. However, flooding is expected to also have positive impacts, leading to above-average pasture regeneration after floodwaters recede. The negative impacts of flooding are expected to be localized with more large-scale positive effects on pasture and cropping conditions in the medium term. Despite the positive improvements, poor households in western areas of southern and southeastern pastoral areas bordering Somali and Oromia regions are expected to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). As livestock are anticipated to return to their homestead, households are able to sell livestock products normally for food, although at below-average levels. In eastern and central parts of Somali region Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are expected to be widespread as the result of the Hagaya/Deyr rainfall improving pasture and water availability, which is anticipated to continue to improve livestock production and productivity. However, although pastoral conditions continue to improve, households’ livestock herd sizes still have not recovered from drought in 2016 and 2017, which continues to limit household purchasing power.

Most parts of Belg dependent areas in SNNPR, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) is most likely from October 2019 to May 2020 due to below-average harvest associated with localized insecurity and conflict. However, some areas affected by conflict bordering Oromia are likely to deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) between February and May 2020 period. Areas of SNNPR, Oromia, and Somali region that experienced significant ethnic clashes in 2019 are also anticipated to continue experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. The worst-affected resident and displaced populations are expected to be directly impacted with insecurity limiting livelihood opportunities and the ability to engage in the ongoing agriculture seasons. Similarly, previously displaced households returning to their place of origin are most likely to continue facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) depending on their ability to re-integrate and return to their normal livelihoods.



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