According to the Government of Ethiopia and Humanitarian partner joint mid-year review of the Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) for 2017 as of 8 August 2017, Southern and eastern Ethiopia continue to battle the impact of the Indian Ocean Dipole-induced drought, exacerbated by disease outbreaks, large scale loss of livelihood assets and displacement. The situation has been further compounded by below average spring belg rains, the third consecutive poor/failed rains in the southern drought belt. The national hotspot classification was updated in early July, with a slight increase in the number of priority woredas from 454 to 461. Overall, the assessment found that poor belg rains affected household food security in the belgdependent woredas of Oromia and SNNP regions. In pastoralist areas of Somali region and pocket areas of other spring rain dependent areas, there was also an increase of livestock mortality and deteriorating body condition of remaining animals, normally a key source of nutrition and livelihood in these areas. This means there are at least 8.5m people who will be in need of basic food assistance through the year, up from 7.8 million in April. Some US$ 487.7m is urgently required for the multisector response for the remainder of the year. Separately, some 4 million people involved in the Public Works element of the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) will also require sustained assistance to the end of 2017, at a cost of $300m. A well coordinated and managed Governmentled humanitarian response is already underway across affected areas of the country.
International donors have contributed close to US$800 million while the Government of Ethiopia has of far added another US$147million. The combined Government and partners’ efforts have already helped save countless people’s lives and averted a major humanitarian catastrophe with the humanitarian response focused on support to major relief pipelines, for food, emergency nutrition and health supplies and technical capacity support to national service providers in the areas of greatest need. Meanwhile, at the weekend, the Food and Agricultural Organization, which is urgently appealing for US$20 million between August and December, underlined concerns over the pastoral areas. In a statement on Saturday (August 12), it stressed that supporting pastoralists and preventing further livestock losses was crucial. Drought-hit pastoralists faced reduced milk production, rising malnutrition, and had limited income-earning capacity and severely constrained access to food. For livestock-dependent families, animals mean the difference between life and death, especially for children, pregnant and nursing mothers, for whom milk is a crucial source of nutrition. So, FAO said, with large scale animal losses, it is focusing on providing emergency livestock support to the most vulnerable pastoralist communities through animal vaccination and treatment, supplementary feed and water, rehabilitating water points, and supporting fodder and 19 feed production. This is particularly important, FAO said, between now and October, when rains are due, to prevent further loss of animals and begin the recovery process. It was providing supplementary feed and water for livestock, while simultaneously supporting fodder production, to protect core breeding animals and enable drought-hit families to rebuild their livelihoods as well as supporting destocking and cash-for-work programs to provide cash for families. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS) also issued a report on the status of recent seasonal rains last Saturday. It said that during the past month, rainfall had been persistently heavy and well above average over eastern Sudan, western Ethiopia, and northeastern South Sudan. This was favorable for agricultural, but also threatened flooding in flood-prone regions of western and eastern lowlands of Sudan.
The average to above-average rainfall extended into Yemen, southern Eritrea, northern South Sudan, Uganda, and western Kenya. However, rainfall was below average in the Afar and parts of Tigray Regional States of northern Ethiopia, as well as in parts of southwestern South Sudan and northern Uganda. The eastern Horn remained seasonally dry and vegetation conditions remain below average in much of the eastern Horn as well as eastern Equatoria in South Sudan. FEWS said estimates from satellite imagery suggested water resources were continuing to decline at surface water points in the Mandera triangle, the predominantly pastoral areas of eastern and southern Ethiopia, northeastern Kenya, and southern Somalia. This is expected to continue until the Deyr/Hageya short rains, which normally starts in October. FEWS notes that in Ethiopia, the June-September seasonal rains are currently well established across the country. The seasonal rains began on time in Afar and Tigray, though at belowaverage levels. Cropping conditions are generally favorable in most western areas and central areas due to the good performance of seasonal rainfall since the start of the season. It warned, however, that persistently above-average rainfall over western Ethiopia highlands could result in flooding during coming weeks. Equally, continued rains could reduce the impact of Fall Armyworm. Rainfall for the coming weeks is forecast to be moderate to heavy, helping to erase rainfall deficits in some northern areas. For Somalia, FEWS says pasture and water resources have continued to decline in much of central and northern Somalia, though southern regions have benefited from localized coastal rains for the past month. In Kenya, the delayed onset of seasonal rainfall, coupled with long dry spells and below-average rainfall is resulting in below-average production prospects in large parts of the eastern, central, and southern Rift Valley.