- Ethiopia will continue to face recurrent drought due to climate change. Short term emergency interventions remain critically important in saving lives, however these need to be supported by medium to long term actions that are geared towards boosting the resilience, livelihoods, and food security of the affected communities.
- Even though official figures show a slight decrease in the number of people in need of food assistance (from 3.76 million in 2nd half of 2012 to 2.5 million in the 1st half of 2013), some areas are still in critical need of humanitarian assistance such as Afar, West and East Haraghe or Bale zones.
- Ethiopia is hosting close to 390 000 refugees; arriving from neighbouring countries, mainly from Somalia. The influx of refugees requires constant monitoring and adaptation of the refugee programme, including exercises verifying the number of refugees as well as, if necessary, the opening of additional refugee camps.
Humanitarian situation and needs
Ethiopia is prone to droughts and floods, which have become a constant recurrent threat undermining livelihoods. Poverty is widespread. As a result, even a minor disruption in the weather pattern can have a major impact. Disease outbreaks recur with considerable frequency.
While the situation has improved compared to the 2010-2011 period, some 2.5 million people still need humanitarian aid in the first half of 2013. This number is expected to increase in the second trimester of 2013 due to forecasted below average February to May (`Belg’) rains.
Ethiopia is struggling with an influx of hundreds of thousands of Somalis and tens of thousands of Sudanese and Eritrean refugees seeking asylum.
Internal displacements of people are also a cause for concern in Ethiopia. Clan clashes over scarce resources, floods and localised conflicts are the main reasons for population displacements. According to Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), there are an estimated 350,000 internally displaced people (IDP) in the country.
The recurrent shocks linked to periodic drought cycles (about every two-to-three years) are a challenge for the population. Under-nutrition and food insecurity are the main consequences. Therefore, there is an urgent need to build the resilience of the vulnerable population to better prepare them for the next shock. The structural under-development in drought-affected areas increases the vulnerability of the population at risk.
The European Union’s Humanitarian Response
In response to the 2011 drought and other humanitarian needs, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) made available for the period 2011-2012 an amount of €102 million to assist around 2.6 million people. Aid was provided to the most vulnerable, including those affected by drought in the southern and eastern parts of the country, and in the refugee camps. In 2012, the Commission enhanced the speedy response to sudden emergencies, providing support to the refugees and populations in protracted crises and building the resilience of populations vulnerable to droughts.
The European Union in Ethiopia is implementing the Support to the Horn of Africa Resilience (SHARE), a regional initiative aimed at addressing the root causes of vulnerability. With an initial allocation of €50 million, SHARE in Ethiopia seeks to improve the recovery capacity and resilience of vulnerable rural households through an array of interlinked activities. The initiative focuses on livelihoods diversification, nutrition, livestock, and water access. SHARE complements the humanitarian actions implemented by ECHO and will increase the ability to cope with future droughts, while building a more holistic approach that links humanitarian and development efforts across different sectors.
ECHO also providing assistance to refugees both in Dollo Ado (Somali refugees) and Assosa (Sudanese refugees) camps, through a multisector intervention mainly in the health, nutrition, water and sanitation and protection sectors. In the southern part of the country, in camps around Dollo Ado, about 180,000 refugees were registered by March 2013. In western Ethiopia, refugees have been arriving from Sudan’s Blue Nile Region following conflict in Sudan Transitional Areas, particularly the Blue Nile region. Some 35,000 refugees from South Sudan are currently hosted in Gambella region.
Examples of humanitarian projects in Ethiopia
Water is scarce in the dry Siti zone in eastern Ethiopia. During the dry season, women and children dig the dry riverbeds and flood ways for water. The water collects in the shallow holes; they scoop it into tins and wait for the sediments to settle. ECHO has funded the construction of sand dams along the Halicho riverbed in Erer district; and along Farso, Germam and Gendisa riverbeds, giving over 400 families of nomadic herders access to clean water during the dry seasons. The sand dams are all fitted with hand pumps, making it easy for women to fetch water. ECHO has given €136,000 through Caritas Germany for this initiative.
At the end of 2011, malnutrition rates in Hilawyen, one of the five camps in Dolo Ado, were beyond the emergency levels. Surveys recorded a Global Acute Malnutrition rate of 50.6% and a Severe Acute Malnutrition rate of 18.9%. Equally, the crude and under five mortality rates were at 1.35 and 4.75 /10,000 per day respectively, which is above the emergency threshold. ECHO gave €765,000 through Action Against Hunger (ACF) to provide emergency nutrition services to save lives. The project has provided nutritional foods and treatment to almost 60,000 refugees and host communities, including women and children. As a result of the intervention of ACF and other partners, which lasted nine months, the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rates stood at 15.9% and 2.5 % in June 2012. Ethiopia continues to receive a steady flow of refugees. ECHO is still working with partners to further reduce the GAM and SAM rates in south-eastern Ethiopia.
In Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State, pasture is scarce. Often animals die in large numbers during droughts. The lack of pasture is aggravated by the invasion of an alien parasitic plant on pasturelands – the Prosopis juliflora. Leaves and pods from the Prosopis plant are abundant, but they are inedible in the raw form. With ECHO’s support, the local partner of Caritas Germany, Ethiopia Catholic Church Social and Development Coordination Office of Harar (ECC-SDCOH), introduced a chopping machine that crushes the pods and the leaves of Prosopis, grinding them to produce a concentrated feed for cattle, goats and sheep. The Siti Zone is arid and families here rely on livestock keeping. The feed produced from the Prosopis plant can be stored for use during the dry season. A group of women is producing the animal feed and selling it to pastoralists and agro-pastoralists. The group has received around €3,500 through Caritas Germany. The women are generating income for their families, protecting their livelihoods, and at the same time controlling the spread of Prosopis, which could destroy the community’s pastureland.