While reeling from the impact of the 2017 Indian Ocean Dipole-induced drought, exacerbated by disease outbreaks, large scale loss of livelihood assets and displacement, southern and south-eastern Ethiopia also suffered below average spring (February – May) rains in 2017, the third consecutive poor/failed rains in the southern drought belt. This had left at least 8.5 million people in need of relief food assistance by mid-year, up from 5.6 million in January 2017. In addition to the 8.5 million relief food beneficiaries, the humanitarian operation in the second half of the year provided continued assistance to 4 million ‘public works clients’ of the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP).
The humanitarian situation was further exacerbated by an upsurge in conflict around the border areas of Oromia and Somali regions, since early September 2017. Over the course of the following months, the conflict has left hundreds of thousands displaced, often in areas already experiencing ongoing drought-related humanitarian need. Nearly all districts along the regional borders were affected. The latest round of IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix conducted in November – December 2017 indicates that around 1 million persons have been displaced due to conflict along the Oromia-Somali regional border (nearly 700,000 in 2017 alone, with a significant spike after September 2017).
The drastic spike in internally displaced persons and associated multi-sector needs; the dire nutrition situation in Somali region; harvest losses due to failed or delayed rains; and the impact of Fall Armyworm infestation necessitated a further upward revision of the 2017 Humanitarian Requirements Document – Ethiopia’s equivalent of an appeal - requirement to $1.417 billion by mid-October, up from $1.259 billion in August and $948 million in January 2017.
Through 2017, the Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners have been responding to the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian context, flexibly adjusting sector requirements and program. This multi-sector humanitarian response operation will need to be sustained well into the second half of 2018, especially with Ethiopia identified as one of the four countries at highest risk of being impacted by La Niña during the December 2017 - March 2018 period. Through concerted Government and partners’ efforts, significant success was achieved in Somali region – the epicenter of the Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD) outbreak – in 2017. However, risk factors are still prevalent and health partners (including the Ministry of Health) are projecting some 36,000 new AWD cases in 2018, with 6 million people at risk.
Released on 29 December 2017, the “Alert: Immediate 2018 Humanitarian Requirements for Ethiopia” document warns of continuing acute food insecurity of up to 7 million people, malnutrition and water shortages in the pastoralist and agro-pastoralist southern and south-eastern lowlands and outlines immediate humanitarian priorities, costed at an estimated $895 million.
In 2017, the Government of Ethiopia and Humanitarian Partners, under the leadership of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, and OCHA support, came together to plan for a shift in strategic and operational approach to address recurrent drought shocks and acute food insecurity in Ethiopia. In 2018, humanitarian planning will not only lay out immediate humanitarian response priorities, but also look at preparedness and recovery opportunities and activities, in partnership with development partners.
There are currently over 79 humanitarian organizations operating in Ethiopia supporting the Government-led response. These include 6 UN agencies, 59 INGOs, ICRC, IFRC, the Ethiopian Red Cross and IOM. At least 7 national NGOs are conducting and supporting humanitarian operations, including faith and community based organizations, who have the multiplier effect of ensuring assistance reaches those in the remotest areas.
About OCHA Ethiopia
OCHA Ethiopia office was opened in 1984 to strengthen humanitarian preparedness and response throughout the country. Several sub-offices were later established across the country to help address drought, flooding and inter-communal conflict-induced humanitarian needs.
At present, OCHA Ethiopia has sub-offices in Afar region (Semera), Dire Dawa city administration (Dire Dawa), Gambella region (Gambella town, also overseeing Benishangul Gumuz region), SNNP region (Hawassa), Somali region (Gode and Jijiga) and Tigray region (Mekelle) that coordinate the humanitarian response in their respective areas of responsibility. The country office in Addis Ababa oversees humanitarian coordination and response in Amhara and Oromia regions, although in 2018, efforts to decentralize coordination capacity to these two regions is underway.
OCHA Ethiopia continues to explore ways to bring additional capacities to meet the ever increasing coordination, financing and information management demands, in the face of evolving humanitarian context and geographic spread. OCHA's overall goal in Ethiopia is to ensure the delivery of effective and principled humanitarian action that meets the needs of the most vulnerable people. To achieve this, OCHA supports the Humanitarian Coordinator and humanitarian partners in operational coordination, humanitarian financing, public information, humanitarian analysis, advocacy and information management. OCHA works closely with the Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners at all levels to enhance the coherence and quality of humanitarian response.
The overall coordination of humanitarian response in Ethiopia is led by the Government's National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC). The NDRMC leads federal and regional-level Disaster Risk Management Technical Working Groups (DRMTWGs) across Ethiopia and hosts a series of specialized task forces that work in tandem with the clusters/sectors. OCHA, as the Secretariat to the sub-national DRMTWGs, serves a coordinating role in needs and gaps identification across sectors and in mobilizing the appropriate response. At the federal level, OCHA is co-Chair and Secretariat to the National DRMTWG.