Government of Ethiopia and Humanitarian Partners Release 2017 Humanitarian Response Planning Document

ADDIS ABABA, 11 January 2016 – The Government of Ethiopia has released the Joint Government and Partners’ Humanitarian Document, an initial humanitarian response planning document for 2017 while the comprehensive Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) is being finalized. Based on the early warning data and modelling undertaken by partners such as UNICEF, the document reflects the joint humanitarian response planning and provides a shared understanding of the crisis, including the most pressing humanitarian needs.

While Ethiopia battles residual needs from the El Niño-induced drought, below average rains in the southern and eastern parts of the country caused by the negative Indian Ocean Dipole, another climatic phenomena, have led to new symptoms of drought. It is anticipated that 5.6 million people will need emergency food assistance in 2017, in addition to those still suffering from effects of El Niño. Ongoing assessments for the HRD will provide total figures of those in need for 2017.

In 2016, international donors contributed US$894 million toward the humanitarian response efforts and from that figure, UNICEF raised US$108.7 million to support the Government of Ethiopia and partners to reach around seven million people with access to health and nutrition care, education, safe water, sanitation and hygiene services, and protection support. At least 73 per cent of those reached were children.

The total anticipated financial requirements for the 2017 HRD is US$1.1 billion, of which, the UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal for Ethiopia is US$110.5 million. This includes US$13.6 million to respond to the new influx of South Sudanese refugees in the Gambella region. While the funding will be critical to UNICEF’s ability to respond to immediate needs, it will also be used to take appropriate actions to strengthen preparedness, improve early warning systems and reduce vulnerability, contributing to more resilient communities.

Immediate responses have already taken shape from regional governments allocating funds to water trucking and fodder provision in the south and south eastern regions, those most affected by the below average rainfall. In 2016 and years prior, UNICEF has supported such emergency interventions, in addition to child health and nutrition, sustainable water and sanitation, quality education for boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence and exploitation. UNICEF Ethiopia looks forward to continuing this support with the Government of Ethiopia and partners in 2017, for every child and their family.

Malnutrition mounts as El Niño takes hold  

Drought in Ethiopia
Bora Robu Etu, a father in Haro Huba kabele, says that people are not only angry at not being able to feed their children – but their cattle too. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

Almost one million children are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition in Eastern and Southern Africa, UNICEF said today. Two years of erratic rain and drought have combined with one of the most powerful El Niño events in 50 years to wreak havoc on the lives of the most vulnerable children.

Across the region, millions of children are at risk from hunger, water shortages and disease. It is a situation aggravated by rising food prices, forcing families to implement drastic coping mechanisms such as skipping meals and selling off assets.

“The El Niño weather phenomenon will wane, but the cost to children – many who were already living hand-to-mouth – will be felt for years to come,” said Leila Gharagozloo-Pakkala, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Governments are responding with available resources, but this is an unprecedented situation. Children’s survival is dependent on action taken today.”

Lesotho, Zimbabwe and most provinces in South Africa have declared a state of disaster in the face of growing resource shortages. In Ethiopia, the number of people in need of food assistance is expected to increase from over 10 million to 18 million by the end of 2016.

Releasing its latest briefing on the impact of El Niño on children in the region, UNICEF notes that:

  • In Ethiopia, two seasons of failed rains mean that near on six million children currently require food assistance, with school absenteeism increasing as children are forced to walk greater distances in search of water;
  • In Somalia, more than two thirds of those in urgent need of assistance are displaced populations;
  • In Kenya, El Niño related heavy rains and floods are aggravating cholera outbreaks;
  • In Lesotho, one quarter of the population are affected. This aggravates grave circumstances for a country in which 34% of children are orphans, 57% of people live below the poverty line, and almost one in four adults live with HIV/Aids;
  • In Zimbabwe, an estimated 2.8 million people are facing food and nutrition insecurity. The drought situation has resulted in reduced water yields from the few functioning boreholes exacerbating the risk to water-borne diseases, especially diarrhea and cholera;
  • Malawi is facing the worst food crisis in nine years, with 2.8 million people (more than 15 per cent of the population) at risk of hunger; cases of severe acute malnutrition have just jumped by 100% in just two months, from December 2015 to January 2016;
  • In Angola, an estimated 1.4 million people are affected by extreme weather conditions and 800,000 people are facing food insecurity, mainly in the semi-arid southern provinces.

The UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that it will take affected communities approximately two years to recover from El-Nino exacerbated drought, if agricultural conditions improve in the latter half of this year.

UNICEF humanitarian appeals are less than 15 per cent funded across El Niño-impacted countries in southern Africa.

UNICEF humanitarian appeals in El Nino-affected countries:

  • $US 26 million in Angola
  • $US 87 million in Ethiopia
  • $US 3 million in Lesotho
  • $US 11 million in Malawi
  • $US 15 million in Somalia
  • $US 1 million in Swaziland
  • $US 12 million in Zimbabwe

Children’s lives at stake as El Niño strengthens

Dehabo Seyre grandmother of two, walks in to temporary emergency rub hall tent built by UNICEF
Dehabo Seyre grandmother of two, walks in to temporary emergency rub hall tent built by UNICEF to receive recovery assistance after the failure of spring belg and poor summer kiremt rains caused by the climatic phenomenon known as El Niño, the number of people in need of relief assistance in Ethiopia reached 8.1m in October 2015. Government and humanitarian partners are exerting efforts to meet the food and non-food items needs for the affected population. Afar Regional State, Adaytu Wereda © UNICEF Ethiopia 2015/Tesfaye

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 10 November 2015 – An estimated 11 million children are at risk from hunger, disease and lack of water in eastern and southern Africa as a result of a strengthening El Niño, which is also causing droughts and floods in parts of Asia, the Pacific and Latin America, UNICEF warned on Tuesday.

The consequences could ripple through generations unless affected communities receive support amid crop failures and lack of access to drinking water that are leaving children malnourished and at risk of killer diseases, UNICEF said in a briefing note (hyperlink.)

Besides the immediate risks of death and injury, El Niño can lead to significant increases in diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, diarrhoea and cholera – which are major killers of children. When extreme weather deprives communities of their livelihoods, young children often suffer from undernutrition, which puts them at greater risk for illness, delayed mental development and premature death.

“Children and their communities need our help to recover from the impact of El Niño and to prepare for the further damage it could unleash,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “At the same time, its intensity and potential destructiveness should be a wake-up call as world leaders gather in Paris. As they debate an agreement on limiting global warming, they should recall that the future of today’s children and of planet they will inherit is at stake.”

World leaders will gather in Paris for the 21st United Nations Climate Conference, also known as COP21, from 30 November to 11 December. The goal is to reach a universal, binding agreement aimed at limiting global warming by cutting greenhouse emissions.

El Niños are not caused by climate change, but scientists believe they are becoming more intense as a result of climate change. Many of the countries now experiencing El Niño are those that face the gravest threat from climate change. Many of the areas affected also have high poverty levels.

The weather phenomenon, among the strongest on record, is likely to cause more floods and droughts, fuel Pacific typhoons and cyclones and affect more areas if it continues strengthening as forecast over the coming months.

Some of the countries most affected by El Niño include:

Somalia:  More than 3 million people are in need of support amid crop failures and food shortages, with severe flooding anticipated to exacerbate the situation.

Ethiopia: Currently, 8.2 million people require immediate food assistance and 350,000 children expected to require treatment for severe acute malnutrition by the end of 2015.

Indonesia: El Niño has also exacerbated the impact of peat and forest fires. In August and September alone, haze caused 272,000 people to suffer from acute respiratory infections – which particularly affect children.

Pacific nations: El Niño threatens to leave more than 4 million people without food or drinking water.

Central America: The drought caused by El Niño is one of the most severe on record, with some 3.5 million people affected in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Peru: An estimated 1.1 million people, including 400,000 children and adolescents could be affected, according to the Government.

Ecuador: Authorities believe 1.5 million people are at risk, about half of them children.

El Niño is a climate pattern linked to the warming of surface waters in the Pacific Ocean, which can have a profound effect on weather patterns around the world.  El Niño events tend to happen every two to seven years.

Ethiopia: Government and Humanitarian partners scale up to meet additional immediate relief needs of El Niño-driven crisis

An additional US$164million urgently needed to address increased food
and non-food needs for the remainder of the year

Temporary emergency rub hall tent built by UNICEF for drought affected people in Afar National Regional State, Adaytu woreda (district), Ethiopia.
Temporary emergency rub hall tent set up by UNICEF for drought affected people in Afar National Regional State, Adaytu woreda (district), Ethiopia. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Tesfaye

Addis Ababa, 13 October 2015: The Government of Ethiopia announced yesterday, during a meeting with UN agencies, NGOs, and Donor representatives, that the number of people in need of relief assistance in Ethiopia due to El Niño phenomenon had increased to 8.2 million. An inter-agency assessment conducted last month and led by the government identified an additional 3.6 million people in need of food assistance (from 4.55 million in August) as well as 300,000 children in need of specialized nutritious food and a projected 48,000 more children under five suffering from severe malnutrition.

An addendum to the joint-Government and humanitarian partners- Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) mid-year review was signed to officialise the increase in humanitarian needs. The National Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Committee (NDPPC), the high level national advisory body overseeing the Government response, further requested the government lead a multi-sector, multi-agency annual meher assessment in October (rather than November). This will enable the Government and partners to expedite planning and assistance provision for 2016.

His Excellency Mr Mitiku Kassa, NDPPC Secretary, explained during the meeting yesterday that the Government committed some 4 billion Ethiopian Birr (US$192 million), to address emergency food and non-food needs as a result of failed spring belg and poor summer kiremt rains caused by the climatic phenomenon known as El Niño.

“The El Niño conditions have brought Ethiopia a great challenge, but the Government and Regional States are ready to meet the needs of the people alongside partners in the international community,” said Mr Kassa. He further stated that the Government would continue to allocate resources as necessary to meet the needs of the Ethiopian people.

“The challenge we have before us is incredibly serious, and it will take the collective effort of the entire international community to support the Government in preventing the worst effects of El Niño now and well into next year,” said Mr John Aylieff, Acting Humanitarian Coordinator and Country Director for the UN’s World Food Programme.

Abahina Humed’s arm measurement shows that the child is acutely malnourished. He is taking treatment at Gewane Health Center, Afar region, Ethiopia.
Abahina Humed’s arm measurement shows that he is acutely malnourished. He is taking treatment at Gewane Health Center, Afar region, Ethiopia. © UNICEF Ethiopia/ 2015/Tesfaye

Affected areas include southern Tigray, eastern Amhara, Afar, and Siti zone of Somali region, eastern SNNP, East and West Hararge, Arsi and West Arsi, and lower Bale zones of Oromia. Water and pasture shortages decreased livestock production and caused livestock deaths in pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities.

The number of woredas (districts) prioritized for nutrition interventions doubled from 97 in July to 142 in September, and the number of severely malnourished children requiring therapeutic feeding in August reached 43,000 children. This is higher than any month of the 2011 Horn of Africa crisis.

“Donors have been generous,” said Mr Paul Handley, OCHA’s Head of Office, “but if we are to meet the significant needs before us today, and more in the months ahead, we need far more support. We count on that generosity to continue,” he said.

The Mid-Year Review of Ethiopia’s Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD), issued on 18 August 2015, listed $432 million in funding requirements with contributions totalling $258 million (or, 55 per cent funding). The September rapid assessment conducted at the end of September highlighted increases in humanitarian need across several life-saving sectors, most notably food assistance, targeted supplementary food (TSF), therapeutic nutrition, emergency water interventions, and agriculture and livelihoods. Factoring in the previous shortfalls with adjusted needs, the 2015 humanitarian requirements were adjusted to $596.4 million, leaving the HRD funded at 43 per cent.

The on-going effects of the El Niño may further affect the weather patterns this autumn, with Ethiopia’s National Meteorological Agency (NMA) predicting strong rains along the Omo, Shabelle, and Awash rivers. This may impact harvests in some areas and cause flooding during the last quarter of the year.

In addition to food and nutrition needs, Ethiopia’s Humanitarian Requirements Document outlines emergency requirements in the health, WASH, agriculture and education sectors. Most sectors saw the figures of those in need increase.

The Ethiopia Humanitarian Country Team again calls on all partners to work closely together to address emergency needs whilst safeguarding development gains.

Three weeks ago the Ethiopia Humanitarian Country Team also released a forward-looking document (prepared in consultation with Government) called ‘Ethiopia Slow onset natural disaster: El Niño Driven Emergency’, available to download here.