In 2016, Ethiopia experienced the worst drought in the past fifty years which lead to a record level of humanitarian needs. The El Niño phenomenon severely affected food security and agricultural production in Ethiopia, with cascading effects on livelihoods, nutrition, health, water, sanitation, education and other sectors. This was due to the combined effect of drought, flooding, disease outbreaks and malnutrition, as well as the disruption of basic public services, including health and education.
Over one third of Ethiopia’s woredas (districts) were officially classified as facing a dire food security and nutrition crisis over the year. At the peak of the crisis in April, more than 10.2 million people were targeted with life-saving food assistance, while an additional 7.9 million people were targeted through the Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP). The most affected regions included Afar, Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harari, Oromia, SNNPR, Somali and Tigray.
The number of ‘hotspot priority’ woredas identified for immediate life-saving emergency response showed a steady increase from 443 woredas in March to 454 woredas in December 2016. More than 217,400 severely malnourished children with medical complications received intensive life-saving medical treatment in hospital-based therapeutic feeding centres. Nearly 2.5 million children under 5 years’ age and pregnant and lactating mothers suffering from moderate acute malnutrition were treated with Targeted Supplementary Feeding.
At the peak of the drought, trucked water was regularly provided for 2.7 million people, and a further 2.6 million people received water treatment chemicals to ensure safe drinking water. Additionally, some 5.6 million farmers received immediate agricultural support. The drought resulted in increased school drop-outs among the Somali and Oromo pastoral communities. Support was provided to over 15,000 households with emergency livestock health interventions, with more than 83,000 animals treated.
The acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) outbreak spiked sharply in 2016. Initially reported in Oromia, Somali and SNNP regions, AWD cases were later confirmed also in the capital city Addis Ababa. Nationwide, more than 30,000 cases were reported, with 20 deaths. The AWD outbreak was exacerbated due to flooding in April-May that affected 480,000 people, of whom 190,000 were displaced. In addition, other endemic diseases such as measles, meningitis, malaria, dengue, yellow fever and scabies compounded pressure on an already overstretched health system. Overall, some 3.6 million people in Ethiopia were in need of emergency health interventions.
Financial requirements remained high across all sectors throughout the year. In January, the Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) requested $1.4 billion for the 2016 response, and the total requirement was revised upwards to $1.6 billion mid-year in August. With contributions of $1.08 billion from international donors and the Government of Ethiopia, including carry-over resources from 2015, the appeal was 70 per cent funded. Effective humanitarian response was however challenged by pipeline breaks of relief commodities, limited logistical capacities and associated delays, and weak real-time information management.
The EHF remained instrumental in the overall response, supporting Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) endorsed strategies and priorities developed by cluster/sector taskforces. The Fund allocated $74.7 million, supporting 82 multi-sector projects across the country. The EHF funding was structured under two standard allocations and through the reserve window.