In the second half of the year, Ethiopia has faced with an unprecedented surge of inter- communal conflict in Gedeo zone (SNNP region) and West Guji zone (Oromia region), which at its height, displaced some 818,000 people.
The Government and Humanitarian partners had to respond to this dramatic increase in displacement, while at the same time, responding to the continuing needs of some 1.1 million people displaced along the Oromia – Somali boundary since September 2017. While the 2018 belg rains were generally favorable, they also led to flooding along river basins in Oromia, Somali and SNNP regions, affecting some 382,000 people; displacing some 172,000 people in Somali region alone. The total number of people targeted for relief food and cash activities has been staying more or less unchanged, despite a generally positive Belg performance.
This is due to the increase in conflict induced displaced persons.
In early August, two days of inter-communal fighting in Jijijga and other towns across Somali region, led to an additional 141,000 people becoming displaced. Despite several peace and reconciliation efforts led by the Government of Ethiopia for the Gedeo/West Guji and Oromia/Somali regional conflicts in seeking durable solutions to the grievances expressed by all sides, the current levels of displacement are anticipated to stay the same, requiring sustained levels of humanitarian assistance for the remainder of 2018.
On the political front several positive developments also took place during the first half of the year. On 2 April, Prime Minister Abiye Ahmed was sworn in by Parliament, with a mandate to implement democratic reforms, partly aimed at defusing ethnic tensions in the Oromiya province. A major achievement has been the reestablishment of Ethiopia-Eritrea relations after the recognition of the Algiers Peace Agreement. Another positive development was the appointment of a new President for the Somali region in August.
The overall findings of the 2018 belg assessment indicate favorable harvests for most parts of the country, with a few pocket areas of Afar, Amhara, Tigray and Somali regions reporting below normal rains.
Favorable rains also led to some improvements in the livelihoods of pastoralists and agropastoralists in Somali region who suffered the brunt of the Indian Dipoleinduced lowland drought which struck much of the region in 2017, decreasing livestock herd sizes and limiting access to food and incomes in pastoralist areas. The predicted rain reduction over southern and eastern lowland areas due to La Nina did not materialize.
The favorable belg rains led to an increase in harvests, compared to previous years, and the number of beneficiaries requiring food assistance being revised to 7.9 million.
The updated figure of 7.9m relief food beneficiaries is a composite figure of all those assessed as being acutely food insecure comprising ‘resident’ Ethiopians, IDPs and returnees – with immediate needs to be addressed for the remainder of the year through the provision of two rounds of assistance. Following the release of this Mid-Year Review local level authorities will be instructed to complete retargeting exercises, to ensure that those with the greatest needs are assisted.