Humanitarian needs in Ethiopia have increased significantly in 2020 due to COVID-19 and other health outbreaks, the desert locust invasion, conflict and floods. For example, the number of food insecure people requiring assistance has increased from 5.9 million people at the beginning of the year to 11.8 million at mid-year. Similarly, projected malnourished children and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers increased from 3.6 million to 4.4 million. All clusters saw an increase in the number of people targeted for assistance by mid-year.
Despite rapidly rising needs, the Ethiopia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is at its lowest funding level in the last decade, with a gap of US$773.9 million. The plan requires US$1.44 billion to target 15.1 million people with emergency assistance and protection (61 per cent children, 21 per cent women, and 9 per cent people with disabilities). Four critical Clusters have received less than 10 per cent of the funding required: Emergency Shelter/ NFI (5 per cent); Protection (7 per cent); Education (7 per cent); Agriculture (8 per cent); Despite having to respond to floods, COVID-19 and multiple other vector-borne and water-borne diseases, Health is just 11 per cent funded, and WASH just 18 per cent funded. The Logistics Cluster, which provides vital common services for the entire operation, is just 16 per cent funded. Nutrition is 26 per cent funded, while 49 per cent of emergency Food needs are met. The longer that people are without food, the higher the likelihood of them drifting into malnutrition, particularly children under-5 and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
The cost of no response
Without urgent additional funding, needs will deepen, and women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and displaced people will be forced to resort to negative coping mechanisms, which will exacerbate their situation. For example, funding gaps in the Food Cluster will likely worsen food and nutrition insecurity among the most vulnerable communities, including 2.8 million displaced/returnees. Due to under-funding, about 80 per cent of the planned targeted woredas will not receive any form of Child Protection support in 2020, leaving an estimated 112,000 children vulnerable to violence (including gender-based violence), exploitation, abuse and harmful practices. Similarly, without funding, the Education Cluster will not be able to support safe school reopening activities scheduled for September/October, impacting 2.6 million targeted children, particularly the most marginalized and most vulnerable children. The Health Cluster warns that at least 2.1 million people risk being left with no or limited access to essential health services if funds are not urgently mobilized, which is expected to lead to excess morbidity and mortality (see detail on the cost of no response per cluster in the table below).
Multiple clusters are already facing pipeline breaks, which is having dire consequences for people in need of assistance and protection. Due to a $13.3 million shortfall in cash resources for food assistance, there have been cuts starting in round 5, which was launched in September; At least 15 out of 30 emergency health kits and commodities are already out of stock, and 10 more will rupture by 31 October 2020 if additional funding is not urgently received.
The situation of displaced families is particularly critical as they are unable to meet their basic needs and, without additional support, are exhausting the overstretched capacity of host communities. Without urgent funding to support displaced people and host communities, intra and inter-communal tensions - including along ethnic lines - may rise, and stigmatization and denial of services for IDPs (which are already being reported) could escalate. Experience dictates that the deeper the vulnerabilities, the more time and resources it takes to address them.