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Ethiopia: COVID-19 Humanitarian impact - Situation Update No. 15, as of 31 October 2020

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This report is prepared under the auspices of the National Emergency Coordination Center for COVID-19 response, led by the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC), supported by OCHA Ethiopia with the participation of Cluster Coordinators. This issue covers the period from 19 - 31 October 2020.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ethiopia's cumulative COVID-19 cases reached 96,169, with over 1,469 deaths and 52,517 recoveries as of October 31 (of 1.4 million samples tested). There were 42,181 active cases as of the same day.

  • According to the Attorney General's office statement, the Government will jail people for up to two years for not wearing face masks in public (although this is the very last resort should other constructive measures fail to bear fruit).

  • On October 30, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) organized an orientation session on the revamped Government COVID-19 directive (also known as Directive No.30/2020) for relevant staff from NDRMC/Emergency Coordination Center (ECC), the Ministry of Peace, and WHO.

  • The Ministry of Education (MOE) aims to distribute 50 million facemasks to 46,000 schools across the country in preparation for school reopening.

  • Ethiopia's economy grew by only 6.1 per cent, which is lower than the 9 per cent growth projected in the fiscal year 2019-2020.

  • In March, the closure of schools to stop the spread of COVID-19 led to a rise in child marriage, child labour, and gender-based violence.

  • An estimated 6.7 million people are projected to be highly food insecure between October and December 2020, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report.

  • Over 35,800 new migrants arrived from different countries between April 1 and October 13.

  • As of October 31, $3.37 billion (35.3 per cent) is mobilized against the $12.89 billion global appeal for COVID-19 response.

  • As of October 26, the Ethiopia 2020 humanitarian appeal is only 49.4 per cent funded, including $187 million Government allocation. Of the total appeal, 374 million is for COVID-19-related multi-sector response.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

As of October 31, Ethiopia reported 96,169 confirmed COVID-19 cases compared to 89,137 on October 18, still making it the fourth country in Africa with the highest number of cases, next to South Africa, Morocco Egypt. The number of deaths has increased to 1,464 and the number of recoveries to 52,517. Cases have risen exponentially in the last two weeks, with Addis Ababa counting a total of 49,010 cases, followed by Oromia with 16,068 cases. The country has so far conducted 1,481,369 sample tests. (Source: MoH/ Ethiopia Public Health Institute, EPHI).

The National Emergency Coordination Center (NECC) in colaborartion with releveant line ministries and humanitarian partners continue to support return migrants in Ethiopia by providing accommodation and transport to area of origin. In the last two weeks, around 1,940 return migrants arrived in the country.

Ethiopia, Africa's second-most populous country, declared a six-month State of Emergency (SoE) in April 2020 to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which expired and was lifted in September. However, preventive measures, such as physical distancing, mask-wearing, and handshaking remain forbidden. According to the Attorney General's statement, the new law permits fines and imprisonment of up to two years (as a very last resort) and a fine ranging from ETB 1000 to 200,000 for anyone who breaks the restrictions. The Ministry of Health voiced concern that low-level adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures amongst the population, especially after lifting of the SoE, risks further community transmission.

To address the increasing laxity towards COVID-19 preventive measures among citizens and residents, especially after lifting of the SoE, the Government revamped the COVID-19 directive (also known as Directive No.30/2020). On October 30, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), the agency responsible for issuing such directives, organized an orientation session for relevant staff from the NDRMC/Emergency Coordination Center (ECC), the Ministry of Peace and WHO. The session aimed to not only shed light on the details and intentions of the directive but to also collect inputs from participants to enrich the document. The EPHI is planning to carry out similar orientation sessions for relevant stakeholders, including religious institutions. EPHI expectsto address address questions such as "what does the lifting of the SoE entail" and "why people should continue to adhere to WHO COVID-19 prevention guidelines."

According to School Improvement Program Director at the Ministry of Education, the closure of schools in March to stop the spread of COVID-19 led to a rise in child marriage, child labor, and gender-based violence. The Government has set up a network of committees to identify children forced into work or marriage during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a national survey published in 2018, about 16 million children aged between 5 and 17 are engaged in child labor across Ethiopia, including about 60 million under 18. According to UNICEF, about 40 percent of girls are married before the age of 18, with 15 million child brides in Ethiopia, despite the Government's progress to tackle early marriage in recent years. (Source: https://tmsnrt.rs/3kOMMnV).

The Ministry of Education finalized its preparation to distribute 50 million face masks to 46,000 schools to resume classes in the Ethiopian academic year. This measure is aimed at combating the spread of the COVID-19 virus in schools. All schools, including higher education in Ethiopia, was interrupted due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The State Minister of Education Nebil Mehid said additional 500,000 face masks will also be provided to teachers throughout the country. (Source: https://bit.ly/2TFlk06).

On October 19, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmad disclosed that in the fiscal year 2019-2020, Ethiopia's economy grew by only 6.1 per cent, less than the 9 per cent projected by the Ministry of Finance in June. According to the Prime Minister, the first eight months of the fiscal year registered progressive economic growth. However, COVID-19 affected the remaining four months of the financial year.

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, about 6.7 million people (in seven regions) are expected to be highly food insecure, in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), or worse between October and December 2020. The new wave of desert locusts, exacerbated by economic hardships resulting from COVID-19 restrictions, and flood will likely amplify food insecurity unless urgent action is taken to assist the affected communities.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.