Of the 22.6 million people estimated to be facing severe food shortages, more than half of
them are reeling from climate-induced shocks with conflict, inflation
and forced displacement causing further misery and children facing
increased risk of death from malnutrition.
Ethiopia is facing one of the worst food crises in the world, with 3.9 million children severely malnourished — accounting for around half of people
suffering from malnutrition across the whole of the Horn of Africa. The
deaths of more than four million livestock have dried up the main source
of nutrition for children in Ethiopia — milk.
Amina*, 40, is a pastoralist who lives in a camp for internally
displaced people in the Somali region. She arrived at the camp one year
ago with her eight children after the drought killed off her livestock.
Before the drought, she was a proud pastoralist with 100 goats, 20
camels and a donkey until the drought destroyed 90% of her livestock,
forcing her to relocate to the camp.
She said: “The animals started to die one after the other and when
the donkey died, I knew it was time to leave the village. Without the
donkey, we could no longer fetch water to drink.”
Amina* is one of 534,000 people forced from their homes due to drought, living in displacement
camps and relying on food aid from the government and humanitarian
organisations to feed their families[i]. Without milk from her livestock, her nutrition options are limited, she said.
“I cook for them Injera (Ethiopia’s a sour fermented pancake-like
flatbread), sometimes boil the wheat for lunch and in the evening make
them some porridge from wheat flour. This is all we eat. I know that the
dry season is coming and I am worried… my children’s physical
appearance has changed — they look healthy but they are becoming thin,”
The crippling drought in Ethiopia is likely to lead to widespread and severe levels of food shortage through at least mid-2023, despite ongoing humanitarian aid, with millions unable to generate income and access food.
This could lead to a spike in people facing crisis or emergency
levels of food insecurity (IPC 3 or 4) in most parts of Ethiopia, and
fuel high levels of malnutrition and even death.
Save the Children’s Country Director for Ethiopia, Xavier Joubert, said:
“There is no end in sight for the hunger crisis and hope is slowly
fizzling out as families enter the January to March dry season with
little hope for rainfall. Estimates show that the March to May 2023
rainfall will also be below average, leading to a dramatic increase in
the number of people in need of emergency food aid and driving many into
catastrophic levels of hunger.
“While our teams are on the ground and doing whatever they can for
children, there’s no doubt that the need has grown to an enormous scale.
Additional funds, particularly to support longer term resilience
programming, are desperately needed in order to expand operations and
reach the most vulnerable children and their families, and help them
cope with multiple and frequent humanitarian shocks in the future.”
Save the Children has been operating in Ethiopia for over 60 years
and was amongst the first respondents to the conflict in Tigray, Amhara
and Afar regions, while continuing humanitarian assistance to the
prolonged humanitarian crises in Oromia and Somali regions. The
organisation’s work is heavily anchored on health and nutrition as well
as life-saving water and sanitation assistance, protection services,
education support, and cash and in-kind distributions to the most
vulnerable children and their families.
In 2022, Save the Children reached more than 3,195,699 people
including 1,623,370 children through lifesaving food, water
distribution, treatment for malnutrition among other services.
Notes to Editor
*Names changed to protect identities
The Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) is an internationally recognised famine early-warning system,
based on a scale from one (minimal food stress) to five
(catastrophe/famine). Drought in Ethiopia could lead to Emergency (IPC
Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) food insecurity in northern, central,
southern, and south-eastern Ethiopia.
 According to OCHA Ethiopia Food Cluster Update from December 6th
2022, through the Food Cluster prioritizing committee, the three food
partners—the government, the UN, and NGOs—had as of November 28,
2022 reached more than 40 million people in 2022.