As 2012 draws to a close, despite the late start of this year’s Belg harvest following the March-to-May rains, the improvement in food access seen earlier in 2012 is expected to continue. Normal to above-normal rainfall throughout Ethiopia is forecast for the end of 2012 and the start of 2103, and humanitarian assistance is ongoing.
In Ethiopia, the 2011 Horn of Africa drought left 4.5 million people in need of emergency food assistance. Pastoralist areas in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia were most severely affected by the drought. At the same time, cereal markets experienced a supply shock, and food prices rose substantially, resulting in high food insecurity among poor people. By the beginning of 2012, the overall food security situation had stabilized thanks to the start of the Meher harvest after the June-to-September rains -- resulting in improved market supply -- and to sustained humanitarian assistance. While the number of new arrivals in refugee camps has decreased significantly since the height of the Horn of Africa crisis, Ethiopia still continues to receive refugees from Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan.
The Humanitarian Requirements Document issued by the government and humanitarian partners in September 2012 estimates that 3.76 million people require relief food assistance from August to December 2012. The total net emergency food and non-food requirement amounts to US$189,433,303.
Ethiopia remains one of the world’s least developed countries, ranked 174 out of 187 in the 2011 UNDP Human Development Index. Rain-fed agriculture is the foundation of the economy, employing 80 percent of the country's 82 million people. Thus household food security is largely determined by factors such as rainfall patterns, land degradation, climate change, population density, low levels of rural investment and the global market.
Despite these challenges, Ethiopia has recently made gains in education, expanded the health extension system and made notable achievements in combating HIV/AIDS. The government continues to address food insecurity through its long-term strategy of Agricultural Development-led Industrialization. This is complemented by Ethiopia’s Food Security Programme, which includes the Productive Safety Net Programme, the Household Asset Building Programme and others designed to ease households out of food insecurity. Ethiopia is also one of the fastest-growing economies, maintaining a growth rate of over 11 percent for the last five years.