Ethiopia has made important development gains over the past two decades, reducing poverty and expanding investments in basic social services. However, food insecurity and undernutrition still hinders economic growth. As per the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), an estimated 13.2 million people are food insecure.
Recurrent drought and failed harvests have left a negative legacy on many families, who have lost livestock and other productive assets. The Somali region remains the epicentre of drought and has also been prone to flash floods.
As well as natural shocks, conflict and unrest has more recently contributed to increased food insecurity across Northern Ethiopia as fighting uproots families and negatively impacts agricultural harvests and planting.
The country is home to the second largest refugee population on the continent, hosting over 795,000 registered refugees from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.
Despite these challenges, the Government's five-year Growth and Transformation Plans aim to move the country to middle-income status by 2025, by sustaining rapid growth and speeding up structural transformation.
The World Food Programme (WFP) supports this goal through a range of lifesaving and resilience-building activities, targeted at vulnerable populations experiencing acute and chronic food needs (including refugees and IDPs) and those at risk of malnutrition.
To address the needs of millions of people affected by chronic food insecurity, WFP supports the Government’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) which provides predictable, multi-year assistance to millions of chronically food-insecure rural households, to help them transition away from depending on chronic emergency food assistance.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Ethiopia
WFP provides unconditional food and cash transfers to the most vulnerable families. Contingency stocks of food are prepositioned in case of conflict or climate-related shocks. Across three regions of Northern Ethiopia – Afar, Amhara, and Tigray – WFP supplies food to families who have been uprooted and impacted by conflict, alongside federal and regional authorities and NGO partners. In the Somali region and part of Oromia region, WFP also supplies food while the Government and its partners cover the remaining needs across the country.
Food security and nutrition
Through the PSNP, chronically food insecure households receive food and cash transfers in lean seasons in exchange for building or rehabilitating community assets. WFP supports 300,000 people and the Government provides the remaining resources. With the Ministry of Health, WFP provides 4 million people with fortified food to treat malnutrition. Fresh food voucher mobile top-ups also help households in Amhara region to buy fresh nutritious produce.
Early warning and climate action
WFP’s Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) unit supports the Government on early warning action, emergency and market assessments. The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative includes building agricultural infrastructure and trainings in exchange for insurance and increased access to credit and loans. A satellite project for pastoralists also gives access to insurance payments for livestock feed and veterinary materials when droughts occur.
WFP provides food and cash transfers, targeted nutrition programmes, school feeding and livelihood support to an estimated 700,000 registered refugees. Livelihood work includes irrigation agriculture, natural resource management and market development to help refugees and host communities around the camps gradually become self-reliant for their food needs.
WFP works with the Government and partners to improve nutrition and promote education for school children in the Afar, Oromia and Somali regions. Home-grown school feeding, with locally procured products such as cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and salt, brings additional benefits including increased income for farmers and a boost for the local economy.
WFP works with the Government on supply chain capacity-strengthening activities, including reducing port congestion with the Ethiopian Maritime Affairs Authority, strengthening the road transport sector with the Federal Road Transport Authority, and supporting the National Disaster Risk Management agency in its implementation of an end-to-end food tracking system.
Ethiopia hosts one of WFP’s largest supply chain operations, managing the movement of over 400,000 metric tons of food per year to 3,000 distribution points and 26 refugee camps. The WFP-managed UNHAS service provides air transport for humanitarian partners and cargo to seven destinations where transport infrastructure does not exist.
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