According to the latest food security analysis, over 400,000 people in Tigray Region are suffering from catastrophic hunger levels (IPC 5) through the lean season. Across the region, more than 4 million people - 70 per cent of the population – are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC 3 or above).
Based on qualitative information from the field, the number of food-insecure people continues to increase. Food prices have skyrocketed in the disrupted markets in Tigray accompanied with significantly reduced purchasing power among vulnerable households.
Timely and sustained food assistance is urgently needed to avert any risk of famine.
Even if the conflict does not intensify further, if humanitarian and commercial supply continues to be sporadic and insufficient, the evolution of the risk factors of famine continues pointing towards the worst scenarios, particularly for October to December 2021.
The agricultural planting season has been missed in some parts of Tigray. There is no available food stock as many people were unable to plant for months earlier this year. It is expected that food assistance will be required at least up to next year’s harvest season during last quarter of 2022.
At least 5.2 million people are targeted for emergency food assistance in Tigray.
Since the launch of the second round of assistance under Northern Ethiopia Humanitarian Response Plan 2021 in mid-May, 4,183,724 people have been assisted with 62,683 MT of food in Central, Southern, North-Western, Eastern, and South-Eastern Zones as of as of 15 September.
Between 9 and 15 September, food partners have distributed 3,213 MT of food assisting 242,262 people compared to 546,681 people a week earlier.
The Government of Ethiopia’s Round 2 distribution in Western Zone has been on hold due to the fluid security situation.
The Joint Emergency Operation Program (JEOP) partners continue its Round 2 distribution, assisting 1,840,508 people with 31,197 MT (47 per cent) of food in Central, Eastern, Southern and South Eastern Zones as of 15 September.
WFP and its partners completed their Round 2 distribution with 31, 486 MT of food, assisting 2,343,216 people in Southern and North-Western Zones as of 15 September.
The distribution in Shire town began on 30 August with only one commodity – 2kg of pulses per person – due to stock unavailability. It is ongoing with 557,253 people assisted as of 15 September.
No partner has started Round 3 distribution even though the launch was revised to early August instead of early July as planned initially. The significant delay continues due to a lack of stocks and inter-Tigray operational challenges.
A one-off distribution of 39 MT of super cereal and 1.3 MT of sugar targeting 10,508 school-going children took place in Maiwoyni Secondary School IDP site in Mekelle.
To better understand the food security situation and improve the quality of assistance, partners are strengthening process monitoring and post-distribution surveys and planning for household-level food security surveys and market assessments.
With few exceptions, between April and August 2021, food partners have distributed the agreed common food basket, meant to cover 63 per cent of the caloric needs of the population. However, as rounds have stretched longer than expected (up to 4-5 months instead of 6 weeks), the distributed assistance covered is much less than the minimum caloric needs.
At least 3,600 MT of food commodities or 90 trucks, equivalent to common food basket for around 210,000 people, are required to move into Tigray every day to sustain food assistance for at least 5.2 million people and to avert the risk of famine.
Between 8 and 19 September, no partner has been able to bring in any food commodity into Tigray. On 20 September, 19 trucks with food commodities (562 MT) entered Tigray.
The safety and security of cargo drivers in the corridor is also a serious concern and requires urgent measures to ensure that transporters have the confidence to continue cargo movements.
Lack of fuel and cash and a non-functional communication network in Tigray significantly hinder the delivery of food assistance.
Most partners are currently operating on credit. If access to cash is not urgently resolved, partners may be soon forced to cease operation temporarily.
Partners remain unable to dispatch food stock to the areas across the Tekeze River in Tselemeti and Dimma woredas due to physical access challenges as the Tekeze bridge is still not fully repaired.
The flexibility for timely inclusion of verified vulnerable new caseloads in food assistance without allocation limitation is urgently needed. Efforts to reach out to the previously inaccessible areas by food partners and conduct food distribution closer to the target communities are critical.
Food partners are working with the local authorities to resolve the delays and inclusion/exclusion errors in regional authority-led beneficiary registration and targeting, including IDP populations in Shire town and Adwa Woreda. The main challenges faced by partners include the increasing needs on the ground, which is often greater than the approved caseload allocation, turnover in the local government structure, and lack of documentation among the affected populations.
Lack of cooking energy and milling support remains a concern hindering food utilization. Partners are looking into the possibility of including transportation and food preparation associated costs in the food assistance package in prioritized locations.