Despite progress achieved by the Government towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, increasing economic growth and reducing poverty, large regional disparities remain in Ethiopia, with significant humanitarian challenges. In 2012, some 10 per cent of Ethiopians were chronically vulnerable to food insecurity and 3.7 million people required humanitarian assistance to meet basic survival needs.
Chronic food insecurity was further exacerbated by recurrent natural disasters, including droughts and floods, disease outbreaks, inter-community tensions, and an influx of refugees, further straining the resources of host communities. Bordering six countries experiencing political, social and environmental challenges, including Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, at year’s end, Ethiopia hosted an estimated 373,000 refugees.
In 2012, OCHA worked to support the Government and the humanitarian community in addressing the lingering impact of the 2010-11 La Niña-induced drought. Among other initiatives, OCHA supported the Humanitarian Country Team in developing guidance on building resilience. It focused on investing in nutrition-sensitive livelihood support for previously drought-affected communities in the country’s southern and southeastern lowlands, which entered the recovery phase mid-year.
OCHA also supported the Government and humanitarian community response to renewed food and nutritional insecurity arising from poor rains and low production. Due to the near failure of the mid-February to May rains, the number of people in need of food assistance increased from 3.2 million to 3.7 million by mid-year, with another 1 million people receiving assistance under the Government’s Productive Safety Net Programme.
In addition to advocating for a mid-term (May 2012) update to the Humanitarian Requirements Document (the Ethiopia equivalent of a Consolidated Appeals Process), OCHA mobilized funding through the Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF) to support 11 NGOs in strengthening therapeutic nutrition in hotspot areas, and supported the Agriculture Task Force to establish consortiums to provide material and technical assistance to smallholder farmers.
Faced with the risk of an epidemic meningitis outbreak, OCHA supported health partners to mobilize nearly $4 million from the HRF and Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for a national vaccination campaign.
In 2012, the humanitarian community sustained – and even extended – the improved access in Somali Region that initially accompanied the 2011 drought response. OCHA supported efforts to organize and participated in the November 2012 security risk assessment that paved the way to open Nogob (formerly Fik) zone to humanitarian actors for the first time since May 2011. The OCHA-chaired Access Working Group’s June 2012 case study on challenges to the importation of medical supplies succeeded in garnering high-level attention and led to important progress in facilitating the import of priority drugs and medical supplies used by NGOs in their emergency programmes. Similarly, OCHA facilitated the Humanitarian Coordinator’s high-level engagement with Government on the implementation of the 70:30 Guidelines (a regulation that limits administrative costs for all charities and societies to 30 per cent of their budgets) by providing an evidence-based analysis of the most problematic costs that should be considered “operational” rather than “administrative”.
OCHA also established a presence in the regional capital of Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples’ Region, and a temporary presence in Dire Dawa to support enhanced coordination in northern Somali Region, which continued to experience drought conditions through September 2012.
OCHA’s engagement with relevant government, UN, and NGO stakeholders facilitated development of guidelines for humanitarian operations into Somalia to help agencies working in Somalia to deliver assistance in bereft rural areas neighboring Ethiopia.
OCHA also supported the Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector (DRMFSS) and coordination of assistance in response to an influx of Kenyans from Moyale, Northern Kenya. This included the activation of an Incident Command Post (ICP) in the area to assist some 24,000 people affected by conflict. OCHA also assisted DRMFSS to activate ICPs in response to flood, tribal conflict, and drought.