Ethiopia is one of the world’s fastest growing countries, home to an estimated 85 million people. The population has doubled since 1984 and is projected to more than double again by 2050. Despite recording double-digit economic growth over the past decade, more than 20 million people are living below the poverty line, according to the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2012-2015. Nearly 10 per cent of the population remains chronically vulnerable to food insecurity and dependent on national safety-net programmes. Every year several million people require emergency assistance to meet their basic survival needs.
More than 80 per cent of the population live in rural areas and rely on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihood. Their vulnerability is frequently exacerbated by natural and man-made hazards, including drought, flooding, disease outbreaks, inter-communal conflict and refugee influxes from neighbouring states. Drought and flooding increase the risk of water-related disease outbreaks, particularly Acute Watery Diarrhoea, malaria and measles and especially among children under age 5. Access to clean water and basic health care, including life-saving maternal and neonatal services, remains low. Meanwhile, humanitarian access to some parts of the country and persons affected by crisis remains difficult due to poor transportation infrastructure and insecurity. Persistent drought conditions and insecurity in neighbouring Somalia, turmoil in Eritrea and insecurity along the border between Sudan and South Sudan have resulted in large influxes of asylum-seekers into Ethiopia.
The Government and humanitarian partners work jointly to provide emergency assistance to disaster-affected populations. Emergency needs are identified through the twice-yearly national needs assessment process. Annual humanitarian requirements for food assistance; health and nutrition; water, sanitation and health; agriculture (and livestock); and emergency education are represented in the Humanitarian Requirements Document and its revisions. Humanitarian preparedness and response are coordinated by the Government’s Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector, a directorate within the Ministry of Agriculture, with sector-specific response coordinated by the respective line ministries. To promote a coordinated response, the humanitarian community has established a Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), locally-adapted cluster approach and a Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF). The community supports various Government-led coordination forums, including the Multi-Agency Coordination Forum and the Disaster Risk Management Technical Working Group and its subsidiary bodies. The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for 2012-2015 has integrated humanitarian preparedness and response as an integral component of its planning to support Disaster Risk Reduction in Ethiopia.
The UN in Ethiopia
The Resident Representative of UNDP also serves as the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) for Ethiopia. The RC/HC leads humanitarian coordination and liaison with the Government of Ethiopia and is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that an appropriate level of preparedness exists within the humanitarian response system. The OCHA country office, in collaboration with both Government and partners, provides support to the RC/HC in coordinating emergency preparedness and response among national and international actors, and strengthening national capacity for humanitarian coordination at the federal, regional and lower levels. The head of the OCHA office acts as the principal advisor of the RC/HC on humanitarian issues. There are 24 resident UN funds, programmes and agencies in Ethiopia. More than 100 UN agencies and NGOs, as well as the Red Cross Movement, participate in the coordinated humanitarian response in Ethiopia.
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