Food Emergency Spreads in Ethiopia


The number of Ethiopian districts identified as suffering a humanitarian emergency increased 18 percent to 219 from December to March as the impact of drought worsened, the United Nations said.

Consecutive missed rainy seasons last year caused by the ocean-warming effects of El Nino have left about a fifth of Ethiopia’s approximately 100 million population in need of food aid. A total of 443 districts were categorized as being in at least some difficulty, up from 429 in December, the UN’s humanitarian office said Tuesday in an e-mailed bulletin.

Of those, 219 areas are defined by a “very severe lack of food security,” which may include “excess mortality, very high and increasing malnutrition, and irreversible livelihood asset depletion,” according to the government. Ethiopia comprises about 800 districts, or woredas.

In December, the government and partners appealed for $1.4 billion for the crisis, around half of which had been funded by Ethiopia and donors last month. The European Commission contributed an additional 122.5 million euros ($140 million) last week. More than 400,000 Ethiopians are expected to suffer severe malnutrition this year.