A mother and child sit with a doctor at a health center in Ethiopia

Concern launches emergency response to alarming hunger levels in Ethiopia

Concern Worldwide is scaling up its emergency response due to alarming levels of hunger being experienced in Ethiopia as a result of an El Niño-fueled drought.

The international humanitarian organization, with the help of donors, is preparing to provide emergency cash assistance to approximately 20,000 people.

This follows a multi-sector assessment by the Ethiopian government and its humanitarian partners, including Concern Worldwide, which predicted the number of food insecure people could reach 10.8 million between July and September 2024.

“While the situation in many of these areas is already alarming, there is an opportunity to avert a serious humanitarian catastrophe,” according to a joint statement issued last week by Ambassador Shiferaw Teklemariam, Commissioner of the Ethiopian Disaster Risk Management Commission, and Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia.

“Malnutrition rates in parts of Afar, Amhara and Tigray and other regions have already surpassed globally recognized crisis thresholds, although the situation is currently not reflective of famine-like conditions.”

They warn that there is now a “short window of opportunity” to prevent the situation from deteriorating further, and for urgent action to allow doubling of response efforts.

The El-Niño driven drought has impacted Ethiopia’s summer rains, resulting in severe water shortages, dried pastures and reduced harvests in many areas. Millions of lives and livestock are impacted, with reports of alarming food insecurity and rising malnutrition.

The worst impacted areas are in northern Ethiopia where communities have yet to recover from the 2020-2022 conflict, particularly in parts of Amhara, Tigray and Afar where the recent harvest was severely disrupted, leaving households with no, or limited, food stocks.

The Ethiopian government and donors have already assisted 6.6 million people with food and cash in drought-affected areas.

“In addition to the planned emergency cash assistance to families, we are currently responding to the situation with extensive health and nutrition, water, and sanitation programs across drought-impacted areas of Tigray, Amhara and Somali regions," Concern’s Country Director in Ethiopia, Austin Kennan, said. “Our teams in the affected regions are seeing rising numbers of mothers and children coming to health facilities suffering from malnutrition and related health conditions.”

Concern has worked in Ethiopia for 50 years supporting the government and people with long term development and short term emergency health & nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, and livelihoods programs.