As the second-most populous country in Africa, Ethiopia continues to face huge humanitarian needs due to a combination of conflict, community violence, climate shocks and disease outbreaks.
Amid ongoing peace in Northern Ethiopia (Afar, Amhara and Tigray), access to food, water and health services has improved since the end of 2022. However, the conflict in other regions remains a barrier to aid delivery.
The Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund (EHF) has been one of the leading sources of humanitarian financing in Ethiopia since its establishment in 2006. It has responded to disasters triggered by natural causes, such as droughts and floods, as well as complex conflict-related crises.
The EHF supports timely and flexible disbursement of funds to the most critical humanitarian needs, as highlighted in the annual Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and also unexpected emergency needs. This is achieved through a consultative process and the principles of inclusivity, flexibility, timeliness, efficiency, partnership, transparency and value for money.
Currently, Ethiopia is facing severe humanitarian challenges that include food shortages due to droughts, disease outbreaks, localized intercommunal conflict and seasonal flooding. These challenges continue to exacerbate an ongoing humanitarian crisis that is already affecting 24 million people in Ethiopia, and has the potential to exacerbate it further.
As the rainy season approaches, relief workers and aid experts warn that a failure to receive adequate rains could lead to a new wave of famine in northern Ethiopia. A deteriorating situation in the Tigray region, where rebels have been fighting against the federal government and its allies for nine months, has contributed to the continued shortage of food and other supplies.
In the meantime, the Ethiopian government has suspended aid from a number of international organizations working in Tigray. These include Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Norwegian Refugee Council, both of which have long been active in Tigray. The suspension is emblematic of a broader pattern of aid obstruction and politicization by the Ethiopian government that threatens the safety of humanitarian organizations working in the region and the civilian population they serve.
Despite these threats, the humanitarian community continues to provide lifesaving aid in Ethiopia. We work in drought and flood-prone regions to build resilience, promote gender equality, mobilize for immunizations and mitigate the impact of HIV. We also provide livelihoods support to farmers and entrepreneurs, as well as health, nutrition and water and sanitation assistance.
The Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund’s vision is to support a timely, lifesaving and needs-based response that helps to build resilience to the most vulnerable people. The Fund will help to meet humanitarian needs across Ethiopia through a combination of cash and in-kind donations.
The EHF is working with a range of partners to address the country’s ongoing complex emergency and support a holistic approach that seeks to improve livelihoods, protect children and strengthen resilience. The Fund is focusing on providing food, water, shelter and protection services to the most vulnerable.
Droughts in southern and southeastern parts of the country have caused severe food insecurity, deteriorating nutrition conditions, and loss of livelihoods. WFP estimates that at least 8.1 million people in these regions need assistance.
In northern parts of the country, a conflict in the Tigray region has resulted in large numbers of people displaced from their homes and inaccessible to humanitarian agencies. The crisis continues to escalate, with an increased risk of violence and insecurity, which threatens the delivery of aid and the lives of humanitarian workers.
The UK government is supporting the Ethiopia Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) to tackle this crisis in the country, bringing in PS5 million of funding to provide aid to those most in need. This will include feeding programmes to help 42,000 school children, treating 23,000 pregnant and lactating women suffering from moderate acute malnutrition, and providing better infrastructure for food distributions.
In Ethiopia, millions of people are facing multiple crises arising from drought, flooding, inter-communal violence and conflict. The humanitarian response is a complex one that requires the support of a wide range of partners.
To support a timely, coordinated and principled humanitarian response that is responsive to the needs of people in crisis.
The EHF is a country-based pooled fund that provides emergency assistance to communities affected by crises across the globe. It is a flexible mechanism, able to rapidly respond to unforeseen emergencies.
With the support of EHF, Sida focuses on five key areas: IDPs; durable solutions and protection; resilience; women’s rights and empowerment; and food security.
To reduce and eliminate morbidity and mortality due to acute malnutrition in a large number of vulnerable groups, especially children under the age of five and pregnant or lactating women.
This is done through a focus on targeted interventions, such as the provision of essential lifesaving foods and medicines, as well as increased access to health care services.
In addition, Sida aims to strengthen the capacity of local CSOs to implement effective gender-focused humanitarian programmes that address women’s and girls’ rights, including by promoting their participation in crisis planning and response. This is done by financing programmematic activities that: enhance the safety, security and mental health of women and girls and ensure their human rights are respected; reinforce their institutional capacity to work on gender-specific issues in peace and humanitarian contexts; and promote a sustainable impact for local CSOs.
Ethiopia has made impressive development gains in recent years, reducing poverty and expanding social services. However, armed conflict, climate shocks and disease outbreaks continue to have an impact on the lives of many.
Across the country, food insecurity and malnutrition remain high. An estimated 20.4 million people need assistance to meet their basic needs. This includes children, pregnant and lactating women, and adults.
Affected communities also have limited access to water and sanitation. WFP and its partners are working to improve the availability of clean drinking water and provide safe toilets in the areas where they are most needed.
There is also an urgent need to improve the quality of health care. Health facilities are under-staffed and there is a shortage of qualified medical staff. In some regions, communicable diseases, poor water and hygiene conditions, and low vaccination coverage remain major public health challenges.
To support this work, EHF’s strategy is to increase its funding to areas of need in Ethiopia. This includes drought-affected areas in the Oromia, Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions.
We are investing in programmes that will help the government address the critical issues of food security and nutrition, water, sanitation, protection, and health, with a focus on the most vulnerable. In addition, we are supporting smallholder farmers and their communities to adapt to the changing climate.
We are also providing vital emergency aid to the most vulnerable in the Tigray region. Since the signing of a peace agreement in November, humanitarian access has improved. Humanitarians are now able to reach affected areas and distribute essential supplies, such as fuel. But there are still significant constraints, especially in Tigray. These include restrictions on the transportation of humanitarian aid into the region and on the amount of fuel trucks can carry.
The Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund responds to emergency needs triggered by natural disasters (droughts, floods and outbreaks of disease) as well as complex conflict-related crises. It supports timely and flexible disbursement of funds to international and national non-governmental organizations and UN agencies in the country.
A significant part of the EHF’s funding is also used to support resilience initiatives in conflict-affected areas. These are often designed to strengthen the capacity of local communities and local institutions, enabling them to better cope with recurring humanitarian challenges such as drought and conflict.
Food insecurity is an ongoing scourge in Ethiopia, exacerbated by droughts that are increasingly frequent and long-lasting. This means that food assistance is required in a variety of ways, including in drought-affected regions, where specialized nutritious foods are needed for malnourished children and mothers; as well as to help boost smallholder farmer households’ livelihoods by providing seeds and fertilizers, training on small-scale, drought-resistant farming techniques and other forms of livelihood support.
These broader resilience efforts are also designed to help build local systems, which can improve access and delivery of aid to vulnerable people in future. This is a key strategy for the EHF to pursue, as it reflects an increasing need for support to address the nexus between development and relief work in countries where both sectors are under pressure.
The UK recently provided a further PS5 million to support the Productive Safety Net programme and World Food Programme, ensuring that a further 23,000 pregnant and lactating women and over 42,000 school children in Ethiopia are supported with life-saving nutrition treatment and improved feeding infrastructure. This new UK funding is part of a longstanding commitment to help address the country’s urgent humanitarian needs.