Map of Ethiopia
UNICEF photo: mother and two children look across broken fence at UNICEF tent © UNICEF Ethiopia/2015/Tesfaye In the Afar Regional State, Hawa Girash and her two children walk to receive recovery assistance from the UNICEF temporary emergency camp to cope up with the current rainfall disparity, resulting from the El-Nino phenomenon.


In 2016, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children under 5 years with SAM admitted to therapeutic care programmes

2.2 million

people provided with access to safe water


vulnerable children in refugee camps, host communities and drought-affected areas benefitted from critical child protection in emergencies services

2016 Requirements: US$106,000,000

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Total affected population: 10.2 million
Total affected children: 5.7 million

Total people to be reached in 2016: 8 million
Total children to be reached in 2016: 6.8 million1

Ethiopia is facing its worst drought in decades, with over 10.2 million people2 in need of food aid. Due to El Niño weather conditions, the situation is set to worsen in the coming months. The failure of two consecutive rainy seasons, including the Kiremt rains, which normally feed 80 to 85 per cent of the country between June and September, has devastated livelihoods and greatly increased malnutrition rates across the country.3 An estimated 435,000 children are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM), and more than 1.7 million children, pregnant women and lactating women are in need of supplementary feeding.4 More than 5.8 million people are in need of emergency water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.5 Water shortages have given rise to hygiene issues, leading to water-related public health concerns, including scabies. The drought has also affected school attendance, with more than 2 million children on the verge of dropping out and over 3,000 schools at risk of closure.6 This has significantly increased children’s vulnerability to protection concerns, including violence, exploitation, early marriage, trafficking and abuse. As of November 2015, Ethiopia was also hosting more than 730,000 refugees from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and the Sudan.7

Humanitarian strategy

2016 Programme Targets


  • 435,000 children under 5 years with SAM admitted to therapeutic care programmes
  • 1.8 million children under 5 years received vitamin A supplementation


  • 6.8 million children under 5 years vaccinated against measles
  • 5.85 million people provided with access to health care facilities stocked with emergency supplies and drugs


  • 2.2 million people provided with access to safe water (7.5-15 litres per person per day)
  • 1 million people reached with key health promotion messages

Child protection

  • 4,500 separated and unaccompanied children registered in family tracing services and received family-based or appropriate alternative care
  • 74,500 vulnerable children in refugee camps, host communities and drought-affected areas benefitted from critical child protection in emergencies services


  • 430,000 school-aged children with access to emergency education programmes
  • 130,000 refugee and host community children received psychosocial support in emergency education programmes

UNICEF will continue to scale up its response to mitigate the impact of the current drought on women and children. This will involve working with partners to ensure that children have adequate access to education, health and nutrition care; safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities; and protection support. Community resilience-building efforts aimed at reducing the vulnerability of women and children will receive continuous support. In drought-affected pastoral areas, UNICEF will work with mobile health and nutrition teams to provide access to life-saving health and nutrition services. UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners will support the Ministry of Health to prevent and control diseases, including scabies, measles and diarrhoea. Community-based management of acute malnutrition will be used to provide severely malnourished children with treatment. UNICEF and partners will complement life-saving WASH interventions with the establishment and rehabilitation of water sources and the dissemination of sanitation and hygiene information. UNICEF will also facilitate continued education for children affected by emergencies and will support community-based social protection structures that aim to strengthen the traditional care and support systems of local communities. UNICEF will lead the nutrition and WASH clusters and co-lead the education and child protection sub-clusters. Working closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF will deliver life-saving interventions to refugees and vulnerable host communities in Gambella and Tigray.

Results from 2015

UNICEF originally appealed for US$36.2 million and later revised the requirements to US$55 million to reflect the additional resources needed to respond to the El Niño-driven drought emergency and refugee crises. As of 31 October 2015, a total of US$30 million, or 55 per cent of the revised requirements, had been received. An additional US$11.5 million was carried forward from 2014. The UNICEF targets for treating severely malnourished children steadily increased, from 254,000 in early 2015 to 350,000 in late 2015, due to the deterioration of the nutritional situation. UNICEF supported the Ministry of Health and non-governmental organizations on SAM management, reaching 257,878 children through the provision of therapeutic food, drugs and equipment to more than 15,000 therapeutic feeding sites. UNICEF supported mobile health and nutrition teams to provide life-saving care to more than 190,000 people in the Afar and Somali regions. UNICEF efforts resulted in over 805,745 people gaining access to safe water in drought-affected areas, and nearly 47,000 people receiving key hygiene messages. Some 195,100 children affected by emergencies were able to continue their education due to the delivery of supplies and through teacher trainings. The UNICEF-UNHCR partnership continued to deliver results for refugee children in 2015, with more than 50,000 South Sudanese refugee children vaccinated against measles and polio and over 78,000 vulnerable children provided with critical child protection services in refugee camps and host communities.

Funding requirements

UNICEF requires US$106 million to respond adequately to the evolving drought situation, South Sudanese and Eritrean refugees and vulnerable host communities, in accordance with the humanitarian requirements for 2016 and UNHCR appeals. Without timely funding in 2016, women and children in Ethiopia facing food insecurity, drought, floods and displacement will not receive adequate assistance to fulfil their basic needs and realize their rights.

1 The UNICEF measles vaccination response will reach more children than the number of children affected in 2016.
2 Government of Ethiopia, 2016 Ethiopia Humanitarian Requirements Document,, accessed 11 December 2015.
3 Community-based management of acute malnutrition admissions increased by 31 per cent, from 31,729 in July 2015 to 41,640 in August 2015. Between January and August 2015, 219,388 children were admitted for SAM treatment. This represents an increase of 27 per cent compared with the number reported during the same period last year. By the end of 2015, an estimated 350,000 children under 5 years are expected to be severely acutely malnourished. This represents the highest level ever reported, even compared with the Horn of Africa crisis in 2011. Source: Government of Ethiopia Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit.
4 Government of Ethiopia, 2016 Ethiopia Humanitarian Requirements Document,, accessed 11 December 2015.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid.
7 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Refugees in the Horn of Africa: Somali Displacement Crisis’, UNHCR, November 2015,, accessed 11 December 2015.