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Ethiopia: Famine Review Committee confirms very high levels of acute food insecurity and Risk of Famine in Tigray

Overview of the process

Following a breakdown in consensus on the latest IPC Acute Food Insecurity analysis findings on Ethiopia’s Tigray region (see report here), on July 10th, 2021, the IPC Global Steering Committee activated the Famine Review Committee (FRC). The Famine Review focused on (i) assessing the plausibility of the IPC classification in the areas at Risk of Famine; and, (ii) considering newly available information, providing the FRC’s perspective on the acute food insecurity situation going forward. The FRC, composed of five independent international food security, nutrition and mortality experts, conducted the review from July 10th to 19th, 2021.

On this page, you will find the report on the Famine Review findings as well as the Report on the findings of the IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis conducted in May 2021 by the IPC Analysis Team in Ethiopia.

Famine Review: Key Findings

Considering the evidence available at the time of the analysis, the FRC concluded that the IPC classification conducted by the country IPC Analysis Team is plausible, with regards to both the severity and magnitude of the acute food insecurity situation. Although the data does not support a Famine classification, there is clear evidence to support the Analysis Team findings that roughly 400,000 people are acutely food insecure in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe) between July and September 2021. This is in addition to the four million people in Crisis or Emergency (IPC Phase 3 or 4) located in Tigray region and neighbouring zones of Amhara and Afar regions.

Going forward, the FRC estimated a medium to high Risk of Famine in three out of four scenarios described in the report, including in the short-term (July - September) in the worst-case scenario. The FRC highlighted that, whether or not an actual Famine classification is determined is, in many ways, besides the point, given the already evident extreme human suffering and humanitarian needs. According to the FRC, this crisis is clearly caused by human actions and human decisions and can be prevented with effective negotiation and commitments to peaceful reconciliation.

While this report focused on assessing the Risk of Famine in the Tigray region, the FRC recognises that the situation is also dire in the surrounding areas analysed by the IPC Analysis Team, and that there are food insecure populations in other parts of Ethiopia.

This report lays out a series of recommendations to policy and political decision-makers, humanitarian stakeholders and to the country IPC Technical Working Group, with a focus on preventing Famine.
Download the report

IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis (May 2021)

An IPC analysis update conducted on Tigray and the neighbouring zones of Amhara and Afar concluded that 5.5 million people were in Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 or above) between May and June 2021, of which over 350,000 people were in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). This is the highest number of people in IPC Phase 5 since the 2011 famine in Somalia. In the areas where data was sufficient to conduct a projection analysis, the situation is expected to worsen through September 2021, with 4.4 million people (74% of the population analysed) likely to be in Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 or above). Among these, an estimated 400,000 people are expected to be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).
Download the report

This is an IPC global product. It is based on the conclusions reached by the Ethiopia IPC analysis team. This report has not been endorsed by the Government of Ethiopia.

IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis Snapshot (May 2021)

The snapshot provides an overview of the key figures and findings from the IPC Acute Food Insecurity analysis conducted in May 2021.
Download a snapshot of the situation

IPC Classification Maps

Population in IPC Phases


What is Famine vs Catastrophe?

Famine is a classification of IPC Phase 5 at area level. In a given area, famine occurs when at least 20% of the population is affected by extremely high acute food insecurity, with about one out of three children being acutely malnourished and at least two people dying per day for every 10,000 inhabitants due to outright starvation or to the consequence of malnutrition and disease.

Catastrophe: Households may be classified in IPC Phase 5 Catastrophe even if the area is not classified in IPC Phase 5 Famine. This is the case when less than 20 percent of the population is experiencing extremely high acute food insecurity and/or when malnutrition and/or mortality levels have not (or not yet) reached famine thresholds. Even if an area has not been classified in Famine, it is still crucial to identify households that are facing Catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity.

See the IPC Famine Facts here.

What is the Risk of Famine?

Risk of Famine refers to the reasonable chance of an area going into Famine in the projected period. While this is not perceived necessarily as the “most likely scenario”, it is a scenario that has a realistic chance of occurring. It differs from Famine and Famine Likely projections because it focuses on a worst-case scenario with a reasonable and realistic chance of happening, as opposed to the most likely scenario. It is a statement about the potential deterioration of the situation from what is expected. 

How does the IPC Famine Review work?

This a neutral and independent process aiming at supporting IPC quality assurance and helping to ensure the technical rigor and neutrality of IPC analyses, in particular when a country IPC analysis shows a potential, risk, or already identified situation of Famine.

The Famine Review follows a two-step process: 

Step 1 - The Famine Review preparation by a multi-partner team is done prior to the review by the Famine Review Committee (FRC). It provides technical inputs and prepares the information needed by the FRC members to conduct their review.

Step 2 - The Review by the FRC is an important mechanism to conclude on the plausibility of the IPC classification in areas with populations potentially classified in Famine or at risk of Famine. 

The FRC is a team of leading independent international food security, nutrition and mortality experts who have specific technical knowledge and experience in the country of crisis and who have not participated in the analysis under review, nor have produced any related analysis or report. 

What is the IPC?

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a multi-partner initiative for improving food security and nutrition analysis and decision-making. By using the IPC classification and analytical approach, Governments, UN Agencies, NGOs and other relevant actors work together to determine the severity and magnitude of acute and chronic food insecurity, and acute malnutrition situations in a country, according to internationally-recognised scientific standards.

The main goal of the IPC is to provide decision-makers with a rigorous, evidence- and consensus-based analysis of food insecurity and acute malnutrition situations, to inform emergency responses as well as medium- and long-term policy and programming.

The IPC was originally developed in 2004 to be used in Somalia by FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU). Since then, a global partnership of 15 organizations is leading the development and implementation of the IPC at global, regional and country level. With over 15 years of application, the IPC has proved to be one of the best practices in the global food security field, and a model of collaboration in over 30 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

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