Ethiopia: From conflict to climate shocks, women and girls are disproportionately affected

Grinding conflict, climate shocks, including drought and floods, and the impacts of COVID-19 have left an estimated 20 million people in need of humanitarian assistance across Ethiopia. 

In northern Ethiopia, a full-scale humanitarian crisis continues to unfold in Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions since armed conflict erupted in November 2020. By 2022, more than 2.6 million people had been displaced, with thousands fleeing to surrounding countries. 

Climate-related shocks continue to have a devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of nearly 17 million pastoralists and agro-pastoralist families in the southern and southeastern regions of Ethiopia –  Somali, Oromia, Afar and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP) regions. The reduced availability of food, water and pasture have triggered internal displacement and deepened food insecurity as malnutrition rises.

Women and girls’ needs have soared as a result of violence, insecurity and climate shocks at the same time as their access to basic services, including sexual and reproductive health care, has been severely disrupted. Health facilities have been damaged and destroyed and medical supplies and health care providers are in short supply. The availability of maternal health care, including emergency obstetric care to address life-threatening pregnancy complications, has been critically compromised, and protection systems, including medical care and psychosocial support for survivors of gender-based violence, have been eroded. Across the country,  approximately 13 million people are in need of emergency health assistance and more than 8 million women and girls need protection services.

UNFPA is on the ground in eight regions of the country, working with partners, particularly women-led organizations, to respond to the urgent needs of women and girls. Our humanitarian response prioritizes life-saving health and protection services that are critical to women and girls’ survival and future. This includes emergency obstetric care and comprehensive medical and psychosocial support for survivors of gender-based violence. We have provided essential medicines, equipment and supplies to facilities and hospitals across the country, including to support safe births and the clinical management of rape, and  delivered ambulances to strengthen referral systems.

In 2022, more than 150 health professionals and 22 Mobile Health Teams were deployed to strengthen maternal and sexual and reproductive health provision in more than 80 emergency-affected health facilities, providing critical services to nearly 1.5  million people in the most underserved and affected areas. 

As humanitarian needs increase across the country, scaling up the response to the particular and growing needs of already vulnerable women and girls including those who are pregnant and at risk of violence is ever more crucial.

Updated on 02 November 2022