Twelve fold increase in Ethiopia COVID-19 cases, severe weather and locusts creating massive need in Ethiopia, warns IRC

A worker of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) measures a passenger’s temperature at a control point at the Bole International Airport, in Addis Ababa, on March 17, 2020. – African countries have been among the last to be hit by the global COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic but as cases rise, many nations are now taking strict measures to block the deadly illness. (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP)

COVID-19, flooding and the locusts outbreak are creating a humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia with many people unable to meet their daily food needs.  Recent heavy rainfall has led to flooding, resulting in destruction of crops, loss of livestock and displacement.  Swarms of multiplying desert locusts have also been destroying pastures and crops, leading to further food insecurity.  Some areas are recording admissions for severe acute malnutrition at 50% higher than for the same period last year.  A massive twelve fold increase in Covid-19 cases between June and September is further compounding needs as families have been unable to obtain income or access food due to movement restrictions. Ethiopia currently holds the highest Covid-19 caseload in East Africa.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is working to safeguard the lives of affected and at-risk communities from the COVID-19 pandemic by raising community awareness on COVID-19 risk factors, providing personal protective equipment, and building and installing water points to help people practice preventative methods. The IRC is assisting desert locust and flood-affected households with multi-purpose cash transfer and non-food items to fill food security gaps and provide relief.

Frank McManus, IRC Ethiopia Country Director says:

“The multiple issues of flooding, locusts, intercommunal violence and COVID-19 are highly concerning given the already massive humanitarian needs in the country.  The slowdown of the economy and lockdown restrictions mean that people have not been able to access income and there is an upward pressure on food prices.

“Over 19 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia. At four times the number of people displaced in 2019, as a result of the flooding, more than 300,000 people have been displaced in 2020 and have had their homes and livelihoods lost or damaged.  A total of over 1 million people have been adversely affected by the floods overall. With the spread of COVID-19, people that have been displaced are amongst the most vulnerable due to the often congested living space, compromised health conditions, and inadequate access to basic services.  The IRC is providing essential support through distributions of  non-food items, including emergency shelter, household goods, hygiene kits, and cash assistance to over 36,500 affected people.”

“Despite the IRC’s work, the unmet humanitarian needs are still great. With more funding for our work, we will be able to reach even more people with the critical support they so desperately need after losing their homes and livelihoods.”

Ethiopia is one the poorest countries and has suffered decades of drought, intercommunal violence, disease outbreaks and flooding.  Whilst grappling with its own development and humanitarian needs, Ethiopia is also a major host country for refugees in the region.  In a highly complex humanitarian setting with seven million people who are acutely food insecure, IRC is working to ramp up support to those most in need.

The IRC has been working in Ethiopia since 1999 implementing emergency and development work in rural communities and 21 refugee camps, reaching over 3.2 million clients in FY18 through programs in environmental health, health, education, child protection, economic recovery and development, and women’s protection and empowerment in six regions across the country.


  1. In the war torn northwest Syria Coronavirus cases increased fourteen-folds in the past one month . In the past three months Syria’s Coronavirus cases increased twenty-folds making Syria the country with the highest growth rate in the world for the past three months.

    Ethiopia and Yemen tied second for having the second highest infection rates of twelve-folds in the past three months with the city of Addis Ababa , Ethiopia
    recording CoronaVirus infection rate of eighteen folds in just the month of September 2020 making it the city with the highest infection rates in the world for the month of September.

  2. Just within the year 2013 Ethiopian calendar within this past month two airplanes that were “carrying pesticides” crashed in Ethiopia even though in both incidents none of the pilots were hurt. The “pesticides” they were carrying got wasted with one of the planes totally being destroyed during the crash while the second plane suffered minor damages.

    BBC amharic … 2020
    ኢትዮጵያ የአንበጣ መንጋን ለመቆጣጠር ምን ያህል አውሮፕላኖች አሏት?


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