FEG has been providing technical support in Household Economy Analysis to the national early warning system in Ethiopia since 2016 through the HEA Project, funded by USAID and implemented by Save the Children. HEA baselines for 175 livelihood zones have been updated and FEG consultants have led numerous HEA trainings for baseline fieldwork, outcome analysis and seasonal assessments and baseline analyses for field teams.

Remote technical support to the meher and belg seasonal needs assessments has been a core part of the project. Regularly throughout the year, HEA baseline data for 169 livelihood zones is combined with current year problem specifications that define what has changed since the baselines were developed. The tool used for this analysis is the LEAP-LIAS Interface. It includes a national HEA baseline database and uses satellite-based estimates of crop and livestock production plus price models to estimate numbers of beneficiaries, amounts of assistance (food or cash) and IPC phase. The problem specifications derived from the satellite and price models can be cross-checked and revised during targeted fieldwork and there is a facility to update the analysis for unexpected shocks (such as Covid-19 restrictions) that arise part-way through the consumption year. It is easy to use, allowing the analyst to complete the analysis in a few simple steps and can be updated regularly throughout the year at appropriate seasonal intervals, as required for humanitarian assistance planning purposes.

Improvements to the HEA analysis in Ethiopia have been made over the last 5 years to improve timeliness, cost effectiveness and credibility. The use of satellite-based information systems to develop the initial current problem specifications means that the first analysis can be run early in each season (starting at half-way through the rainy season), producing meher season results in time for OCHA’s global deadline for the Humanitarian Needs Overview in October. In addition to being timely, problem specifications developed from satellite-based information systems are not open to any field manipulation, which can improve credibility. The first analysis is now being used to identify a list of target woredas for fieldwork during the seasonal assessment. This has reduced the size of teams, length of fieldwork, and thus cost of the seasonal assessment drastically from previous years, while at the same time allowing some cross-checking and verification of the problem specifications that were first developed remotely.

The HEA analysis results define population numbers that face survival or livelihood protection deficits by region, administrative zone and woreda. These results feed into the OCHA-led Humanitarian Needs Overview, which describes the overall ‘people in need’ in Ethiopia. The HEA analysis also feeds directly into the Humanitarian Response Plan’s emergency rural ‘food insecure people’.