Case study

Meeting immediate needs and protecting development gains

Lessons from Ethiopia’s drought response

Published by
Mercy Corps

From April to October 2022, Mercy Corps’ Resilience in Pastoral Areas, North (RIPA-North) programme provided a humanitarian drought response in the Somali Region of Ethiopia. This response was designed to complement and build on the MSD approach which focuses on enhancing resilient, sustainable economic
opportunities in arid and semi-arid lands as a pathway to food security.

A humanitarian response that shifts away from market support and towards direct distributions would risk undermining the very market systems that RIPA-North,
and its predecessor programme, PRIME, have strengthened with nearly a decade of  resilience investments in dryland economies and production systems. A weakening of local markets would accelerate the deterioration of the local food system and its ability to provide safe and nutritious foods to pastoral communities already facing multiple crises, thus causing backsliding towards greater aid dependency. 

This paper provides an overview of how the Markets in Crisis approach to this drought response leveraged existing relationships and built on RIPA-North’s development interventions to meet immediate humanitarian needs, helped households protect assets, livelihoods, and food security in light of compounding shocks, and simultaneously strengthened local markets that households rely on to cope and improve their food security and economic prospects
in the future.