Inflation soared to 30.3 percent in Tigray Region last month, twice the national average and the highest amongst all regional states in Ethiopia, according to a new report published by the Central Statistical Agency (CSA).
The price of food has been mounting at an alarming rate ever since fighting broke out between the forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the federal government after the former attacked the Northern command of the National Army.
In November 2020, headline inflation reached 30.3 percent, 10 percentage points higher than the national average and twice the rate registered in neighboring Amhara Region.
With supply chains of food and non-food items disrupted, sources stated, cost of living has been alarmingly high in Tigray.
In some parts of the region, the residents explained, there is almost no supply of basic food items, including edible oil, teff and wheat, though aid agencies and the government are attempting to fill the gap by providing food aid. According to sources, the price of teff, which was being sold for around 5000 Birr before the war broke out, is now being sold for as much as 7,000 Birr.
“Even though the cost of living now seems relatively cheaper in Mekelle, people are running out of food stocks. People are even facing shortage of basic food items. Despite facing shortage, restaurants, are still charging the same price understanding the crisis in the region,” said a resident of Mekelle.
Furthermore, the price of fuel has more than doubled in the region. “Fuel is available in the black market as petrol stations face a supply shortage,” said another resident of Tigray who spoke to The Reporter on condition of anonymity.
“The price of tires and other spare parts also skyrocketed ever since the fighting started. Most residents who own a car have stopped driving while drivers of three wheelers buy gas from the black market,” he added.
UN OCHA, in its assessment published yesterday, said access to food is still a major concern in Tigray since the main commercial supply routes to the region have been cut off since November and the harvest season impacted.
“Food availability in local markets is limited, compounded by the rising inflation, while the banking system is non-operational with the exception of Mekelle,” the UN body said.
Ataklti Haileselassie, Mayor of Mekelle, also confirmed millions of people living in Tigray are in need of urgent assistance and may face a life threatening situation if they do not receive aid quickly.
The National Disaster Risk Management Commission, in a press briefing held this week, said adequate preparations have been made to assist 2.5 million citizens in Tigray.
“The government has provided 311,526 quintals of grain for the region from its warehouses, while transporting additional 60,000 quintals of flour and 173,200 quintals of wheat and distributing 1.7 million liters of edible oil in the region,” said Mitiku Kassa, Head of the Commission.
Oxfam international, in its report published on January 22, 2021, said over one million people in Tigray were dependent on aid and more than 600,000 were battling hunger before the fighting started in Tigray. While these same people were cut-off from essential food rations they relied on, there are now a total of 4.5 million people in Tigray in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, according to UN and regional government figures.