COP-26 ep2: Ethiopia

Welcome to the second of our blog mini-series relating to climate change in the wake of the COP-26 summit. This week we hear from Nebiyu Haile, who is the director of EWAR in Ethiopia.

Impacts of Climate Change to Ethiopia

It is obvious that the current trend of climate change leads to significant economic loss in countries whose economy is mainly dependent on climate sensitive activities, particularly Agriculture. The people of Ethiopia are vulnerable to climate change as livelihoods are highly sensitive to changes in rainfall and temperature and depend on limited natural resources. A report by USAID (2012) evaluated recent trends in rainfall and temperature and identified significant reductions in rainfall (up to 20% in southern, south-western, and south-eastern parts of the country) and increases in temperature overtime in many areas of Ethiopia. According to Centre for Global Development (2010), Ethiopia is ranked 11th of 233 countries in terms of its vulnerability to physical climate impacts, and 9th in terms of overall vulnerability (physical impacts adjusted for coping ability). Ethiopia’s economy has also been adversely affected for multiple years including 2016/17 fiscal year due to El Nino and sever draught due to climate change.

However, Ethiopia’s contribution to GHG emissions is negligible on a global scale (less than 0.3%), which is around 150 Mt CO2e in 2010 (of which about 87% of GHG emissions came from agricultural (crop – 12 and livestock – 65 Mt CO2e a year), and forestry (55 Mt CO2e a year) and the remaining 13% is from power, transport, industry and buildings) (CRGE, 2011). However, if current practices prevail, the GHG emissions will be 400 Mt CO2e in 2030 and the per capita emission level will increase by more than 50% to 3 t CO2e and will exceed the global target to keep it between 1 – 2 t per capita to limit its contribution to climate change (CRGE, 2011). 

Drought has had significant impacts on food insecurity and affects the life of Ethiopian people and its trend is increasing in 21th century (IPCC, 2007b). Ethiopia experienced more than eight drought times over 1983-2016. Other African countries were also affected by drought several times.

Flooding leads to immediate deaths and injuries of people, infectious diseases like malaria and exposure of people to toxic substances. According the flood portal of European Commissions Joint Research Center, Institute for Environment and Sustainability (2010), more than 1 million people were affected in over 20 African countries and approximately about 500 lives were lost and over 1.2 million people were displaced from their homes. Least developed countries such as Ethiopia more suffer from climate change related disasters like floods. They lack institutional, economic, and financial capacity to cope with the impacts of climate change and to rebuild the infrastructure damaged by natural disasters (Sokona and Danton, 2001). Flooding occurs everywhere in the world. However, the degree of its impacts depend on the adaptive capacity of a country, that is, the developed countries have high adaptive capacity while the poor countries such as Ethiopia, suffer more to the impacts of flooding.

Climate is a primary factor for decrease of agriculture productivity, such that any environmental change affects plant and animal production (Shongwe et al., 2014). With increasing frequency of droughts and floods associated with climate change, agricultural production will decline and the state of food insecurity and malnutrition will increase (Kumsa, and Jones, 2010). It is estimated that African farmers are losing about US$28 per hectar per year for each 1°C rise in global temperature (Kumssa and Jones, 2010). The African Partnership Forum (APF, 2007), described that, climate change can no longer be considered as an environmental problem only, as it also becomes a major threat to sustainable development and poverty reduction. Climate change can hinder sustainable  development  of Ethiopia by  minimizing  yield  production,   which leads to food insecurity.

Climate change also causes scarcity of water resources and severe floods that leads to outbreaks of waterborne diseases. African countries including Ethiopia suffer serious health problems because of climate change United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA, 2011). UNECA justified that, Africa is the most susceptible continent to climate change related health problems due to the existing poverty and weak institutions to deal with health challenges posed by climate change. Change in rainfall will affect the presence and absence of vector and water borne pathogens (IPCC, 2001). Any changes in temperature and precipitation will boost the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes that leads to malaria epidemics (Lindsay and Martens, 1998). The problem of Malaria is associated to climate change. Most of  malaria epidemics are closely linked to climate variability caused by El Nino. Climate change can affect the well-being of human beings either directly or indirectly. For instance, changing the quality of air, water and food can disturb human health indirectly. Climate change will likely discomfort the environmental and social conditions which might lead to social and economic disruptions.

Connection between the adverse effects of climate change and what EWAR does

As mentioned above adverse effects of climate change play great role in causing economic crises. When drought and famine happen in rural areas, people both men and women leave their villages and come to urban areas looking for job and in  most of the cases the men would ended up working as daily laborers if they are lucky and if not would end up on the streets as beggars. The girls and women on the other hand would be vulnerable to exploitative circumstances including sexual exploitation and abuse which in one way or the other push them to end up in prostitution.

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