Thursday, January 26, 2023
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SocietySurvey reveals fourth of Ethiopian exposed to drought

Survey reveals fourth of Ethiopian exposed to drought

It suggests anticipatory resilience capacity to foresee climate extremes in Ethiopia

Around 24 percent of households have been exposed to at least one drought in the past five years, according to a new household survey.  

It is conducted by researchers at the Policy Studies Institute and University of Copenhagen Development Economics Research Group.

The survey indicated that climate induced hazards such as droughts pose a major threat to the condition of rural households in Ethiopia.

The livelihood of the vast majority of people rely on traditional agricultural practices, which is highly vulnerable to recurrent climate related hazards, coupled with a population growth rate of around 2.5 percent yearly.

According to the survey, Ethiopia needs to adapt to climate change and achieve significant increases in agricultural productivity over the next decades.

A part of the group that has conducted the survey, Finn Tarp (Prof.) project coordinator from the University of Copenhagen Development Economics Research Group (UCPH-DERG) indicated that Ethiopia has endured 10 major droughts and average temperatures have increased by 0.37 degrees Celsius per decade since the 80’s.

In 2015 and 2016 Ethiopia experienced one of the worst El Nino- induced droughts in decades, with below-average rainfall leading to 50-90 percent harvest failure, affecting millions of people.

The country has experienced 15 drought episodes between 1965 and 2015, some of which resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis, as mentioned in the workshop.

The resilience to climate change household survey contained interviews of 2,000 households across three agro-ecological zones in five regional states and a city administration: including Amhara, Oromia, Somali, Gambella, the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ region, and Dire Dawa.

With an estimated rural population of more than 85 million people who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, Ethiopia needs to adapt to climate change, achieve sustainable increases in agricultural productivity and production, and improve welfare, according to the survey.

Researchers underscored that adjustment of consumption was the dominant coping strategy when facing a drought, while it is followed by selling livestock. This put the need for comprehensive policy actions in perspective.

“Shielding the economy from severe climate shocks and building resilience to climate change-induced shocks is an urgent policy priority for Ethiopia,” said Tarp.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2022 report warns that climate change is now contributing to the humanitarian crisis and those consequences will get worse sooner.

Currently, people living in Borena and Somali regions are facing the worst drought in over a decade. Close to a million livestock died because of the same reason thus far.

“The government must give emphasis in production of fodder in pastoralist areas,” said Tadesse Kuma (PhD), who has participated in the survey on behalf of Policy Studies Institute.

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