How Bad is the Drought in Ethiopia?

Satellite meteorological data for Ethiopia in the above set of maps and graphics from FEWS NET shows that localised areas in eastern and northern parts of the country are as dry as they have been for 30 years. (IRIN)

IRIN NEWS

November 19th, 2015

Alarm bells are ringing for a food emergency in Ethiopia. The UN says 15 million people will need help over the coming months. The government, wary of stigma and therefore hesitant to ask for help, has nevertheless said more than eight million Ethiopians need food assistance. Extra imports to stem the crisis are already pegged at more than a million tonnes of grain, beyond the government’s means. Inevitably, comment and media coverage compare the current situation with 1984 – the year Ethiopia’s notorious famine hit the headlines. Reports suggest this is the worst drought in 30 years. One declares it a “code red” drought. So how bad actually is it?

The country of close to 100 million people is huge, spread over an area of more than a million square kilometres that ranges from semi-desert to swamp to mountain ranges and fertile farmland. The weather systems and agricultural patterns are diverse and complex. Even within the higher-altitude areas of the country, the most densely populated, the typical rainy seasons vary and crops are grown at different times of the year. This year, the weather has been prone to even greater variation due to the global climate phenomenon El Niño, last seen in 1997-1998.

The weather is only one part of the equation in whether people go hungry. Politics, economics, the availability of seeds and fertiliser, conflict, trade and labour markets, population pressure, social habits, and a host of other factors matter too.

Read more at IRIN NEWS »


Related:
Ethiopia Starts Distribution of Food & Cooking Oil to People in Drought Hit Areas (AP)
Thirty years of talking about famine in Ethiopia – why’s nothing changed? (BBC)
Drought Takes Terrible Toll in Ethiopia (BBC News)
Ethiopia Tries to Avert Another Famine (The Economist)
Worrying aid shortages as malnutrition hits record high in Ethiopia (Reuters)
El Niño Strikes Ethiopia (NY Times Editorial)
Ethiopia, a Nation of Farmers, Strains Under Severe Drought (The New York Times)
Ethiopia’s Government Makes International Appeal for Food Aid After Poor Harvests (AP)
Ethiopian drought threatens growth as cattle die, crops fail (Bloomberg)
Drought Hits Millions in Ethiopia (Radio France International)
Sharp rise in hungry Ethiopians needing aid: UN (AFP)
Ethiopia: Need for Food Aid Surges (Reuters)
The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine: Is it Drought or Authoritarianism? (The Huffington Post)

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