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Drought in Ethiopia, 2011

In 2011, Ethiopia received 30 40% of their annual rainfall. It is thought that the cause of the drought is man-made and rooted in climate change, population pressures, deforestation and poor land-use. This is the worst drought in 60 years. There are around 13 million across the Horn of Africa that are affected by this drought and 4.5 million in Ethiopia (total population 82,949,541). One region in Ethiopia which has been badly affected is Irob. Irob is a rural area in north-east Ethiopia, and is mainly agricultural. The area has been under pressure for many years as the rains have been erratic. A lack of rain during two key rainy seasons, October to December 2010 and April to June 2011, has resulted in the worst annual crop production in 17 years. The subsistence farmers are struggling to feed their families and ensure the economic survival of the small local communities. These problems have been further exacerbated by the rises in already high fuel prices which in turn increase the prices of food stuffs. When drought hits and crops fail, husbands tend to move to new areas, trying to find work. This puts pressure on the women and children who are left behind. The women look for ways to support their families, often moving to the nearest large town to work as vendors, maids or in worst cases, sex workers. Many times they end up moving from city to city trying to find secure employment. The government has wanted to avoid the poster pictures of stick thin children that emerged during the 1984 drought, and have introduced early warning systems, that on the whole have worked well and ensured that although the drought has had severe effects, widespread famine is not one of these. However there is food scarcity in much of Ethiopia. It is often referred to as, green hunger. This describes the paradox that areas of Ethiopia are not feeling the affects of the drought and producing vast quantities of coffee for export. However, it has been noted that you cannot eat coffee. The growing scarcity of food is threatening cultural norms of communities sharing things to eat in times of trouble, especially in small rural communities such as the many in Irob. There has been a great reduction in labour demands, below average livestock prices and excessive livestock mortality. There are many Somali refugees at present in Ethiopia. They are housed in large, overcrowded camps along the eastern border including Dollo Ado and Jijiga camps, where it is not unusual for 1000 refugees to arrive each day. These camps are adding intense pressure to a region already under severe stress. The United Nations and other governments are bringing in emergency aid and supporting the governments efforts to manage this growing crisis. Questions: 1. Give three key facts which highlight the extent of this drought in Ethiopia. 2. Make a table and list the problems experienced by people living in drought conditions under the headings; economic problems, social problems and political problems. 3. Choose one problem from the three lists and explain the implications of each one. 4. In your opinion, which is the most significant problem for those living in Ethiopia at this time? Justify your response. 5. The rains in Ethiopia have failed for many years. What is the impact of this recurring drought on the land?

6. How does excessive livestock mortality affect farming prospects next year? 7. What is the impact of falling livestock prices for small-scale farmers? 8. What is going to be the impacts of the drought for people living in cities? Answers: 1. Give three key facts which highlight the extent of this drought in Ethiopia. In 2011 Ethiopia received 30-40% of annual rainfall 4.5 million people are affected in Ethiopia The failed rains of October and April have resulted in the worst annual crop production for 17 years 2. Make a table and list the problems experienced by people living in drought conditions under the headings; economic problems, social problems and political problems. Economic Problems Social Problems Political Problems Widespread crop failure Separated families Hungry population who cant afford food Devaluing of livestock & Increase HIV/AIDS as Rising fuel prices increased livestock increase in sex workers mortality Scarcity of local food Higher unemployment Somali refugees increasing products figures the problem 3. Choose one problem from the three lists and explain the implications of each one. 4. In your opinion, which is the most significant problem for those living in Ethiopia at this time? Justify your response. 5. The rains in Ethiopia have failed for many years. What is the impact of this recurring drought on the land? Farmers could farm the land with fertilisers as the soil will not be as fertile. This could lead to soil degradation and desertification. The top soil can be increasingly poor quality as it hardens and is harder to farm. 6. How does excessive livestock mortality affect farming prospects next year? There will be less cattle to farm and therefore lower food produce. 7. What is the impact of falling livestock prices for small-scale farmers? They are likely to lose their investments and could fall into debt, and economic problems. 8. What is going to be the impacts of the drought for people living in cities? Higher unemployment, greater competition for jobs as people move in from rural areas, increase in prostitution.