The Compounding Effects of Water Shortages.

Ethiopia is a landlocked country located in the Horn of Africa. Although it features a tropical monsoon climate, the influence of global warming is contributing to substantial decreases in annual rainfall.  These decreases have had a detrimental impact on their two leading industries, farming and livestock. Water is the life blood of the planet, all living things need it to survive and when that basic necessity becomes scarce, devastation compounds. 

As rainfall decreases coupled with the lack of a substantial irrigation infrastructure pastures and farmlands dry up. This creates a conflict when growing crops and raising cattle. Minders are often forced to herd livestock for several miles to locate grazing pastures and fresh water. As reported by Ernest Waititu for Frontline, Dubluck Deputy Chief Galgalo Dida stated, “The animals are starting to die in many places. We have nothing to feed them on. We live in critical fear now.”[1] This loss impacts local food supplies, trade, and ultimately the countries economy. 

Coffee is another primary export for Ethiopia feeling the effects of the water shortage. A study by Kew Gardens reports that Ethiopia could lose up to 60% of coffee growing areas by 2070.[2] This, of course, leads to loss of industry, economic instability and everything associated with it. 

The final stage is what happens when communities need access to the same dwindling resources. War. In one such conflict in 2006 between the Borena and Guji people left hundreds dead and tens of thousands forced from their homes.[1] 

Unfortunately, the damaging effects of global warming is not likely to improve in the near term. However, steps can be taken, such as education and a greater irrigation network, to reduce it’s impact on the communities of Ethiopia.