Is climate a “risk multiplier” in Ethiopia?



Pacillo G, Estrella H, Ramirez-Villegas J, Craparo S, Basel A, Villa V, Schapendonk F, Carneiro B, Resce G, Ruscica G, Läderach P. 2021. Is climate a “risk multiplier” in Ethiopia?. FOCUS Climate Security factsheet. CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security.


Ethiopia experiences high climate variability, conflict, and political uncertainty while widespread food and nutrition insecurities are common throughout its population. CGIAR and WFP conducted a study to better understand how Ethiopia’s climate, socio-economic, and political risks and insecurities are linked to each other. This information can orient strategies and planning of long-term peacebuilding efforts and mitigate conflict risk in a climate crisis and inform strategies to strengthen the role of food for peace.

Climate and conflict in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is extremely exposed to climate impacts. Almost 90% of its surface is vulnerable to severe or extreme climate stresses (Figure 1). Extensive periods of droughts have become more frequent in the past decade and caused significant economic losses, primarily through their impact on agricultural productivity. With more than 10% of the population being very or chronically food insecure, climate impacts on the most vulnerable are extremely concerning. Border conflicts and internal fighting have displaced hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians over several decades, affecting already vulnerable communities. ACLED data (1997-2020) shows that battles, especially armed clashes, and protests have been the dominant type of conflict in the past five decades with a rate of fatalities compared to other conflict events (Figure 2).