Ethiopia is exposed to numerous hazards including droughts, floods, volcanoes, and earthquakes, desert locust, and inter-communal and now large-scale conflict. The country has a long history of recurring climatic vulnerability and droughts, which have increased in magnitude, frequency, and impact since the 1970s (World Bank, 2020). In the highlands, the large number of people living on rain-fed arid and semi-arid land makes it extremely climatically vulnerable from either shortages of, or excessive, rainfall. The lowlands are vulnerable to increased temperatures and prolonged droughts that may affect livestock rearing. The highlands may suffer from more intense and irregular rainfall, leading to erosion, which together with higher temperatures may result in lower agricultural production. In the lowlands lives and livelihood are equally vulnerable to climatic shocks such as increased temperatures and prolonged droughts as lowland livelihoods are typically dependent upon livestock rearing. Increases in climatic variability combined with an increasing population puts pressure on natural resource ownership oftentimes leading to inter-communal conflict, which also may lead to greater food insecurity in some areas (USAID Communication).
On average 1.5 million are affected by drought every year, but during dry years this is substantially higher (World Bank et al. 2019). The drought in the Horn of Africa in 2011 affected approximately 13 million people at its peak and occurred as a result of a series of failed rains in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
In 2015/2016 Ethiopia experienced one of its worst droughts, the so-called El Niño induced drought in decades, which impacted the lives and livelihoods of almost 20 million people. Ethiopia is projected to continue to experience drought conditions compounded by climate change, and the country’s exposure to drought and floods is heavily influenced by the El Niño/La Niña and Indian Ocean Dipole phenomenon. Climate change impacts are likely to increase temperatures, create greater rainfall variability with more frequent extremes, and change the nature of seasonal rainfalls. In July 2021, heavy rains during the kiremt season (June to September) and flooding continue in Ethiopia, with over 500,000 people affected and around 300,000 displaced since July in the regions of Oromia and Afar.
The percentage of the population that lives below the national poverty line stands at 23.5 and 24 percent below the food poverty line. Therefore, in the face of such vulnerabilities, droughts pose a major challenge to improve food security (WFP, 2020). Climate change related hotspots of increased food insecurity in the future are likely to include areas in Afar and Tigray, Southern Oromia, the central Rift Valley, and the eastern lowlands (MoFA, 2018). It is estimated that climate change may reduce Ethiopia’s GDP up to 10 percent by 2045, primarily through impacts on agricultural productivity (USAID, 2016). All this is exacerbated by multiple factors including poor farming methods, rapid population growth, deforestation, poor resource management and low economic development (World Bank, 2020). More recently security concerns due to the Tigray crisis have adversely impeded the implementation of climate projects (UNDP, 2020).
Administratively, Ethiopia is divided into 10 regional states (kililoch) and two chartered cities/administrative states; 68 or so Zones ; 1000 plus districts (Woredas) which are further subdivided into a number of wards (kebele).