Climate change is affecting the lives of many, especially those that are highly vulnerable, like Africa, Small Island States and Least developed countries. A recent report on the Climate Change Vulnerability Index, released by global risks advisor firm, Maplecroft, has confirmed that Ethiopia is one of the countries with an extreme risk to be affected by climate change.
Impacts of climate change are being felt in different parts of the country already. There are more erratic and heavy rainfalls with short rainy seasons. Vulnerable countries such as Ethiopia have low adaptive capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change or none. In order to take any actions on climate change first we need to understand the problems by consulting with the affected people and find the best adaptive measures, as indigenous knowledge is very crucial.In Ethiopia, development interventions by different NGOs play an important role by providing resources for adaptation to climate change whose capacity needs to be enhanced. Therefore, it is very important to take lessons from this kind of practices and their impacts for developing and promoting proven and acceptable adaptation strategies.
In Ethiopia’s case, pastoral communities are among the most vulnerable groups who are affected by climate change. Borena zone in the southern part of the country is one of the chronic drought prone areas with underdeveloped infrastructure, harsh, and unpredictable environment. Due to these reasons, the zone has faced increased frequency of seasonal droughts, erratic and insufficient rainfall and flash floods. In turn it has led to feed and water scarcity, bush encroachment, food shortage, migration and human and livestock diseases.
Some of the interventions that the Federal and Regional governments have been undertaking include; range rehabilitation, asset protection, livelihood diversification and the productive safety-net and humanitarian interventions (during emergency situations). Non-governmental organizations have also been supporting the pastoral community through the implementation of projects aiming at ecological restoration, range rehabilitation, social protection and managing disaster risks. However, given the severity of the problem, much remains to be done by taking into consideration the added burden from the impacts of climate change on pastoral assets-livestock, water and pasture.
The major problem faced by this community includes rangeland degradation in the form of bush encroachment (invasion of species), poor pasture and feed scarcity. In order to enhance the management of rangelands, a local NGO operating in the area, Action for Development, has been engaged in bush clearing and water development projects and drought response measures such as destocking, supplementary livestock feeding, water rationing, and emergency livestock health services which has marked a change in the condition of the rangelands (particularly pasture), and in the health and productivity of the livestock. The water development interventions have increased the access to water and guarantee water availability and reduced the workload of women and the stress of livestock and herders from traveling long distance to access water. Since all the interventions were instrumental it ensured the feeling of community ownership and sustainability of water provision among the target communities.
In order to make ongoing and future development interventions climate resilient these good practices need to be scaled up by empowering the local communities and institutions. Therefore, Parties who are negotiating in Cancun need to take actions now and make serious mitigation and financial commitments so that communities in vulnerable countries better adapt to climate change by scaling up good practices.