Covering 1.2 million kilometers on the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world with an average GDP of US$350 and significantly high rates of poverty. The population in 2010 numbered 81 million, and with an annual growth rate of 3.2%. Such a rapid increase will result in great strain on the country’s natural resources. In addition to the widespread poverty and population pressures, a number of socio-economic factors excacerbate the development challenges in Ethiopia, thus increasing the country’s vulnerability to climate variability and climate change. Foremost amongst these burdens are the inadecuately developed water resources; sparse availability of health services; inadequate road infrastructure (particularly in drought prone areas), and weak institutions to address these challenges.
Ethiopia has a long history of coping with extreme weather events. Rainfall is highly erratic, both in spatial and temporal extents, and typically falls in the form of intensive convective storms spawned by the country’s varied topography. Over the past three decades, Ethiopia has experienced countless localized drought events and seven major droughts five resulting in famines . Future climate variability and change are expected to worsen these conditions; potentially accelerating already high levels of land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, desertification, recurrent floods, as well as water and air pollution. Recurrent drought and floods pose the greatest threat to local populations. According to Ethiopia’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), the agricultural,water resources and human health sectors will be most negatively impacted by climate change. The NAPA additionally identifies the infrastructure sector as particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Selected Indicators for Impacts and Vulnerabilities