Challenges, Opportunities and Successes: Resilience in Ethiopia

We, as a planet, need to be resilient in the face of the known and unknown impacts of climate change. Agriculture is likely to be one of the sectors most impacted by changes to the climate, representing a major barrier to attaining global food security. In developing countries the road to resilience is unfathomable given that development itself is a considerable challenge.

This challenge is evident in Ethiopia where 83% of the population depend directly on agriculture. A paper published in August 2012, authored by Alex Evans, lays out the obstacles Ethiopia must contend with such as:

  • A high dependence on aid: 7.5 million people depend on food safety nets.
  • Low natural resource security: 5% of land is irrigated and water storage capacity is extremely low.
  • Population growth: Currently 85 million but this is expected to grow to 119 million by 2030 and 145 million by 2050.

As well as challenges originating from outside of the country:

  • The global economic crisis: Ethiopia is an aid-reliant country and therefore vulnerable to any changes in donor spending as a result of mounting debt and market downturns.
  • Climate change: is already impacting Ethiopia and is predicted to cause an increase in temperature of between 1.1 and 3.1ºC by 2060 and a reduction in GDP of 3% to10% by 2025. Here Ethiopia is reliant upon other countries to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

But the paper also lays out the opportunities and the successes:

  • Economic growth is projected at 6% to 7% per year for the near future, higher than average economic growth for the world but potentially another driver of growth in natural resource use.
  • The government of Ethiopia has taken a multi-branch approach to building resilience, with an overall goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2025 without increasing its GHG emissions. Practical action has included the portioning of a high proportion of public budget to agriculture, improving water management and a renewable energy programme. Its Productive Safety Net Programme is one of the biggest social protection programmes in Africa.

This paper concludes with 10 recommendations for Ethiopia and its partners in going forward including the mainstreaming of the resource scarcity and resilience agenda across all donors and government; investing in high quality data for example on agricultural yields and food security and scaling up current resilience approaches, while ensuring wide relevance across the country.  Donors should ensure they are not contributing to climate change in Ethiopia while recognising the role Ethiopia can play as an international partner in pushing the climate change resilience agenda. Despite or perhaps as a result of its challenges, Ethiopia is one of a few countries taking the long-term resilience seriously.

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