Ethiopia:  Signs of Climate Change At A Desert Water Hole

By Ernest Waititu

DUBLUCK, Ethiopia—It’s mid-afternoon in this cattle-herding settlement in southern Ethiopia. Thousands of cattle shuffle in the dust, bored and irritated with their minders who are making them wait for the water they have walked dozens of miles to drink.

From the nearby hills, hundreds of cows, camels and goats gallop toward this ancient complex of hand-dug wells and trenches. The watering spot offers life in an increasingly harsh climate, in a landscape where barren earth and brittle thorn bushes offer constant proof of drought.
While the debate over the causes of global warming continues to heat up, some believe the effects of climate change are already taking their toll on the poorest people in the poorest nations of the world.
The developed world should pay close attention to how shifting weather patterns are affecting vulnerable communities in Africa, said Negusu Aklilu, the director of Forum for the Environment in Ethiopia, a non-governmental organization, in an interview in the capital, Addis Ababa, 360 miles to the north.
“What is happening in Africa today,” Mr. Aklilu said, “is a warning to the world. We do not have to ask whether climate change is happening.”
Locals here in Ethiopia’s arid lowlands report that rainfall is decreasing and that wells are drying up.   Conflict is also intensifying as dwindling resources spur violent flare-ups between animal-herding communities, according to officials of non-governmental organizations.
One organization, Christian Aid, said in a report that the herders would be among the first to lose their livelihoods because of climate change.
Standing amid the cattle at the water spot under a harsh sun, Galgalo Dida, the deputy chief of Dubluck, said he has seen many droughts. But over the last few years, he said, the dry periods have stretched longer and the rainy seasons have gotten shorter
The animals “are starting to die in many places,” Mr. Dida said. “We can’t help our livestock. We can’t do anything. We are in critical fear.”

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