Negative Impact of Climate Changes and Its Coping and Adaptation Strategies in the Lowland Areas of Ethiopia; A Systematic Review (July, 2014)

Teame G Hiwot, Berhu Haftu


Climate change is a global problem with a profound impact in poor countries of eastern Africa like Ethiopia whose contribution to green house gas emission is insignificant (Thompson et al., 2010). The inter governmental panel on climate change (IPCC) report of 2007 indicated that  Africa will be one of the hardest hit regions by the impact of climate change although its contribution to total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is low (3.6 %).

Climate related hazards in Ethiopia include loss of biodiversity, rangeland degradation, disease breakout and increasing vector born disease, drought, floods, heavy rains, strong winds, frost, heat waves (high temperatures), lightning, etc. Though the historical social and economic impacts of all of these hazards is not systematically well documented the impact of the most important ones namely droughts and floods is discussed. Ethiopia is highly vulnerable to drought. Drought has been the single most important climate related natural hazard affecting the country from time to time. It occurs anywhere in the world but its damage is not severe as in Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. Recurrent drought events in the past have resulted in huge loss of life and property as well as migration of people (Kidus, 2010).

This particular review focuses  on the  lowlands areas of the country  which cover about 78 million hectares and accounting for about 61–65% of the total land and found below 1500 meter above sea level (masl), (Friedel et al., 2000). It is home for about 12-15% of the human and 26% of the livestock population (Beruk and Tafesse, 2000). The rainfall of the area ranges from 200 to 700 mm annually with length of growing period of 90 to 180 days (kidane et al., 2009).

Degradation of the lowland areas of natural resources as a result of flooding and the prevalence of wind due to climate disorder soils become eroded. The fertility of the soil diminishes, there by resulting in the weakening of their beneficial capacity. This causes more damage in those parts of our country exposed to desertification. The geographical distribution of such areas in Ethiopia is extensive. The irregularity of rainfall results in water shortage. The biodiversity of water resources diminishes both in quantity and quality, as, for example, the damage inflicted on fish resource as a result of the depletion of water resources. This means that a good majority of the population will be deprived of a cheap, protein-rich food source which the people themselves fish or procure for less. The sustenance of vegetation cover is directly linked to climate change. Just as much as climate change causes damage to the country’s biodiversity, so also does the loss of biodiversity cause disruption in climate. Any hazard befalling the environment results in the degradation of the fauna-flora habitat. It is also the case that, because of flooding and increase in temperature, both humans and animals will migrate to other locations. Even if some of them somehow manage to hang on in the affected location, they can only do so at the expense of their members. On the other hand, it is doubtful that those people and animals who happen to inhabit mountainous areas could find suitable locations to which they can migrate (Kidus, 2010). Putting in to consideration of the above hypothesises; this review was carried out with the general objective of reviewing the impact of   long-term climate change on lowland areas of Ethiopia and the specific aims of the review was ;

  • To review the negative impact of climate change on the lowland areas of the country
  • To review the Coping and Adaptation strategy of climate change on the lowland areas of the country
  • To review Ways forward on the negative impact of climate change on the lowland areas of the country

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