Displaced By Drought

Lauren Markham chronicles the rise of a new type of refugee:

Admassu left the Kambata region of Ethiopia in October of 2011, just two months prior to our meeting, because the changing weather rendered his life, in effect, unlivable. He comes from a long line of farmers in one of Ethiopia’s most fertile regions. But since 2005, Teddy translates, the weather has not been right. “Before five years ago, the weather is better for growing something. This time, it’s not good,” Teddy translates. All the weather patterns Admassu had come to rely on are now bunk. “Nothing grows. It’s very dry.” …

Environmental degradation in Ethiopia is widely documented. According to a recent USAID report, in the past thirty years, Ethiopia has seen a rise in temperature that ranges between .1 and .25 degrees Celsius per decade. Concurrently, there has been a steady decrease in annual rainfall since 1996. These changes are most commonly attributed to global climate change. The wicked irony is that although Ethiopia is one of the world’s countries most heavily impacted by the adverse effects of climate change, it contributes the least—less than almost all other developing countries—to the global CO2 emissions that cause the atmosphere to warm.