Ethiopia faces worst drought in 50 years, UN warns


Ethiopia is facing its worst drought in half a century, Save the Children warns ahead of a meeting of world leaders including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, for the 26th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on Monday.

Drought conditions, triggered by the El Nino phenomenon, began in June 2015 in remote northeastern areas of the country, as well as many parts of Somalia and Somaliland, and have spread rapidly to the more populous highlands, leaving an estimated 10.1 million people in need of food aid.

Save the Children currently classifies just two global humanitarian crises at the organization’s highest level of emergency — the ongoing war in Syria, and the drought in Ethiopia.

I don’t know how much time the Media will spend covering the late rock singer Prince, but the American Media seems content with itself to completely ignore this Humanitarian Crisis.

After all, the Ethiopians are mostly Christians with a sizable Muslim population and poor and African.

CBC Update:

Ethiopia is currently in the grip of its worst drought in 50 years, and more than 10 million people are relying on emergency food aid provided by the government and international aid agencies . . .

Hundreds of thousands of herd animals are thought to have perished in this part of the country over the course of three failed rainy seasons. The knock-on effect for the people depending on them is devastating.


I do not understand why a government of such a poor country would undertake a huge
project like this, while its people are starving. Food first, one would have thought!


The outside world already spends billions upon billions of dollars trying to help Ethiopia. So I am wondering, if money cannot fix this problem, what can? (I’m genuinely asking, not trying to make an argument against foreign aid)


I spent a fair amount of time working in Africa.

Most of the guys I worked with have died.

If you read old newspapers, you could note the dates and make a graph of the periodic droughts.

They spend so much time, energy and money fighting among one another, that they are unable to make progress in water resource development.

[If you do some archeology, you will find that back in ancient times, there were all sorts of water resource developments. Used to be that the University of Arizona had an Arid Land Studies group and they had extensive archives of what they used to do back then; no idea of what they are doing nowadays. One of the most knowledgable guys retired; don’t know if he is even still alive.]

In addition, Ethiopia has suffered from all kinds of local wars … with “rebels” and with Eretria. Lots of “Marxist” issues, punishing non-Marxists.

They had a king, but they locked him up until he died in his cell. Heile Selasse.

One of my friends escaped from there; he thought he would pass as being from an acceptable tribe, but his boss called him in and handed him a Fulbright scholarship to the USA and ordered him to take it. His life was saved. He was the only survivor of his family.


Maybe someone could post a map showing the whole length of the Nile River and also showing the location of this dam.

Probably not a bad idea, building this dam.

Besides electricity, it would assist in managing their water … although Egypt with its Aswan Dam might not appreciate it.

With water resources, you can grow more food.

They need everything.


To provide water to it’s people amidst the worst drought they’ve had in 50 years?

Seems logical to me.


As far as governance in African countries, Ethiopia is not that bad. Certainly, there can be improvement, but markets are functioning in the big cities. The country has experienced double digit economic growth for the past decade. There are a number of problems. The country is starved for capital. Food production is low because they don’t have the capital to increase productivity. They are also in a bad neighborhood, with Somalia and Eritrea as their neighbors. The main international port is in Djibouti and it is getting congested. The terrain of Ethiopia makes it difficult to get products to market. A very Christian country though. On Sundays you see people standing outside the Churches because there is not enough room in them.


Since they are getting the essential food aid, they aren’t being ignored.


This is an excellent project for assuring the local population of the security of their water supply, as well as providing electricity.


That was my thought as well!.
Assuming it’s well executed, the cheap power and irrigation water are just what the doctor ordered.


It’s really a waste when rain water is allowed to escape to the ocean.

Ocean water is salty but the water evaporates to form clouds which dump rain water back on the land.

Rain can be collected using dams such as the one shown in this thread. [Rainwater can also be collected on a smaller scale using roof collection into cisterns and ponds.]

OR, rain can be collected and then diverted to be used to improve aquifers which can then be accessed using wells and pumps. In the USA, we have huge floods in the upper midwest and the water then runs off via the Ohio and Missouri Rivers into the Mississippi and then into the Gulf of Mexico … totally wasted. And right over the Ogala Aquifer which is pumped out via wells in Texas, for example. Folks can visit Google images or maps and plot the location of the aquifer. We have plenty of water; but it’s often not in a helpful location.

OR, the “timing” is off … droughts have cycles that folks are not aware of or people do not graph the frequency of the droughts.

There is a great book: “Groundwater Recharge and Wells – A Guide to Aquifer Storage Recovery” by R. David G. Pyne. You can get it from ABE Books less expensively than from Amazon. But you can look up his Web site.


Thanks for sharing, I had previously wondered if there were ways to proactively recharge our aquifers that were being depleted.


Once upon a time, I lived in a place that had roughly ten year cycles of droughts and floods.

I made a pest of myself with local officials … to collect the data and plot it. So they would have more than my personal recollections. [There were a large bunch of other issues.]

They could have created a continuous science project with the local high school, for example. By researching flooding and drought articles from the local newspaper going back as far as possible. Local newspapers had maybe a hundred years of history.

At one point, they even appointed me [and others who were similarly moved to publicly comment ] to a water shortage committee “thing”. We had meetings several times per week. And town engineering staff would work around the clock doing design studies and then, to the neighbors’ shock, police cars would “mysteriously” visit our house in the middle of the night [to drop off the latest design studies] … and then we would study the studies and meet again … etc.

I, in writing, suggested they collect by pumping water from a flooding stream and pipe it to a nearby local ginormous county/municipal parking lot and let it “accumulate” in their “detention/retention” pond, from which it would percolate down to the aquifer. It would have been cheap to do. Buy a few rolls of 4" plastic pipe from Lowe’s and use a cheap pump. “Hundred dollar” experiment. [The stream flows to a river from which several municipalities take their drinking water; and then flows to the ocean.]

They publicly denounced me … [even though it was official state policy to use “ground water recharge”.]

When someone wrote to the newspaper and denounced me for some of my suggestions and for the newspaper keeping it all “secret”, the newspaper editor felt moved to respond by stating that the situation had been a front page story in every edition of the newspaper for SIX MONTHS! [Their emphasis.] And then asked the complainer, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!”. **




[My wife used to get annoyed when people would intercept her at the supermarket.]


I mispelled it. Left out some “l”'s.

The Platte and Arkansas Rivers pass directly over it.

Recharge would be easy peasy.

Need to check to see if those rivers flood.

The Red River does flood.

ArkansasRiver floods:

arkansas river floods

When I was working in West Africa, I attempted to raise these issues. But “they” found “it” to be annoying.

One day I was out and about and some local guy walked by pushing a tiny gas engine pump mounted on a one wheeled “cart”.

What he and his buddies had done was to construct a masonry wall sloped away from the river. These fellows shared the pump and would pump river water from the river to the top of the wall which had a small channel in it. Small, like three inches wide.

They had several “orchards” in which they grew mangoes … and also fields with millet.

And tomatoes.

Seems to me they flew the veggies to Europe via Air France.

But there were all kinds of “farmers markets” that the women ran; the men did the irrigation related stuff.

Very interesting stuff.

Not rocket science.


[got timed out]

Not rocket science. [Well … maybe it IS rocket science. We don’t do very much ground water recharge here … so why should we expect people in West Africa to do this kind of stuff.]


There is another “issue”.

There are some advanced technologies available for desert use of water.

They vary from drip irrigation to desalination.

The “problem” is that they were “invented” in / by Israel.

And there are countries or tribes “out there” that refuse to use Israeli technology.

But you can also use “greenhouses” and solar stills.


My guess is that this issue does not apply to Ethiopia since they have pretty good relations.


If anyone is avoiding use of drip irrigation because of the Israelis, they are complete idiots. Drip irrigation is available in Home Depot and pervasive in global agriculture.


Yes, we can buy this stuff at Home Depot and from various catalogs.

But not in fourth world countries.

Stuff that even suggests that the technology is from Israel is stopped cold.

When the Israelis pulled out of Gaza, they left behind greenhouses that worked. The first thing the locals did was to smash the glass.

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