By Patrick Nicholson, Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
As you make your way to Erer, you notice how green and lush it is, with its mango, orange and lemon trees. Millions of Ethiopians are reliant on food aid each year just to survive, but that had not been the case here.
You also notice the steady stream of mules you pass on the drive here from the city of Dire Dawa. Each animal has strapped to its back a load of wood to be used as fuel in the growing bustling town.
The wood comes from the highlands of Erer, which are being stripped of trees by locals who need to supplement their living. Trees stop soil erosion and they also slow water as it runs down the hillside after it has been raining. Now those trees are gone here and there is nothing to stem the velocity of the rain.
“The rain came in the highlands in evening,” said Ali Sayed. “The floods came here the next morning at about 5 am.” Continue reading