A girl scout takes part in the opening ceremony for the climate justice conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Nicholson/Caritas
By Patrick Nicholson, Addis Ababa
“Ethiopia is experiencing increasing hardships due to climate change,” said Bishop Abrham Desta of Meki. “The Catholic Church has a moral obligation to be engaged in the issue.”
Currently 60 percent of Ethiopians live in drought affected areas, the temperature is rising 0.37 centigrade a decade, and the country lacks any adaptive capacity for the impact of climate change.
“Environment and humanity are inseparable”, said Bishop Desta. “The beauty of creation is under threat. We have a shared responsibility to act.”
Against this backdrop, the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (ECS), the national Caritas member, is hosting ‘Ethiopian Catholic Church International Conference on Climate Change and the Integrity of Creation’ from 2-4 June. Continue reading
Ibrahim Ali, a potato farmer in Medde Odda, shows the difference disease has on the size of his crop. Nicholson/Caritas
By Patrick Nicholson
“Never in my life have I seen blight,” said Ibrahim Ali, a potato farmer in MedeOdda in the highlands of eastern Ethiopia. He believes unusual rain and fog for the time of year has led to the disease that has decimated this year’s harvest.
“I would plant one quintal of crop and expect to get 15 quintals in harvest. After drought or because of new diseases, I get 1.5 quintal crops in harvest,” he said, holding up a tiny potato and comparing to a much larger normal sized one.
Ibrahim Ali says he will go to relatives for help, try to get day labour, or go hungry until the next harvest is ready.
“Before we would get a good year or a bad year, but now it is just one bad year after the next. Poverty is killing people,” he said. “We are not just sitting down. We are struggling with nature, but we are losing.” Continue reading
Ali Sayed points to the height waters reached during flooding in May in Erer, Ethiopia. The tree is the only one left standing of a 500 tree orchard. Nicholson/Caritas
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
Drought has become increasing common in Shinile in Ethiopia. Nicholson/Caritas
By Patrick Nicholson, Dire Dawa in Ethiopia
“There used to be droughts every ten years,” said Suliman Aden, a herder in Ethiopia’s Eastern Shinile zone. “Now they’re every year or every two years.”
He lost 11 of his 15 cattle in a drought earlier this year. He works with a veterinary clinic supported by the Hararghe Catholic Secretariat, a diocescan member of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (the national Caritas in Ethiopia). The clinic tries to spot diseased animals and treat them.
“We don’t have any solutions for drought though,” he said. “Cattle need water and grass, and if there are neither, they will die.” Continue reading