Accessibility links

REPORT: Extreme drought in Ethiopia stretches drought management systems

This factsheet, from the Raising Risk Awareness initiative, examines the impact of the 2015-16 drought on Ethiopia’s drought management systems.

Ethiopia has two major rainy seasons. The belg season runs from February to May and provides rainfall for agriculture in the centre of Ethiopia, as well as pasture for livestock. About 10% of the Ethiopian population is entirely dependent on this rainy season. The kiremt rains are more reliable and run from June to mid-September, providing water mainly for agriculture in the western half of the country. Droughts are typically defined by a lack in total rainfall amounts during one or more of the rainy seasons – although impacts can occur with changes in the timing or frequency of the rains over a season as well. Due to the relative importance of the rainy season to agriculture production, Ethiopia also faces recurring food insecurity. The government receives around $USD200 m (£166.2 m) in food assistance each year.

Key messages:

  • On 4 June 2015, Ethiopia’s National Meteorological Agency declared that the spring belg rains had failed. Soon after, the summer kiremt rains were severely delayed and erratic, affecting 9.7 million Ethiopians.
  • An international group of scientists found that the 2015 drought was an extremely rare event that only happens about once every few hundred years in north-eastern and central Ethiopia.
  • The 2015 El Niño event, a predictable phenomenon, was a factor in increasing the severity of this drought event.
  • Established national and international preparedness and response systems in place to manage the impacts of extreme events are limited in their ability to mitigate all impacts from a very extreme event such as the 2015–16 drought.

Download the factsheet here: Extreme drought in Ethiopia stretches drought management systems

Image credit: IFRC