Science summary: The drought in Ethiopia, 2015
As part of the Raising Risk Awareness initiative, a partnership of scientists have conducted an analysis to determine whether climate change played a role in the 2015 drought in Ethiopia.
The worst drought in decades gripped north and central Ethiopia in 2015, affecting nearly 10 million people. The dry conditions left hundreds of thousands of farmers with failed crops and weakened or dead livestock. The resulting food scarcity meant more than eight million people in the parched country needed emergency food aid, according to the United Nations (UN). The magnitude of the devastation to Ethiopia led the UN’s Allahoury Diallo to declare that the “drought is not just a food crisis – it is, above all, a livelihood crisis.”
Signs of trouble began to surface early in the year. Farmers waited for the belg rains that generally occur between February and May in the central and eastern parts of the country. About 10% of the Ethiopian population is completely dependent on this season to provide rainfall for crops and pastures.3 But in 2015, after a false start, the belg rains came a month late in northern and central Ethiopia.
Given the extreme nature of the 2015 drought in Ethiopia, the Raising Risk Awareness initiative conducted an analysis to determine whether climate change played a role in this drought. The influence of El Niño was also analysed.