Ethiopia is exposed to numerous hazards including droughts, floods, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Multiple factors influence the country’s vulnerability to natural hazards, including dependence on rain-fed agriculture, low economic development, deforestation, land degradation, and larger and denser human settlements. Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with an annual growth rate of 3.2 percent. Such a rapid increase is placing a great strain on the country’s natural resources.
Recurring droughts and floods have the most severe impact on Ethiopia’s population. The country has a long history of recurring droughts, which have increased in magnitude, frequency, and impact since the 1970s. The 2011 Horn of Africa drought left more than 4.5 million people in need of food assistance. These food shortages were caused in part by the widespread death of livestock in the south and southeastern parts of the country following pasture and water shortages.
A number of studies show that due to climate change and additional human-induced factors the areas affected by drought and desertification are expanding in the country. Flash floods and seasonal river floods are becoming more frequent and widespread. Climate models indicate that in the next century there will be a 20 percent increase in extreme high rainfall events.
The Government of Ethiopia has a long institutional history of addressing disaster risk management (DRM) and food security, starting with the establishment of the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission following the 1974 famines. Since then, the country has taken a number of steps to shift to a more proactive approach to DRM, including:
- Establishing the Disaster Management and Food Security Sector (DRMFSS) in 2008 under the Ministry of Agriculture, which is responsible for the country’s DRM activities;
- Updating the National Policy and Strategy on Disaster Management (2013), which provides a comprehensive DRM framework; and
- Developing a DRM Strategic Program and Investment Framework for government and donor interventions (2014).
To further advance the DRM agenda, priorities include:
- Enhancing understanding of risks through the development of risk profiles for all woredas (districts);
- Developing and strengthening building codes, land-use, and urban planning; and,
- Reducing risks by strengthening the Productive Safety Net Program; and Establishing risk-financing mechanisms.
GFDRR has helped enable DRM efforts in Ethiopia since 2007 through country-specific and regional grants to Sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of support from GFDRR has focused on drought preparedness and response while ensuring food security.
In 2007, GFDRR and partners began supporting a DRMFSS initiative to develop district-level multi-hazard risk profiles across the country, which feed into an interactive database. These activities have increased understanding of, and access to, disaster risk information while improving connectivity between agencies involved in DRM. GFDRR is providing continued support to scale up this initiative and is supporting the development of associated DRM, adaptation and contingency plans, and pilot resilience projects. To date, these pilots have included projects to reduce industrial water and air pollution and improve solid waste management. The government’s disaster preparedness has also been reinforced through GFDRR-supported capacity building, including training on recovery and post-disaster needs assessments.
In addition, GFDRR has supported programs providing support to food-insecure households. In 2008, GFDRR contributed to a World Bank project that is part of the Government of Ethiopia’s National Nutritional Program, enabling the roll out of community-based nutrition programs to 50 districts. This initiative has been scaled to 238 districts, significantly improving overall nutritional status while benefitting children and mothers.
GFDRR has also helped the government establish an effective risk financing tool called the Livelihoods, Early Assessment, and Protection index, or LEAP. LEAP is an innovative early warning-early action tool which prompts the timely scale-up of contingency financing for farmers. Approximately 14 million people are benefitting from livelihood protection as a direct result of LEAP.
Looking ahead, GFDRR anticipates new and continued demand for:
- Further establishing DRM policies, strategies, and institutions;
- Developing risk and vulnerability assessments at national and district levels;
- Strengthening early warning systems, contingency planning, and financing in both rural and urban areas;
- Integrating DRM into sector development planning; and,
- Developing disaster risk financing strategies.