Ali Hamandu, a pastoralist in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, knows all too well the destruction a drought can bring. In the past five years of incredible drought in Ethiopia he has lost all of his livestock.

“I was previously a respected figure in my community for my wealth, having nearly a hundred heads of animals, including sheep, goats and cattle. All of a sudden I have nothing,” he explains. He now relies on food aid to support himself and his family.

Almost 14% of Ethiopia is made up of pastoralist communities. However, over the past five years of drought there has been a decline in the number of those who live as pastoralists due to climate change in Ethiopia. Many pastoralists have moved to urban life hoping to find jobs to provide food and water. Because pastoral life is so dependent on weather it is important to find solutions so pastoralists can continue their livelihood even with a changing climate.

The U.N. has been addressing this problem in Ethiopia by using money from the MDG-Fund to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies into the government’s development plans, and policies. The “Enabling Pastoral Communities to Adapt to Climate Change and Restoring Rangeland Environments” is a UN joint program between the UNDP, FAO, and UNEP, has developed water facilities and activities that have helped 32,000 pastoralists in different regions of Ethiopia.

One of these activities is a program called “Jeldi Livestock Marketing Cooperative”, which Ali is now a member of. The Jeldi Cooperative is made up of 172 heads of households, many of whom are women. One of the main activities of the Jeldi Cooperative is buying sheep at low costs and fattening them up to be resold at a better price. Even though the Jeldi Cooperative is only a year old, it is making a profit for its members. It is one of three cooperatives in the area, and one of many in the entire country. Programs like this are what will help Ethiopians overcome climate change.

– Catherine Ulrich

Sources: AllAfrica, UNDP
Photo: UNDP