The El Nino Climate phenomenon which has been identified as the cause of the current drought in Ethiopia refers to an increase in surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.
It is the resultant effect of changes in atmospheric pattern, direction of winds and ocean currents in a region which then has the potentiality of bringing about terrible effects. The El Nino Southern Oscillation (A Southern Oscillation refers to changes in atmospheric pressure across the Pacific Basin between Darwin, Australia and Tahiti) is both an air and ocean phenomenon that has global weather implications and has in fact been identified as the reason for a number of droughts in Ethiopia over the years, affecting the country’s rainfall distribution and displacing or weakening rain-producing air masses.
Ethiopia has had a number of well-known droughts through history which, after appropriate consideration by experts, have been said to occur every 3-5 and 6-8 years in northern Ethiopia and every 8-10 years in the country as a whole. The most well-known and devastating occurrence of drought was in the 1980s when Ethiopia faced devastating climatic conditions that led to the crippling of quite a number of economies and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
Last year, the strongest El Nino phenomenon on record hit the country, rains failed, millions of people needed and still need food aid and quite a number of children are suffering from severe malnutrition.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the country on the 31st of January, 2016 to raise awareness of the current crisis. Keeping with earlier projections, over 10 million people are short of food and despite the influx of aid, what is available still falls way short of what is actually required to address the food crisis.
Speaking to some participants at a donors humanitarian round table which convened in the Ethiopian capital as part of the 26th African Union Summit, Mr. Ban Ki-moon said, “the people of this beautiful country are facing their worst drought in thirty years.”
He also praised the already ongoing efforts during his visit to the drought stricken Oromia region with the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen, and Ertharin Cousin, who is the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme. Together, they went to a health post, a water bore hole and a food distribution and cash transfer point, after which Mr. Ban Ki-moon stated; “This is a very moving experience for me as Secretary-General to witness myself how the Ethiopian Government and the United Nations agencies, the World Bank, all humanitarian workers are working together to address difficult challenges,”.
He spoke at length both praising the current effort both on the part of the Ethiopian government and world aid agencies and constantly reiterating that more still needs to be done, “we face unrelenting humanitarian needs around the world. Many are generated by conflict and displacement. These human-made crises are extremely difficult to resolve and can last for years or even decade,” explaining that the needs generated by El Nino are not unending, he continued “we know it will pass, and the situation will improve. This crisis will end. And until it does, I urge you to make the investment that is needed now, to support the Ethiopian Government and people through the difficult times ahead, and to build for the future.”