Will drought fuel water conflict between Cairo, Addis Ababa?

Children in Tsemera
Children stand along the road in the village of Tsemera in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region, February 12, 2016. Picture taken February 12, 2016. REUTERS/Katy Migiro – RTS8OU9

April 19, 2016 – Ethiopia’s northern regions have been plagued by one of the worst droughts to face the area in decades. During a visit to one of the worst hit areas earlier on Jan. 31, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that “the people of this beautiful country are facing their worst drought in 30 years.” On March 24, the UN, along with humanitarian partners, launched a three month campaign to aid drought-affected regions and raise awareness about the ensuing food crisis. Now some are fearing this could exacerbate the longstanding conflict between Cairo and Addis Ababa over water resources.

The Ethiopian plateau, which is one of the main sources of the Nile River, has faced frequent droughts, the worst of which occurred in 1984 and led to a famine that killed around one million Ethiopians. Meanwhile, climate forecast studies and reports confirmed that such recurrent waves of drought have decreased the Blue Nile flooding by up to 20% during the past years and that Ethiopia is among the countries most vulnerable to increasing rates of drought and lack of rainfall due to climate change.

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