Drought Picture Looks Bleak

Drought Picture Looks Bleak

Addis Tribune

(03/17/00)

 

By Our Staff Reporter

 

Once again Ethiopia is facing the prospect of a major failure of the small, or Belg rains. According to some observers, the Belg

rains, which should have started in February, have already failed. If they come now it is too late for farmers dependent on the

Belg to get a crop before the rains normally end in April or May. Only if the rains start late and end late will they have a chance.

 

The dry conditions are another indication of the changing weather patterns which seem to be occurring everywhere. The almost

complete failure of the normal September to November rains which were expected in the South and Southeast of the country

has been devastating. Massive livestock loss and even human casualties are being reported from Borena Zonea and Southern

Somali Region.

 

The dry conditions of the South has also provided the condition for the massive forest fires raging in Bale and elsewhere. The

magnificent Harena Forest in the Southern part of Bale National Park is ablaze.

 

If on top of these problems in south there is a failure of the Belg in the Center and North of the country, an extremely serious

crisis will develop.

 

The government recently appealed for assistance for over 8 million people affected by food shortages. If the Belg rains fail,

these numbers and quantity of food needed will escalate.

 

Despite positive signals for donors on the appeal for food, very little has yet been committed. If the Belg fails, an increased

appeal will be needed before the previous appeal has been met.