Resources, risk and resilience: scarcity and climate change in Ethiopia

Alex Evans
Content Type
Working Paper
Center on International Cooperation
Ethiopia's resource scarcity context presents a daunting challenge, but also a significant opportunity. The country's current scarcity context includes: Low agricultural yields and farm sizes: Even if farm productivity were to increase by a factor of three, the average farm would still not produce enough food for a family of five. With 83% of Ethiopia's people directly dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, the country has a major food security challenge; 7.5 million people depend on food safety nets. Major exposure to drought: Ethiopia has erratic rainfall, and acutely limited water storage capacity: the country has only 43m3 of reservoir storage per person, compared to 750m3 in South Africa and 6,150m3 in North America. Levels of irrigation are also low: the World Bank estimates that only 5% of irrigable land in Ethiopia is actually irrigated. Limited access to energy: Ethiopia's total primary energy supply is less than 60% of the African average, and only just over a fifth of the global average. The country depends on waste and biomass for 90 of its energy needs – leading to consequences including deforestation, and soil degradation as a result of biomass not being returned to the soil. High dependence on imported oil and food: Ethiopia currently imports all of its liquid fuels and a significant proportion of its food. This creates major exposure to global commodity price volatility, with the attendant risk of balance of payments problems, inflation and outright supply interruptions.
Agriculture, Climate Change, Development, Economics, Poverty, Natural Resources, Food
Political Geography
Africa, South Africa, North America, Ethiopia