The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)

26 February 2008

Ethiopia: Climate Change Catalyst for Increased Rate of Malnourishment

Addis Ababa — Climate change and droughts that comes as result has aggravated the rate of malnourished children in Ethiopia by 36, percent, a UN report indicated on Monday.

According to the 2007/2008 Human Development Report, 'Fighting Climate Change: Human solidarity in a divided world', children aged five years or less are 36% more likely to be malnourished and 41 % more likely to be stunted if they were born during a drought season in Ethiopia.

The report said this was translated in to two million children born malnourished in the country in the year 2005, alone.

The report s which was initially launched in Brazil in December last year, said one in nineteen people were affected by climate-related disasters between 2000 and 2004 in developing countries as opposed to only one in 1,500 people in wealthy countries.

In addition to the long-term threats, climate change is already starting to affect some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world.

Increased exposure to droughts, floods and storms is already destroying opportunity and reinforcing inequalities, the report noted.

Thus, while climate change is a challenge for all, it is primarily and most immediately a a threat to developing countries in the lower income latitudes, which according to the report will surely face the impact of global warming not within centuries, but within decades and years.

Ethiopia is among the countries that are strongly committed to achieving the MDG targets by 2015.

The country has made progress towards reducing poverty and be able to be on the right track to development.

Using the Human Development Index that measures the average progress of a country in the human development perspectives, Ethiopia has made improvement in to a rank of 169th out of 177 countries, compared to the 2005/2006 ranking of 170th.

While many developing countries, including Ethiopia, have made significant progress in human development with millions of people being lifted out of poverty every year, it is now becoming increasingly clear that among other factors, the climate change challenge is also going to hinder development.

The Ethiopian government takes the fight against poverty and the fight against the effects of climate change as interrelated efforts which reinforce each other, and where success must be achieved on both fronts, together.

Speaking at the Ethiopia launch of the report at the UNCC on Monday, Abera Deressa, State minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) said that his government, apart from cultivating sloppy lands has also encouraged the development of agro-forestry and preparation of agricultural packages that consider the preservation of the balance of nature in order to curb environmental degradation.

In addition to the on-going efforts to solve the existing environmental problems, presently, new measures should be taken to mitigate the new environmental problems that are caused by climate change, the state minister underscored.

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