Natural hazards and disasters

Ethiopia has a long painful history of recurrent droughts – the magnitude, frequency and impact of which have become more severe since the 1970s.

The 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa is exemplary. Thousands of people died, many people were displaced, and children were left severely malnourished.

Droughts, floods and food-security crises frequently hit regions like the ones PfR is working in. Seasonal and flash floods are more common now due to deforestation, land degradation, climate variability and human settlement – all causing further environmental degradation.

irrigation canal     

Effects on people

Rural Ethiopians are mostly pastoralists and small-scale farmers, which are increasingly facing food insecurity

Nomadic pastoralists’ livelihoods are originally flexible, allowing them to move animals to new grazing areas in the dry season. But human and livestock population growth, bush encroachment and severe droughts have left little grazelands for remaining herds.

Traditional smallholder farming techniques are increasingly affected by more frequent droughts. Access to extension services, markets and microfinance institutions remains limited, often due to inadequate infrastructure

What PfR does

Local partners in Ethiopia implement long- and short-term measures to reduce disaster risks, such as reforestation of hills, small-scale irrigation projects, and soil and water conservation measures.

The introduction of wood-saving stoves has reduced health risks and eased the pressure on local forests.

The provision of local breeds of goat and drought-resistant seeds helps secure the livelihoods of communities and enables people to diversify.

Finally, partners cooperate with local authorities and bring problems and solutions to national policy-makers to increase support and scale-up programmes

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Saving lives

In Dire Dawa, in the east of Ethiopia, community members are linking good practice on disaster risk reduction (DRR) to climate change adaptation.

Dire Dawa is prone to floods, and an analysis of climatic impacts on flood risk reveals the need for even more extensive flood-protection structures. Good DRR must focus on reducing vulnerability of the community to current hazards, but also incorporate measures that help people prepare for the future and adapt to climate change.

Community members, supported by local PfR partners, carry out their own risk assessments and mapping, and have established a simple early-warning system.

They also combine hillside rehabilitation with livelihood diversification activities to construct flood defences. This improves both income opportunities and food security: the planting of fruit trees is a reforestation activity, while it provides a new source of income and food at the same time.  

Although severe floods continue to affect Dire Dawa, the positive impact of this approach is evident: in the 2010 flooding, no lives were lost. 




Total beneficiaries:

Project locations:
Afar; Oromia; Amhara; Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region.

Implementing partners:
Ethiopian Red Cross; Cordaid with Action for Development (AFD) and the Agency for Cooperation in Research and Development (ACORD); CARE with Support for Sustainable Development (SSD)