The world’s poorest communities are paying the heaviest price for climate change, with many already pushed to the brink. Here, learn how one Ethiopian village is struggling to survive the climate emergency.

Severe drought in the Horn of Africa – which includes parts of Ethiopia – has left over 15.3 million people needing urgent humanitarian aid. It is the latest drought to have struck the Horn in recent years, and it has left many communities desperate.

Among these is Dinto village. Located in the Charati district, like many villages in Ethiopia’s largely rural Afar region, for generations the community has raised livestock for food and income.

The people of the village have tried to adapt to the changing climate: six tribes formed the community after consecutive rains failed.

“The elders decided that they had to come together or die,” explains Habbil, a teacher who lives in Dinto. “We all needed access to schools, education and a water source so this brought us together.”

But after years of water shortages, life in Dinto village is more precarious than ever. Water and pasture are in increasingly short supply.

“We used to have normal rains,” says Habbil. “Now it rains for just a few days at a time and we do not know when the rains will come.

Everything is becoming scarcer. It has been like this for at least the last seven years in a row. It has been gradual but the impact has been devastating, killing off our cattle.”

Parts of Ethiopia are in the grip of yet another devastating drought.

Conflict over increasingly scarce water and pasture

Habbil explains that people are forced to move around in search of pasture and water. His village tries to welcome new arrivals but clashes break out as people struggle to access the same land and wells.

“This year people from Gole, a village more than 70 kilometres away, came here because there was nothing for their cattle to eat there, and no water.

“Pastoralists from Somalia have also come in growing numbers and all of this is causing conflict. It starts with just two people, usually over livestock or some plants. A person who has a well or a grazing patch finds someone else wanting to use it.

“If a person is injured in a dispute like this it can escalate quickly,” he adds, explaining that the village elders intervene where needed to try to resolve conflict.

Islamic Relief has been helping Dinto village through relief and development projects. This has been a lifeline in helping families to meet their basic needs, and easing tension over access to water and land, says local faith leader Sheikh Dakher:

“Islamic Relief has been here for many years. They have been providing water treatment and cash transfers during times of drought, and supporting us with livestock feed. They also helped to partially build our school.”

In Ethiopia, a local woman woman makes a gruelling five kilometre trek to collect water.

Long term solutions are urgently needed

But every failed rainy season makes it harder and harder for Dinto village to cope, warns Habbil:

“The problems will escalate as long as the drought escalates.”

And, with the United Nations warning that extreme weather events like drought are on the rise, long-term solutions are desperately needed by the community, and many others.

Islamic Relief is pointing to an outstanding climate adaptation project in the Afar region as an example of what is needed to help communities like Dinto. As well as providing access to much needed water supplies, through our scheme pastoralist and herder communities are breaking with centuries of tradition by cultivating crops to feed their animals. This reduces the need to migrate for pasture and the risk of coming into conflict with other communities.

Islamic Relief is doing all we can to help vulnerable communities in the frontline of the climate emergency. We also campaign extensively to halt climate change and to protect the environment from further harm. Support our work: donate now.