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Extreme drought, worsened by global climate change rages through Ethiopia

Extreme drought, worsened by global climate change rages through Ethiopia

Ethiopia is experiencing its worst hunger crisis in 20 years and severe drought and the impacts of global climate change are intensifying the situation every day. On World Desertification and Drought Day, Trócaire talks to Abdellah and Abba Tesfalem about their battle for survival and feelings of purposelessness as sourcing drinking water becomes their primary job.

As drought worsens across Ethiopia, collecting water is the main task of the day for 23-year-old Abdellah from the Afar region of Ethiopia on Africa’s horn. Afar is extremely hot, the water is dirty, contaminated by monkey urine and the trek to collect it is horrendous. Afar townspeople like Abdellah who are surviving on little, if not nothing, find it a challenging journey to navigate in the extreme heat and with no sustenance.

“The journey for water is long. We have to leave early from the village while it is still dark. We walk through the riverbed. Then climb the mountains, then go down into a valley, then climb another mountain a little way to finally get to the water. That is the journey,” he explains.

“We drink water that monkeys go to the toilet in. It’s bad water. It makes us sick. You can see the animal dung at the other points of the journey. Monkeys and hyenas have been there,” Abdellah adds.

Abdellah is acutely aware of the struggle he is faced with every day. It is not something he is just used to and without help or support his situation won’t improve.

“I don’t like doing this! No one would want to do this. With water we can get jobs, children can get an education – we don’t have to spend so much time collecting it. If we have no water, the only thing we can do is collect it until we can’t stand it any longer,” he admits.

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