Protecting communities in Ethiopia from the impacts of climate change

Jigjiga - Twenty-seven government officials received training from the ILO on flood forecasting and warning systems, tools, and techniques to save lives and livelihoods in their community, which has been facing the adversity of recurring floods.

News | 06 September 2022
After struggling for decades to cope with the recurring flash floods in the region, the officials of the Somali region of Ethiopia are now equipped with a warning system for possible floods and are capacitating their communities with disaster preparedness.

Kebele-based flood hazard map of Jigjiga and its surrounding
With the support of the ILO and the Government of Japan, an initiative was undertaken to design flood hazard GIS mapping of Jigjiga and surrounding areas in the Somali region. The mapping will identify low-lying flood-prone areas and advise on the need for altering land usage and afforestation.

“The severity of flash floods is aggravated by man-made factors such as soil degradation and deforestation. Degraded and eroded soil cannot absorb and conserve rainfall, ultimately impacting agro-pastoral communities. People in the region were staring at a future food crisis and at the same time were threatened by the possibility of another flash flood damaging their assets. With the GIS mapping exercise and Government officials enabled to assess and analyse the vulnerable regions, the future risks have lowered,” explained Mr Chekole Moges, National Programme Officer of the ILO PROSPECTS in Ethiopia.

Participants visiting ILO constructed detention ponds and group work, respectively.

Further to the GIS mapping exercise, the ILO delivered training on Flood Disaster Risk Management (early warning and flood forecasting, mitigation, and protection) in Jigjiga from March 28 to April 7, 2022.
“The impact of disasters like flash floods is multiplied when communities are not prepared. Therefore, urgent multi-stakeholder efforts are required to sensitize the community about the causes of floods and droughts and their role in mitigating the impact through preparedness,” said Mr Mahad Nour, a participant from the Bureau of Agriculture and Natural Resource Development (BoANRD). The 10 -day training course followed a highly participatory approach, using a mix of practical and theoretical sessions, extremely appreciated by the Government officials.

Participants visiting ILO constructed detention ponds and group work, respectively.
The training not only covered concepts but also enriched participants with national, international, and even indigenous best practices. “We feel confident about being able to assess disaster-related risks and develop contextual solutions. We can prepare, implement, monitor, and evaluate multi-sectoral flood disaster risk reduction programmes addressing cross-cutting issues of gender mainstreaming, the inclusion of disability, and climate change,” added Mr Mahad.

Given that women and persons with disabilities are inherently more vulnerable to disasters, the participants were reminded of the importance of gender mainstreaming and disability inclusion in disaster preparedness efforts. It was also indicated that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, stronger, and critical, which requires the need to mainstream climate change into any development programs.

Toward the end of the training and as a way forward, the idea of developing a strategic intervention paper was floated to align the efforts of different government departments and supporting organizations.
To develop a flood disaster risk management (DRM) network, a virtual channel was established using Telegram, allowing participants to work as an informal group of resource persons in the region.

A participant presenting on gender mainstreaming in DRM
“The participants have pledged to encourage their line managers for championing the DRM agenda in their work. It will certainly align the efforts of all stakeholders and develop an informed and resilient community in the region,” added Mr Chekole.