When The Water Ends: Africa’s Climate Conflicts
|Date released (year)||2010|
|Production company||Yale Environment 360|
|Keywords/tags||Civil war, climate change, desertification, food security, violence|
|Link to film||http://e360.yale.edu/feature/when_the_water_ends_africas_climate_conflicts/2331/|
|Synopsis||As temperatures rise and water supplies dry up, tribes in East Africa increasingly are coming into conflict. A Yale Environment 360 video reports on a phenomenon that could become more common: how worsening drought will pit groups — and nations — against one another.|
|Reviews/discussion||For thousands of years, nomadic herdsmen have roamed the harsh, semi-arid lowlands that stretch across 80 percent of Kenya and 60 percent of Ethiopia. Descendants of the oldest tribal societies in the world, they survive thanks to the animals they raise and the crops they grow, their travels determined by the search for water and grazing lands.
These herdsmen have long been accustomed to adapting to a changing environment. But in recent years, they have faced challenges unlike any in living memory: As temperatures in the region have risen and water supplies have dwindled, the pastoralists have had to range more widely in search of suitable water and land. That search has brought tribal groups in Ethiopia and Kenya in increasing conflict, as pastoral communities kill each other over water and grass.
“When the Water Ends,” a 16-minute video produced by Yale Environment 360 in collaboration with MediaStorm, tells the story of this conflict and of the increasingly dire drought conditions facing parts of East Africa. To report this video, Evan Abramson, a 32-year-old photographer and videographer, spent two months in the region early this year, living among the herding communities. He returned with a tale that many climate scientists say will be increasingly common in the 21st century and beyond — how worsening drought in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere will pit group against group, nation against nation. As one UN official told Abramson, the clashes between Kenyan and Ethiopian pastoralists represent “some of the world’s first climate-change conflicts.”
But the story recounted in “When the Water Ends” is not only about climate change. It’s also about how deforestation and land degradation — due in large part to population pressures — are exacting a toll on impoverished farmers and nomads as the earth grows ever more barren.
The video focuses on four groups of pastoralists — the Turkana of Kenya and the Dassanech, Nyangatom, and Mursi of Ethiopia — who are among the more than two dozen tribes whose lives and culture depend on the waters of the Omo River and the body of water into which it flows, Lake Turkana. For the past 40 years at least, Lake Turkana has steadily shrunk because of increased evaporation from higher temperatures and a steady reduction in the flow of the Omo due to less rainfall, increased diversion of water for irrigation, and upstream dam projects. As the lake has diminished, it has disappeared altogether from Ethiopian territory and retreated south into Kenya. The Dassanech people have followed the water, and in doing so have come into direct conflict with the Turkana of Kenya.
The result has been cross-border raids in which members of both groups kill each other, raid livestock, and torch huts. Many people in both tribes have been left without their traditional livelihoods and survive thanks to food aid from nonprofit organizations and the UN.
The future for the tribes of the Omo-Turkana basin looks bleak. Temperatures in the region have risen by about 2 degrees F since 1960. Droughts are occurring with a frequency and intensity not seen in recent memory. Areas once prone to drought every ten or eleven years are now experiencing a drought every two or three. Scientists say temperatures could well rise an additional 2 to 5 degrees F by 2060, which will almost certainly lead to even drier conditions in large parts of East Africa.
In addition, the Ethiopian government is building a dam on the upper Omo River — the largest hydropower project in sub-Saharan Africa — that will hold back water and prevent the river’s annual flood cycles, upon which more than 500,000 tribesmen in Ethiopia and 300,000 in Kenya depend for cultivation, grazing, and fishing.
The herdsmen who speak in this video are caught up in forces over which they have no real control. Although they have done almost nothing to generate the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, they may already be among its first casualties. “I am really beaten by hunger,” says one elderly, rail-thin Nyangatom tribesman. “There is famine — people are dying here. This happened since the Turkana and the Kenyans started fighting with us. We fight over grazing lands. There is no peace at all.”
26 Oct 2010
|Links to other resources||FAO: http://www.fao.org/docrep/X5318E/x5318e02.htm
See related discussions at: https://ejoltdocumentaries.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/east-africa-famine-appeal-the-need-in-drought-striken-areas/
Marius Keller, Climate Risks and Development Projects: Assessment Report for a Community-Level Project in Guduru, Oromiya, Ethiopia. Source: http://www.iisd.org/cristaltool/documents/BFA-Ethiopia-Assessment-Report-Eng.pdf
|Title||Earth report: Down to Earth|
|Director(s)||Tv/e Inspiring Change|
|Production company||Tv/e Inspiring Change|
|Keywords/tags||Agriculture, food, desertification, climate change|
|Link to film||http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDwVreTtPlE
|Synopsis||In West Africa, farmers are working to turn desert back to productive farmland. Earth Report discovers how they could also have an important role in the battle against climate change.|
|Reviews/discussion||MIT Research Highlights for background to this film:
Deforestation, Desertification, and the Drought in West Africa
The region of West Africa has experienced significant changes in land cover during this century, ranging from deforestation near the Atlantic coast to desertification near the border with the Sahara desert.
Satellite image of vegetation types in Africa
The same region has been experiencing a significant drought during the last few decades, with below normal levels of rainfall observed almost everywhere within West Africa. This drought has been associated with weakening of the monsoon circulation.
Ranifall Fluctuations in West Africa (1901-1990), expressed as
Eltahir and Gong (1996) proposed a general framework for describing the role of biosphere-atmosphere-ocean interactions. It emphasizes the role of the gradient in boundary layer moist static energy (entropy) between ocean and land in modulating the dynamics of the monsoon.
A schematic of the proposed land-atmosphere-ocean interaction in
Zheng and Eltahir (1997) studied the response of the monsoon system to deforestation and desertification using a simple model. The results suggest that the potential impact of human induced change of land cover on regional climate depends critically on the location of the change in vegetation cover. That is, desertification along the border withthe Sahara (e.g., in Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania) leaves a relatively minor impact on monsoon circulation and regional rainfall; deforestation along the southern coast of West Africa (e.g., in Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast) may result in complete collapse of monsoon circulation, and a significant reduction of regional rainfall.
The meridional distribution of (a) total rainfall in mm/day, for
Source: MIT Research highlights- http://web.mit.edu/eltahir/www2/deforestation.html
|Links to other resources||Also see: http://www.unesco.org/csi/region/desert.htm|