Health and Climate Change: Amhara (Ethiopia)

The land of Amhara in Ethiopia has been cultivated for millennia with no variations, or improvement in the farming techniques. The resulting environmental damage has contributed to a deteriorating climate with shortage and fluctuating of seasonal rainfalls, frequent droughts, loss of crops and as a result, food shortages and periodic famines.

Lack of clean water, due to low rainfall and draughts, forces people in the area to consume water from unprotected sources such as rivers, ponds, unprotected springs and traditional hand dug wells. Because water sources are not well-protected from animals’ urine and faeces, environmental pollution and flooding in the rainy season people in the area are highly exposed to trachoma and other communicable diseases.

To help address these issues CBM supports a trachoma project in Amhara. The project aims to reduce the high prevalence of trachoma through increasing access to safe water supplies, community education and medical prevention and treatment services. Here, like in other developing countries, people experiencing marginalisation are particularly vulnerable to climate change. It is projected that changes in climate are likely to affect the health status of millions of people, including through increased deaths, disease and injury due to heat waves, floods, storms, fires and drought. People with disabilities, who are one of the most marginalised groups of people globally, are often most impacted by climate change.

Working across many communities to eradicate the diseases which cause preventable blindness enables CBM to see the true impact of climate change. Due to the limpact of climate change on people’s livelihoods, we have seen how it increases the likelihood of people acquiring a disability by being unable to afford treatment for health conditions. Climate change also  leads to people with disabilities being left behind in inhospitable and dangerous places when their families move to find work or land to farm. It makes breaking the cycle of disability and poverty harder.

Climate change is not just an environmental issue. Climate change is a health issue and a social issue. That is why when CBM implements programs, no matter if it’s in eye health or rehabilitation services, we always aim to build the resilience and capacities of people with disabilities and their families. This enables them to better cope with changes to environment around them and open mores options to them when traditional ways of life are no longer sustainable.

Read more about our climate change work.