Ethiopia: bishop says global warming is worsening poverty

Global warming has led to a dramatic increase in poverty as food shortages worsen in Ethiopia, a Catholic bishop there said this week.

Bishop Rodrigo Meija of the Vicariate of Soddo-Hosanna said food shortages in his diocese caused by lack of rain are leading to poverty, and added that people are attributing the weather changes to global warming.

Bishop Rodrigo Meija told the German-based Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that a change in weather patterns was the biggest problem facing rural food growers in the Vicariate, and revealed that farmers had noticed a change occurring in the seasons over a number of years.

“The rainy season is no longer regular – so people don’t know when to start planting,” he said. Traditionally Ethiopia enjoyed a regular rainy season from mid-June to mid-September but now rains are intermittent.

Bishop Meija said: “At a popular level some people say it is due to global warming – this may be true – all the seasons are disturbed.” The bishop said the problems could be a side effect of global warming, but added he had not seen any scientific data on the subject.

He added: “Poverty is certainly linked [to the lack of rainfall] as these people are still basically rural, and live off their own produce which depends on rain.”

The bishop explained how, working in tandem with the government, Catholic Relief Services had responded quickly to the food shortage. “At the moment we are catering for the most urgent problems – so for the moment it is under control.”

However, he told ACN he was uncertain what would occur over the months ahead. “It is difficult to foresee [what will happen in the future], we don’t know if the effect of global warming will get worse - there is no scientific point of reference.”

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