Climate Change in Ethiopia: Idris Tuna

Idris Tuna, a subsistence farmer from the Ethiopia district of Kirakufis who attributes the recurring droughts and devastating water shortages to climate change, worries about his children’s future.

Idris Tuna, a subsistence farmer from the Ethiopia district of Kirakufis who attributes the recurring droughts and devastating water shortages to climate change, worries about his children’s future. Photo by Kim Pozniak/CRS

Sitting in the shade of a big tree, Idris Tuna squints when the sun suddenly peaks through some of the branches. He’s chewing chat, a local plant used as a stimulant, like almost everyone does in this region of eastern Ethiopia. When he leans back on his hands to avoid the sun and stretches his legs, his socks reveal large holes on the bottom.

“I’m very worried. It worries me more than anything else,” he says.

Gesturing with rugged hands—from decades of hard labor in the field—the 48-year-old farmer and father of 7 grows agitated.

“I suspect the problem will continue. I don’t have any hope that things will get better. I’m afraid things will get worse and worse.”

Idris, like most people in the district of Kirakufis, attributes the recurring droughts and devastating water shortages to climate change. A lifelong subsistence farmer who grows maize, sorghum, chickpeas and soybeans, he worries about his children’s future.

“The kind of produce we had last year, we may not get this year because of the erratic rainfall,” he says. “From the time the climate has changed, I can’t tell if rain comes this month or next month. Fifteen years ago, I could tell if it would come.”

Idris is part of a community that will benefit from a CRS project to increase people’s resilience to climate and weather-related risks like drought or flooding, and to teach them new techniques for farming, soil and water conservation, and watershed management. REAAP, or Resilience through Enhanced Adaptation, Action-learning and Partnership, is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“We depend on a single source of water: rain. If there’s no rain, there’s no hope. I’m very worried. It worries me more than anything else.”

“We depend on a single source of water: rain. If there’s no rain, there’s no hope,” he says, lowering his face. “For example, this time last year, we were planting. This year, we’re not. Can there be anything that worries you more? Only if we produce, we have hope to feed our children. We also fear that our kids won’t be able to go to school because of the lack of food.”

As he talks, a group of students is mapping out a mock village on the dusty ground nearby, using chalk, rocks and sticks to mark roads, buildings, bodies of water and areas of deforestation. The exercise, part of REAAP training for community facilitators, will ultimately benefit people like Idris. The students will work with community committees to building terraces that will increase farmland and prevent soil erosion, implement new planting techniques, use drought-tolerant seeds and construct cement ponds to collect and hold precious rainwater.

“Only if we cope now, we can have another generation,” Idris says. “If it’s this bad now, you be the judge of how bad it’s going to be.”

“I hope my children will lead a better life. That’s why I send them to school—so they can have better opportunities.

“One wants to be an Imam. The other wants to continue his education. My youngest, she wants to be a doctor. I’m doing my best to see her vision realized.”

Kim Pozniak is a CRS communications officer covering sub-Saharan Africa and global emergencies. She is based in Baltimore, Maryland.

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