El Niño and Drought Early Warning in Ethiopia
Internet Journal of African Studies, No. 2, March 1997
10 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2010
Date Written: March 1, 1997
El Niño (EN) is the increase in the surface temperatures (SST) in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. EN results from changes in the pattern and direction of winds and ocean currents in the region, which have potentially catastrophic effects. Many researchers now believe that the occurrence of various droughts in Africa, especially in Southern Africa and the Horn, are caused by physical processes related to the occurrence of ENSO events thousands of miles away. If valid and reliable information about the linkages between these occurrences becomes available, it could help to forecast Sub-Saharan African droughts. ENSO-based drought early warning could send a "wake-up call" to governments to prepare for national food shortages. With such information, policies that reduce the impact of drought could be introduced. An early warning with many months of lead time, such as could be provided by ENSO information, would eliminate the excuse of national governments who claim to be unaware of the advent of drought. When drought causes famine, and a reliable drought early warning was available, it becomes a man-made disaster.
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