For many years, the rains of Ethiopia have made up over 80% of its water. Each year, we see very fat droplets rain down from the month of July to September and they do not stop until almost all the roads are impassable.
And then the small seas magically appear inland throughout the Amhara Plateau. Flowing out of the forest located south of the Lake Tana, the Blue Nile soaks up these waters and swells into a powerful river. And then the longer White Nile that comes from Lake Victoria in East Africa and then will merges with an Ethiopian branch – adding to the torrent.
Rains and Wet Seasons are Diminishing
However, the problem is that the rains do not fall like they once did. And sadly, this fact has the potential to be catastrophic to the entire basin. The lengthy summer wet season now arrives later than it used to, and then there are shorter periods of rain from earlier in the year and sometimes there is no rain at all.
“It’s so inconsistent now. Sometimes stronger, sometimes lighter, but always different,” said Lakemariam Yohannes Worku, who is a climate researcher and a lecturer from Arba Minch University.
And when the rain does come, the storms tend to be fiercer, and more than a billion tons of Ethiopian sediment gets washed into the Nile every year. This only clogs up the dams and takes needed soil nutrients away from the crops of the farmers.
Unneeded Population Growth
A boom in population growth has added to this phenomenon, and these larger families take down the trees in the region to gain space and create the needed construction materials. But this is making these massive floods more of a common occurrence.
So now we see more crops wither and we are seeing the food prices go up. Many of these rural communities are falling deep into poverty because they have relied on these steady rains from the rivers to feed and irrigate their farmland. Many villagers are giving up on agriculture permanently and moving into Bahir Dar, which is nine hours away.
And then there are those who continue to struggle and subsist on rations that have been reduced until the rains hopefully return to normal. However, they are reporting an increase in Church attendance.
But a small minority feels that enough is enough and attempting to seek their fortune in Europe.
As we go further down the Nile, we see more problems. Just thirty miles past Lake Tana, the Nile river dives into the breathtaking Blue Nile falls, and then it passes through many deep gorges.
It gathers strength with every entering tributary and roars down 1,500 metres into the plains below. It happens to be the most beautiful river, and yet has become the most troubled water source in the world.
The construction of the biggest dam in Africa near the Sudanese border and the alleged displacement of thousands of villagers of Addis Ababa who has leased their prime river side lands to foreign companies, has created an uneasiness over the region. All are sadly remembering the Nile as it used to be when times were much better and people were flourishing. The diminishing rains have literally robbed thousands of families of their very livelihood.