Ethical Eats

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Understanding Green Droughts

A green drought occurs when rain falls irregular to its usual cycle or when there is only enough rainfall to maintain shallow-rooted plants on the surface. Green droughts are a result of late rainfall delaying harvests and, thus, stalling food production. Green droughts tend to confuse the international public who view images of green, flourishing lands but are still told that there is a dire situation occurring that needs international aid relief.

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In 2011 Ethiopia’s green drought began its most notorious famine. Rainfall in the region came too late to produce crops so farmers were unable to harvest on schedule. Short rains usually fall in February or March and are crucial in germinating seeds for crops but in 2011’s Ethiopia, short rain did not fall until May. This irregular rain schedule leaves farmers with fewer crops due to late harvesting or even inabilities to harvest. Even after rainfall finally falls (off schedule), farmers experience slower growing – if growth at all.

Contrary to the typical understanding of droughts, droughts are not necessarily a result of a lack of rain but can also be due to the timing of precipitation in which rain cycles are not on schedule with crop harvesting. Green droughts are deceptive but equally as disastrous and destructive as characteristic droughts. So although a green drought may not look like a problem at all, the resulting agricultural complications leave farmers and communities without food or prospects of food production for indefinite periods of time.

– Angela

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