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A visit to Ethiopia brings home why we must tackle climate change

21 January 2015 | by Hannah Holtby

The stark consequences of climate change were all too obvious to Hannah Holtby on a recent visit to Ethiopia. Here the Christian Aid Collective intern explains how the sights she witnessed and the stories she heard strengthened her determination to tackle the issue.

Travelling between Christian Aid projects in Ethiopia, I saw incredible natural beauty: sunsets that lit up the sky like firework displays, landscapes that seemed never-ending, cheeky baboons that joined us for breakfast. It was breathtaking. 

Landscape in Ethiopia showing the effects of climate change

However, I also saw the shocking effects of climate change at first hand.

Rivers had dried up and bridges spanned streams that no longer flowed. The dry season had not yet arrived and already the ground was dehydrated.

Shocking stories

Local people told me that it takes about eight hours to collect water during the dry season!

One woman told me how the walk was so long and the water so heavy that her whole body ached for two days afterwards.

If people travel back too late, they risk being attacked by hyenas.

Their stories shocked me to the core. I was so angry and upset that people had to risk their lives to fetch water – our most basic human need.

Clean, safe water

Our partner, Action for Development (AFD), is doing a fantastic job providing communities with better water supplies. Reservoirs and water points have all transformed lives.

Filling a jerry can with water As people showed us the water points and told their individual stories, there was an overwhelming sense of pride and ownership.

The sound of water gushing into the yellow jerry cans cut through the stillness of the thirsty landscape; it was magical.

It's up to us

I was moved and impressed by all that AFD has achieved so far. However, if we don’t change the way we live in order to stop climate change, their incredible work could be undone.

In Ethiopia, I saw communities investing in sustainable, green energy supplies like solar energy.

This was a wake-up call for me - we need to step up and accept the responsibility we have as global citizens.

Why should people suffer so much in the face of drought while we consume to our hearts' content, with no thought as to how our behaviour might be affecting other people?

We must challenge ourselves, our communities, companies, governments - everyone.

Because we all play a part in climate change and we all have a responsibility to stop people suffering because of our actions.

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