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Ethiopia: Water Wars

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March the 22nd has been designated as "World Water Day" by the United Nations. In this week's In Focus segment, we take a look at water: a resource that a billion people on the planet can't get easy access to and the challenges of getting it are becoming more difficult because of global climate change. As we see in this report from the rugged region of southern Ethiopia drought is drying up wells threatening an ancient way of life and fueling conflict. [People singing in background] Water Wars. Produced by: Julia Manno and Alex Stonehill The Common Language Project / Pulitzer Center On Crisis Reporting [People singing in background] Dubluck. Oromia Region. Southern Ethiopia. [Man yelling in background] [Sounds of cattle walking by] [man speaking in a tribal language, translated to English] We mainly raise cattle, camels, and goats. [Sounds of people working] [People talking in the background] Gaigain Dida. Deputy Chief of Dubluck. Now the drought is getting tough. There is no pasture when there is no rain. We have nothing to feed the livestock. We are now in fear. Cattle are starting to die in many places. LEH. Somali region. Southern Ethiolia. [Wind rustling] [Footsteps in the distance] [man speaking in a tribal language, translated to English] In Somali country, it is dry. 86% of people are pastoralists. It is a hot climate area and there is a lack of rain. We follow where there is rain, where there is grass, where there is water. Mohammed Hassan. Sultan of the Gare tribe. Chairman of the Somali Pastoralist Council. Now droughts are getting increasingly worse. The water is disappearing. [Cattle bells ringing] Now we are experiencing drying wells and reduction in water volume of big rivers like Dawa. Now we have to dig more to get water, which we had never done before. Ibrahim Ganamo. Chief of Leh. Over the past six years, the drought has been continuous. There is not sufficient rainfall. The same goes for the grass and pasture. Last year, we had only two days of rain. [Man speaking foreign language] If the animals cross to another side, some animals can be stolen. And then conflict might take place. [Man yelling] [People talking in background] For the tribe conflicts, for instance, Borana and Guji, Salihu Sultan. Red Cross. Regional Coordinator. it's rescource-based conflict due to water. [Sounds of wind] My name is Habiba Boru. [Sounds of birds] I am 32 years old. A long time ago I used to have money. And now I have no money. There was a fight with Guji. Borana people died. Many Borana people died. There were water problems in that place. Twenty-six Borana people died. I saw it myself. Due to the internal civil war during the fall of the Derg regime everybody has weapons to protect his livestock from predators like hyena and lion. But this brings damage to the community when conflict starts between tribes. [Sounds of light wind] Researchers predict that pastoralists will be some of the first people on Earth forced to abandon their way of life due to climate change. [Sounds of running water] With Daljit Dhaliwal Tapped Water Global water use has tripled since 1950 [Thunder, water sounds continue] Agriculture is the greatest water guzzler - taking 530 gallons to produce one person's daily food. In 2050, water needed for bioenergy could equal the amount used by the agricultural sector. [Water sounds fade out] Video by: Julia Marino and Alex Stonehill with reporting by: Ernest Waititu Special thanks to: Salihu Sultan and the Ethiopian Red Cross Produced by: Common Language Project In association with: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting As featured on: "Foreign Exchange," an Azimuth Media Production

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 57 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Director: Common Language Project
Views: 273
Posted by: pulitzercenter on Apr 24, 2008

As featured on Foreign Exchange. World Water Day on March 22 reminds us of the 1 billion people on Earth who lack easy access to the water most of us take for granted. Global climate change is making that struggle worse, as we see in this report from the rugged region of southern Ethiopia, where drought is drying up wells, threatening an ancient way of life and fueling conflict.


Video by Julia Marino and Alex Stonehill with reporting by Ernest Waititu
Special thanks to Salihu Sultan and the Ethiopian Red Cross.

Produced by the Common Language Project.

Produced in association with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Also featured on the Knight Center for International Media's 1h2o site. For more information, visit

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