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In drought-prone Ethiopia, pastoralists and farmers fight to control key resources, such as land and water. David Alemu works for Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian aid agency, and explains how his institution builds climate change resilience with local communities.

This interview was conducted at the Planetary Security Conference in The Hague, 5-6 December 2016. It is produced by Paul Müller-Hahl (Lichtbilder Filmproduktion) and directed by Stella Schaller (adelphi).


"In particular, we are working on research and development programmes. The research is particularly the role of peacebuilding and resilience building, resilience to the climate change effects. Mainly we are working in research around the role of peacebuilding and resilience building. And particularly relative to climate change adaptation, we are working with pastoralist communities in identifying the key challenges relative to climate challenges and again support them through a rehabilitation process, integrating the modern science with indigenous community knowledge. So these are the areas but all activities are there in the conflict sensitivity lens – to build a just community, and a socially coherent community.

Areas that I am working in are particularly prone to droughts and prone to ethnic conflict and mostly the conflicts are associated with access to key resource areas. So one part of the areas is pastoral communities and the other is agricultural - so always the main tension between them is to control key natural resources: pastoral for grazing land agricultural for farming land. So that is very common in our area. And even if you go to the bigger level, currently Ethiopia is in a state of emergency, and the way to best accusing the condition currently on Egypt because of the dam over the Nile River. All those things are affecting the wider geopolitical conditions in East Africa and if you go specifically to the community level in the area where I am working, it is affecting the daily life of communities: pastoral vs. agricultural. So it is almost open end. It is not something that we anticipate for the future, it is what is happening currently in all areas."