Eritrea is located at the northern part of the Horn of Africa, Eritrea shares a border with Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti and has a landmass area of, about 125,700 km2 inclusive of the islands, and a coastline spanning some 1,720 kilometres. Eritrea is amongst the poorest countries in the world, confirmed by its Human Development Index rank of 157 from 177 countries. Approximately 3.5 million people reside in Eritrea, with the majority of the population living in the cooler areas of the central highlands (MLWE, 2007). Its terrain extends from highlands in the country’s central and northern regions, to flat coastal plains in the eastern lowlands, and to flat plains of the western lowlands (MLWE, 2007). Eritrea also has jurisdiction over about 300 islands located in the Red Sea. No rivers flow throughout the year in Eritrea (USDS, 2011). Two-thirds of the 3.66 million population live in rural and semi-rural areas. Approximately 80 per cent of the population lives in rural areas and depends on subsistence rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods, including both crop production and livestock (MLWE, 2007). Agriculture, fisheries, industries, tourism and mining are important parts of the country’s economy (MLWE, 2007). In 2007, agriculture accounted for 21 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP); industry accounted for 22 per cent of GDP, and the service sector 58 per cent (MLWE, 2007). With a level of Gross National Income of US$640 per capita107 (USDS, 2011), Eritrea is considered to be amount the least developed countries in the world. Eritrea is one of the most food insecure countries in sub-Saharan Africa and has one of the highest rates of malnutrition; the country also imports roughly half of the food required to meet basic needs (MA, 2010). War and frequent drought, combined with population growth, have reduced food production and investment in development. Eritrea faces severe and acute vulnerability including Africa’s highest level of food insecurity and extreme malnutrition.
Climatic risks pose a serious challenge to Eritrea’s emerging development priorites for agricultural development, livestock raising, forestry conservation, water resource management, coastal and marine environmental protection and safeguarding public health. For each of these sectors, adaptation options have been identified on the basis of desk-based assessments coupled with ground-truthing through extensive stakeholder consultations, including individuals from governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and grass roots communities across the country. Pastoralists are among the most vulnerable communities. Over the years, pastoralists have evolved a production system that adapts to the fluctuations in feed and water supply availability. The major river basins and the areas with relatively higher rainfall and soil fertility of the rangelands serve as the dry season camp, while the open grazing land of the drier areas form the wet season camp. This traditional coping practice has been disturbed by a number of factors, including increasing conflicting land use pressures, land degradation, and newly established Government policies, e.g. on settling mobile people.