Ethiopia National Programme of Action (NAPA)


National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) provide a process for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to identify priority activities that respond to their immediate needs to adapt to climate change, ultimately leading to the implementation of projects aimed at reducing the economic and social costs of climate change.

Key Vulnerabilities 

  • Agriculture/Food Security
  • Water Resources
  • Public Health
  • Terrestrial Ecosystems
  • Wildlife
  • Biodiversity

Project details


Ethiopia is found in the Horn of Africa covering an area of about 1.2 million square kilometers. Ethiopia is land-locked country located within the Horn of Africa. Its terrain is characterized by high plateaus, mountains and dry lowland plains (USDS, 2010). Of Ethiopia’s population of approximately 80 million people, 80 per cent are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, including a large population of semi-nomadic pastoralists (USDS, 2010). It is a mountainous country with a rich diversity in climate, biodiversity, ethnicity and culture. Its climate varies from hot and arid to cold and humid types. The country is also endowed with rich water resources compared to most African countries. These natural resource bases are yet to be developed sustainably for the socio-economic development of the country. Though the economic reform made after the political change in 1991 brought significant improvements in the economy, Ethiopia is still one of the least developed countries (LDCs) in the World. This development status makes the country more vulnerable to climate variability and change. In recent years environment has become a key issue in Ethiopia. The main environmental problems in the country include land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, desertification, recurrent drought, flood and water and air pollution.

Adaptation Needs and Priorities

Ethiopia’s climate is tropical in the south-east and north-east lowland areas, and cooler in the highland region located in the central part of the country (McSweeney, 2009). Seasonal rains in Ethiopia are primarily influenced by the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, and much of the country experiences one rainy season from mid-June to mid-September (McSweeney, 2009). However the southern areas of Ethiopia also have a second rainy season of unpredictable and light rains from February to May. Over the past several decades, temperatures in Ethiopia have increased by 1.3°C per decade, and daily average temperate records indicate increasing significantly increasing trends in the number of hot days and hot nights (McSweeney, 2009). A recent survey conducted among agro-pastoralists in the country indicates that this population perceives a change in the type and severity of climate shocks, as well as more variable rainfall, which is having a negative impact on assets, including livestock and farmland (Naess et al., 2010).

Under future climate conditions, Ethiopia’s temperatures are expected to continue to rise over the next century by as much as 5.1°C by the 2090s (McSweeney, 2009). Predictions of future rainfall patterns are less certain given the presence of strong inter-annual and inter-decadal variability (McSweeney, 2009).

Ethiopia’s National Communication, prepared in 2001, discusses a number of vulnerabilities of the country due to the impacts of climate change. The document highlights that Ethiopia is particularly vulnerable to climate change as a large part of the country is arid and semi-arid, and is highly prone to desertification and drought (MWR & NMA 2001). The forest, water and biodiversity resources of the country are also considered to be sensitive to climate change. As in many other countries in the region, Ethiopia is particularly vulnerable to climate change given the large proportion of the population that depends on agricultural and pastoral activities for their livelihoods. Riché et al. (2009) discuss the vulnerability of pastoral communities in the Borana and Shinile zones of Ethiopia, populations which have been adapting their livelihoods to a changing climate for centuries. The study finds that the ability of these populations to adapt to future climate changes is constrained by a number of factors, including increasing land degradation; conflicts over scarce resources; limited access to information limited education, skills and access to financial services; inadequate government policies, capacities and coordination; and social and gender inequalities. A recent report made a number of recommendations as to how adaptation within agro-pastoral communities in Ethiopia may be furthered, including the following: ensure that policies and programs are informed by local-level climate data; encourage the use of traditional indigenous strategies for adapting to climatic extremes; improve policy coherence, coordination, and sectoral integration between national development goals and diverse adaptation needs; improve linkages and communication between early warning institutions, food security programs, and available social safety net program (Naess et al., 2010).

An additional study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute notes the dependency of Ethiopia on the agricultural sector, which comprises more than half of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, generates over 85 per cent of exchange earnings, and employs around 80 per cent of the population (Deressa, Hassam, and Ringler; 2008). It is this dependence that makes Ethiopia especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The study conducted a survey in order to estimate the regions of the country most vulnerable to the effects of climate change; the results indicate that Afar, Somali, Oromia, and Tigray are relatively more vulnerable to climate change than the other regions, and these results are highly correlated with poverty levels(Deressa, Hassam, and Ringler; 2008). This study suggests that there is a need to direct adaptation funding towards these most vulnerable groups within Ethiopia’s agro-pastoral communities.

Ethiopia’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) identifies eleven priority adaptation projects, summarized in Table 3, which focus on adaptation activities within the agriculture and pastoralism sectors. These projects include: promotion of a drought/crop insurance program; the strengthening of drought and flood early warning systems; the development of small scale irrigation and water harvesting schemes; improvement of rangeland resource management practices; community-based sustainable use of wetlands; capacity building; and improved food security through large-scale water development projects (MWR & NMA 2007).

National Level Policies

In addition to developing a National Communication for the UNFCCC as well as a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), Ethiopia is presently in the process of drafting a national climate change policy. In 2009, Ethiopia held a National Climate Change Conference, bringing together 400 participants from government, NGOs, business, and the United Nations to discuss responsibilities around developing Ethiopia’s forthcoming national policy on climate change. This event was sponsored by Oxfam, and at the event the Prime Minister of Ethiopia announced the establishment of a National Climate Change Forum to coordinate institutions involved in addressing the impacts of climate change on droughts, floods, reduced crops, and an increase in illnesses (malaria, HIV/AIDS).

Current Adaptation Action

Ethiopia has a very high number of adaptation projects compared to other East African countries. These projects are being implemented across a wide range of priority sectors. More than half of these projects focused on the agricultural sector (both crop and livestock). A number of other projects address needs related to freshwater resources, disaster risk management and building the capacity of government to facilitate adaptation to climate change. By type, the majority of projects in Ethiopia are focused on capacity building, policy formation and research. A small proportion include field implementation and community-based adaptation components. Many of these types of activities are occurring through projects designed specifically for Ethiopia. These nationally focused projects are receiving funding from the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). The latter is supporting the project “Promoting Autonomous Adaptation at the Community-level in Ethiopia” that responds to several priorities identified in Ethiopia’s NAPA. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is also funding adaptation activities in Ethiopia.

The bulk of projects being implemented in Ethiopia are part larger regional, Africa-wide and global adaptation initiatives, including a number of prominent programs being funded in the region. These include the Africa Adaptation Program, funded by the Government of Japan, as well as Denmark’s “Climate Change Adaptation and Development Initiative” (CC-DARE), both of which focus on capacity building and policy formation and integration. In addition the European Commission is funding work in Ethiopia through the Global Climate Change Alliance—focusing on risk reduction and integrating adaptation into poverty reduction efforts. As well, the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa program, jointly funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is supporting a number of regional and Africa-wide projects. Further, the Netherlands government is contributing to the Partners for Climate Resilience program focused on capacity building and awareness raising to achieve risk reduction.

Proposed Adaptation Action

Within its NAPA, Ethiopia proposed 11 potential adaptation projects as listed in Table 3. Of these, funding has been received from the Least Developed Country Fund (LCDF) for the project “Promoting Autonomous Adaptation at the Community Level in Ethiopia.” The SCCF-funded project, “Coping with Droughts and Climate Change,” is also addressing adaptation priorities identified through Ethiopia’s NAPA.
In addition, Ethiopia is identified along with nine other African countries as being part of the proposed project, “Microeconomic Costing of Discrete Adaptation Options in the Agriculture Sector: A Sub-National Level Analysis of the Welfare Gains of Dynamic Adaptation.” Funding for this project has been requested from the Special Climate Change Fund.


Ethiopia is implementing a number of projects that help to support its priority adaptation actions as identified in its NAPA. The following list matches Ethiopia’s NAPA priority projects with current projects whose objectives reinforce and support the NAPA project:

  • Promote a drought/crop insurance program: This proposed NAPA project is supported through the following activities: “Seeds for Needs” assesses the ability of wheat and barley to respond to future climate conditions; “Coping with Drought and Climate Change” tests the ability of different agricultural practices to cope with drought; “Improving Climate Risk Decision-Making Capacity of Smallholder Farmers to Drought Prone Areas” focuses on capacity building for farmers in drought-prone areas; and “Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation” is testing an insurance scheme that uses a rainfall index to trigger compensation for farmers in drought-prone areas.
  • Strengthen/enhance drought and flood early warning systems: This proposed NAPA project is supported through the project “Coping with Drought and Climate Change,” which is assessing the vulnerability of farmers and pastoralists to future climate shocks.
  • Develop small scale irrigation and water harvesting schemes in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas of Ethiopia: This proposed NAPA project is supported through the projects: “Re-thinking Water Storage for Climate Change Adaptation in Sub-Saharan Africa,” which focuses on developing physical water storage; and “Running Dry: Empowering poor people to manage water in arid and semi-arid lands.”
  • Improving/enhancing rangeland resource management practices in the pastoral areas of Ethiopia: This proposed NAPA project is supported through the project “Coping with Drought and Climate Change” which aims to develop coping mechanisms for pastoralists vulnerable to future climate shocks.
  • Capacity building program for climate change adaptation in Ethiopia: This proposed NAPA project is supported through the current activity: “Promoting Autonomous Adaptation at the Community Level in Ethiopia,” which assists local communities and administrations at the lowest levels of government to design and implement adaptation options.
  • Establish national research and development center for climate change: This proposed NAPA project is supported through the ongoing project entitled “Adaptation of Land use to Climate Change in Sub-Saharan Africa” focuses on the development of climate change scenarios and to advancing climate research in Ethiopia.
  • Promote on farm and homestead forestry and agro-forestry practices in arid, semi-arid and dry-sub humid parts of Ethiopia: The “Adaptation of Land use to Climate Change in Sub-Saharan Africa” project also contributes to this NAPA project by addressing agroforestry.

There are multiple projects that touch upon the same priority sectors, including agriculture, disaster risk management, and freshwater resource. Given the sale of the challenges that climate change presents in these areas and the considerable vulnerability faced by Ethiopia, multiple projects may be justified. However, there is a need to ensure that these activities are coordinating with one another and that lessons learned are integrated and shared. This observation may be particular true with respect to projects within the agriculture sector.
Moreover, there may be a rationale for directing future sources of funding towards priority NAPA projects in under-represented sectors. These include projects that focus on sustainable management of wetlands, large-scale water development projects, research, and human health:

  • Community-based sustainable utilization and management of wet lands in selected parts of Ethiopia;
  • Realize food security through multi-purpose large-scale water development project in Genale-Dawa Basin;
  • Establish national research and development center for climate change; and
  • Strengthen malaria containment program in selected areas of Ethiopia.

As well, the studies discussed in Section A assess the vulnerability of pastoralists and the agriculture sector to climate change in Ethiopia, and identify specific zones and regions within the country that are particularly vulnerable to these effects. While certain current adaptation action does focus on sub-regions within Ethiopia, going forward it may be important to ensure that future adaptation programming reaches areas that will be the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Other areas in which may receive greater attention in the future are pastoralism, urban areas and the differential gender-based impacts of climate change.

Source: Hove, Hilary; Echeverría, Daniella; Parry, Jo-Ellen. (2011) “Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: East Africa.”Adaptation Partnership / International Institute for Sustainable Development.


Signature programmes: 
Climate-related hazards addressed: 
Level of intervention: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
Through improved capacity building and project identification, government agencies and other actors will increase their abilities to insulate at risk urban and rural populations from the adverse effects of climate change.
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations: 
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Ethiopia National Meteorological Agency, Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector
Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority
Project status: 
Financing amount: 
Co-financing total: 

Key results and outputs

Key Vulnerabilities 

  • Agriculture/Food Security
  • Water Resources
  • Public Health
  • Terrestrial Ecosystems
  • Wildlife
  • Biodiversity
Potential Adaptation Measures

Agriculture and Food Security

  • Switch to different cultivars
  • Improve and conserve soils
  • Enhance irrigation efficiency and/or expand irrigation
  • Develop early warning systems and disaster preparedness
  • Improve pest and disease forecast and control

Water Resources

  • Increase water supply, e.g. by using groundwater, building reservoirs, improving or stabilizing watershed management, desalination
  • Decrease water demands, e.g. by increasing efficiency, reducing water losses, water recycling, changing irrigation practices
  • Develop and introduce flood and drought monitoring and control system
  • Reduce water pollution
  • Improve or develop water management
  • Alter system operating rules, e.g. pricing policies, legislation

Reports and publications


Jessica Troni
Regional Technical Advisor