Aug 6, 2022 3 min read

Navigating the dry shores of the Blue Nile

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The Nile, the river that once nurtured the mighty Egyptian civilization, is facing harsh impacts of climate change.

This week, we’ll talk about the Nile in Africa. We have a Q&A and a story by Dagim Terefe, a journalist from Ethiopia who travelled along the source of the Blue Nile to find effective measures of climate change adaptation.

Don’t miss this insightful story!

Semasch Alamer in her farm field, Robit Kebele in Ethiopia. Photo: Manyazewal Getachew

Irrigated winter farming offers climate resilience to farmers

Eastern Africa is facing the very real prospect of drought not seen in the last 40 years. It is predicted that that the rains will fail for a fourth consecutive season, placing Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia into a prolonged spell of drought. Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents, when it comes to climate change and climate variability. More specifically, the upper Nile Basin of western Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda is at high risk of agricultural disruption due to climate extremes.

Ethiopia has endured 10 major droughts for the last four decades since 1980 and the average annual temperature has been increasing by 0.37c/decade, with the majority of warming occurring during the second half of the 1990s.

In this week’s newsletter, we share insights from Dagim Terefe who travelled along the Blue Nile to find out how local communities could adapt to the challenging circumstances.

Along with extracting groundwater and expansion of rainwater storage, irrigated winter farming could offer climate resilience to farmers.

Dagim Terefe

Let’s talk about water

Q&A with Dagim Terefe.

What’s the most insightful piece you’ve read about water or climate this month?

I have read an insightful article from The Locals. As you know drought is causing a significant social and economic crisis across the world. You can observe and understand the magnitude by reading or watching the news coming out from Somalia to California or Syria to Europe. My read from The Locals reminds me of the importance of water restrictions across all sectors. Washing cars or watering gardens during the hottest hours of the day is now forbidden under France's alert. This could be one of the good insights to pitch in another angel.

What’s the first book you fondly remember reading and loving?

George Orwell's Animal Farm.

Is there a Twitter thread you love that you come back to? (if so, why)?

I like Scott Duncan's (meteorologist from London) thread about the highest heat record in Hamburg city, Germany. Because the 40c is the highest recorded heat in history. And it has incorporated recorded data from other cities and Denmark which helps me to analyse and understand the extent of climate change effects.

How has social media, especially Twitter, helped journalists in climate reporting?

A wide range of groups worldwide discuss in depth these existential issues that affect our earth. Yet, Journalists are rarely invited to take part in these discussions, not to mention in decision making. Journalists are knowledgeable, have a lot of experience and often report in depth on stories that reveal the relations between water, conflict and climate – both consciously and as a result of their daily reporting. Failed harvests, large-scale floods, migration and war are all issues that are closely related to climate change, that are frequently investigated by local journalists.

What lessons and innovations have you learned from local citizens regarding to climate and water?

Yes, you are right it would be beneficial to make the discussion inclusive if we truly want to make our planet safe for human beings and animals. I hope things will change. Regarding my lesson, I have learned a lot from my journalistic experience. Being a journalist means testing diversified thoughts, traditions and beliefs. Local communities have a lot of knowledge which solves the world's pressing problems if we can empower them. I have changed my story angel and story format many times following getting new insight from local communities during the interview. I believe local communities in collaboration with journalists and academics can solve the anthropogenic problems of our times.

Story of the Week

Battling for survival along the warming source of Blue Nile

Battling for survival along the warming source of Blue Nile

With increasing incidence of erratic rainfall and flooding affecting their crops, groups of small holder farmers switch from rain-fed summer farming to irrigated winter farming through a government-assisted programme, and find it immensely beneficial for their income and food security.

Wrap up

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See you next time,


Joep Janssen
Joep Janssen
Founder and editor-in-chief Nextblue
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