On Wednesday 5 April 2000 the Vice Minister of the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, Mr.Belay Ejigu, gave a press conference on the Forest Fires in Bale and Borana Zones. He declared that the wildfires in these Zones are suppressed. The experts of the Ministry of Agriculture were called back to Addis Ababa and asked to prepare their final reports. Except for continued monitoring of the situation by zonal experts the fire fighting activities are being completed for the time being.
At this stage the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) would like to congratulate all national Ethiopian and international partners for successful collaboration in combating the disastrous wildfires.
This fire fighting campaign – the very first and successful multinational intervention in history – had started in late February 2000. On request of the Government of Ethiopia immediate situation analysis and subsequent assistance was provided by a group of countries. The agencies officially involved through the diplomatic channels and the individual fire specialists dispatched to Ethiopia or supporting the campaign from their home offices worked together smoothly and efficiently.
From the beginning of the situation the GFMC, in close collaboration with the Government of Ethiopia and the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), has assessed, monitored and supported the campaign. The whole summary of all the reports which have been provided on the GFMC is now available on this website. A short and more condensed summary will be published in the April 2000 issue of International Forest Fire News on this website and printed as United Nations Publication (see IFFN). In this report all the aid rushed to Ethiopia will be described in detail, to mention notably the fast response by Germany, South Africa, United States of America, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The Armed Forces of Ethiopia, the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and the numerous villagers and enthusiastic students which provided voluntary help are acknowledged here.
All worked together to save the ecologically and biodiversity rich assets of the afro-montane forests of Ethiopia.
More challenges are ahead: The burning of forests and the escaping of wildfires will continue. In order to address uncontrolled and destructive wildfires a long-term prevention and preparedness program in fire management must be installed. The need for such development does not only apply for Ethiopia but also for all other countries in Africa. Following the example of Namibia, a National Round Table on Fire will be convened soon in Ethiopia. At this Round Table all national stakeholders involved in land-use and fire problems will be convened, together with the international community.
Ethiopia is facing another major environmental and humanitarian crisis. The prolonged drought has caused a major decline if agricultural and pastoral production. Millions of Ethiopian people are endangered by famine and death. International solidarity is required to respond fast.
The conflicts are visible: People need land and food. Forests are “reserve” lands for providing space for the rapidly expanding populations. If we all want to save human lives and the forests we need to act responsibly. Let us not forget that humanitarian and environmental disasters interact or cause each other.
The GFMC will further follow the fire situation in Ethiopia. The GFMC has to go back to its working mode which currently allows updating of the global fire situation only during weekdays due to limited finances and personnel.
Ethiopia Current Fire Weather Situation and Forecast
Fire Weather Forecast for the Southern Region:
The upper-air low is weakening and moving eastwards and the prospects for rain decrease during this period.
6 Day 14h00 Forecast Ethiopia Region Goba Area Day Temp (C) Hum (%) W Dir WSpd (km/h) Bar (Hpa) FDI Tendency Fri 7 23 68 NE 16 1009 44 Green – Sat 8 24 58 SE 18 1011 51 Yellow – Sun 9 22 55 SE 16 1013 47 Yellow – Mon 10 23 52 SE 13 1014 48 Yellow – Tue 11 25 42 SE 13 1012 53 Yellow – Wed 12 26 40 SE 13 1011 55 Yellow
Source of forecast tables: Net Forecasting (South Africa) on the base of data from the ECMWF (European Center For Medium Range Weather Forecasts) and the U.K.M.O. (United Kingdom Meteorological Office).
Fig.1 and 2. Fire weather forecast maps for Ethiopia, 7 and 8 April 2000. Map legend
(Source: Net Forecasting)
Also available is a three-month rain forecast (starting 26 February 2000). The implications of this forecast are discussed by Net Forecasting.
An Eastern Africa and the Horn Satellite Imagery (NDVI) and rainfall analysis is provided by the USAID Famine Early Warning System.
The Ethiopian National Fire Fighting Committee, supported by the International Fire Emergency Advisory Group, has set up an Incident Command System. The structure of the system is given in the chart (Fig.3).
Fig.3. Structure of the Incident Command System (State: 20 March 2000)
For further information (history of the current fire situation in Ethiopia, starting in February 2000) please refer also to the earlier reports this and last week at the “Current Significant Fire Events” page. Some visual impressions from the ongoing fires in Ethiopia and several photographs taken from the Space Shuttle missions in the 1980s and 1990s with general impression of land cover and fires are also available.