ERITREA IS LOCATED in the Horn of Africa between 12 degrees 22' and 18 degrees 02' north and between 36 degrees 26' and 43 degrees 13' east, bordering Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the South, Djibouti in the Southeast and with the Read Sea in the East. Total land area is 77,236 sq. mi. (124,300 sq. km.) with a coastline of 1,180 mi. (1,900 km.), territorial waters are around 74,564 sq. mi. (120,000 sq. km.). Around 390 islands are located in the Eritrea Red Sea Zone, among them the prominent Dahelak Archipelago. The population is estimated to be around 3.5 million (2001 estimates), 20 people per sq. mi. (33 per sq. km.), with about 431,000 located in the capital, Asmara. Eritrea became independent as a nation after separation from Ethiopia in 1991, and similarly, Eritrea has suffered from erratic rains, droughts and famines.
Precipitation ranges from 7.8-43 in. (200-1,100 mm.). Due to high topographic variations it has diverse climatic zones with major rainfall in the Central Highlands and Western Lowlands during June and September. Summer rain is caused by southwesterly monsoon winds. Eastern lowland and the escarpments have rainfall between November and March, because of continental winds blowing over the Red Sea. The escarpment is the wettest area of the country due to orographic effects and bimodal rainfall regimes, in some places. The six agro-ecological zones are the moist highland, the arid highland, sub-humid, moist lowland, arid lowland, and the semi-desert, betweeen altitudes from 328-9,901 ft. (100-3,018 m.) above sea level.
The six major drainage basins are the Setit, the Mereb Gash, the Barka-Anseba, the Read Sea, the Danakil Depression, and the small catchments flowing to the Sudan. They are currently not used for irrigation and other infrastructure services. About 80 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture, mostly subsistence agriculture. Eritrea has a potential to expand fisheries and tourism in the coastal and marine areas as well as the industrial sector, but these efforts are just beginning. Currently, Eritrea as a Least Developed Country (LDC) is one of the world's poorest country with per capita income below $100 per year. Biomass accounts for about 75.5 percent and petroleum, the only fossil fuel, for 24.5 percent of the total energy consumption.
CO2 emissions amounts 622,5 Gg, equivalent to 0.133298 per 1,000 people according to latest estimates, which is not much different from 1994 data. However, the major share of CO2 emissions comes from the land-use change and forestry (LUCF) sector by burning fuel wood, deforestation and soil degradation with an additional net balance of emission of 1676 Gg in 1994. So the LUCF in Eritrea is a source rather than a sink for emissions. The second major source is from petroleum combustion in road transport and energy industries, accounting for about 283 and 241 Gg of CO2. Nitrous oxides account for about 6 Gg, mainly from the energy secotor, methane 74 Gg mainly from agriculture.
Eritrea is most vulnerable to climate change. The UK8 model turned out to be the best predictor for climate change in Eritrea. With doubling greenshouse gases, temperature is expected to rise by 7.2 degrees F (4.1 degrees C) within the next century, affecting especially the Port City of Massawa, which is mainly located at sea level, leading to estimated economic losses of $14-$243 million. Harsh climatic conditions and periodic droughts already limit the scope of regeneration of biodiversity. Climate change would diversify and shift the bio-climatic zones. Surprisingly, agricultural yields are predicted to increase due to possible beneficial atmospheric effects of CO2.
Climate change policies in Eritrea are intended to complement the country's objective for attainment of food security and poverty reduction. Planned adaptation programs are: reforestation/afforestation, mainly implemented by area closure systems; introduction of energy efficient technologies for power generation such as the Hirghigo Power Plant Project and into households; introduction of renewable energies; formulation of laws and standards; introduction of efficient public transport systems, particularly in urban centers; education and awareness measures. The country will require financial support and technology transfer from developed countries to be enabled for full implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process. Eritrea ratified the Convention on April 24, 1995 and the Kyoto Protocol on July 28, 2005.
SEE ALSO: Carbon Dioxide; Ethiopia; World Resources Institute (WRI).
bibliography. The State of Eritrea, Ministry of Land, Water and Environment. Department of Environment. Eritreas Initial National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, December 2001, http://unfccc .int/resource/docs/natc/erincl.pdf.
Ingrid Hartmann Independent Scholar
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