This is not only because the country is prone to droughts and floods, but also because the majority of Ethiopians (80-85%) depend on agriculture and pastoralism for their livelihoods. With each successive drought and flood, the impact gets even greater — especially on poverty, hunger, and livelihoods — as those furthest behind face even greater barriers and struggle to catch up. The 2011 Horn of Africa drought left 4.5 million Ethiopians in need of food assistance.
Drought is especially dangerous here as Ethiopia is also prone to the effects of El Niño and La Niña: When the country experienced two consecutive failed rainy seasons in 2015 (resulting in the lowest recorded rainfalls in 55 years for some parts of the country), this weather emergency was exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon — a warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific that occurs every two to seven years. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs labelled the 2015-16 El Niño one of the 3 strongest episodes on record, with lasting impact on 60 million people around the world. 9.7 million of those people were Ethiopian.
The climate crisis has exacerbated extreme weather events in Ethiopia. The El Niño phenomenon is a warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific that occurs every two to seven years. During an El Niño event, sea surface temperatures across the Pacific can increase by 1–3°F for anything between a few months and two years.
The last big El Niño happened in 1998, and due to climate change and the general trend towards a warmer global ocean, experts are unsure exactly how this one will play out. What can be observed from current trends however, is that the impact around the world is becoming more extreme.