Yemen has long been prone to droughts and floods, and over the past several years it has been facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world — notably a crisis caused by two concurrent military campaigns, in which a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Houthi rebels, with the United States providing support.
Yet, despite its own vulnerabilities, this year the southern region of Yemen has been ravaged by one of the most widespread droughts in the country’s recent history. Cholera has spiked, livestock is dying, and poverty and famine are now projected to worsen as water sources dry up. And earlier this month, it was revealed that for a second time in five years, the official death toll from the 2015 drought is undercounted.
Many humanitarians see much of the problem as a problem of negligence. As Jonathan Beckman and Sofia Karam noted in The New York Times, “The international community has built massive dams and desalination plants in areas that are known to have drought.” And as Eileen Leahy and Josh Holder noted in the Guardian, “Under international climate agreements such as the Clean Development Mechanism and the Kyoto Protocol, emissions from power plants, factories and factories are channeled into projects abroad, such as dams in the south of the country.”
But some suggest a more sophisticated view of climate. As Jessica Neuwirth wrote in The Guardian, “That drought is actually a result of global warming is the clear inference here, and not something that anthropogenic climate change denialists would publicly admit.”
From 2006 to 2014, thanks to the intergovernmental panel on climate change, the world has gotten a clearer picture of climate, and from the perspective of the world, humanity has done very well indeed. For more, watch the Making of a Drought video above.