PERCEIVED HUMAN HEALTH VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN DEMBIA WOREDA OF TANA BASIN, NORTHWEST ETHIOPIA

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Menberu Teshome

Abstract

Climate change is one of the most challenging environmental concerns of the globe in the 21st Century though its visibility is much less than other environmental problems, like deforestation, land degradation, air pollution, etc. The aim of this paper is to assess perceived relative human health vulnerability to climate change-induced risks by creating empirical indices in Dembia woreda (district) of Northwest Ethiopia. Primary data were collected from 372 household heads using questionnaire. The selection of the participants was made using simple random sampling technique. Thirty -two-years meteorological data (1979 – 2010) were gathered from global weather data website. Theory-driven aggregate indices of temperature, rainfall, frequency of extreme weather events and health sensitivity were formed through the equal weighting approach of four composite sub-indices. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) vulnerability assessment framework was used to measure human health components to see differential vulnerability of communities by indicators. The outcome of this relative study puts the rural households of Dembia woreda to the most vulnerable position (0.47 score) to climate change-induced health effects. Componentwise, the households were found to be the most exposed and sensitive social groups by temperature (0.50), rainfall variability (0.44), frequency of extreme weather events (0.51) and levels of access to health-care infrastructure (0.44). It should not imply that the other household groups are entirely resilient. Although the majority of the households have access to health institutions, they reported traveling long distance to reach to health institutions. This, in turn, has likely increased the vulnerability of rural households to health risks in the woreda. This suggests that resources that may have been spent on health sector development might be reallocated to the most vulnerable rural households.

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