África, el cambio climático y la cumbre del G-8

El Primer Ministro británico Tony Blair ha declarado que los temas que tendrán mayor importancia en la Cumbre del G-8, que se realizará en julio próximo, serán la pobreza en África y el cambio climático global. Pueden parecen problemas sin relación entre si, pero de hecho la tienen. Un viaje que hice a una aldea de la región de Tigre, en el norte de Etiopía, puede servir para ilustrar este nexo.

Una mañana fui conducido al lecho seco de un río, justo en las afueras de la aldea. Allí los campesinos estaban cavando un pozo para llegar al manto acuífero que se encontraba aproximadamente dos metros bajo el nivel del suelo. Me explicaron que hasta hacía poco ese había sido un río perenne (que fluye todo el año), pero que ahora deja de hacerlo durante la estación seca. Sólo cuando las lluvias anuales comienzan en el verano, reaparece el agua en el lecho del río. Hasta entonces, las sedientas comunidades cavan pozos para buscar agua, si es que la encuentran y pueden permitirse bombearla hacia la superficie.

En el norte de Etiopía, como en gran parte de África, el ciclo de las lluvias ha cambiado notablemente en los años recientes. Desde hace mucho, la vida de la aldea etíope ha dependido de dos cosechas, una durante una corta lluvia en marzo y abril, y la principal durante las lluvias más prolongadas de los meses de verano. En los últimos años, han cesado del todo las lluvias cortas y las lluvias más largas han tenido un patrón irregular. El hambre es omnipresente. Quizás la mitad de los niños pesan mucho menos de lo normal para su edad.

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