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Ethiopia, where the Paris Climate Agreement gets real PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 15:01

The same day global leaders were gathering at the United Nations in New York to sign an historic climate agreement, my family and I stood in front of a tiny solar-powered trailer on the side of a dusty, dirt-packed road in southern Ethiopia.
The tiny SolarKiosk, nestled near traditional thatched huts and surrounded by cows and goats, sells different-sized solar lanterns, as well as power for mobile phones and bottles of Fanta. Add a comment

Ethiopia, where the Paris Climate Agreement gets real PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 15:01

The same day global leaders were gathering at the United Nations in New York to sign an historic climate agreement, my family and I stood in front of a tiny solar-powered trailer on the side of a dusty, dirt-packed road in southern Ethiopia.
The tiny SolarKiosk, nestled near traditional thatched huts and surrounded by cows and goats, sells different-sized solar lanterns, as well as power for mobile phones and bottles of Fanta. Add a comment

Be rational PDF Print E-mail
By Staff Reporter   
Monday, 28 March 2016 06:30

No matter which side you stand with, we always find some issues of interest to us and before one knows it, we find ourselves drawn into the middle of the debate. There are always issues arising that are worth giving an ear to and our mind as well. While many of us do not really understand the cause of a motion because we more often tend to be overtaken by mob thinking, it is worth pondering on things a bit more consciously and try to understand its motive and what is at stake for us.         
I say this because I saw two weeks ago an astoundingly large number of people denouncing the new traffic law along side with Addis Ababa taxi drivers, the very individuals citizens usually blame for deadly road accidents. Instead of showing solidarity with the law, many opted to be against it and make even more confusion, you understand what I mean. Some three years ago, I decided to retire from diving because of the terrible traffic and now I take out my car when it is necessary and at moments when the roads are less congested. Of course, that limit does not include Sunday driving when the roads are so calm. This helped me a great deal to shake off my frustration that I might run over a pedestrian or get smashed by some crazy heavy truck driver and it confirmed to me that sometimes giving up some routines could be reliving. Add a comment

African Union must whip Burundi into line PDF Print E-mail
By Bernard Mpofu   
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 07:16

ONE of the biggest tragedies in post-colonial Africa has been the failure by its people and leaders alike to call a spade a spade.
President Robert Mugabe is expected to bow out as African Union (AU) chairperson at a time when Burundi has become a regional hotspot that has left children and women living in fear.
Burundi has become another case projecting a contested narrative of ineffective peer review mechanisms in Africa.
Sadly regional blocs are now seen as dictators’ talk shows. For how long should discerning Burundians continue to be harassed, intimidated and tortured for speaking truth to power before regional leaders take the bull by its horns?
Calls for a well-trained AU force will become much louder after Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza threatened to repel African Union (AU) peacekeepers if they are deployed to the country. The AU announced last month that it would send 5 000 troops to protect civilians in the country, even without the government’s consent.
Political upheaval and systematic killings by security forces and armed opposition have left many petrified, after demonstrations broke out last April in response to Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third electoral term. The decimation of civilians escalated after July’s disputed polls which the incumbent won. Since then, Burundi has never known peace. And Africa is watching.
Whether or not the chair of the AU is symbolic is a debate for another day. While alive to the geopolitics of the Great Lakes and attendant risks awaiting AU forces when they set foot in Burundi, one thing that is apparent is Mugabe - who hands over the proverbial baton stick to Chad president Idriss Deby - should be more vocal on the Burundi issue to save lives.
A country can fight until the end of time to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty but human life is and will always be sacred. Mugabe should unequivocally express his impatience with Burundi lest the invisible hand may take up matters and before long, Burundi slides into a failed state.
The unpalatable situation presents an opportunity for contemporary African leaders to re-write history.
If the deployment sails through, it would be the first time the AU has used its power to deploy a force without a country’s consent. Mugabe and other African leaders must stand up and be counted.
Through bickering and developing cold feet Africa is not only denying its people to be part of the history making but depriving them of dignity as well.
As Mugabe bids farewell to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the AU secretariat, Nkurunziza who dispatched a special envoy to Harare in an attempt to stall the deployment of AU force should be called to order. He should be held accountable for human life losses and respect the AU Charter, lest the regional body becomes irrelevant. Any contrary development will be a betrayal to millions that call this continent home.

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Ethiopia: Land for Sale? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 18 January 2016 08:05

Just a few decades ago, Ethiopia was a country defined by its famines, particularly between 1983-1985 when in excess of half a million people starved to death as a consequence of drought, crop failure and a brutal civil war.
Against this backdrop, it is impressive that in recent years, Ethiopia has been experiencing stellar economic growth. The headline statistics are certainly remarkable: the country is creating millionaires faster than any other in Africa; output from farming, Ethiopia’s dominant industry, has tripled in a decade; the capital Addis Ababa is experiencing a massive construction boom; and the last six years have seen the nation’s GDP grow by a staggering 108 percent.
But it is not all positive news, because for all the good figures there are still plenty of bad ones.
Around 90 percent of the population of 87 million still suffers from numerous deprivations, ranging from insufficient access to education to inadequate health care; average incomes are still well below $1500 a year; and millions of people still face chronic food shortages.
And while there are a number of positive and genuine reasons for the growth spurt - business and legislative reforms, more professional governance, the achievements of a thriving service sector - many critics say that the growth seen in agriculture, which accounts for almost half of Ethiopia’s economic activity and a great deal of its recent success, is actually being driven by an out of control ‘land grab', as  multinational companies and private speculators vie to lease millions of acres of the country’s most fertile territory from the government at bargain basement prices.
At the ministry of agriculture in Addis Ababa, this land-lease programme is often described as a "win-win" because it brings in new technologies and employment and, supposedly, makes it easier to improve health care, education and other services in rural areas.
"Ethiopia needs to develop to fight poverty, increase food supplies and improve livelihoods and is doing so in a sustainable way," said one official.
But according to a host of NGO’s and policy advocates, including Oxfam, Human Rights Watch and the Oakland Institute, the true consequences of the land grabs are almost all negative. They say that in order to make such huge areas available for foreign investors to grow foodstuffs and bio-fuels for export - and in direct contravention of Ethiopia’s obligations under international law - the authorities are displacing hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples, abusing their human rights, destroying their traditions, trashing the environment, and making them more dependent on food aid than ever before.
"The benefits for the local populations are very little," said renowned Ethiopian sociologist Dessalegn Rahmato. "They’ve taken away their land. They’ve taken away their natural resource, because these investors are clearing the land, destroying the forest, cutting down the trees. The government claims that one of the aims of this investment was to enable local areas to benefit by investing in infrastructure, social services … but these benefits are not included in the contract. It's only left up to the magnanimity of the investor."
And those investors, he continued, are simply not interested in anything other than serving their own needs: "They can grow any crop they want, when they want it, they can sell in any market they want, whether it’s a global market or a local market. In fact most of them are not interested in the local markets.”
He cited as an example a massive Saudi-owned plantation in the fertile Gambella region of south west Ethiopia, a prime target area for investors: "They have 10,000 hectares and they are producing rice. This rice is going to be exported to the Middle East, to Saudi Arabia and other places. The local people in that area don’t eat rice."
But the most controversial element of the government’s programme is known as 'villagisation' - the displacement of people from land they have occupied for generations and their subsequent resettlement in artificial communities.
In Gambella, where two ethnic groups, the Anuaks and the Nuers, predominate, it has meant tens of thousands of people have been forced to abandon a traditional way of life. One such is Moot, an Anuak farmer who now lives in a government village far from his home.
"When investors showed up, we were told to pack up our things and to go to the village. If we had decided not to go, they would have destroyed our crops, our houses and our belongings. We couldn't even claim compensation because the government decided that those lands belonged to the investors. We were scared … if you get upset and say that someone stole your land, you are put in prison. If you complain about being arrested, they will kill you. It's not our land anymore; we have been deprived of our rights."
Despite growing internal opposition and international criticism, the Ethiopian government shows no sign of scaling the programme back. According to the Oakland Institute, since 2008, an area the size of France has already been handed over to foreign corporations. Over the next few years an area twice that size is thought to be earmarked for leasing to investors.

(Al Jazeera)

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1. Do you think the drought will affect next year harvest?

(269 votes)

22.3%   (60)
62.5%   (168)
15.2%   (41)


2. Do you think water problem in Addis Ababa will be solved by next year?

(324 votes)

50%   (162)
29.9%   (97)
20.1%   (65)

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