Why Ethiopians remain hungry – Geoffrey York (The Globe and Mail)

December 1st, 2009 Print Print Email Email

A casual visitor to Ethiopia’s capital city is quickly impressed by the smooth new roads and gleaming skyscrapers these days. (more…)

A casual visitor to Ethiopia’s capital city is quickly impressed by the smooth new roads and gleaming skyscrapers these days.

Sure, it has shacks and slums, but in comparison to most of Africa’s sprawling chaotic capitals, Addis Ababa seems to be a neat and tidy city, relatively well-organized and controlled.

Ethiopia’s new partnership with China is paying big dividends for the government. Not only is it providing the Chinese technology that allows Ethiopian authorities to block websites and spy on e-mails and cellphones, but it is also producing some of the smoothest new roads in Africa. Thanks to the Chinese-built highways, motorists can zip around Addis Ababa in relative ease, with few of the traffic jams that plague other African cities.

This is the city that the government wants you to see. But if you take a moment to ponder why the Ethiopian capital is so neat and tidy, you’ll understand why this country is still one of the poorest in the world.

With 80 million people, Ethiopia is the second-biggest country in Africa, and one of the fastest-growing. Yet its main city is smaller than Nairobi or Lagos or Khartoum or Kinshasa or many other African cities. An incredible 83 per cent of Ethiopia’s population is still rural, and most are living in near-medieval conditions, dependent on oxen-pulled ploughs and tiny plots of land, with almost no irrigation or mechanization.

Ethiopia has little of the urban migration that propels most big cities in the developing world. The rural population is, literally, stuck on the farm. Their farmland belongs to the state and cannot be sold. Most dare not leave their farms in case they lose their right to the land. The government discourages them from moving to the cities because it is afraid of urban unrest.

As a result, the rural population is trapped on the farms, highly vulnerable to drought and famine. Its residents don’t have the money-making opportunities that they would have in the cities. And as the population booms, its land is divided and subdivided into ever-smaller plots. Over the past 20 years, the average Ethiopian farm has gotten smaller and smaller, while per-capita farm production has shrunk.

The bottom line: an impoverished country where malnutrition is chronic, food emergencies are frequent, and almost one-sixth of the population is dependent on food aid.

Even China has learned that it cannot keep the peasants on the farms forever. After decades of restricting the peasants by prohibiting them from moving to the cities without a “residence permit,” China has begun to allow its farmers to move to the cities if they want. A massive migration to the cities has allowed China to avoid starvation and keep the economy booming.

If Ethiopia is shrewd, it will learn this lesson from China – not merely the lessons of Chinese spying and blocking technology.

  1. Ethiopian
    | #1

    Geoffrey York (The Globe and Mail)
    Why Ethiopians remain hungry ? is a bad title to give to your article , my question is why the west media has to write only the bad and ugly about Africa ? we see this time and time again from the western media. Geoffrey York,of (The Globe and Mail) said “If Ethiopia is shrewd, it will learn this lesson from China” a few years ago the west used to write all kinds of non sense about China , now they are puting China as an example , you can write all kinds of things about Ethiopia ,give Ethiopia a few years “Geoff” and the rest of west media will write and advisee countries to learn from Ethiopia, just like they did in the case of China. because, “Geoff” As you know and mentioned above—> With 80 million people, “Ethiopia is the second-biggest country in Africa, and one of the fastest-growing”

  2. DAWIT
    | #2


    According to me the above assessement is simply your opinion.

    Your inventory of the facts may also be mostly accurate. However, you lack to recommend an alternative as a better way forward for my country to come out of its age old cycles of famine/poverty.

    Unlike your assertion, the government is doing every thing they can in order to give a permanent solution to the problem.

    Roads, Health Centers, Schools are being built all over the country not just in Addis. All high level education was centered only in Addis. But now, the goverment is in a very advanced stages of implemeting a programme to have 13 universities spread across the country, each having higher infrastructureal and academical capacity. In reality, the government has championed the idea of decentralization so that the rular poor will have a say on their fates in stead of living by decisions imposed on them by the urban elites. It is a kind of funny to observe that you’re unhappy due to the fact that Addis is not overwhelmed by the urbanization crisis. It is OK to be a city boy but assuming one’s preference of lifestyle to be the modus operandi for a nation is absurd. Be it in Africa or elsewhere Urbanization is a huge problem that many have no idea how they can deal with. Ethiopia will progress with out the notion that you seem to be advocating, which is the exodus of the rular communitiy to the towns.

    The land policy alone is not the mother of all problems of my country but just one.

    I admit, my government has a lot to go in improviong their ways of doing business. I don’t endorse every thing they do. However, I’m a great admirer and supporter of the long term objectives they set. The current economic & development agendas they are pursuing are also in line with the BIGGER picture of the clearly articulated objective in the programmes of the ruling party. Whereas, you seem to be highly opinionated over a very complex issue, with a myopic view. If you really are concerned about Ethiopia, I suggest you do the following next time you travel to my country; you go down to those poor folks in the remote parts of the country and hear what they have to say for themselves. Hopefuly, you won’t cheat yourself by putting words in their mouth to return and report all you want to say from the beginning. Reading thought the lines of your article, what I see is your attack on the government rather than the analysis of the issue.


  3. DAWIT
    | #3

    it is in deed a shame if you guys are not going to publish my comments

  4. ደምስ
    | #4

    The dictator melese gov’t has a policy of begging and will do every thing not to libralize the Telcom industries in Ethiopia.

    Agnets like OXFAM is money gerator for this evil gov’t. As long as dictator melese eats, he can always beg for starved Ethiopians. Get very wealthy from foriegn aids and make as many as starved Ethiopians his motto. OXFAM or other agents are happy and the dictator is extrmely happy too.

    From their point of view their are in good business. Poverity = makes money for dictator melese + OXFAM or others agents.

    Libralizing Telcom would be a nightmare for the gov’t. It will open a lot job and change many Ethiopian lives.
    For dictator melese this is not a good option. You have to be very poor and needy to be controlled. Bringing a lot of middle class in Ethiopia is the end of his regime.

  5. almadu
    | #5

    Deputy Commander of Agazi, Col. Alebel, has defected and he is now advising EPPF and Ginbot 7

  6. Basamen zare
    | #6

    ሃገራችን ኢትዮጵያ እንደ አይጥ የሚራቡተን አሳሞች እንድ ቀንደኛ ዓቢይ የምግብ አማራጭ አርጋ ካልተቀበለች: የምግብ ተረጂዎች መሆናችንን አናቓርጥም :ጅማታም ስልባቦት ከመምሰልም አናመልጥም ::

    ኢትዮጵያ በሃይማኖት ምክንያት አሳማን አውግዛ ካባረረች ቆየች, ይኽው ራበን , ረሃብ ጠበሰን ወግ ጠበሰን ለወግ ተሽሞነሞንን:ደናቁርት ኢኮኖሚስቶቻችን ይህንን አስቀድሞ እንደሚመጣብን አያውቁም ነበር : ዸናቁርትና ዓይና አውጣ ቄሶቻችን አሳማን ይቅርታን ጠይቀው ለገበታ ብቁ እንደሆነ አስረድተው መመለስ አለባቸው::
    እንዴት እላያችን ላይ ሌሎች የአፍሪካ ዜጎች ይጨፍሩብን ? እንዴት እስከመቼ የቆሎ ሊቆች በመባል እንታወቃለን ?

    ወግና የቄስ ጥምጥም የሚገዛችሁ አበሾች , ቄስ ባያችሁ ቁጥር 180 ዲግሪ ራሳችሁን ወደታች ዝቅ በማድረግ የዕምነት ግኡዞችና አጉል ደርሶ ራሳችሁን ንጹህ የስራዓት ደላዳይ አታስመስሉት: ቄሱም እንደናንተ የዞረበት ቀጫጫ ጅማታም
    ይህ አለም እንዴት እንደሚቀሳንቀስ ማወቅ የተሳነው ወዘተረፈ ነው : the so called PhD ‘s and experts in planning and engineering the social and economic life of the Ethiopian people failed to do the AB Cs of basic human necessity.

    Our next and big revolution is supposed to focus on how to get more food out of few and farm able lands . Is Teff worth to cultivate? and so on…

  7. Anonymous
    | #7

    Dear Mr Dawit at #3 and 4,

    Despite your stated misgivings,ABUGIDA,typical to the opposition politics and as befits a website with a democratic credential,has recognised your democratic right by publishing your apology for the regime you defend.But why does the minority Tigrean regime you so defend denies us those rights?

  8. Hailekal
    | #8

    ‘…Our next and big revolution is supposed to focus on how to get more food out of few and farm able lands.Is Teff worth to cultivate? and so on….’ so says the evangelical Basamen zare.

    He does this after fanatically banging on his epoch making discovery of eating pork for his wonderful solution of overcoming food shortage in the country!

    But this simplistic solution or rather deliberate distraction does not answer the following couple of questions.

    1)Is it because you have carried out your revolutionary and massive sale of all the fertile and arable lands to the Saudis and others that you say you have now ‘few and farm able lands’?

    2)Surely,the vegetarian half-billion Indians are not starving for lack of eating pork.There is no famine in democratic India as AMARATYA SEN informs us.So why do you think the problem of food shortage and mass starvation has nothing to do with the ravenous dictatorship of TPLF rather than this ludicrous reasoning of our failure to consume pork?

  9. Chris
    | #9

    I ask Ethiopians to go to the Globe & Mail website (just click the link above) to thank the reporter, Mr Geoffrey York. Cyber warrior TPLF full-time paid agents are already there condemning the reporter. It is important to encourage this reporter to show the other TPLF paid CBC reporter B. Stewart in Canada what real reporting sounds like.

  10. አንበሴ
    | #10

    BasmenZare! ምን ነካዎት? መሳደብና አሳማ ስትበሉ ረሃብ ይጠፋል ማለት እንዴት ቢያስቡ ነው?
    የሃይማኖት መሪዎቻችንን ማንቋሸሽና መሳደብ ከእርስዎ አይጠበቅም::
    የአፍሪካ ሃገር ዜጎች በሙሉ በእኛ ይኮራሉ ያከብሩናል እንጂ እርስዎ እንዳሉት አልጨፈሩብንም::
    እውነትን ተናግሮ የመሸበት ማደር ያሉት አባት እናት የጥንት ኢትዮጵያውያን አባባልን ቢያስተውሉ ይሻላል::
    የረሃብ ነገር በኢትዮጵያ መከሰት የጀመረው ከ30-40 አመታት ያለው ጊዜና ወቅት እንጂ: ለረሃቡም መንስኤ የአየር መዛባትና የወንበዴው ወያኔ መንግስት ፖሊሲ መሆኑን ሕሊናዎ ያውቀዋልና አሳማ በመብላት የረሃብን መንስኤ ማስወገድ ይቻላል ብለው ምሁራን አልተናገሩም እንደውም የካንሰርና በቅባት መብዛት ሌላም ሌላም በሽታዎችን እንደሚያመጣና የሰው ልጅ ወደ ቅጠላቅጠልና ወደፍራፍሬ እንዲያዘነብል ይመክራሉ:: ለነገሩ! ኢትዮጵያዊ ነዎትን? አይመስለኝም:: የገዛ ራሱን ዜጋ የሚያዋርድና የሚሳደብ ኢትዮጵያዊ አላየሁም አልሰማሁም ከወያኔ በስተቀር:: ለነገሩ ወያኔዎች ኢትዮጵያውያን አይደሉም::

    የአፍሪካ ዜጎች ኢትዮጵያውያንን እንዲህ ይላሉ:- SMALL BUT EFFECTIVE

  11. Basamen zare
    | #11

    አቶ አንበሴ እንዲሁም አቶ ሃይለ ቃል,

    ምንም አባባሌና አስተያየቴ ድፍረት የተጨመረበት ቢሆንም ,ከብሽቀትና ዕልህ ወይም ደግሞ የበቃው ይብቃ እስከመቼ የረኅብ ምሳሌ እንሆናለን ከማለት የተነሳ እንጂ ,ወገኑን አክባሪ ዜጋ ከሚባሉት አንዱ ነኝ :: ይህ ያለፈው ቃልና አስተያየት በግል አጥንታችሁን ከነካው
    በጣም ይቅርታ:: እኔም ቄስ ዘመድ አለኝ..ሆኖም….አለኅገር ሃይማኖት አይኖርም…ግን ኅገር አለ ሃይማኖት ይኖራል..

    ለህልውናችን ዋናው ምክንያት ምግባችን ነው : ነገር ግን መጥፊያችንም ምግባችን መሆኑ ያሳዝናል .የ74ቱ የጃንሆይ ረሃብ ,የ84ቱ የደርግ ረሃብና ያሁኑ ደግሞ የወያኔ ረሃብ…ጤፍ አዝርዕትን የዓለም ህዝብ ካልነካብን ጊዜያችንን ዕድሜያችንን አቃጥለናል ማለት ነው
    እና አቶ አንበሴ ,የአየር መበከል ለኢትዮጵያ ብቻ አይደለም እነ(Timbuktu)ም በልተው ያድራሉ::አንበሴና ኅይለቃል ክፉኛ አልተረዳችሁኝም ,አሳማ የሚለውን ቃል በማየት ብቻ ላስተያየት ቸኮላችሁ : አሳማ ከሚበላው ምግብ አንጻር ስሙ ጥሩ አይደለም: ለስድብም ስለምንጠቀምበት::ግን ሌላም የሸለለም ስም አለው.. mortadela,sausage,hotdog,kelbasa, frankfurter,salami ..
    አቶ አንብሴ አብዝተው የበሉት ምግብ ምንግዜም ለጤና ጠንቅ ነው..ቅጠልና ፍራፍሬም ለሉሲም አልረባትም…አሳሚቲም የካንሰር ምንጭ ብትሆንማ ኖሮ ይሄን ጊዜ ሙዚየም ውስጥ lipstick ተቀብታ ነበር የምናያት:ገበታም አታጣብብም ነበር::
    እኛ ችግራችን ፖለቲክስ ነው:የጠረጴዛ ጥቅሙ የሚገባን ስለምንበላበት ብቻ አድርገን ስለምናየው ይሆናል ::ይህ ኅቅ ነው በመላው አፍሪካ. መልካም ፆም ለሁላችሁም!

  12. አንበሴ
    | #12

    ንግግርዎ ሁሉ ይውጋህና ይማርህ ሆኖ ሳለ የሸለለውን ስም ትተው የነቁት ሁሉ ትተውታል ሙዚየም እስከሚገባ አንጠብቅም እያሉ:: እየበላነው እንሙት እያሉ ያሉትም ጤናም የላቸው:: የምግብ ጠበብት የካንሰር ምንጭ መሆኑን ባለፈው ዓመት በራሳቸው አንደበት ሲናገሩ ሰምተናልና በሃይማኖታችን እምነት ብቻ ሳይሆን በሳይንስ ስለተረጋገጠ ኢትዮጵያውያን አሳማን እየበላን ከምንሞት ዋናውን አሳማ(ወያኔ) መመንገል ቅድሚያ ልንሰጠው ይገባል:: ከዚያ በኋላ በኢትዮጵያ ምድር ረሃብን ለማጥፋት ምሁራኑ እንዳሉት 3/4ኛውን የኢትዮጵያ ክልል መሬት በማልማት ብቻ የሃገራችንን የምግብ ፍላጎት በ 5 ዓመታት መርሃግብር ውጤት ራሳችንን የምንችልበት መንገድ ይደረጋልና በእልህ ሳይሆን በእርጋታ አስበን እንናገር እንጻፍ:: ወገኑን የሚያከብር ዜጋ ወገኑን በረጋ መንገድ ያስባል::
    ሉሲ ምን ያህል እድሜ ኖረች? አብሮ አደግ ነበራችሁ እንዴ? እርሷ አሳማ ስላልበላች ቀደመችዎት እንዴ? በምን አወቁ ሉሲ ቅጠል ብቻ መብላቷን?
    ያለሃይማኖት የኖረ ሃገር የለም:: ያለሃይማኖት የኖረም ግለሰብ የለም:: ማንም በአረማዊነት(ሃይማኖት የሌሽ) ኖሬያለሁ እየኖርኩኝ ነው ያለሁት የሚለው ሁሉ ግለሰብ ሳይቀር ራሱ ባእድ ሃይማኖት ወይም በጠንቋይ በኮከብ ቆጣሪ Astrologi ሌላም ሌላም ሃይማኖት ውስጥ ነው ያለው የነበረው:: Paganism እራሱ ሃይማኖት ነው::

  13. Anonymous
    | #13

    like you said to give our top of the list by saying ‘hungry’to Ethiopia it is True or just….

  14. Mimi
    | #14

    It is true we are in “hungr”

  15. Mimi
    | #15

    My Cuntery Ethiopia when it going to be end??? when?????? i feel bad all the time when i read the news about as.

  16. Anbese
    | #16

    The famine cause will be end, When we remove the main Hunger makers the Weyane fascist regime.
    Yes you are right, We feel bad, but you should be stand with the Brothers and Sisters Ethiopian standing for Justice, Freedom and Democracy. That is the G7 Movement.
    You knew that verywell, Weyane is one of the Ethiopian main Parasite must be removed from Ethiopia.
    Do not be Hopeless Person for your precious and Lovely Country and don’t be feel shame the famine cause in Ethiopia, That will devastate, When we establish our real Government. Once again ” stand with the G7 Movement for your future right to demolish the main ethiopian enemies The WEYANE REGIME & THE FAMINE.


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