Ethiopia: A country confronted by climate change, population growth, poor agriculture & bad governance By Keffyalew Gebremedhin

May 10th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

A newly released report on climate trend analysis of Ethiopia, a product of the US Geological Survey (SGS), USAID and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), says the latest findings by experts represent worrisome trends in one of the world’s most food insecure countries.

A Climate Trend Analysis of Ethiopia builds on examination of the March–June, June–September and March–September rainfall and temperature recent trends in the country, covering the period from mid-1970s to 2000s. The findings of the experts indicate significant reductions in rainfall and increases in temperature over time in many areas of the country.

By way of example, the study highlights, “A decline in rainfall of approximately 0.5 standard deviation, and an increase in the frequency of droughts of approximately 40 percent, is sufficient to markedly increase the number of poor harvests that can be expected.”

This long-term trend analysis has arrived at five major conclusions. These are:

Spring and summer rains in parts of Ethiopia have declined by 15–20 percent since the mid-1970s.
Substantial warming across the entire country has exac¬erbated the dryness.
An important pattern of observed existing rainfall declines coincides with heavily populated areas of the Rift Valley in south-central Ethiopia, and is likely already adversely affecting crop yields and pasture conditions.
Rapid population growth and the expansion of farming and pastoralism under a drier, warmer climate regime could dramatically increase the number of at-risk people in Ethiopia during the next 20 years.
Many areas of Ethiopia will maintain moist climate conditions, and agricultural development in these areas could help offset rainfall declines and reduced produc¬tion in other areas.
In terms of the measures required to diminish the problems, i.e., the lack or shortage of rains and increases in temperature, the study points to the need for improved water and agricultural management practices. In that regard, amongst the recommended suggestions is the importance of raising agricultural yields in the more viable areas, instead of farm expansion into unopened lands or ever more marginal areas.

The spatial pattern of the drying and warming trends, the experts state, tends to indicate disproportionate stresses on south-central Ethiopia, where the Belg agricultural yields have already been affected.

At risk population centers include cities and towns such as Nazret, Meki, Arsi Negelle, etc. Nevertheless, large parts of the country would continue to receive adequate amounts of rainfall, especially in the western highlands. The experts emphasize that these areas need better agricultural methods and water manage¬ment practice. With these measures would contribute to the country enhancing its food security at the national level.

A major source of concern is also Ethiopia’s population growth, since it has outstripped food production. This year, Ethiopia’s population has hit the 90.0 million mark. This represents an increase of 33 million between 1990 and 2010, data drawn from the Gridded Population of the World statistics on which the experts based their analysis for this study.

It is reported that most of the population growth took place in Oromia (11 million) and SNNPR (6 million), the two areas with densely populated and where also rainfall has been declining faster. Populations in the chronically food insecure areas of Somali, Tigray, and Afar regions are reported to have increased by approximately 1.5, 1.9, and 1.1 million people, respectively.

These population trends are putting added severe stress on limited natural resources of the country. Unless, these problems are addressed seriously and in a multifaceted manner, they could become causes for tension and conflicts.

In highlighting the problems, the study links the population factor to existing data on production of crops. It points out that cereal production of 150 kgs per person is one of the lowest in the world. If the present trends continue, by 2025, Ethiopia’s cereal production would decrease by 28 percent, turning the country into a nation of millions of undernourished people.

Along the same line, a Special Report By FAO/WFP Crop And Food Security Assessment Mission To Ethiopia of April 2012 contains similar concerns about the 2011 Belg rains being generally very poor and having serious impact on agricultural production. It also noted that a huge gap exists between agricultural production and specific farmer requirements in improved seeds (i.e. rust tolerant wheat varieties), although in recent years their use has significantly increased.

Similarly, the mission observed that use of fertilizer is dependent on access to cash. Fertilizers are available to farmers through cooperative unions that require full cash payment, which many of the farmers cannot afford.

Over the years, these adverse situations have affected the life conditions of the people and their health. Already for the last several years, over half of Ethiopia’s population has been reported to be undernourished.

At present, according to FAO, this figure has come down to 41 percent. In 2011, UNICEF & WHO reported 51 percent of Ethiopian children are moderately or severely stunted.

All these are indications that serious and immediate and multifaceted actions are needed to reverse these situations. Unfortunately, the country’s political environment and the governance structures in place do not allow these measures to be effected. Even by the admission of the United States, as USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa Earl Gast’s informed the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee in his testimony of April 18:

Ethiopia is one of the starkest examples of the risks that emerge when a country lacks sufficient democratic checks and balances. By significantly constraining political speech, human rights, and the ability of civil society and the media to hold government officials accountable, the Ethiopian Government is creating an environment that is ripe for instability and that sends mixed messages about its place in the international community.
Instead of addressing, the above problems regarding the social and economic problems, what the country’s leaders are most preoccupied is their own permanence in power. As Mr. Gast rightly pointed out: “in the long term, Ethiopia is now in danger of reliving its history of turbulent political transition. Unless restrictions on civil society and the media are lifted and dissenting political views are allowed, the country’s substantial gains in economic development and poverty alleviation will be threatened.”

The present fury in the country that has destructed attention from national development are the outcome of ethnic nepotism, dispossession of people from their lands and denial to the people of voice and accountability. As the lastet report of the Auditor-General indicated, Ethiopia has become a country where mismanagement and corruption have reigned supreme.

Our country stands a better chance of safeguarding its future, when, unlike today, the conviction that Ethiopia belongs to all its children becomes the country’s governing ideology and shown in deeds. The current prevailing practices scurrying to impose on the nation supremacy of one minority ethnic group is certainly not the way to a better future for all Ethiopians.

To read full reports:

A Climate Trend Analysis of Ethiopia
Special report – FAO/WFP crop and food security assessment mission to Ethiopia
The State of the World’s Children 2011
USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa Earl Gast’s testimony
News report on Auditor-general’s findings

  1. Rahel
    | #1

    And you are upset because the Tigrays are helping each other? Good for them. I wish we, Amharas, do that for each other. We are our own worst enemies if you ask me. When I see minority groups help each other, I wish we Amharas do that for each other. Listen, as much as we talk about equal ethnic right and all that, pls show me what Amharas have done to develop our “Amhara” regions. Most have not even stepped out of Addis. This govt has done more for Amhara regions than anyone, every other leader had only focuses on addis as if it is all there is about Amhara identity. Look at Gojam, Gonder, and Showa more has been done for devt than the last 50 yrs combined. All of u , pls get a life

  2. bimm
    | #2

    Surely, the destruction of forest land by foreign land grabers hired by the woyane junta is not going to help matters. The environment is being destroyed daily by the woyane by destroying natural habitats with devastating impacts on the eco-system.

    To grow commercial crops, Karuti the indian land graber, saudi star and others are on the act in a masive way to devastate Ethiopia. Even the Ethiopian wild life is fleeing to neighbouring countries seeking refuge.

    The woayne will cut down and burn any thing to make money. Monasteries , the last places one would ever consider for ‘development’ are BEING DEMOLISHED.
    Ther is a deliberate and well coordinated campaign by the woyane to destroy the land and the people.

  3. Edr
    | #3

    Who is this Keffyalew Gebremedhin who tries to sell to us this trash produced by a highly unrealiable source(USA) as truth ?
    How reliable is a study conducted by nazis about jews ? Is the loyalty of Keffyalew to Ethiopia or USA ? I doubt the intelligence and Ethiopianness of anyone who tries to sell such a study from such source to Ethiopians as truth.

  4. nodd
    | #4

    We demand the ethno-fascist woyane junta to free Eskinder Nega, Bekele Gerba, Andualem Aragie and all other political prisoners immediately.

  5. aha!
    | #5

    Your previous series of articles focused around the objectives of defeating hunger and disease via the donations from Bill Gates foundation controlled by the council of the Prime Minister and Killil Administratotors by way of creating Agicultural Tranformation Agency instead of Agicultural Tranformation Projects to serve as a supplent to to FYGP, using GMO seeds and Fertilizers from Multi-national Corporation, commensurate with Global Capitalism and collaborative with TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterpises.

    These same practices are not new to Ethiopipia, being implemented as “Green Revolution advocated by Prof. Jeffry Sacks”, except this time, I prsume, these commodities are free inthe same way as the humanitarian food aid, funded by the Bill Gates Foundation.

    While series of reviews are commendable in both cases, the forecast/projections of impending drought and famine due to global warming as it relates to Ethiopia is not backed by tangible and sustainable recommendations in terms of short and/or long term mitigation programs. The short term reilief program for humanitarian program has been riddled with cost of transportation and distribution of bulky food crops mired with inflation.

    Never the less, I agree with yourconcluding remarks, if I understand it to mean that any long and short-term relief programs will not be effective without dealing with root cause to humanitarian, economic, political and environmental crises pepetrated by TPLF/eprdf regime under a constitutional frame work of Ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalirinism of a government run by ex-liberation movements, whose mantra is oppression of nations and nationalities instead of class struggle of farmers and workers of all Ethiopians. This is a regime of liberation movements spearheaded by TPLF, which gave rise to ethnic federalism, secessionism and totaliarinism to advance ethnic and secessionist rights along with totalirianism to the exclusion of indiviual rights, and suppress press freedom and protest and criticism against the regime by citing those which differ in ideologies for treason and/or terrorism defending the constitution and and adopting a fake judicial process to incriminate the political opponents. The irony behind all this, lies in the support of the teletafi (ethnic federalist) and loyalist (ethnic fereralist) opposition parties of their dierct and indirect support respectively for ethnic federalism and the ethnic secessionists (separatists) support of ethnic secessionism upto self-determination based on the fuzzy ethnic bounderies, subect to boundry conflicts now aligned as OPDM/EFDF/fdre as party line and AJE (Timret but not wohidet) +OLF all having ethnic agenda in their platform, leaving in tact ethnic federalism, secessionism and totaliarinism, which by their own words advance equality of the Killil Mengistats, instead of equality of the original provinces and the suppression of individual freedom, liberty and equality to have precedence of ethnic and secessionist rights in order to maintain Ethiopian Unity, sovereignity and move away from ethnocratic rule to a democratic rule. Ethnic federalism also serves not only as a divide and rule policy but also as a prelude to secession and future boundry conflicts.

    This insights and/or analysis puts OPDF/EFDF/fdre and ALJE (Timiret but not Wuhidet) + OLF with ethnic rather than national agenda along with TPLF/eprdf and those with national agenda for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians with a common /national agenda on one side as negative forces and positive forces of disintegration and positive forces of integration, respectively.

    I am inclined to believe your concluding remarks relate to the constitutional frame work of the constituion of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totaliarinism, hindering individual rights and advancing ethnic and secessionist rights, hindering free maket capitalism with individuals owning land anywhere in Ethiopia to reflect a shared ownership of the country’s resources, instead of advancing state capitalism and TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises and foreign corporations, to reflect a shared ownership of the country’s resouces and to establish a deomocracy and government of the people, for the people and by the people based on a constitution of individual rights, liberty and equality ahead of ethnic and secessionist rights, to which OPDF/EFDF/fdre and ALJE (Timret)+OLF have coalesce aroung the common goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereihgnity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians with common strategies to dismantle ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalirianism.

  6. Tagadali Adanhoum
    | #6

    Why is TPLF covetous?It is full of envey,malice and resentment against Afars,Amharas, Oromos,Somalis, Hamasien, Akale Guzai, Sarraey, among others. One can only say that TPLF wants uniformely and “democratically” the rest of country in Ethiopia should be like the death Valley of Tigri Province. What a ghastly specimen! No wonder Eritreans hates TPLF with passion

  7. aha!
    | #7

    It should be understood OLF in the current armed struggle and Tigrai-harena in current coalition called Medrek are parts and parcel of TPLF/eprdf regime untill the former became disgruntled and opted an armed struggle and latter was splintered from TPLF without both abandoning their ethnic agenda. These two factions have accentuated the dichotomy for the struggle between the positive forces of integration and the negative forces of distentagration tilting the balance towads the latter. Therefore even the approach of an alliance, in the form of the current ALJE (Timiret instead of wuhidet) plus OLF/AFD2, sperheaded by Ginbot 7, rather than a merger does not lead to a common goal for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Since the ideological differences may be looked as a dichotomy, there is no compromising solutions, other than to coalesce around the common goal for unity, and the soverieignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, their own recognizance, to be free of ethnic and secessionist politics and/or policies, which are the main stay of TPLF/eprdf regime.

    Similar criticism goes UDJP, the other dissident of CUD, accomodating the loyalist oppostion parties including ex-TPLFites with ethnic agenda into a coalition called Medrek, by creating a rift within UDJP members, launching a mission of no changinge but durable democracy, and settling on the objectives for democracy, human rights and justice, a subset of the national agenda, which I considered a “yekotun awerd bill yebituan talech” kind of objectives.

    Having said I support the approach taken by Dr. Fiseha Eshetu and Dr. Ermias Alemu, leaving those factions with ethnic agenda to colesce upon their cognition with the national agenda to dismantle ethnic fedralism, secessioninism and to totaliarinism by the negative forces of disintegration. These point of view, I believe by Ethiopian elites among whom I would cite Haji Mohamed seid, Professor Mesfin Araya, Dr. Ermias Alemu, Dr. Fiseha Eshetu, etc and those leaders of “Andinet Hayloch”, the voices of which are masked by the major websites.

  8. aha!
    | #8

    In a tri-faction discussion among Dr.Fiseha Eshetu, Ato Neamin Zelke and Dr. Ermis Alemu in Addis Dimits, representative of (ALJE (Timiret) + OLF)/AFD2, while maintains the goals for equality, not knowing whether that equality refers to individual freedom, liberty and equality, or equality of ethnic regions/”yekilil mengista ikulent” freedom, and justice, rejecting the inclusion of Ethiopian Unity and sovereignity as one of the goals presented by Dr. Ermias and transitional Mikerbet by Dr. Fiseha Eshetu, who engages Ethiopians outside of party affiliations to focus on achieving their individual freedom from the current regime, who in essence tend to coalesce around individual freedom, free of ethnic and secessionist politics and/or policies, I presume, while Ato neamin is courting those with ethnic agenda supporting ethnic federalism secessionism and totaliarinism, reflected in the alignment of OPDM/EFDF/fdre and ALJE (timiret, but not wuhidet) +OLF)/AFD2 to that prevalent in the current TPLF/eprdf regime, not knowing ALJE(Timiret) + OLF)/AFD2 is lined up for armed Struggle with Ginbot 7.

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