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Addis Ababa’s homeless of the night June 19, 2017

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In Ethiopia’s capital (and elsewhere in Ethiopia), homeless people are plentiful. Nobody really knows just how many Ethiopians spend most of their time on the streets, though the number of street children alone is well over 100,000. Wherever you go in Addis Ababa or in other towns in Ethiopia, you will never have any trouble at all finding an abundance of beggars, street children, even whole families, many spending their days and nights trying survive on the streets, and some begging or selling pitiful amounts of items by day and sleeping in what you can barely called homes at night.I lived in Ethiopia for four years, from 2012 to 2017. The brutal and oppressive regime shot thousands of peaceful protesters, and escalated control of it citizens by killing more protesters, torturing, jailing them, creating a state-of-emergency designed to stifle human rights more strictly, and sending tens of thousands of them to “education camps.”I left Ethiopia, reluctantly because I loved my job as a professor there, after I saw federal soldiers brutally beating unarmed peaceful students, and was almost shot myself by an out-of-control soldier who screamed at me as he was shaking and pointing his kalashnikov at me. When I criticized the brutality of the regime to my colleagues at Addis Ababa University, I was harassed and forced to resign. But that’s another story.Prior to that, every Sunday for many months in 2015 and 2016, I would get up early morning and deliver bread and candy to street-bound people in various areas of Addis Ababa. I got to know some of these homeless people almost as friends. Each one has a terribly tragic story to tell, often of neglect of their human rights. I will share some of these stories in future posts.

Source: Addis Ababa’s homeless of the night

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E. Africa on verge of a humanitarian crisis as hunger rages June 19, 2017

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According to the charity, an estimated 20 million people are at risk of starvation in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia unless provision of relief food is stepped up by national governments and bilateral donors.

So far, only South Sudan has declared famine in some parts of the country while Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia could be the next epicenter of hunger and malnutrition.


E. Africa on verge of a humanitarian crisis as hunger rages: charity

 

NAIROBI, June 19 (Xinhua) — Countries in East and Horn of Africa region are staring at a large-scale humanitarian crisis occasioned by acute food and water scarcity, international charity, Christian Aid said on Monday.

According to the charity, an estimated 20 million people are at risk of starvation in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia unless provision of relief food is stepped up by national governments and bilateral donors.

“The recent disappointing rains in Ethiopia, and also in Kenya have shattered any faint hopes for water sources to fill up, pastures to regenerate and harvest to be viable,” said Christian Aid’s Head of Humanitarian Programs for Africa, Maurice Onyango.

The UN had earlier warned of a looming specter of mass starvation in the greater Horn of Africa region as acute drought and conflicts hobble efforts to feed the population.

So far, only South Sudan has declared famine in some parts of the country while Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia could be the next epicenter of hunger and malnutrition.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) says that cumulatively, 13.4 million people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are food insecure.

Onyango noted that the magnitude of food insecurity in the region has not matched the capacity of humanitarian agencies to respond.

“Communities affected by drought are relying more on outside aid, stretching humanitarian agencies and local authorities to respond,” said Onyango, adding that Christian Aid has so far provided life saving assistance to nearly 50,000 people affected by drought in the region

Besides providing emergency assistance to drought victims in the East and Horn of Africa, Christian Aid and a consortium of partners are investing in resilience projects to help communities cope with climatic shocks.

Onyango said the Charity has built the capacity of farmers and herders in arid zones to manage water and pasture in a sustainable manner.

“If the world wants to avert future catastrophes of this scale, we need to invest in helping communities become more resilient to disasters,” said Onyango.

Oromia: Athletic Nation Report: Oromian community rallies around one of their own June 19, 2017

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“Today is a win for everyone in our community,” says Aliya Balo, president of the Oromo Association of Manitoba.


TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Teresa Fekensa got support from the local Oromian community during the Manitoba Marathon. </p>
TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSTeresa Fekensa got support from the local Oromian community during the Manitoba Marathon.

Although Teresa Fekensa has never been to Winnipeg before this weekend, he felt right at home at the Manitoba Marathon.

The 35-year old, who immigrated to Toronto two years ago, won the men’s full marathon with an impressive time of 2:38:03.2. Despite travelling from out of town for the event, Fekensa may have had the biggest cheering section. Members of the Oromo Association of Manitoba came out to support him, as nearly 20 local Oromians proudly waved their flags as Fekensa crossed the finish line. Oromia is a region in Ethiopia, where Fekensa is originally from.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Manitoba Marathon winner Teresa Fekensa with the flag of Oromia. </p>
TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESSManitoba Marathon winner Teresa Fekensa with the flag of Oromia.

None of them had any relation to Fekensa or really knew him before he made the trip for the marathon, but when they heard one of their own were coming in to compete, they wanted to show their support and make him feel comfortable.

“Today is a win for everyone in our community,” says Aliya Balo, president of the Oromo Association of Manitoba.

Fekensa immigrated to Toronto because he felt he wasn’t getting the right training, but more importantly, because he was protesting against the government. Thousands of protesters in the Oromia region have been killed, so for his safety and passion for running, he had to leave.

“I came to Canada to run,” says Fekensa, who trains at the Toronto Olympic Club. “Because of the situation in my country, I protested and didn’t want to stay there.”

Members of the Oromo Association of Manitoba say their people back home have no freedom and are under military control. To show their support for the protests, they cross their arms above their heads, which is exactly what Fekensa did when he crossed the finish line at the Manitoba Marathon.

“If people do that (in Oromia), the (government) will shoot you,” says Yoseph Gobena, an Oromo Association of Manitoba board member who immigrated to Winnipeg in 2006. “We’re not allowed to freely share our interests and express our freedom.”

Fekensa’s achievement shows that Oromian’s can not only participate in the Canadian community, but also succeed, Gobena says. He hopes Fekensa can open the door for more Oromian runners to come to Canada and is thankful to the Canadian government for giving his people freedom.

Fekensa, who was happy to have the support of local Oromians, says he plans to return to Winnipeg next year to defend his title. But that’s not his only goal for the future.

“My goal is to run for Canada and win for Canada, in any marathon,” he says.

Emily Ratzlaff, a local physiotherapist, was the first woman to cross the finish line in the women’s full marathon. It was her second time competing at the Manitoba Marathon and her first time running the full marathon.

“I’m surprised that I won,” says the 31-year old who finished the race in 3:14:38.8.

When she was four miles away from the finish line, she was told she was the leader and she couldn’t believe it, she says.

“I was excited, but I was also in pain so I just needed to keep running and finish,” says Ratzlaff who has competed in the Boston Marathon twice.

In the half marathon races, it was a pair of Bisons that stole the show.

University of Manitoba Bisons’ track athlete Daniel Heschuk, 20, finished first in the men’s half marathon and 26-year-old former Bisons’ track athlete Jaclyn Adamson was the winner in the women’s half marathon.

Adamson came into the Manitoba Marathon with some extra confidence from winning a marathon in Fargo last month.

“I thought Fargo was a fluke, so I was happy with how today went,” she says. “I went into it with no expectations and didn’t know any ladies running.”

Adamson was surprised she ran this quick at the Manitoba Marathon because of the weather conditions. It was hard to get traction with the roads being slippery and that her clothes quickly felt heavy from all the rain, she says.

It was a difficult race for Heschuk, who is originally from Neepawa. Heschuk was unable to make it to the medal ceremony as he needed medical attention after the race.

“Honestly there was a couple times during the race where I thought I couldn’t do this anymore,” he says.

Heschuk says what got him through those tough stretches was thinking of his uncle Mark Cameron, who died last year at the age of 40 from complications in a surgery. His uncle went through a lot, as he lived with a learning disability and survived a leukemia diagnosis at the age of five. He says his uncle was a huge fan of Terry Fox and participating in the Terry Fox run, so he wanted to dedicate this year’s race to him.

“If he can go through all this pain growing up, I can go through one hour of pain in this marathon,” Heschuk says.


Realted:-

 

Maratoonii kalee Kanaadaa Manitoobaatti dorgoman Tarfaasa Fakkansaatti moo’atee badhaafame, VOA


 

 

 

 

VICE: POST-COLONIAL COLONIALISM: The West Extorts Way More Money from Africa Than It Gives in Aid June 16, 2017

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Many decades after the official end of the western empires in Africa, the continent is still being sucked dry by a cartel made up of small local elites, multi-national companies and foreign governments. The money given to Africa to help its so-called “development” is referred to as “aid”, when in fact it should be seen as a form of reparations for a history of colonisation and ongoing domination that has left the African people almost as far from economic and social justice as they were when the European empires packed up and left in the years following the end of the Second World War.

POST-COLONIAL COLONIALISM
The West Extorts Way More Money from Africa Than It Gives in Aid

By OSCAR RICKETT, VICE, Jun 15 2017



We should be putting our western guilt to good use and pressuring government to regulate “investment” in the continent.


The world’s second-largest continent, Africa, is still defined in the western media in just two principle ways.

The more “woke” understanding of Africa is the idea of “Africa Rising”, which is defined by images of young people on bustling streets speaking on mobile phones. “Africa Rising” stories tend to focus on smart entrepreneurs doing something tech-related in massive urban centres like Lagos, Nairobi or Cape Town. They promote an image of the continent that is considered modern and future-focused. These stories are often, as the Kenyan journalist Parselelo Kantai once put it to me, “insidious little fictions manufactured by global corporate finance”.

The other main narrative is the more familiar one: hapless Africa, the tragic continent that can only continue to survive with the help of aid money provided to it by outsiders. This is the narrative of Live Aid and Bono, the story told to us immediately after news reports of famine and unrest in places that, we are made to believe, just can’t get by without western charity.

Given these two themes, it would seem unlikely that more money is taken out of the 47 countries that form what is commonly called “Sub-Saharan Africa” than is put back in. Yet, British and African campaign groups, including Global Justice Now, released a report this month which found that, in 2015, much more money was taken out of Africa in the form of illegal extraction of natural resources, tax avoidance and spiralling interest on debt repayments than was “given” to the continent in the form of aid and grants.

The report, entitled Honest Accounts 2017 , finds that the countries of Africa are “collectively net creditors to the rest of the world, to the tune of $41.3 billion [£32.2 billion] in 2015”.

Rather than Africa being a hapless continent dependent on the rest of the world, it is the exploited continent whose natural resources are enriching a local and global elite at the expense of the vast majority of its citizens, and whose governments can do little about the illegal syphoning of revenue into tax havens.

According to War on Want, 101 (mostly British) companies listed on the London Stock Exchange control an identified $1.05 trillion (£820 billion) worth of resources in Africa in just five commodities: oil, gold, diamonds, coal and platinum. Twenty-five of those companies are incorporated in tax havens.

While African countries receive around $19 billion (£14 billion) in aid in the form of grants, $68 billion (£53 billion) is taken out in capital flight. The main culprits are multinational corporations and corrupt officials with their large infrastructure of lawyers, bankers, accountants and financial advisors skilled in tax dodging.

The main device used is transfer pricing. By overpricing imports and under-pricing exports on customs documents, companies and individuals can move money to tax havens. This means that multi-national companies deliberately misreport the value of their imports or exports in order to reduce the tax they have to pay on them. Furthermore, these same companies repatriate $32 billion (£25 billion) in profits made in Africa to their home countries every year. Money made on the continent of Africa, then, is returned to enrich those outside of Africa.



The report goes on to say that African governments paid out $18 billion (£14 billion) in debt interest and principal payments in 2015. Though they received $32.8 billion (£25.6 billion) in loans, the overall level of debt is rising rapidly, and loans often lock African governments into even more debt: private lenders, the report notes, “are encouraged to act irresponsibly because when debt crises arise, the IMF, World Bank and other institutions lend more money, which enables the high interest to private lenders to be paid, whilst the debt keeps growing”. Ghana is losing 30 percent of its government revenue to debt repayments. Private lenders benefit, while ordinary Africans suffer.

Illegal logging, fishing and the trade in wildlife and plants are also hurting Africa, with an estimated $29 billion (£22.6 billion) a year being stolen from the continent through these practices. Climate change is hitting the continent particularly badly; though of course the extractive and industrial practices that led to climate change were a phenomenon of non-African countries.

As Bernard Adaba, policy analyst with ISODEC in Ghana, says: “‘Development’ is a lost cause in Africa while we are haemorrhaging billions every year to extractive industries, western tax havens and illegal logging and fishing. Some serious structural changes need to be made to promote economic policies that enable African countries to best serve the needs of their people rather than simply being cash cows for western corporations and governments.”

Many decades after the official end of the western empires in Africa, the continent is still being sucked dry by a cartel made up of small local elites, multi-national companies and foreign governments. The money given to Africa to help its so-called “development” is referred to as “aid”, when in fact it should be seen as a form of reparations for a history of colonisation and ongoing domination that has left the African people almost as far from economic and social justice as they were when the European empires packed up and left in the years following the end of the Second World War.

Recognising the troubling role western governments and companies play in the impoverishment of Africa could serve as a beginning to reverse this process. The Honest Accounts report proposes a number of steps that can be taken to help reverse the flow of money out of Africa, including putting less faith in the extractives industry, enabling transparent and responsible lending and regulating the investment that corporations bring in to African countries.

Tax havens are a key issue, one that was recognised in Labour’s election manifesto, which said that the “current global tax system is deeply unjust”. Jeremy Corbyn’s party promises to “act decisively on tax havens”, which play a key role in allowing vast sums of money to be taken out of Africa. The UK enablesthis wealth extraction to take place and sits at the head of a vast network of tax havens.

Finally, there is the need for more public recognition of what is going on. This is not about stoking up western guilt; it is about identifying the causes behind rising inequality in Africa and elsewhere, and about correcting a lazy media narrative that patronises and insults Africans while keeping everyone in a state of ignorance. The truth is this: Africa is still being plundered. It is time western governments and the western media stopped pretending otherwise.

 


 

Deforestation and Malaria – What’s the Relationship Between the Two? June 16, 2017

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Africa: Deforestation and Malaria – What’s the Relationship Between the Two?

 


Despite being a preventable and curable disease, malaria continues to affect people in 91 countries. In 2015 alone there were 212 million cases and about 430,000 deaths. Sub-Saharan Africa carries a disproportionately large burden with 90% of malaria cases and 92% of deaths from the disease.

Malaria is a very old parasitic disease. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquitoes. Not all types of Anopheles mosquitoes like the same conditions but, in general, standing water, increasing temperatures and sunlight are favourable to most malaria-carrying species. This explains why, for a long time, infection has been linked to environmental conditions.

Despite this link, little research has been done on what makes certain areas more conducive to malaria-carrying mosquitoes. My new study of 67 less-developed, malaria-endemic nations is an attempt to fill this gap. It shows a link between deforestation and increasing malaria rates across developing nations.

Linking forest loss to malaria

The goal was to establish whether there was an identifiable link between forest loss and malaria prevalence rates across countries. Previous studies show evidence of a link between forest loss and mosquito populations or malaria parasite levels. In Kenya, for example, one study in the highlands found that living on land without trees led to increased risk of contracting malaria. But there was a lack of research on whether this was a general trend or whether these findings were isolated to certain settings, influenced by nuances of the local ecology.

I used data on forest cover from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and malaria prevalence rates from the World Health Organisation at the national level. My research found that even when controlling for other known factors, like health care provision and latitude, nations that experience more forest loss tend to have higher rates of malaria.

 In addition to making this broad link, the findings confirms research that shows deforestation isn’t a natural phenomenon, but is caused by human activities. The study found that rural population pressures, such as firewood collection for fuel, and specialisation in agriculture, are key to rural forest loss in malaria-endemic nations.

Deforestation increases the incidents of malaria because it creates several favourable conditions for the Anopheles mosquito. These include:

Pools of water being exposed to sunlight. This increases temperatures, promoting more ideal breeding grounds. Creating ditches and puddles which are more likely to pool less acidic water. This is more conducive to Anopheles larvae development.

Reducing the absorption of water – primary growth forests tend to be heavily shaded with thick debris on the ground. This absorbs water and often leaves any standing water acidic, and creating “tree bowls” where stumps are left behind and gather pool water.

 Solutions lie with people

Since people cause the loss of trees, it’s crucial to emphasise the human drivers when looking for solutions. For example, changes in agricultural practices should be pursued, such as leaving some trees and practicing more shade or mixed cultivation. This could replace plantation agriculture which involves clear-cutting forests and could help mitigate some of the harmful effects.

Malaria remains a leading cause of death and a threat to health in many countries across the Global South. There have been major improvements in malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment over the last several decades. But changes to the natural environment increase the scope and severity of the risk. It’s within the power of governments – and people – to ensure that this doesn’t happen by implementing or mandating more sustainable forest management.

Disclosure statement

Kelly Austin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.


FT: Ethiopia’s mythical manufacturing boom: The sector shrinks in importance despite heavy Chinese investment June 16, 2017

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Ethiopia: “There’s been a brilliant PR campaign on its part to sell a story that does not really exist.”


‘Yet the data show that manufacturing now accounts for a smaller slice of Ethiopia’s economy than at almost any point since the early 1980s.In 2015, the sector accounted for just 4.1 per cent of Ethiopia’s gross value added, well below the peak of 7.8 per cent in 1997, according to data from the World Bank, as the second chart shows. Moreover, manufacturing accounts for a smaller share of Ethiopia’s economy than that of virtually any other country in sub-Saharan Africa.

South Africa, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Benin, Malawi, Mozambique and even Zimbabwe all generate at least 10 per cent of their gross value-added from manufacturing, with the likes of Nigeria and Uganda not far behind, as the third chart shows. Across sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, 10.6 per cent of continental GVA emanates from the sector, according to the World Bank, raising the question as to why Ethiopia is seen as one of the few African nations to have made a go of manufacturing.

“Ethiopia has the smallest manufacturing share of any of the African countries we look at,” says Charles Robertson, chief economist at Renaissance Capital, a Moscow-based investment bank with a focus on emerging markets. “There’s been a brilliant PR campaign on its part to sell a story that does not really exist.”

John Ashbourne, Africa economist at Capital Economics, a consultancy, adds: “Media coverage of Ethiopia’s manufacturing sector sometimes exaggerates its economic importance. A close look at the country’s economy shows that it is much more similar to its African peers than leaders in Addis Ababa would like to admit.”

Despite the hype, Ethiopia exported just $44m worth of shoes in 2015, for example, 0.25 per cent of those exported by Vietnam and less than the footwear exports of the cordwaining powerhouse that is El Salvador. The east African state’s entire exports of clothing and textiles are worth just a tenth of its coffee exports.’ FT


Ethiopia’s mythical manufacturing boom

The sector shrinks in importance despite heavy Chinese investment

Ethiopia’s success in attracting foreign manufacturers is often held up as a beacon of hope that sub-Saharan Africa, by far the poorest region on the planet, can follow the well-trodden development model that has allowed the rest of the world to become richer.

Industrialisation has largely been the key to development elsewhere, allowing relatively unproductive subsistence agricultural workers to be absorbed by a rapidly growing manufacturing sector boasting far higher productivity.

With China now slewing off lower valued-added manufacturing jobs in sectors such as textiles and basic electronics as wages rise rapidly in the Middle Kingdom, low-wage Africa has long been seen as a potential rival to the likes of Bangladesh and Vietnam for such jobs, as suggested by the first chart.

While this has yet to happen on any meaningful scale — the continent accounts for just 1 per cent of global manufacturing output — Ethiopia has won plaudits for attracting Chinese, Turkish and US investment into garment and shoe factories, notably from Chinese shoemaker Huajian Group, which employs 4,000 people in an industrial park outside Addis Ababa, the capital.

This had led to the country being described as a regional manufacturing powerhouse. Yet the data show that manufacturing now accounts for a smaller slice of Ethiopia’s economy than at almost any point since the early 1980s.

In 2015, the sector accounted for just 4.1 per cent of Ethiopia’s gross value added, well below the peak of 7.8 per cent in 1997, according to data from the World Bank, as the second chart shows.

Moreover, manufacturing accounts for a smaller share of Ethiopia’s economy than that of virtually any other country in sub-Saharan Africa.

South Africa, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Benin, Malawi, Mozambique and even Zimbabwe all generate at least 10 per cent of their gross value-added from manufacturing, with the likes of Nigeria and Uganda not far behind, as the third chart shows.

Across sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, 10.6 per cent of continental GVA emanates from the sector, according to the World Bank, raising the question as to why Ethiopia is seen as one of the few African nations to have made a go of manufacturing.

“Ethiopia has the smallest manufacturing share of any of the African countries we look at,” says Charles Robertson, chief economist at Renaissance Capital, a Moscow-based investment bank with a focus on emerging markets. “There’s been a brilliant PR campaign on its part to sell a story that does not really exist.”

John Ashbourne, Africa economist at Capital Economics, a consultancy, adds: “Media coverage of Ethiopia’s manufacturing sector sometimes exaggerates its economic importance. A close look at the country’s economy shows that it is much more similar to its African peers than leaders in Addis Ababa would like to admit.”

Despite the hype, Ethiopia exported just $44m worth of shoes in 2015, for example, 0.25 per cent of those exported by Vietnam and less than the footwear exports of the cordwaining powerhouse that is El Salvador. The east African state’s entire exports of clothing and textiles are worth just a tenth of its coffee exports.

Slightly more charitably, Mr Ashbourne does suggest that part of the “Ethiopia story” is that it has been more successful than many of its regional peers in attracting investment from “big brand names” from overseas.

Moreover, while in some African states a fair chunk of manufacturing activity may be a byproduct of those countries’ primary sectors (eg oil refining in Nigeria, processing and packaging of agricultural products in Kenya), Ethiopia is instead producing “relatively high quality goods that are exported”.

“It’s being pulled into these global supply chains, which is not common across Africa and is impressive. Exports have risen sharply, [Ethiopian manufacturing] does employ more people than it used to,” Mr Ashbourne adds, even if job growth since the turn of the century has been faster in areas such as construction, mining, transport and the public sector.

Mr Robertson believes it is Ethiopia’s close links to China that has captured the world’s interest. This extends beyond investments such as that of Huajian and China’s funding of a $4.2bn, 470-mile rail line from Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti, which opened this year.

More fundamentally, Ethiopia is following the state-led, investment-heavy development model so successfully blazed by China

“What has captured the interest is this comparison with China,” says Mr Robertson. Whereas most African countries are pursuing a private sector-led development model, “Ethiopia has adopted the five-year plan, top-down approach that we have seen in China,” which focuses on rolling out infrastructure such as electricity provision first, then developing light manufacturing, followed by heavy industry.

“People are saying China has grown for 30 years at a very fast pace with a top-down programme. Ethiopia has grown very fast for 10 years [around 11 per cent a year] with a top-down programme. [People] are jumping to the conclusion that Ethiopia is following [in terms of manufacturing growth] when it’s really not,” he adds.

Ethiopia’s rapid economic growth since 2004 does, though, raise the question as to whether other sub-Saharan states, with their private sector-led, bottom-up development models, could or should follow its lead.

Mr Robertson, for one, does not believe the likes of Nigeria would be well suited to the Ethiopian approach. Firstly, Ethiopia can manage a state-led process because it has a strong bureaucracy, something that is lacking in much of Africa but has developed in Ethiopia because the country “has a long history of relatively stable government dating back to 1270,” Mr Robertson says.

Secondly, Nigerians are wealthier than Ethiopians and are used to far more freedom than a government-led, top-down economic model would permit, he argues.

“It is being used as an example in Nigeria but I don’t think it will fit. [Nigerians] are too democratic, too free, too opinionated. Ethiopia has had this regime in place for 30 years and it’s working and they have shown a commitment to relatively low corruption.

“In Ethiopia nobody has anything. Nigerians are three times richer and I just can’t see them being put into the communist box. Ghana, Senegal and Kenya have all moved beyond that stage.”

Defend the Oppressed Peoples in Ethiopia June 15, 2017

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Why this is important

CLICK HERE PLEASE SIGN ON TO STOP THE ATROCITIES AND GENOCIDE COMMITTED BY THE ETHIOPIAN STATE

LAND GRABBING IN ETHIOPIA & ABYSSINIA MUST STOP

WATCH !

The International Criminal Court (ICCt) announced on 15 September 2016 it will now hold corporate executives and governments legally responsible for environmental crimes. The court’s new focus on land grabbing and environmental destruction could help put a dent in corporate and governmentalimpunity. Politicians and corporate bosses who are chasing communities off their land and trashing the environment will find themselves standing trial in the Hague alongside war criminals and dictators. However, far‐sighted covers by USAmerican corporate investors through corporate fronts from e.g. India restrict the ICCt, since neither the USA nor India ‐ as other rogue states like Sudan or Israel ‐ are parties to the Rome Statute of the ICCt.
https://www.icc‐cpi.int/itemsDocuments/20160915_OTP‐Policy_Case‐Selection_Eng.pdf

Latest Updates:

01. Dec. 2016: 
Ethiopian forces from the command post of Ethiopia’s sweeping State Of Emergency command post detained leading Oromo ethnic group and government opposition figure Prof. Dr. Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), upon his arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport after returning from Brussels, where he testified at the EU parliament on the current situation in Ethiopia alongside with Prof. Berhanu Nega of Patriotic Ginbot 7 (G7), an armed freedom fighter group, and Rio Olympics marathon silver medallist ‐ athlete Feyisa Lellisa. Also four relatives of Prof. Merera were detained.

23. Nov. 2016:
Oromo asylum seeker and UNHCR registered refugee Yaazoo Kabbabaa ‐ the prominent leader of ‘Qeerro‘ (The Oromo youth group who is leading the protests in Ethiopia) ‐ was attacked in Cairo during the evening while he was returning home from visiting friends, by people described as Ethiopian state agents following him. During the incident Mr. Kabbabaa was injected in the neck with a toxic substance. Luckily he was rescued and brought to a hospital, where he regained consciousness in the meantime. It is, however, not yet clear if he will remain paralyzed. His medical bills are being covered by a campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/yaazoo‐kabbabaas‐medical‐fund . Please chip in! Ethiopian dissidents who fled the country live in constant fear from agents sent by the Addis regime after them.

* 14. Nov. 2016:
Oromo Leadership Convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, November 11 ‐ 13
Oromo United and Steadfast to Continue Revolution Against TPLF Regime
http://www.oromorevolution.com/s/Press‐Release‐English.pdf

* 20. Oct. 2016:
As we predicted: The brutal regime felt empowered by Merkel’s visit and the promised millions of Euro for “police training” and “to try to quell the unrest”. In just the one week after her ill‐conceived visit almost 3,000 Oromo women and men were rounded up in different locations and thrown in jail. Reportedly Ethiopian agents were sent to neighbouring countries to hunt down dissidents. Ethiopian authorities admitted to Reuters on Thursday they had detained 1,645 people.

* 15. Oct. 2016: The Dictatorial Regime proclaims STATE OF EMERGENCY http://hornaffairs.com/en/2016/10/19/ethiopia‐directive‐execution‐state‐emergencyfull‐text/

* 11. Oct. 2016: German Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababawhere she was welcomed by the PM of the corrupt regime with military honours. Amid protests in Germany against the insensitive visit, Merkel offered millions of Euro in bilateral agreements, to train the police and mediation to try and quell the rising unrest in Ethiopia. Just two days prior to Merkel’s visit, the Ethiopian regime declared a six‐month state of emergency in order to undertake even more brutal measures to suppress popular protests.

* 02. Oct. 2016: 
At least 52 people directly killed by police action against protesters during Oromia religious festival of Irreechaa, the Oromo Thanksgiving, in Bishooftuu. Others died in the ensuing stampede. 175 dead bodies have been loaded and taken to Addis Ababa according to a police source. That’s in addition to over 120 at Bishoftu hospital. ECOTERRA Intl., Human Rights Watch and the UN called for an independent investigation.

* 01. Oct. 2016: ECOTERRA Intl. demands the immediate and unconditional release of illegally arrested Ethiopian scientist and blogger Seyoum Teshome. Police arrested the prominent writer and commentator Teshome today, who writes for http://www.Ethiothinkthank.com and lectures at Ambo University.

* 16. June 2016: Ethiopian security forces killed at least 500 people in the recent wave of anti‐government demonstrations, US‐based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says in its most comprehensive report into the Oromo protests.
https://tinyurl.com/j7nanmr
Even government officials admitted that over 170 Oromo protesters were killed.

Meanwhile the atrocities against the Mursi and other aboriginal nations of Ethiopia continue unabated.

Foreign investments through the present Ethiopian governance are unethical and taxpayers all over the world must ensure that their governments, who are state‐sponsors or donors to the Ethiopian governance, stop immediately any support until these crimes against humanity end.

Land Grabbing is the purchase and lease of vast tracts of land from poor, developing countries by wealthier nations and international private investors. It has led to unprecedented misery especially in Africa, South‐America and India.African Food Security is in jeopardy and lands half the size of Europe have already been grabbed.

The Ethiopian government has forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of indigenous people from their ancestral lands. It has rendered formerly sustainably living small‐scale farmers and pastoral communities dependent on food aid, which is paid for by the taxpayers and well‐wishers from donor countries, while the profits of these industrial agriculture‐, oil‐ and gas‐ventures go into the pockets of private investors and corrupt officials.

THIS MUST STOP

The recently enacted Kampala Convention ‐ an Africa‐wide treaty and the world’s first that protects people displaced within their own countries by violence, natural disasters or large‐scale development projects ‐ is violated blatantly and with impunity by Ethiopia.

PLEASE SIGN ON
URGE THE AFRICAN UNION AND THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNANCE TO STOP THE ETHIOPIAN ATROCITIES AND GENOCIDE

The African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa must be enforced!

Read more:
Indian investors are forcing Ethiopians off their land
By John Vidal (TheGuardian)

Thousands of Ethiopians are being relocated or have already fled as their land is sold off to foreign investors without their consent

Ethiopia’s leasing of 600,000 hectares (1.5m acres) of prime farmland to Indian companies has led to intimidation, repression, detentions, rapes, beatings, environmental destruction, and the imprisonment of journalists and political objectors, according to a new report.

Research by the US‐based Oakland Institute suggests many thousands of Ethiopians are in the process of being relocated or have fled to neighbouring countries after their traditional land has been handed to foreign investors without their consent. The situation is likely to deteriorate further as companies start to gear up their operations and the government pursues plans to lease as much as 15% of the land in some regions, says Oakland.

In a flurry of new reports about global “land grabbing” this week, Oxfam said on Thursday that investors were deliberately targeting the weakest‐governed countries to buy cheap land. The 23 least‐developed countries of the world account for more than half the thousands of recorded deals completed between 2000 and 2011, it said. Deals involving approximately 200m ha of land are believed to have been negotiated, mostly to the advantage of speculators and often to the detriment of communities, in the past few years.

In what is thought to be one of the first “south‐south” demonstrations of concern over land deals, this week Ethiopian activists came to Delhi to urge Indian investors and corporations to stop buying land and to actively prevent human rights abuses being committed by the Ethiopian authorities.

“The Indian government and corporations cannot hide behind the Ethiopian government, which is clearly in violation of human rights laws,” said Anuradha Mittal, director of the Oakland Institute. “Foreign investors must conduct impact assessments to avoid the adverse impacts of their activities.”

Ethiopian activists based in UK and Canada warned Indian investors that their money was at risk. “Foreign investors cannot close their eyes. When people are pushed to the edge they will fight back. No group knows this better than the Indians”, said Obang Metho, head of grassroots social justice movement Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), which claims 130,000 supporters in Ethiopia and elsewhere.

Speaking in Delhi, Metho said: “Working with African dictators who are stealing from the people is risky, unsustainable and wrong. We welcome Indian investment but not [this] daylight robbery. These companies should be accountable under Indian law.”

Nyikaw Ochalla, director of the London‐based Anywaa Survival Organisation, said: “People are being turned into day labourers doing backbreaking work while living in extreme poverty. The government’s plans … depend on tactics of displacement, increased food insecurity, destitution and destruction of the environment.”

Ochall, who said he was in daily direct contact with communities affected by “land grabbing” across Ethiopia, said the relocations would only add to hunger and conflict.

“Communities that have survived by fishing and moving to higher ground to grow maize are being relocated and say they are now becoming dependent on government for food aid. They are saying they will never leave and that the government will have to kill them. I call on the Indian authorities and the public to stop this pillage.”

Karuturi Global, the Indian farm conglomerate and one of the world’s largest rose growers, which has leased 350,000 ha in Gambella province to grow palm oil, cereals maize and biofuel crops for under $1.10 per hectare per year, declined to comment. A spokesman said: “This has nothing to do with us.”

Ethiopia has leased an area the size of France to foreign investors since 2008. Of this, 600,000 ha has been handed on 99‐year leases to 10 large Indian companies. Many smaller companies are believed to have also taken long leases. Indian companies are said to be investing about $5bn in Ethiopian farmland, but little is expected to benefit Ethiopia directly. According to Oakland, the companies have been handed generous tax breaks and incentives as well as some of the cheapest land in the world.

The Ethiopian government defended its policies. “Ethiopia needs to develop to fight poverty, increase food supplies and improve livelihoods and is doing so in a sustainable way,” said a spokeswoman for the government in London. She pointed out that 45% of Ethiopia’s 1.14m sq km of land is arable and only 15% is in use.

The phenomenon of Indian companies “grabbing” land in Africa is an extension of what has happened in the last 30 years in India itself, said Ashish Kothari, author of a new book on the growing reach of Indian businesses.

“In recent years the country has seen a massive transfer of land and natural resources from the rural poor to the wealthy. Around 60 million people have been displaced in India by large scale industrial developments. Around 40% of the people affected have been indigenous peoples,” he said.

These include dams, mines, tourist developments, ports, steel plants and massive irrigation schemes.

According to Oakland, the Ethiopian “land rush” is part of a global phenomenon that has seen around 200m ha of land leased or sold to foreign investors in the past three years.

The sales in Africa, Latin America and Asia have been led by farm conglomerates, but are backed by western hedge and pension funds, speculators and universities. Many Middle East governments have backed them with loans and guarantees.

Barbara Stocking, the chief executive of Oxfam, which is holding a day of action against land grabs on Thursday, called on the World Bank to temporarily freeze all land investments in large scale agriculture to ensure its policies did not encourage land grabs.

“Poor governance allows investors to secure land quickly and cheaply for profit. Investors seem to be cherry‐picking countries with weak rules and regulations because they are easy targets. This can spell disaster for communities if these deals result in their homes and livelihoods being grabbed.”
While DFID, GIZ etc. failed and fail to act on Human Rights violations ‐ see also: http://www.anywaasurvival.org

‐ and please note that many believe the Indian companies act simply as straw‐men for USAmerican land‐grabbing interests Incl. AGRA and Monsanto), who are competing now with similar Chinese interests in Africa.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

In the harsh Ogaden region of Eastern Ethiopia, impoverished ethnic people are being murdered and tortured, raped, persecuted and displaced by government paramilitary forces. Illegal actions carried out with the knowledge and tacit support of donor countries, seemingly content to turn a blind eye to war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by their brutal, repressive ally in the region; and a deaf ear to the pain and suffering of the Ogaden Somali people.

read: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/08/ethiopian‐annihilation‐of‐the‐ogaden‐people/

Meanwhile the Ethiopian GIBE III dam project is devastating the lives of remote southern Ethiopian ethnicities. Pastoralists living in the Omo valley are being forcibly relocated, imprisoned and killed due to the ongoing building of a massive dam that shall turn the region into a major centre for commercial farming ‐ mostly by foreign ventures. War is in the making.

see also: http://www.genocidewatch.org/ethiopia.html

Since mid‐November 2015, large‐scale protests have again swept through Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region, and the response from security forces has again been brutal. They have killed countless students and farmers, and arrested opposition politicians and countless others.

Since then Ethiopia has been shaken by a global wave of anti‐government protests over the controversial “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oromia_Special_Zone_Surrounding_Finfinne , which is just another form of grabbing land from the Oromo people. The regime had insisted on escalating its violations of human rights through the implementation of this very dangerous policy of land grabbing in Oromia. While the Oromo people were peacefully protesting against the unfair land use policy at least over 180 innocent Oromo civilians were killed in the three months from mid November 2015 to mid January 2016.
After two months of global protests, the Ethiopian government finally announced the cancellation of this development plan https://www.oromiamedia.org/tag/finfinne‐master‐plan/ for Addis Ababa (Finfinne) http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/IPeoples/WG/IGFM1‐oromo‐4b.doc and its expansion into neighbouring Oromia state. But the problem hasn’t gone away.

In violation of the EU resolution and despite international pressure, reports are confirming now that the regime’s loyal armed forces continue to attack the civilian population in many parts of Oromia. Though these violations of civil rights during the process of land grabbing have reached a new climax, the capacity of human rights organizations to access data of extra‐judicial killings and disappearances in the region is at an unprecedented low.

There is a war of ethnic cleansing officially declared against the Oromo people and implemented across Oromia. Though it has been difficult even to keep up with reports of the death toll some confirmed records are now showing that more than 400 civilians have been killed as of 19. February 2016. 

This rein of state terror must end!

‐ see also the previous HRW report https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/01/22/ethiopias‐invisible‐crisis

On January 12, 2016 the Ethiopian government announced it was cancelling the master plan, but that hasn’t stopped the protests and the resultant crackdown. Although the protest was initially about the potential for displacement, it has become about so much more. Despite being the biggest ethnic group in Ethiopia, the Oromos have often felt marginalized by successive governments and feel unable to voice their concerns over injust government policy. Oromos who express dissent are often arrested and tortured or otherwise mistreated in detention, accused of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a group that has long been mostly inactive and that the government designated a terrorist organization. The government is doing all it can to make sure that the news of these protests doesn’t circulate within the country or reach the rest of the world. Of recent the Ethiopian Government has even resorted to use their Cyber‐crime Act to treat bloggers as terrorists. Ethiopia’s allies, including governments in the region and the African Union, have largely stood by as Ethiopia has steadily strangled the ability of ordinary Ethiopians to access information and peacefully express their views, whether in print or in public demonstrations. But they should be worried about what is happening in Oromia right now, as Ethiopia — Africa’s second most‐populous country and a key security ally of the US — grapples with this escalating crisis.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

Sons and Daughters
By Maya Angelou

If my luck is bad 
And his aim is straight 
I will leave my life 
On the killing field 
You can see me die 
On the nightly news 
As you settle down 
To your evening meal.

But you’ll turn your back 
As you often do 
Yet I am your sons 
And your daughters too. 

In the city streets 
Where the neon lights 
Turn my skin from black 
To electric blue 
My hope soaks red 
On the pavement’s 
gray 
And my dreams die hard 
For my life is through. 

But you’ll turn your back 
As you often do 
Yet I am your sons 
And your daughters too. 

In the little towns 
Of this mighty land 
Where you close your eyes 
To my crying need 
I strike out wild 
And my brother falls 
Turn on your news 
You can watch us bleed.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

ECOTERRA Intl.
SURVIVAL & FREEDOM for PEOPLE & NATURE
join the phalanx directly: africanode[at]ecoterra.net
fPcN ‐ interCultural (friends of Peoples close to Nature) e‐mail: collective[at]fpcn‐global.org


QZ: We’d have a better chance of preserving Africa’s dying languages if we learned their history June 14, 2017

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We’d have a better chance of preserving Africa’s dying languages if we learned their history

By Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz  Africa


‘Across the world, African languages are slowly taking the center stage and are being recognized for their importance. For instance, you can now learn Zulu on an app, read a growing list of articles in African languages on Wikipedia, and receive thousands of dollars in awards for your fictional Swahili piece or poem. And many universities from Ethiopia to South Africa are making African languages like Afan Oromo and isiXhosa a compulsory subject. But Africa still has some of the world’s highest concentration of at-risk languages. And that can be reversed by first understanding and studying the past history, present evolution, and future use of these languages.’  Click here to read the full article QZ.

New African: A conspiracy in the wild June 14, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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A conspiracy in the wild

 

For over 10 years, the Northern Rangelands Trust, a Kenya-based conservation initiative, has been acquiring land in the arid north of the country. Today, it controls almost 10% of Kenya’s land mass. Environmental journalist John Mbaria investigates.

In its dying days, the Obama Administration pumped massive amounts of money into supporting a powerful NGO accused of using below-the-radar tactics to control a huge amount of Kenyan land, thereby using conservation as a subtle tool for dispossessing tens of thousands of pastoralists, who have unwittingly participated in their own dispossession.

Much of the land, whose control is enforced by local well-armed militias, has recently been granted UN-protected status. And with financial backing from powerful Western donors, the Northern Rangelands Trust’s (NRT) activities are largely insulated from public scrutiny.

Unless the new Trump administration discontinues the US government’s support to wildlife conservation in Africa, the NRT is set to continue having a say over vast, mineral-rich lands in the north and coastal areas of Kenya.

Most of these lands have been identified, in official documents, as areas of immense potential capable of becoming the very basis of the country’s future economic progress. These areas are also crucial to the maintenance of the extensive livestock husbandry practised by millions of pastoralists in northern Kenya.

Today, the NRT effectively controls 44,000 km2 (or 10.8m acres) of land – that’s roughly eight per cent of Kenya’s 581,309 km2 landmass. Interestingly, the organisation appears to have acquired a decisive say over these lands by co-opting the local leadership. Consequently, NRT’s control of the lands in Kenya’s Upper Rift, North and Coastal areas is facilitated by local political and community leaders, some of whom are co-opted as members of the organisation’s Board.

This has been done through community wildlife conservation, a model in which landowners assert the right to manage and profit from wildlife on their lands.

Conservancies have proliferated across pastoralist, wildlife-rich areas in northern and southern Kenya. They are also an extremely attractive funding prospect for Western donors in the conservation sector.

All the cash is handed over, not directly to the landowners, who have constituted themselves into 33 community conservancies, but to the NRT, which acts like a middleman and which has taken up not just conservation, but other roles (including security arrangements) that are ordinarily performed by national governments.

Among the biggest financial supporters of NRT, the former Obama administration consistently extended tens of millions of dollars to the organisation through the United States Agency for International Development (USAid). As if to underscore how important the NRT’s work was to the Obama Administration, the organisation’s Chief Programs Officer, Tom Lalampaa, and its founder, Ian Craig, were among the people given the privilege of making short presentations about their work when the former US president visited Kenya last July.

America’s latest support to the organisation was announced in a press statement released by the US Embassy in Nairobi in late November 2016. In the communiqué, the US Ambassador to Kenya, Robert F. Godec, said
the US’s new 5-year, $20m support was meant “to help expand” the NRT’s operations in Coastal
Kenya.

He hailed NRT’s partnership with the communities, terming it “a shared vision of protecting ecosystems and promoting peace for a better future”. He added that the cash would be used to support the work of community rangers, to conserve wildlife and fisheries, improve livelihoods, and advance women’s enterprises.

For its part, NRT, through Craig (who signed off as the organisation’s Director of Conservation), said the cash would be used to fund the opening up of new conservancies and create a conservation trust fund.


The former Obama administration consistently extended tens of millions of dollars to the NRT through USAid.


Though the US government believes that the NRT shares “the visions of protecting ecosystems” with the communities in Upper Rift, the North and on the Coast, recent developments in Kenya have proved otherwise. Indeed, the US support comes at a time when some well-armed herders, from some of the same communities the NRT has helped to form community conservancies, have invaded sprawling private ranches in Laikipia and elsewhere, leading to human fatalities, the killing of wild animals and forcing the deployment of specialised security units from the Kenya police.

The work of NRT and the West’s support to conservation in some of Kenya’s arid-and-semi-arid lands has altered the human/ wildlife dynamics in some areas. This has also invited curious concern from conservation experts, who believe that the US and other countries in the West have been supporting a controversial organisation that has been usurping the role of Kenya’s human and wildlife security organs, as well as destroying the age-old ability of tens of thousands of herders to live off their land.

As New African found out in extensive visits and interviews with different people in the affected areas, the NRT-inspired community-conservation model is simple and can be quite attractive for anyone ignorant of its implications, especially for the lives and livelihoods of local people.

After co-opting the local leadership, the NRT appears to have crafted MOUs with the communities owning the vast tracts of land. In most cases, the communities’ land-ownership claims are based on the most rudimentary rights – an ancestral claim to the land.

Community members are also reputed to retain significant respect for, and allow themselves to be guided by, local leadership which, in most cases, uses its standing in communities to advance, and persuade “lesser” members of communities to conform with the wishes of the NRT.

This is not so difficult as the organisation has come up with quite an attractive package for the  communities, including securing for them investors interested in developing lodges and other tourism facilities, once they agree to set aside some of their lands for exclusive use by wildlife and the investors.

NRT also promises bursaries for school children, employment for community members, a ready market for the livestock and the setting up of a grazing plan to prevent livestock deaths through drought in the drylands of Kenya.

“NRT’s approach is quite attractive to communities who have been neglected by successive governments in Kenya since the country attained independence from the British,” says Daniel Letoiye, a Samburu County resident who previously worked as a programme officer with NRT.

However, hidden in the fine print are consequences that are considered grave for the pastoralist groups in Northern Kenya. “Even when droughts occur, many of the pastoralist groups [who have signed up to the agreements] cannot access part of their lands that are now set aside for wildlife conservation and which constitute community conservancies,” says Michael Lalampaa, an official with the Higher Education Loans Board who hails from Samburu County.

Samburu comunity elders discuss their perspectives with the author in Samburu County

Lalampaa complains that the NRT compels communities to set aside the best portions of their lands for the exclusive use of wildlife and the tourist investors. Lalampaa says that the organisation usually identifies leaders and elites within relevant communities who aid in persuading the pastoralists to set aside big parcels of land for conservation purposes. “Once the agreements are put in place, it becomes impossible for the herders to access some areas with pastures in the conservancies … they are confronted by armed scouts who evict them.” He adds that it is “sad that at times, livestock ends up dying simply because the owners cannot graze the animals in what used to be their own lands.”

This has proven problematic especially since vast sections of the relevant rangelands have been depleted year-in, year-out by overgrazing and are inhabited by people who have become increasingly vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of livestock end up competing over the remaining patches of grasslands and dwindling water sources such as the Ewaso Nyiro River.

This happens, as copious reports show, in an area largely ignored by the Kenya government, inhabited by morans, have taken up cattle- rustling as a traditional pastime.

Claims have also been made that NRT’s activities have far-reaching implications on the entire country and therefore need to be handled with more than casual attention by Kenya’s allies across the world, the government as well as the people of Kenya.

“The sheer geographical, financial, cultural, and political scale of this intervention calls for a lot more thought than has been given to it thus far,” said Dr Mordecai Ogada, a conservation consultant based in Laikipia County.

Dr Ogada believes that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has “abdicated” from its responsibility to inspire the formation and sound management of conservation activities outside Kenya’s protected areas. But top officials at KWS – which has lately been experiencing financial difficulties – deny this, saying that they see no problem with the operations of the NRT.

However, KWS appears critical of recent moves by foreign governments to fund the NRT. “Conservation NGOs like NRT have recently benefited from funding from development partners, following the paradigm shift where development partners and other governments prefer to fund communities through NGOs rather than governments directly,” said Paul Gathitu, KWS spokesperson and head of corporate communications.

Attempts by New African to elicit comments from NRT met with no success. Nevertheless, on its website, the organisation – which calls itself a “movement” – announces that it has been raising funds to aid the formation and running of conservancies.

NRT also says that it supports the training of relevant communities and helps to “broker agreements between conservancies and investors”. It claims that it provides donors with “a degree of oversight” by participating directly in how community conservancies and incomes accrued are managed.  This was evident as New African toured eight conservancies in Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu and Laikipia, where NRT has appointed its own managers who are in charge of the day-to-day running of the conservancies.

Besides the managers, there are the members of the Board and grazing committees who are, on paper, supposed to be making decisions that suit the needs of the true owners of the land.

However, there is evidence that main decisions are made by NRT and that the organisation has maintained little or no engagement with the owners of the land and local public institutions.

Besides the US, NRT’s activities are funded by a host of other private companies and bodies in the West. Some of the principal donors to NRT include the Danish Development Agency (DANIDA); the Nature Conservancy (a US-based international NGO); and Agence Française de Développement (AFD) of France. NRT is also bankrolled by other donors who fund its long-term programmes – including Fauna & Flora International, Zoos South Australia, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ of Germany), US Fish and Wildlife Service, San Diego Zoo, International Elephant Foundation, Saint Louis Zoo, Running Wild and others. These latter donors have boosted what NRT terms a pooled conservation fund that has a lifespan of more than five years.

The Tullow Oil Company, that has been involved in oil prospecting in Turkana County, has funded NRT to the tune of $11.5m in a five-year project meant to aid the latter in establishing and operating new conservancies in Turkana and West Pokot counties.

Seventy per cent of the money was meant to go directly to community conservancies’ bank accounts for meeting operational costs (i.e. staff salaries, the purchase and running of vehicles, the acquisition of computers and other equipment), while 30% was to enable the formation and management of the conservancies.


The NRT has maintained little or no engagement with the owners of the land and local public institutions


But this did not go down well with the Turkana County government, which declared the relevant conservancies illegal, with the County Executive for Energy, Environment & Natural Resources ordering NRT to stop its operations there.

Later, the County Governor, Josphat Nanok, termed NRT’s move to establish conservancies in Turkana as “ill-advised with a hidden agenda”.

Dr Ogada believes that the millions of dollars in grants given by the US and other countries in the West have made NRT a “launch pad” for what he terms “a new conservation paradigm” in East Africa.

“NRT has championed this model of conservation very actively for the last decade [resulting] in a situation where challenges or mistakes aren’t spoken about by donors or implementers because of the sheer scale of professional and financial investment in an institution [which like all others] does have inherent weaknesses,” he added.

The NRT’s security function is considered one of the most controversial aspects of the community conservancy movement in Kenya. Usually, maintenance of security within countries is a preserve of governments. But on its website, the organisation says that it inspires community conservancies to “tackle insecurity holistically”.

This includes conducting anti-poaching operations, wildlife monitoring and providing what it terms “invaluable [support] to the Kenya Police in helping to tackle cattle rustling and road banditry”.

The organisation says that by 2014, it had facilitated the training of 645 rangers who operate in the conservancies while Dickson ole Kaelo, the chief executive of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association, reported that over 2,300 community rangers have been trained so far.

Normally, the organisation selects community members and takes them for training by the KWS’s personnel at the wildlife agency’s Manyani Training School, close to Kenya’s biggest national park, Tsavo.

Here, the rangers are taught “bush craft skills, as well as how to effectively gather and share intelligence, monitor wildlife and manage combat situations”. The involvement of KWS in the training of the community rangers was confirmed, but downplayed, by Michael Kipkeu, KWS’s Senior Assistant Director in charge of the Community Wildlife Service. “The KWS law enforcement academy provides tailor-made community scouts’ training.”

After being trained by KWS, the rangers are given more advanced training than what is posted on the NRT’s website. For instance, according to the Save the Rhino NGO, the rangers are given Kenya Police Reserve accreditation and “sufficient weapons handling training”.

Such advanced training involves tactical movement with weapons, ambush and anti-ambush drills, handling and effective usage of night-vision and thermal-imaging equipment, and ground-to-air communications and coordination.

There are also suspicions that the bigger scheme is to ensure that Kenya unwittingly “forfeits” some of the lands under the NRT by getting them declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

The scheme to have UNESCO declare some of the biggest private game ranches and wildlife conservancies in Laikipia, Samburu, and islands in the Coast as World Heritage Sites is now being pursued in earnest.

“Legally, the move may not amount to much but knowing how lobbying is done, if the government were to [seek to] change ownership, listings would be put up to demonstrate how special these ranches are and why they should remain with the present landowners,” said Njenga Kahiro, a former Programme Officer with Laikipia Wildlife Forum. The aim, Kahiro avers, is “to create a super-big protected area … all of it [covered by] the World Heritage Convention.”   NA


 

Indexing Ethiopia June 14, 2017

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Indexing Ethiopia

Last week, Vision of Humanity issued its 2017 Global Peace Index (GPI).  Its report on Ethiopia is certainly the most distressing though unequivocal, straightforward and clear-cut. The state of peace worsened in Ethiopia more than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa, and arguably the rest of the world.

For someone who is completing his second decade of unrelenting and unwavering struggle for human rights and peaceful change in Ethiopia, the GPI report is heartbreaking and mournful.

Reading between the lines is my profession. When I read the words “the state of peace has worsened in Ethiopia more than any other country”, I know what exactly what that means. I know what the opposite of the absence of civil peace is. When the state of civil peace in Ethiopia is in such dire and grave peril, the unthinkable becomes more real by the day.

I want to think only about civil peace in Ethiopia. Nothing else. I dream of peace and brotherhood and sisterhood among the diverse people of Ethiopia. Peace with equality and justice for all. Peace and understanding without force. Peace offerings among all people of Ethiopia. Peaceful resistance.

I dream of a peaceful Ethiopia where everyone greets each other with “Salam” and “Shalom. I believe all humanity “must turn from evil and do good [and] seek peace and pursue it”, for the “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

I don’t like George Orwell’s 1984 declaration, “War is peace.”

I much prefer Jimi Hendrix’s formulation from the days of my youth, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

I believe when the power of love overcomes the love of power, Ethiopia will know peace.

In this commentary, I review the latest findings of the various indices on Ethiopia. Peace is a many-splendoured thing.

What do the “Indices” have to say about Ethiopia?

Is there hope for peaceful change in Ethiopia?

Global Peace Index 2017

Last week, Vision of Humanity issued its 2017 Global Peace Index  (GPI). Ethiopia was #1 on the list of “Top Five Fallers”, followed by Burundi, Saudi Arabia, Mali and Lesotho.

GPI provides “a comprehensive analysis of the state of peace in the world”.

GPI reports the “world slightly improved in peace last year” but the “score for sub-Saharan Africa was influenced by deteriorations in various countries—notably Ethiopia, which worsened more than any other country, reflecting a state of emergency imposed in October 2016 following violent demonstrations.” (Emphasis added.)

Simply stated, the state of peace is in its most precarious and risky state in Ethiopia.

I have been warning for some time that the black apartheid system set up by the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Party (T-TPLF) has set Ethiopia on a trajectory to civil war. (That is the 600-pound gorilla in the room few dare to talk about openly.) That is why the GPI report is so worrisome and painful to me. It gnaws at my own deep concerns and anxieties about the current state of peace in Ethiopia.

In my December 2016 commentary, I bluntly asked, “Is Ethiopia going in the direction of a civil war?”

In my April 9 commentary, I warned that unlike the masters of apartheid in South Africa who made peace in the nick of time, time to make peace in Ethiopia is running out fast for the T-TPLF.

In my commentary in The Hill last month, I urged passage of the pending human rights bill in the U.S. Congress because “Ethiopia is at a tipping point” now. It is clear what the tipping point is. It is that point of no return.

Failed (Fragile) States Index 2017

Ethiopia is ranked 15th failed state out of  178 on the Failed States Index (FSI) and is rated as “High Alert”. It is #1 on the list of “Most Worsened Country in 2017” in terms of “susceptibility to instability”  and “fractionalization and group grievance”.

The FSI is “an assessment of 178 countries based on twelve social, economic, and political indicators that quantify pressures experienced by countries, and thus their susceptibility to instability.”

The FSI devotes a full chapter focusing on Ethiopia (at p. 13) and concludes, “Ethiopia’s overall Fragile States Index (FSI) score has been incrementally worsening over the past decade, moving from 95.3 in 2007, to a score of 101.1 in this year’s 2017 index, with Ethiopia — along with Mexico — being the most worsened country over the past year.”

The FSI points out that, “Tigray elites are perceived to still hold significant political power within the essentially one -party state. Military leadership has also been dominated by Tigrayans, which makes perceptions of Tigray influence within the state apparatus all the more unpalatable to populations that feel increasingly excluded.”

Corruption Perception Index 2016 and Global Financial Integrity

Ethiopia is ranked 108 out of 176 countries on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

The CPI ranks countries “by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.”  The CPI generally defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit.”

According to CPI, Ethiopia “is among the top ten African countries by cumulative illicit financial flows related to trade mispricing. This amount may be much higher if funds from corruption and other criminal activities are considered.”

According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI)  “illicit financial flows out of Ethiopia nearly doubled to US$3.26 Billion in 2009 over the previous year, with corruption, kickbacks and bribery accounting for the vast majority of that increase.” GFI reported, “Ethiopia  lost US$11.7 billion to illicit financial outflows between 2000 and 2009.”

U.N. Human Development Index 2017

Ethiopia ranks 174 out of 188 countries on the U.N. Human Development Index (HDI).

The adult literacy rate in Ethiopia is 49.1 percent.  Government expenditure on education (as % of GDP) is 4.5. Expected years of schooling (years) is 8.4. The population with at least some secondary education (% aged 25 and older) is 15.8. The pupil-teacher ratio, primary school (number of pupils per teacher) is 64. The primary school dropout rate (% of primary school cohort) is a mind-boggling 63.4.

The HDI is a “measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living.”

Economist Democracy Index 2017

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index  (DI) scores 167 countries on a scale of 0 to 10 based on 60 indicators. The indicators are grouped into five different categories measuring pluralism, civil liberties, and political culture.

Ethiopia scores 3.73 on the D.I. and is classified as “authoritarian”.

According to DI, the authoritarian “nations are often absolute dictatorships” with “some conventional institutions of democracy”. Ethiopia scores at the bottom because  “infringements and abuses of civil liberties are commonplace, elections- if they take place- are not fair and free, the media is often state-owned or controlled by groups associated with the ruling regime, the judiciary is not independent, and there is omnipresent censorship and suppression of governmental criticism.”

The T-TPLF is an absolute dictatorship which clings to power by an emergency decree.

Economic Freedom of the World Index (EFI) 2016

Ethiopia is classified as “Least Free” on the EFI with a score of 5.60 out of 10. Ethiopia ranked 145 out of 159 countries.

Economic freedom is defined as “(1) personal choice, (2) voluntary exchange coordinated by markets, (3) freedom to enter and compete in markets, and (4) protection of persons and their property from aggression by others.”

To earn high ratings on the EFI, among other things,  “a country must provide secure protection of privately owned property, a legal system that treats all equally, even-handed enforcement of contracts, and a stable monetary environment.”

Ethiopia was classified as Least Free on the DI because Ethiopians have little economic freedom when they acquire property. They are often subjected to the use of force, fraud, or theft in property acquisitions and there is little protection from physical invasions by others.

Countries that enjoy high levels of economic freedom manifest “higher average income per person, higher income of the poorest 10%, higher life expectancy, higher literacy, lower infant mortality, higher access to water sources and less corruption.” Because Ethiopia has low levels of economic freedom, it scores very low on measures of literacy, life expectancy and infant mortality. 

Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index 2016 (BSI)

Ethiopia is in the rump of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index (BTI).

On “Political Transformation”,  Ethiopia scored 3.23 (113 out of 129 countries). On “Economic Transformation” Ethiopia scored 3.86 (109 out of 129 countries) followed by 3.48 on the “management index” (108 out of 129).

The BTI analyzes and evaluates the quality of democracy, viability of market economy and political management in 129 developing and transition countries. It “measures successes and setbacks on the path toward a democracy based on the rule of law and a socially responsible market economy.”

The BTI’s detailed and extraordinarily revealing report calls Ethiopia a “façade democracy” and makes certain keen observations:

Ethiopia ‘remains one of Africa’s poorest countries, with a third of the population still living below the poverty line, and its regime is one of the continent’s most authoritarian in character. Between five and seven million people require emergency (donor) food aid throughout the year.’

Ethiopia ‘continues to be categorized as an authoritarian state, a category it shares with neighboring states including Eritrea and Sudan.’

Official results show that the governing-party coalition under the leadership of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) secured a 99% majority in the 2010 polls.

The increased incidence of government land-grabbing activities – the lease of land previously used by smallholders and pastoralists to foreign investment and agrobusiness companies – has prompted heavy unrest in Gambela, in Oromo and other regions. In the western Gambela region, as many as 70,000 people have been forced to move as a result. Women’s rights are protected by legislation, but are routinely violated in practice.

The national parliament (in which the opposition parties held just a single seat during the period under review) is regarded as a rubber-stamp institution, without any influence on decision-making processes within the EPRDF, the sole ruling party for 24 years.

The government maintains a network of paid informants, and opposition politicians have accused the government of tapping their telephones. It is therefore unrealistic to expect that elected parliamentarians can freely and fairly participate in law-making.

Ethiopia does not have an independent judiciary with the ability and autonomy to interpret, monitor and review existing laws, legislation and policies. Access to fair and timely justice for citizens, at least as conventionally defined by legal experts, cannot be said to exist. In general, there are no judges able to render decisions free from the influence of the main political-party leaders, despite these jurists’ professionalism and sincerity. The independence of the judiciary, formally guaranteed by the constitution, is significantly impaired by political authorities and the high levels of corruption. High-level judges are usually appointed or approved by the government.  The judiciary functions in ways that usually support the political stances and policies of the government. Pro-government bias is evident in political and media-freedom cases, as well as in business disputes.

Officeholders who break the law and engage in corruption are generally not adequately prosecuted, especially when they belong to the ruling party (EPRDF). In some cases, “disloyal” civil servants are subject to legal action. Corruption remains a significant problem in Ethiopia due to the lack of checks and balances in the governing system. EPRDF officials reportedly receive preferential access to credit, land leases and jobs.

Although the political system consists formally of an elected parliament based on (unfair) competition between several parties, Ethiopia must be regarded as a “facade democracy.” The legally elected institutions are in fact part of an authoritarian system that does not offer citizens a free choice between competing political parties. Since 2005, the government has harassed and imprisoned political opponents, journalists and members of the Muslim population.

Freedom in the World Index 2017 (FWI)

In the Freedom in the World Index,  Ethiopia received an aggregate score of 12/100 (0=least free; 100=most free).

On “Freedom”, Ethiopia was rated 6.5/7; and on “Civil “Liberties” 6/7 (1=most free; 7=least free)

Freedom in the World is an annual survey “that measures the degree of civil liberties and political rights in every nation and significant related and disputed territories around the world.”

Multidimensional Poverty Index 2016 (MPI)

Ethiopia ranks 174 out of 185 countries on the MPI.

MPI defines poverty not only by income but a variety of other  “factors that constitute poor people’s experience of deprivation – such as poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standard, lack of income (as one of several factors considered), disempowerment, poor quality of work and threat from violence.”

According to MPI, life expectancy in Ethiopia is 64.6 years. The expected years of schooling is reported at 8.4 years.

Ethiopia has a Geni coefficient of 33.2.

The Gini coefficient is a measure of inequality in society. (A Gini coefficient of zero expresses perfect equality, e.g. where everyone has the same income; and a Gini coefficient of 1 (or 100%) expresses maximal inequality among values).

On the gender development index, Ethiopia scores 0.842 and ranks  174/185.

The Ethiopian population living below the poverty line ($1.90 per day) was reported at 35.3% for 2005-2014.

The Ethiopian “population in severe multidimensional poverty” is a staggering 67%.

Freedom on the Net Index 2016 (FNI)

On the Freedom on the Net Index, Ethiopia’s overall score is 83/100 (0=most free; 100= least free).

Ethiopia is one of the least connected countries in the world with an internet penetration rate of only 12 percent, according to 2015 data from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

FNI reported, “A handful of signal stations service the entire country, resulting in network congestion and frequent disconnection.  In a typical small town, individuals often hike to the top of the nearest hill to find a mobile phone signal.”

On obstacles to internet access, Ethiopia received a score of 23/25; limits on content 28/35 and violations of users rights 32/40.

Freedom House which publishes the FNI “assesses each country’s degree of political freedoms and civil liberties, monitor censorship, intimidation and violence against journalists, and public access to information.”

FNI noted, “The legal environment for internet freedom became more restrictive under the Computer Crime Proclamation enacted in June 2016, which criminalizes defamation and incitement. The proclamation also strengthens the government’s surveillance capabilities by enabling real-time monitoring or interception of communications.”

FNI reported that “authorities frequently shutdown local and national internet and mobile phone networks and social media to prevent citizens from communicating about the protests.  The Ethiopian government’s monopolistic control over the country’s telecommunications infrastructure via EthioTelecom enables it to restrict information flows and access to internet and mobile phone services.”

Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2017 (RWBI)

Ethiopia ranked 150/180 with a score 50.34 on the RWBI.

The RWBI is based on a survey conducted by Reporters Without Borders covering issues of  “freedom, pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, infrastructure,  penalties for press offences, existence of a state monopoly and other related factors.”

The RWBI reports that the regime in Ethiopia uses “terrorism charges to systematically silence the media.” Journalists are sentenced to long prison terms and the “anti-terrorism law” has been used to “hold journalists without trial for extended periods.” According to the RWBI, “there has been little improvement since the purges that led to the closure of six newspapers in 2014 and drove around 30 journalists into exile. Indeed, the state of emergency proclaimed in 2016 goes so far as to ban Ethiopians from looking at certain media outlets. Additionally, the Internet and social networks were often disconnected in 2016. Physical and verbal threats, arbitrary trials, and convictions are all used to silence the media.”

Freedom House Freedom of the Press 2017 (PHFP)

Ethiopia received a total score of  86/100 (0=Most Free, 100=Least Free) on the PHFP.

On the “legal environment” of the press, the score was 29/30. On “political environment”, the score was 38/40.

PHFP reported,

Ethiopia was the second-worst jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia’s media environment is one of the most restrictive in sub-Saharan Africa. The government of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn continues to use the country’s harsh antiterrorism law and other legal measures to silence critical journalists and bloggers. As of December 2016, Ethiopia was detaining 16 journalists, making it the fifth-worst jailer of journalists in the world and the second-worst in sub-Saharan Africa, after Eritrea. In addition to the use of harsh laws, the government employs a variety of other strategies to maintain a stranglehold on the flow of information, including outright censorship of newspapers and the internet, arbitrary detention and intimidation of journalists and online writers, and heavy taxation on the publishing process.

What is the price of peace in Ethiopia?

Will Ethiopia go the way of peace thorugh atonement and reconciliation or take the path of civil war and bloodshed?

President John F. Kennedy warned that, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Nelson Mandela taught that the choice of violent revolution is exclusively in the hands of the oppressor and the oppressed merely imitate the oppressor in the choice of the means of struggle.  Mandela explained (forward clip to 13:39 min.) in 2000:

The methods of political action which are used by the oppressed people are determined by the oppressor himself. If the oppressor uses dialogue, persuasion, talking to the other, the oppressed people will do precisely the same. But if the oppressor decides to tighten oppression and to resort to violence, what he is saying to the oppressed is if you want to change your method, your condition, do exactly what I am doing. So in many cases those people who are being condemned for violence are doing nothing else. They are replying, responding to what the oppressor is doing…. Generally speaking, it doesn’t mean that a person because a person believes that freedom comes through the barrel of a gun, that person is wrong. He is merely responding to the situation in which he and his community finds himself or herself.  (Emphasis added.)

So, whether the future of Ethiopia will be decided by dialogue, persuasion and talking to each other or in a civil war is entirely in the hands of the T-TPLF.

My dream for Ethiopia is merely a reflection of Mandela’s dream for Africa: “I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself. I dream of the realization of unity of Africa whereby its leaders, some of whom are highly competent and experienced, can unite in their efforts to improve and to solve the problems of Africa.”

Ethiopians united can never be defeated!!!

The time for peace, dialogue, persuasion and talking to each other in Ethiopia is NOW.

Or never!


 

 

 

GPI 2017: Peacefulness in Africa deteriorates to worst level in almost a decade. Ethiopia suffered the biggest deterioration (both within SSA and globally) June 14, 2017

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More than half of all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) saw their level of peacefulness deteriorate in 2017. Out of the five countries with the largest deteriorations worldwide, four were in SSA.

SSA’s level of peacefulness, as measured by the 2017 Global Peace Index (GPI) regional score, deteriorated to its worst level since 2008. Although the region recorded notable annual improvements between 2011 and 2013, SSA’s GPI score has been consecutively worsening for the past four years, albeit by different magnitudes.

 Despite the fact that the trend for the safety & security and ongoing conflict GPI domains has been improving since 2008, the deterioration in the overall score since this reference year has been driven by a worsening trend in the militarisation domain. The reason behind this becomes clear when we disaggregate these domains by their respective GPI indicators; with access to small arms, military expenditure and UN peacekeeping funding being the ones that deteriorated the most since 2008. Political Terror is another indicator that deteriorated significantly during this time. Notable improvements were however recorded in the indicators for political instability and the deaths from conflict, although the indicator for intensity of conflict has been worsening since 2013.
Ethiopia suffered the biggest deterioration (both within SSA and globally). This was reflected in a sharp worsening of the indicators measuring internal peace levels, leading Ethiopia to suffer a 16 rank deterioration: falling from 118th to 134th.  Read more at: Vision of Humanity: Peacefulness in Africa deteriorates to worst level in almost a decade

Ethiopia Travel Warnings June 13, 2017

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 172fe-ethiopia2bshuts2boff2bmobile2binternet2bnationwide2bwithout2bexplanationViber, twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp Are strictly forbidden in Fascist regime (TPLF) Ethiopia


Ethiopia Travel Warning

LAST UPDATED: JUNE 13, 2017

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Ethiopia due to the potential for civil unrest and arbitrary detention since a state of emergency was imposed in October 2016. The Government of Ethiopia extended the state of emergency on March 15, 2017, and there continue to be reports of unrest, particularly in Gondar and Bahir Dar in Amhara State. This replaces the Travel Warning of December 6, 2016.

The Government of Ethiopia routinely restricts or shuts downs internet, cellular data, and phone services, impeding the U.S. Embassy’s ability to communicate with U.S. citizens in Ethiopia and limiting the Embassy’s ability to provide consular services. Additionally, the Government of Ethiopia does not inform the U.S. Embassy of detentions or arrests of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia.

Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, continuously assess your surroundings, and evaluate your personal level of safety. Remember that the government may use force and live fire in response to demonstrations, and that even gatherings intended to be peaceful can be met with a violent response or turn violent without warning. U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should monitor their security situation and have contingency plans in place in case you need to depart suddenly.

Given the state of emergency and the unpredictable security situation, U.S. citizens in Ethiopia should have alternate communication plans in place, and let family and friends know that communication may be limited while you are in Ethiopia. The Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens to registeryour mobile number with the U.S. Embassy to receive security information via text or SMS, in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

For further information:

Embassies & Consulates

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa

Entoto Street
PO Box 1014
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

 


VOA: Lammiiwwan Ameerikaa Gara Itiyoophiyaatti Akka Hin Imalle Akeekkachiisi Kenname: Ministrii Dhimma Alaa


Lammiiwwan Ameerikaa Gara Itiyoophiyaatti Akka Hin Imalle Akeekkachiisi Kenname: Ministrii Dhimma Alaa

Lammiiwwan Ameerikaa Gara Itiyoophiyaatti Akka Hin Imalle Akeekkachiisi Kenname: Ministrii Dhimma Alaa

Naannoo Amaaraa Gonder fi Baahir Daar keessatti walitti bu’iinsi itti fufuu isaa tuquu dhaan ministriin dhimma alaa Ameerikaa kan kana dura baatii Sadaasaa keessa baase akeekkachiisa imalaa har’as haaressuun baasee jira.

Labsiin yeroo hatattamaa itiyoopiyaa keessatti baatii Okoloolessaa keessa erga labsameen booda jeeqamni ka’uu fi ajaja seeraatiin ala hidhamuun jiraachuu waan danda’uuf ministriin dhimma alaa lammiiwwan United States gara biyya sanaatti akka hin imalle akeekkachiisee jira.

Akeekkachiisi imalaa har’a ba’e mootummaan Itiyoopoiyaa labsicha Bitootessa 15 waan dheeressuu isaa tuquu dhaan Gondarii fi Baahir Daar keessa amma iyyuu walitti bu’iinsi jiraachuu gabaasaaleen ibsaniiru jedha.

Akeekkachiisi kun mootummaan Itiyoopiyaa yeroo dhaa gara yerootti Interneetii fi tajaajila moobaayila harkaa waan cufuuf embasiin US lammiiwwan Ameerikaa Itiyoopoiyaa keessa jiran irra ennaa rakkinni ga’u tajaajila gorsaa kennuuf ni rakkataa jedha.

Kanatti dabaluu dhaan mootummaan Itiyoopoiyaa lammiiwwan Ameerikaa ennaa to’annaa jala oolchu embasiitti kan hin beeksisne ta’uu illee tuqee jira.

Akeekkachiisi sun lammiiwwan bakka mormiiin uummataa itti geggeessamu ykn wal ga’iin geggeessamu irraa akka fagaatan, yeroo mara nageenya naannoo isaanii akka to’ataniif of eeggatan yaadachiisee jira.

Akeekkachiisi imalaa kun kana duras yeroo adda addaatti kan ba’e waan ta’eef bal’inaan marsaa interneetii keenyaa afaanoromoo.voanews.com irraa argachuu dandeessan.


Toxic leaders affect companies, and governments. How to deal with them June 13, 2017

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 Toxic leadership is characterised by a number of familiar traits: unwillingness to take feedback, lying or inconsistency, cliquishness, autocracy, manipulation, intimidation, bullying, and narcissism. The toxic leader can – if allowed to run rampant for long enough – destroy organisational structures over time and bring down an entire organisation. This applies to countries too.

There are a number of reasons for this. The most obvious is that a toxic leader can influence organisational culture through aversive action. This can include flouting organisational processes, rewarding loyalty over competence, normalising socially unacceptable behaviours like infighting, and by breaking down trust and eroding clear lines of authority.

A toxic leader’s other, more insidious, influence is through what they do to the relationships between people around them.

Psychologists, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, describe how two factions typically develop in an organisation once the deviant leader’s ascent has begun. One faction consists of supporters, pawns and patrons. The other is made out of people who remain true to their principles, realising they have been used and abused, or that the organisation whose ultimate goals they still support is in danger.

If it sounds familiar it’s because South Africans are spectators to exactly this kind of factionalism. In recent months pro and anti President Jacob Zuma factions have been involved in increasingly energetic mudslinging matches.

For many, Zuma represents the quintessential toxic leader. Whether one is for or against the president, it remains that he’s at very least a controversial figure, and criticism of him has been known to lead to reprisals.

The good news is that toxic leadership can be overcome. When it’s understood and challenged, it can be dismantled or reformed.

The toxic environment

Where there is toxic leadership, the ethics of the working environment are compromised. Typical behaviours are abuse of privileges, theft, violence and verbal abuse. Any number of these can be recognised from news reports around South African politics.

Scandals over the awarding of government tenders, the mismanagement of taxpayer funds and the maintenance of corrupt relationships are now an all too familiar reality in South Africa.

But a toxic leader does not absolve employees who choose to engage in deviant conduct. Ministers and private sector supporters who choose personal gain or corrupt relationships remain responsible for their own choices. Of course, it’s much easier to make the wrong decision if it’s the dominant way of doing things in a particular environment.

Such behaviour may be rooted in financial gain, or lie within the culture of an organisation. The motivation to achieve results may spark greater numbers of people to either actively harm, or passively ignore, the welfare of others to achieve their desired end.

This is why the removal of a psychopathic leader doesn’t guarantee the eradication of toxicity as it’s likely to be entrenched at lower levels of organisational leadership by the leader’s sycophants.

Fighting from the bottom up

The responsibility to move against toxic leadership doesn’t lie with an individual, but concerns the organisation as a whole.

In the public sphere, this responsibility extends to society as a whole.

Crucial to overcoming the toxic leader’s negative impact is for other members of the organisation to remain firm and loyal to their principles, and to take a united stand.

If people are able to stand together against toxic leadership, the leader may leave of their own accord. Once this happens individuals in the rest of the organisation need to cleanse the organisation by distancing themselves from the leader’s negative actions.

Another way of tackling toxic leadership is to find out who they answer to, if it’s not immediately apparent, and appeal to this authority. Bullies are not always swayed by open dialogue or whistleblowing, but may answer to a higher law if this is done formally and armed with the facts. In the case of an errant public servant, this may be achieved through, for example, the judiciary and institutions like the Public Protector.

If all these fail, there are ways to manage the situation with the toxic leader in position. It’s necessary to understand the leader’s history to analyse how they got to this point. Share this with key decision makers. This is vital because a core aspect of the solution is to establish a coalition of like-minded individuals who understand the leader’s negative impact.

The coalition should not take a punitive, antagonistic approach, but rather a supportive one, using appropriate benchmarks and timelines that reflect the goals of all key stakeholders.

Much of what’s observed in the corporate world applies to leadership in the public sector. With proper interventions, a valuable level of accountability can be brought into the workplace and to service delivery.

The accountability of leaders can be increased through forums like townhall meetings to force them to think deeply about their behaviour and decisions. Where politics is concerned, visible performance management like this can do wonders for the well-being of citizens.

It’s also critical to establish mechanisms to protect people speaking up against leaders – the whistleblowers – as their actions should be free of fear, such as loss of income.

With protection mechanisms in place, employees and citizens alike should be able to freely raise issues and protect both themselves and their ideals, whether their concerns relate to a private company or a government department.


The article is original in   The Conversation


Linda Ronnie is Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour and People Management, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town.

CHILDHOOD: OVER TWO-THIRDS OF THE WORLD’S STUNTED CHILDREN LIVE IN 10 COUNTRIES. #Ethiopia June 13, 2017

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10 countries (India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia,  China, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Bangladesh, Philippines and Tanzania) are home to the largest numbers of children  under age 5  in the world who are moderately or severely stunted.

 


The 10 worst countries in the world to be a child are all in Africa

Quartz Africa, June 12, 2017


 

A child in Angola is 20 times more likely to die before the age of 5 than one in the United States. Children in parts of sub-Saharan Africa are among the worst off in the world, according to a report from the international NGO, Save the Children, which ranks 172 countries based on where childhood is the most protected and where it’s been eroded the most.

European countries like Norway, Slovenia, and Finland rank first while Niger, Angola, and Mali came in last. The US ranked 36th. Out of the 10 countries at the bottom of the list, seven were in West or Central Africa. “Children in these countries are the least likely to fully experience childhood, a time that should be dedicated to emotional, social and physical development, as well as play,” the report (pdf) said.


 

UNPO: Oromo: Alterations of Afan Alphabet Raise Concerns About Community’s Cultural Rights June 10, 2017

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#ABCDeebisaa

Oromo: Alterations of Afan Alphabet Raise Concerns About Community’s Cultural Rights

UNPO, 9 June 2017

Photo courtesy of USAID Ethiopia@flickr

Authorities in Oromia changed the order of the Roman alphabet used for the Afan Oromo language on the grounds that the old alphabet order is allegedly an obstacle to the reading skills of Oromo school children. According to Oromo intellectuals, however, this change is aiming at diminishing the cultural rights of the Oromo people who have been subject to a marginalisation process for years. This issue is occupying the center of Ethiopia’s political news cycle, even though this regulation had been silently carried out in 2016. Therefore, there are doubts as to whether the regime uses this debate to divert public attention from large-scale Oromo protests. In the past months, the Ethiopian government has been in the world’s spotlight due to massive human rights violations in the country.

 


 

This article has been published by Global Voices

 

Authorities in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest state, have infuriated language experts and Oromo nationalists with their decision to re-arrange the order of the alphabet of the region’s language, Afan Oromo.

In multilingual and multiethnic Ethiopia, orthographic choices are complex linguistic and political decisions that have great socio-political consequences.

Among Ethiopia’s written languages, most write their language in either the Ge’ez or Ethiopic alphabet, known as “Fidel,” or the Roman alphabet. Afan Oromo officially adopted the Roman alphabet — in its usual order of ABCD and so on — after the current government come to power in 1991.

However, more than a quarter century later, the regional educational authorities of Oromia announced they were reshuffling the “Qubee Afan Oromo” (as the alphabet is called). The first seven letters are:

L A G I M Aa S

 

Justifying the change, authorities blamed the old alphabet order as the reason why reading skills among primary school children in Oromia remain poor. They even cited a research to back up their claim.

There is, however, a problem with their argument. It was based on a misrepresentation of the findings of the research. In fact, the research, which was funded by US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2010, revealed a broader problem of reading skills not only among Afan Oromo-speaking primary school students, but also students whose mother tongue was Amharic, Hararigna, Sidaamu Afoo, Somali and Tigrinya.

In the study, pedagogic and logistical difficulties were identified as factors for poor reading skills in Ethiopia’s six major regions. However, the order of alphabet was not cited as a factor for the dismal reality. In a post on the citizen journalism site OPride.com, one blogger agreed with the findings of the research but questioned the connection it had to the alphabet order, writing:

There is little disagreement on the core problem here: The education quality crisis in Ethiopia needs fixing. The disagreement here though is on the proposed solutions. This is underscored by a key question that everyone is asking: JUST HOW DOES REORDERING THE AFAAN OROMO ALPHABET IMPROVE READING AND LEARNING OUTCOMES?

‘Yet another fraud perpetrated on the Oromo people’

The change actually took effect in 2016 and school textbooks already reflect the reshuffling, but it was done so quietly. So much so that the news of the letter order change only made it into Ethiopia’s political news cycle after government affiliate Oromia Broadcasting Service reported about it. Over last two years, a series of political events with far-reaching repercussions such as protests and internet outages has dominated the country’s news cycle.

As soon as the change was reported, concerned Oromo intellectuals started raising questions.

For them, this is the latest attempt in a series of steps intended to diminish the cultural rights of the Oromo people, who have historically been marginalized in Ethiopia. On Facebook Awol Kassim Allo, wrote:

“The casual change/disfiguring of the Alphabet of a language spoken by more than 40 million people without any debate and discussion is appalling. The excuse given to justify it – improving the ability of children to read at early stages of instruction – is lame and cannot stuck up to scrutiny. …This is yet another fraud perpetrated on the Oromo people and it must be rejected.”

The circumstance of the change also stoked another fear: that the decision to alter the order of the letters might be a plot by people who were disgruntled when the Oromos opted to adopt the Roman alphabet over the Ge’ez alphabet in 1991.

Prior to 1991, Afan Oromo was written in different alphabets. The first Oromo Bible was printed in Ge’ez letters in the 19th century. During the reign of emperor Haile Selassie (1930-1974), Afan Oromo was not a written language.

When Ethiopia’s military regime came to power in 1974, it decreed that all Ethiopian languages must be written exclusively in Ge’ez alphabet— a draconian policy intended to promote unity among Ethiopia’s diverse ethnic groups.

Parallel to the Ge’ez letters, however, Oromo language experts and Oromo nationalists were also using the Roman alphabet. Paul Baxter, a social anthropologist, wrote that the Roman alphabet was used to transcribe the Afan Oromo language among Kenyan Oromos in the 1940s.

Proponents of the Ge’ez alphabet believe that Ge’ez signifies the rich liturgic and literary tradition of Ethiopia. For them, preserving Ge’ez in the age of the Roman alphabet’s domination is a sign of resistance to cultural globalization and a symbol of identity. Responding to Awol Kassim Allo’s post on Facebook, Abeba Teshale wrote:

“Simple, structured, logical, Ethiopian, African, Amharic/Tigregna alphabet is there for any one interested to adopt. 26 vs 338 syllables! There is an alphabet for each sound and for the ones that don’t have one, we could crate a symbole. Just a thought”

For many Oromos, though, adopting the Roman alphabet is a matter of selecting an alphabet that best fits the Afan Oromo sound system.

According to academic Teferi Degeneh Bijiga, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the topic of Afan Oromo writing system, complex historical, cultural and linguistic forces were at play when Oromo intellectuals decided to adopt the Roman alphabet in 1991.

Over the next few weeks, this issue will be front and center in Ethiopian politics, where the Ethiopian government is operating under a state of emergency because of the protests that began over land use as well as political and economic marginalization in Oromia in November 2015.

Africa: Extractive industries push Africa’s indigenous peoples to the margins June 10, 2017

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“Worrying that so little is done to protect the environment and the indigenous peoples,” says the report.
With detailed field studies from Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda and Namibia, a new report sheds light on the consequences of extractive industries on land rights and indigenous peoples in Africa. “Worrying that so little is done to protect the environment and the indigenous peoples,” says the report.

Environmental degradation, cultural ethnocide and gross human rights violations: For indigenous peoples these are some of the consequences of the current global race for natural resources and raw materials.

The skyrocketing global demand for natural resources is driven by the growth of both western and non-western economies and the liberalization of transnational investments and agreements.

Indigenous peoples in Africa are among the first to feel the consequences of the global increase in extractive industries, as they often live, where natural resources are found.

Terra nullius: No recognition of collective land rights

Indigenous peoples in many cases share collective land rights. But this ownership of the lands is not officially recognized by African states. Therefore indigenous peoples’ lands are often seen as fertile ground for natural resource exploitation.

“It is considered terra nullius, no one’s land, since there is no ‘visible’ use or occupation of the land,” says the new report, issued by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

When mining and construction companies move in, indigenous peoples generally get evicted from their ancestral lands and territories without any free, prior and informed consultation, consent or compensation.

“We struggle with the misconception that extractive industries benefits society by bringing modernity. This illogic defies the very fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples,” says Dr. Melakou Tegegn, Expert Member of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa under the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Indigenous peoples host wanted natural reserves and resources

In 2020, 70 percent of all copper will be extracted from indigenous peoples’ territories, and in 2009, 70 percent of all uranium used in nuclear reactors was sourced from indigenous peoples’ territories.

And the tendency shows that the growth of extractive industries in Africa will continue.

“The pressure of the extractive industries leads to the question, if indigenous peoples will actually be able to stand up against this new and major direct threat to their environment, livelihoods and lives. If the international community and African states don’t prioritize the principle of free, prior and informed consent, the future survival of indigenous peoples and their unique cultures will be seriously threatened,” says Marianne Wiben Jensen, IWGIA’s Senior Advisor on Africa and land rights and Expert Member of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa.

The new report will be presented at the meeting of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in July 2017, where the conclusions and recommendations of the study will be discussed.

“I believe the impact of the study will be enormous. It can inform many in Africa, including governments, on the state and consequences of extractive industries on the rights of indigenous peoples. And it can serve as source for civic action for policy changes on the ground,” says Dr. Melakou Tegegn, Expert Member of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa.

The Working Group will organize national dialogues on the findings and recommendations of the study in the countries covered in the study.

Extractive Industries, Land Rights and the Indigenous Populations/Communities’ Rights: East, Central and Southern Africa
Includes field studies in Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda and Namibia

Published by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) and IWGIA with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark

Published online: May 29, 2017

 

About the African Commission’s Working Group on Indigenous Populations / Communities in Africa

In 2003, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights established the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa with the responsibility to advise the Commission on matters relating to the rights of indigenous populations/communities on the continent. In this capacity, the Working Group found it appropriate to commission a study on extractive industries, land rights and indigenous populations/communities to inform and guide its activities and that of all other stakeholders. http://www.achpr.org/mechanisms/indigenous-populations/about/

About International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA)

Since 2001, IWGIA, an international human rights organisation defending indigenous peoples’ rights, has been represented in the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa with Marianne Wiben Jensen as an expert member. For almost 50 years, IWGIA has documented the fight for indigenous peoples’ rights. IWGIA works through a global network of indigenous peoples’ organisations and international mechanisms. IWGIA promotes the recognition, respect and implementation of indigenous people’s rights to land, cultural integrity and development on their own terms.


 

Oromia: Tartiiba qubee jijiiruun fumaata hin ta’u. #ABCDeebisaa #OromoProtests June 6, 2017

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“Early grade reading: The incompetent Ethiopian government has once again to demonstrate its prejudice against the Oromo people. It was supposed to help puples overcome their deteriorating reading skill with US provided fund. RTI (research institute) recommended raising teaching reading skill not alphabet distortion. It pointed out the need for competent teachers to teach the language and teaching aids for the kids. That is what should be improved. It recommended “particular attention to the frequency of letters and words in the language” not to start the alphabet board with those letters as pseudo experts in Sulultaa and their bosses want to convince the people. Qubee Oromo was introduced after the policy was thoroughly discussed by the then legislature. Now it is announced without telling the form of decision making it followed. This is a package that the Oromo people won by their struggle that costed so much sweat and blood. It cannot be taken away without costing the same amount. This is harbinger of worst things to come and should not be passed in silence. People that put Oromummaa after alien interest might have collaborated in this shameful act of isolating Qubee from the long tested Latin alphabet formation. But the main assault is coming from the sinister regime and it alone has to account for it. The empire is no more the source of Oromo knowledges and to meddle with Qubee at one center cannot stop its flourishing and getting desiminated from another center. Oromo have to learn from their Wala’ita neighbors of the past years, when they rose in 1998 against “Wedagogda” Qubee that was meant to distort their identity. Qubee can be acceptable only in the form adopted by the Oromoo.”-Ibsaa Gutamaa


The Qube Saga: Another Attack on the Oromo People

 



Abdii Boruu:- Tartiiba Qubee Afaan Oromoo jijjiiruun waan boba’aa jirurratti boba’aa dabaluu dha


“Qubeen siidaa injifannoo Oromoo ti!” Ezekiel Gebissa


Toltu Tufa, Barreessituu kitaabban Dabballee akkana jette:-

“Qubeen Afaan Oromoo ar’a ittiin fayyadamnu argamuu kan danda’e ijibbaata hayyoonni Oromoo yeroo dheeraaf godhan irraahi. Akkasumas warraaqsi quddina afaanii bara dheeraaf hayyootaa godhamaa turuun isaa ni beekama. Itti fufuudhaan, Sadaasa 3 bara 1991 magaala gudditti Oromiyaa Finfinnee keessatti Afaan Oromoo afaan hujii, barnoota fi mana murtii ta’ee akka tajaajilu seeran labsame jira. Labsa guyyaa seena qabeessa kana irratti NAMOONNI 1000+ ta’an argatan. Labsa kana irratti maan guddoota, hayyoota, dargaggootaa fi bakka bu’ootni dhaabilee Oromoo gara garaa qooda fudhatanii jiru. …Amma, harka namni kudhan qofaatiin, tattaaffii namni 1000 ol kan heera fi seeran dalagame diiguudhaaf ka’anii jiru. Ummanni kanneen karaa #OromoProtests akka irraa haa bannuuf jechu dubbii kana oofuu eegalan.#OldTricks #TimeWasters.”   


 

OPride: The Qubee Afaan Oromo fiasco: What We Know and What We Don’t Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

OMN- Jijjiiramuu Tartiiba Qubee Ilaalchisee Marii 2ffaa (LIVE)


 

 

Double-digit propaganda, Ethiopia’s top 10 wealthiest people, and Ethiopia’s 87 million poor June 4, 2017

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You will see in the news, and officials of the oppressive Ethiopian government will  smile convincingly when they tell you, that Ethiopia is thriving with a “double-digit” economic growth.Yet many experts and scholars will explain to you why this is triple-digit nonsense and quadruple-digit propaganda.

Read more from the original source: Double-digit propaganda, Ethiopia’s top 10 wealthiest people, and Ethiopia’s 87 million poor

New World Health Organization Director Accused Of “Genocide” In Ethiopia. #OromoProtests June 3, 2017

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New World Health Organization Director Accused Of “Genocide” In Ethiopia.



Find out why some Ethiopians are not pleased with the new Director-General of World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


Ethiopia’s Liyyu Police – Devils on Armored Vehicles May 28, 2017

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HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF IN THE HORN OF AFRICA: IS THE CRIME IN DARFUR BEING REPLICATED IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN OROMIA REGIONAL STATE OF ETHIOPIA?


It is saddening to witness repetitions of similar tragic events in history. Recurrences of such dreadful events can even sound farcical when they happen in a very short span of both time and space. This is exactly what is currently happening in the Horn of Africa.  It is barely over a decade since the height of the Darfur genocide.  One would hope that the international community has been well informed to avoid repetition of Darfur like tragedy anywhere in the world.  However, it is depressing to observe that the Darfur crisis is in the process of being replicated in Ethiopia.

In this piece, I will explain how the scale of the crisis unfolding in Ethiopia’s Eastern and Southern regions (and those brewing up in other regions) can have a potential to dwarf the Darfur crisis.  The Janjaweed militia (in the case of Sudan) and the so-called Liyyu police (in the case of Ethiopia) are the catalysts for the crisis in their respective regions. For this reason, I will focus my analysis on explaining missions and functions of these two proxy militias.

Sudan’s Janjaweed – Devils on Horseback

In order to draw a parallel between the Darfur and Eastern Oromia, it would prove useful to recap the Janjaweed story.  Janjaweed literally means devils on horseback presumably because the Janjaweed often arrived riding horses while raiding and wreaking havoc in villages belonging to non-Arab ethnic groups. The origin of Janjaweed is rooted in a long established traditional conflict primarily over natural resources such as grazing rights and water control among the nomadic Arabized and the sedentary non-Arabized ethnic groups in Chad and Sudan. The Janjaweed militia were initially created as a pan-Arab Legion by the late Mohammed Gadafi in 1972 to tilt power balance in favor of the Arabized people of the region.  The key point to note here is that the origin of the Janjaweed as well as the conflict between Arabized and non-Arabized people in the region long predates the Darfur crisis which started in 2003.

The beginning of the Darfur crisis signified a confluence of the traditional conflict between ethnic groups with another strand of conflict in the region – the wider conflict between Sudanese national army and regional liberation movements, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army. The latter was still fighting to liberate what has now become South Sudan. In 2003, the government of Sudan encountered setbacks in its military operations against JEM and SPLA. In its desperate attempt to overcome failures in military front and also cover up for its planned ethnic cleansing in Darfur, the Al-Bashir government applied divide and rule tactic, thereby merging the two strands of the conflicts into one.  This was accomplished by organizing, training, arming and providing all necessary logistical support to the Janjaweed militia of the Arabized ethnic group in Darfur.  This was how Al-Bashir’s government has engineered ethnic cleansing and undertaken genocide in Darfur with a brutal efficiency, using the Janjaweed as a proxy militia group.  The number of people killed in Darfur was estimated to range between 178,000 to 462,000. Human rights groups have documented staggering number of rapes and mass evictions and destructions of livelihoods of millions of people in the region.

Ethiopia’s Liyyu Police – Devils on Armored Vehicles

“Liyyu” is an Amharic expression to mean “special”, so Liyyu police denotes a “special police”.  If the Janjaweed are devils on horseback, then Liyyu police can be described as demons maneuvering armored vehicles.  It is instructive to examine why, where, and when the regime in Addis Abeba has created Liyyu police.

The Liyyu police was created in 2008 in the Somali People’s Regional State of the ethnically constituted federal government of Ethiopia.  It is important to note that like any other regional state, the Somali Regional State (SRS henceforth) has a regular police force of its own.  But why was a special police required only for SRS?

The key point is to recognize that Liyyu police is nothing but only a variant of the usual proxy politics that has riddled Ethiopia’s political affair during the ruling EPRDF era.  This special force has no separate existence and no life of its own as such but it is just a proxy militia purposely created to cover up for human right abuses that was being perpetrated by Ethiopia’s National Defense Force (ENDF) but also planned to be intensified in its battles against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

The armed wing of ONLF, the Ogaden National Liberation Army (ONLA), has been engaged in armed conflict with ENDF for many years. This conflict reached a turning point in April 2007, when the ONLA raided an oil field and killed 74 ENDF soldiers and nine Chinese engineers.  This was followed by frequent clashes between ONLA and ENDF. The conflicts have led to gross human rights violations in the region at a scale unheard before. In its report of early 2008, the Human Rights Watch accused the ENDF for committing summary executions, torture, and rape in Ogaden and has called for donors to take necessary measures to stop crimes against humanity.

In an article entitled “Talking Peace in the Ogaden: The search for an end to conflict in the Somali Regional State (SRS) in Ethiopia”, author Tobias Hagmann observes that the creation of Liyyu police is essentially “indigenization of confrontation”.  In other words, the government in Ethiopia established Liyyu police to create a façade that human rights violations in Ogaden and its neighboring regional state are “local conflicts”. This was done pretty much in similar fashion with Sudanese government that resorted to countering freedom fighters in Darfur through the Janjaweed militia.  However, unlike the Janjaweed which were already in place, the government in Ethiopia had to assemble the Liyyu police from scratch, applying doggy recruitment methods, including giving prisoners the choice between joining Liyyu police or remaining in jail. The founder and leader of Liyyu Police was none other than the current President of SRS, Abdi Mohammed Omar, known as “Abdi Illey”, who was security chief at the time.

The size of Liyyu militia is estimated to have grown considerably over the years, currently standing at approximately around 42,000. However, any debate over the size of Liyyu police is essentially a superfluous argument, given that there is a very blurred line between ENDF and Liyyu police.  After all, it requires an expert eye to distinguish between the military fatigues of the two groups. It has been proven time and again that ENDF soldiers often get engaged in military actions disguised as Liyyu police by simply changing their military uniform to that of Liyyu police. In fact, it is a misnomer to consider Liyyu police as a unit separately operating with different military command structure within the Ogaden region.  For all intent and purposes, if we ignore niceties, the Liyyu police is a battalion of Ethiopia’s army operating in the region.

Fomenting Inter-Ethnic Conflict

Liyyu police is a special force with a dual purpose.  The first purpose has already highlighted Liyyu as a camouflage for atrocities being committed by ENDF in the SRS, to relegate such atrocities to a “local affair”, as if it is internal conflict between Somalis themselves.

Liyyu’s second purpose is to aggravate the already existing traditional conflicts between Somalis and Oromos over pasture and water resources.  ONLA in Ogaden and Oromo Liberation Army, OLA (the military wing of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front – OLF) have frustrated the Ethiopian army for decades.  While OLA has had support all over Oromia, it has traditionally been most active in Eastern and Southern Oromia – Oromia’s districts bordering with the SRS.

Therefore, the EPRDF government realized that it could ride on existing traditional conflicts through a proxy militia to fight two liberation fronts. This was carbon copy of how things were done in Darfur, indicating how dictators learn from each other. Except that the EPRDF had to create Liyyu police from scratch, it acted in similar fashion with the way the Bashir government used the Janjaweed militia in Darfur.

Oromo and Somali herdsmen have traditionally clashed over grazing and water resources but such conflicts have always short-lived due to effective conflict resolution mechanisms practiced by local elders on both sides. These conflict resolution systems have evolved over centuries of peaceful coexistence between the two communities. The EPRDF government’s divide and rule strategy has long targeted to change this equilibrium, and exploit the existing conflict to its advantage.

Conflicts have traditionally arisen when herds arrived at water holes, leading to confrontations as to whose cattle get served first, essentially a conflict over “resource use”, rather than “resource ownership”. Conflicts flare up often among the youth but they were immediately put under control by the elders. Besides, each side are equally equipped with simple tools such as traditional sticks or simple ammunitions, so there has always been power equilibrium.  But the regime sought an effective means of aggravating these conflicts by transforming them in to a permanent one.

Such manipulation of the situation was done essentially in two ways.  First, supplying deadly modern military equipment, training and military logistics to Liyyu police, thereby destabilizing the existing power balance. Second, and critically, by changing the nature of the conflict from “use rights” to “ownership” of the resource itself.  The conflicts were engineered to be elevated from clashes between individual members of communities to that between Somali and Oromo people at a higher scale.

The seeds for conflicts were sown in the process of redrawing borders along adjacent districts of the Somali and Oromia regional states. In this process, the number of contested Kebeles, the lowest administrative units in Ethiopia, were made to suddenly proliferate.  Over a decade ago, the number of such contested kebeles already escalated to well over 400. In order to resolve disputes between the two regional states, a referendum was held in October 2004 in 420 kebeles along 12 districts or five zones of the Somali Region. The outcome of the referendum was that Oromia won 80% of the disputed kebeles and SRS won the remaining kebeles.  Critically, regardless of the outcome, severe damage was already done to durable good-will in community relationships due to purposeful manipulation of the process by the regime in Addis Abeba before, during and after the referendum.

Once the referendum results were known, all the dark forces bent on divide and rule needed to do was to nudge the Somalis to claim that the vote were rigged during the referendum and hence they should aim to get their territory back by other means, that is to say by force and the Liyyu police was created to do the job.

Since it came into existence, Liyyu’s operations have often overlapped but with varying degrees of intensities across its dual-purposes.  During its first phase, Liyyu police focused on operations within Somali region. These operations had much less to do with fighting ONLA but raiding villages and drying up popular support base of the ONLF, in the process committing gross human rights violations at a massive scale. Human rights organizations have widely documented arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial executions, rapes, tortures and ill-treatment of detainees in the region.

Over the years, however, Liyyu’s operations have increasingly focused on the second pillar of the proxy militia’s mission – cross border raids into Oromia.  However, Liyyu’s frequent raids into Oromia have not received enough attention from human rights organizations and hence atrocities committed by this proxy militia on Oromo communities over a decade or so has not been well documented.  The authorities in Addis Abeba, who have purposefully sown seeds of conflict to aggravate traditional clashes, have often deliberately misreported Liyyu Police raids as “the usual fights” between Oromo and Somali herdsmen but nothing could be further from the truth.

In a desperate attempt to gain popular support from the Somali people, the Liyyu police military adventures have been conducted in the name of regaining territory the SRS lost to Oromia during the referendum of 2004.  The evidence one could adduce for this is that every time Liyyu Police encroached into Oromia and occupied a village, they would immediately hoist the Somali flag as a sign of declaring that territorial gains.  The proxy militia has done so after attacking and killing large number of civilians and displacing thousands of households in numerous districts in Eastern Oromia: Qumbi, Mayu Mulluqe, Goohaa, Seelaa Jaajoo, Miinoo. Liyyu Police overrun the town of Moyale in Southern Oromia resulting in the death of dozens of people and forcing tens of thousands to flee to Kenya. It was reported that during an attack on Moyale town in Southern Oromia “the 4th army division [of ENDF] stationed just two miles outside the town center watched silently as the militia overrun the police station and ransacked the town. Then the militia was allowed safe passage to retreat after looting and burning the town while administrators of the Borana province who protested against the army complacency were thrown to jail.”

Alliances and Counter-Alliances

The Oromo Peaceful protests erupted on 12th November 2015 and then engulfed the nation, spreading to all corners of Oromia like a forest fire.  Oromo Protests ignited Amhara resistance, and then ended up with Oromo-Amhara alliance.  It became commonplace to see solidarity slogans on placards carried by protestors both in Amhara and Oromia. It should be noted that Oromo and Amhara population constitute well over two-third of Ethiopia’s population. It was historical acrimony and rivalry between these two dominant ethnic groups which provided a fertile ground for the divide and rule strategy so intensely practiced by the current regime which is dominated by the TPLF, the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front. The Tigre ethnic group account for less than 6% of Ethiopia’s population.

The Oromo-Amhara solidarity sent shock waves among the Tigrean ruling elites.  The Oromo Protest, Amhara Resistance and other popular protests elsewhere in Ethiopia exposed the fake nature of the coalition in the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRDF). It has always been an open secret that EPRDF essentially means TPLF (the Tigrean People Liberation Front). The remaining parties, especially the OPDO (Oromo People’s Democratic Party) was cobbled up in haste from prisoners of war when TPLF was approaching Addis Abeba to control power by ousting the military junta back in 1991. However, even the so-called OPDO – lately joined by the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) – felt empowered by the popular protests in their respective regions sending a clear sign that TPLF was about to be left naked with its garbs removed.

Now that the Tigreans realized that they cannot reply on dividing Oromo and Amhara any more, they resorted to another variant of divide and rule – fostering alliance between minorities to withstand the impending solidarity between the two majority ethnic groups. This strategic shift was elucidated by two most senior TPLF veterans, Abay Tsehaye and Seyoum Mesfin, in their two-part interview conducted (in Amharic) with the government affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation. The TPLF-dominated-EPRD’s new strategy was to present the Oromo-Amhara coalition as a threat to the minority ethnic groups, such as Tigre and Somali.  The regime has already experimented pitting minority against majority at different scales: Tigreans against the rest of Ethiopians at national scale, Somali against Oromo at regional scale, and many more similar fabricated divisions at regional and local levels in many communities across Ethiopia.  What is new is the fact that these two relatively separate strands are explicitly brought together and extensively implemented at national scale.

In addition to the interview cited above, one can adduce more evidences to illustrate the new machination by the Tigre and Somali political and security alliance.  For instance, there was an incidence in which Amhara popular uprising caused some ethnic Tigreans to get relocated from the Amhara regional state. What happened next raised eyebrows of many observers: Abdi Mohamoud Omar, SRS President who rules his people with iron fist, declared his cabinet’s endorsement to “donate 10 million birr for displaced innocent Ethiopian people [Tigreans] from Gondar & Bahir Dar cities of the Amhara regional state”.

Further evidence regarding the maneuvering of minority alliance with deadly intent comes from Aigaforum, a TPLF mouthpiece. In an article entitled “Liyyu Police: The Savior”, the website came up with the following jumbled up assertion: “they [Liyyu Police] are from the people and for the people of Somali region; to protect the honor and dignity of their own people and overall Security of the region, and Ethiopia at large. This special force has a mandate primarily to protect the people of [the] region, to secure and stabilize the aged conflict in Somali region of Ethiopia.  This Special force is not like a tribal militia from any specific clan or sub-clan in the region, rather they are holistic and governmental arms —who are well screened, registered and recruited from kebeles and woredas and trained [as per the] standards [of] Ethiopian military training package and armed with modern military equipment. Besides being regional state special forces; they are part and parcel of Ethiopian arm[y].”

In an overzealous effort to glorify the devilish proxy militia, aigaforum inadvertently exposes TPLF by admitting that actually Liyyu Police is part and parcel of the national army, a fact the TPLF politicians have never admitted in public.

Towards full-scale atrocity?

The alliance between Tigre elites and Abdi Mohammed Omar’s cabinet got manifested in the transformation of Liyyu police’s mission from sporadic military excursions to full scale invasion of Oromia. This started by deploying Liyyu police in Oromia to attack and disburse peaceful protestors. For instance, based on eye witness accounts Land-info reported that starting from January 2016 Liyu Police was being used against Oromo demonstrators in many locations, including in Dire Dawa and Bededo.

By the third quarter of 2016, popular protests did not only intensify but literally covered most parts of the country.  However, protests that were inherently peaceful were transformed into confrontations between the protestors and the security forces because the latter have already mowed down the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians during the previous months.  In a desperate attempt to hang onto power, the TPLF dominated regime enacted a State of Emergency (SoE) on October 8, 2016.

An essential component of the SoE is securitization of many regions and transport corridors in Ethiopia.   Particularly, Oromia, the birth place of the latest popular protest, was literally converted into a “high security prison” and Oromos were effectively “put under house arrest”.  Oromia’s regional government was made redundant, being replaced at all levels by Military Command Posts, a form of local and regional government by a committee of armed officers. This was exactly the way it has been for the most part of the previous two decades except that the SoE signaled a temporary move to direct control by the military, abandoning the all too familiar indirect controls through puppet civilian parties such as OPDO.

Soon after the SoE was enacted, Abdi Illey declared an all-out war and the Liyyu Police was unleashed on all fronts along the Oromia and SRS boundary, stretching over a total of close to 1200 km. According to information from the Oromia Regional State, the 14 districts affected in the latest wave of Liyyu Police invasion are: Qumbi, Cinaksan, Midhaga Tola, Gursum, Mayu Muluqe and Babile in East Hararghe; Bordode in West Hararghe; Dawe Sarar, Sawena, Mada Walabu and Rayitu in Bale; Gumi Eldelo and Liban in Guji; and Moyale in Borana.  It is highly significant to note that there is at least 500 km “as the-crow-flies” distance between Qumbi (extreme North East) and Moyale (extreme South West).  Therefore, the sheer number of districts affected, the physical distances between them, and the simultaneous attacks at all fronts indicate that Liyyu’s latest invasion of Oromia is a highly sophisticated and coordinated military adventure which can only be understood as planned by the TPLF-dominated regime’s military central command.

The SoE was enacted with explicit intention of laying information blackout all over Ethiopia, particularly in the highly securitized Oromia Regional State.   For this reason, it is difficult to obtain reliable estimates on victims of Liyyu’s invasion of Oromia.  Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been receiving reports that dozens of casualties have been, including many civilians in Oromia but “[R]estrictions on access have made it difficult to corroborate details.” Locals indicate that Liyyu police have so far killed large numbers of civilians.  Oromo civilians have given up with the hope of getting any meaningful protection from ENDF, given that by now it has become an open secret that the latter is complicit in the invasion.  Consequently, in a desperate act of survival, Oromos have organized a civilian defense force.  Based on incidents of confrontation between Liyyu Police and Oromo civilian defense force around 23rd February 2017 in Southern Oromia, the Human Rights League for Horn of Africa (HRLHA) reported about 500 people were killed, over 200 injured.  If so much destruction has happened in a few days and few districts, then it is possible to imagine that wanton destructions must have been happening during several months of Liyyu police’s occupation in all districts across the long stretch along the Oromia-Somali region boundaries.  Opride, an online media, reported: “Mothers and young girls have been gang raped, according to one Mayu resident, who spoke to OPride by phone. He said the attacking Liyu Police were fully armed and they moved about in armored vehicles brandishing machine guns and other heavy weapons. They stole cattle, goats, camels and other properties.”

Publicity and Accountability

When it comes to publicity and awareness, Darfur and Eastern Oromia can only be contrasted.  Although it did not lead to avoiding large-scale atrocities, the international community got involved in the case of Darfur at much early stage of the crisis.  On the contrary, it is well over a decade now since Abdi Illey’s Liyyu police began rampaging in Ogaden as well as Oromia but the international community has chosen to turn a blind eye to the regional crisis, which has gained momentum and now nearly getting out of control.

Perhaps the reason gross human rights violations by Liyyu Police has been ignored or tolerated by the international community lies in the fact that some donors have been directly implicated in financing and supporting the paramilitary group. For instance, the British Press has repeatedly accused DFID for wasting UK tax payer money on providing training to the Somali Liyyu Police.  Similarly, there are evidences to suggest that the notorious proxy militia has also been funded by the US government.  It is no wonder then that the UK, US, and the rest of the international community have ignored for so long the unruly Liyyu Police’s military adventures in Ogaden and Oromia.

Last week, the HRW released a report entitled Ethiopia: No Justice in Somali Region Killings. This report is timely in raising awareness of the general public as well as drawing the attention of authorities in the UK and the US, who are most directly implicated with financing the militia group.  However, I would hasten to add that what has been lacking is the political will to act and curb the activities of Liyuu police.  Starting from 2008 the HRW has released numerous similar reports but this did not stop the atrocities the paramilitary group is committing from escalating over the years.

The HRW’s report asserting that “Paramilitary Force Killed 21, Detained Dozens, in June 2016”, indicates that the report is anchored on an incident that happened in SRS about ten months ago.  Although the focus of the report was on the particular incident in SRS, it has also highlighted Liyyu Police’s latest atrocities in Oromia.  As indicated in the report, the SoE related movement restrictions means the HRW had to release the report on the incidence in SRS with ten months delay.  Clearly, HRW and other human rights organizations could not undertake any meaningful independent assessment on the damages caused by the latest invasion into Oromia.  The point here is that while HRW has been grabbling with conducting inquiries into a case in which dozens of people were killed or detained in SRS in mid-2016, Liyyu police has killed and abducted hundreds in Oromia since the start of 2017.

The TPLF dominated EPRDF regime in Addis Abeba has long started sowing the seeds of divide and rule strategy coupled with deliberate acts of fomenting conflicts between different communities.  The motivation is pretty clear –it is an act of survival, a minority rule can sustain itself only if it turned other ethnic groups against each other.  The case of Liyyu Police and its latest invasion of Oromia fits into that scheme.

If not addressed timely and decisively, Liyyu Police’s invasion of Oromia has a potential to turn into a full-blown atrocities that is likely to dwarf what happened in Darfur. Clearly, the tell-tale signs are already in place. Genocide Watch, the international alliance to end genocide, states that “Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur.) Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants) or decentralized (terrorist groups.) Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for genocidal killings.”

In Ethiopia, this situation on the ground is rapidly changing and it requires an urgent response from the international community.


 

The evidence almost always wins May 27, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

 

‘You can lose your faith. You can’t lose facts. In the end, the evidence almost always wins, as it did for Napoleon, as it will for Trump. And instead of tasting the sweet fruit of gradual accomplishment, they drank the bitter brew of abject failure. Many of them, in this moment, would find that ego that had whispered affirmations in their ears for so long, was now saying something quite different. It’s not a way to live. It’s not a way to do big things. It’s a way to fail big.’

 

Ryan Holiday InstagramYou have to believe in yourself, they say. “If you don’t, who will?” goes the seductive logic. When no one else believed in me, I believed in myself. And so a seemingly empowering but innocuous phrase has been inscribed on a million inspirational quote images, been the subject of countless self-help books and…

via I Don’t Have Faith In Myself, I Have Evidence — Thought Catalog

Gendered Impacts of Large-scale Land Acquisitions in States of Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz May 26, 2017

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Gendered Impacts of Large-scale Land Acquisitions in Western Ethiopia

Author: Forests and Livelihoods: Assessment, Research and Engagement (FLARE)

Date: May 24, 2017


This study presents the results of a comparative assessment of the effects of four cases of land transactions in western Ethiopia in the states of Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz. The study contributes to the larger body of research on large-scale land transactions. It does so through a particular focus on how these transactions are affecting women and women’s livelihoods in comparison to those of men.

  • Key Findings
  • Related Analyses

The study identifies four consistent outcomes across the studied cases:

(1) They reduced available land and parcel sizes for agricultural households;

(2) They reduced available grazing area, livestock holdings, milk consumption/sale, and availability of other livestock products;

(3) They prompted out-migration and increased labor requirements from women who came to manage both their normal domestic chores but also had to take address new tasks outside the home;

(4) Finally, they reduced available forest area and forest products such as firewood and non-timber goods, again increasing the labor burden of women. Preliminary evidence of changes in nutrition and diets point to an important avenue for future research.

Gendered impacts of large-scale land acquisitions in States Oromia and Benishangule -Gumuz

– See more at: http://rightsandresources.org/en/publication/gendered-impacts-large-scale-land-acquisitions-western-ethiopia/#.WSiVbVTytdg

WEF: Build a ‘human economy’. It could help Africa to fight extreme inequality May 25, 2017

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Putting people before GDP: Policymakers and leaders across the continent can tackle the issues of poverty and inequality if they take a “human economy” approach. This means focusing on “what works for the majority of African people” rather than measuring growth solely by GDP.

Build a ‘human economy’, says Oxfam. It could help Africa to fight extreme inequality

By Joe Myers, WEF, 4 May 2017

A gold miner uses a bicycle to transport a sack of sandy soil from a small scale mine in Bugiri, 348 km (216 miles) east of Kampala, Uganda's capital February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Edward Echwalu (UGANDA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT COMMODITIES) - RTR3DE5Z

Seven of the world’s 20 most unequal countries are in Africa.
Image: REUTERS/Edward Echwalu

Strong GDP growth in Africa is a good thing, right? Not if the benefits aren’t shared equally, argues a new Oxfam report.

Africa has experienced a decade of significant growth – at one point, six of the 10 fastest growing global economies were on the continent – but the proceeds haven’t been evenly distributed.

Millions have been left behind, and to make matters worse, slowing growth could increase poverty further, says Oxfam. The most pessimistic forecasts suggest 250 to 350 million more people could be living in extreme poverty in the next 15 years.

There is a solution though: the human economy.

Extreme economic inequality

Seven of the world’s 20 most unequal countries are in Africa, with Swaziland the most unequal, followed by Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa.

In South Africa, the richest 1% owns 42% of the country’s total wealth and three billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom 50% of the population, according to Oxfam.

Image: Oxfam

Why is inequality so high? The impact of colonialism lingers, and the structure of many African economies means the benefits of growth have not been shared, according to the report.

Inadequate investment in agriculture, large informal sectors and over-reliance on extractive industries have exacerbated inequality.

The hardest hit are young people and women, particularly in rural areas. Ignoring their potential is having a major impact on African economies. Gender inequality costs sub-Saharan Africa more than $90 billion every year. Meanwhile, better policies and investment in young people could be worth up to $500 billion every year for 30 years.

With Africa’s large – and growing – youth population, there is an urgent need for action.

Image: United Nations

Putting people before GDP

The legacy of colonialism and current policies can be overcome, argues the paper.

Policymakers and leaders across the continent can tackle the issues of poverty and inequality if they take a “human economy” approach. This means focusing on “what works for the majority of African people” rather than measuring growth solely by GDP.


 

Famine: Hunger to hit emergency levels in Ethiopia despite rains May 25, 2017

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Hunger to hit emergency levels in Ethiopia despite rains

NAIROBI, May 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Hunger is likely to reach emergency levels in Ethiopia and the number in need of food aid will rise beyond the current 7.7 million, experts said, as drought has decimated livestock, rains have been erratic and aid is in short supply.

Prolonged drought, followed by floods, has pushed millions across East Africa into crisis, with 7 million in neighbouring Somalia also needing aid, the United Nations said as it grapples with the highest global hunger levels in decades.

“Despite enhanced rainfall at the end of April into early May over many areas of Ethiopia, food security outcomes are still expected to deteriorate,” the U.S.-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said on Wednesday.

Herders in southeastern Ethiopia will be worst hit over the next three months, it said, with hunger reaching the fourth “emergency” level on a five-phase scale, where the fifth level is famine.

“The current marginal improvements in pasture and water are likely to be depleted by early June, which will mean rangeland resources will rapidly decline, and subsequently livestock body conditions,” it said, with the next rains due in October.

The number of Ethiopians who need food aid surged to 7.7 million from 5.6 million between January and April.

This number is expected to increase in the second half of the year, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said this week.

“Increased funding is needed urgently, in particular to address immediate requirements for clean drinking water, much of which is being delivered long distances by truck as regular wells have dried up,” it said.

The Trump administration has proposed to drastically cut U.S. funding for global health and food aid programmes amid opposition from Congress.

(Reporting by Katy Migiro @katymigiro, editing by Alisa Tang. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women´s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-4536996/Hunger-hit-emergency-levels-Ethiopia-despite-rains.html#ixzz4i58YKYbV
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Famine: Ethiopia feeling the impact of successive serious droughts May 21, 2017

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  • At the end of April, the National Disaster Risk Management Commission reported the number of people in need of immediate food assistance had reached 7.7 million, an increase by 2.1 million from the commission’s estimate at the beginning of the year.
  • In 2015 and 2016, Ethiopia experienced its worst drought in half a century in which 10.2 million people needed emergency aid, while 7.9 million people were chronically food insecure and dependent on an ongoing relief program. Still reeling from the effect of that devastating episode, which was induced by El Niño, an ocean-warming climatic phenomena with global impact on weather patterns, swathes of the country have experienced rain failure again.
  • The drought is also causing an increase in the number of internal refugees. According to the International Organization for Migration there are currently 696,000 displaced persons at 456 sites throughout Ethiopia.
  • Exacerbating the problem, year-on-year food inflation has reached 12.6 per cent, the highest since January 2016

Ethiopia feeling the impact of successive serious droughts

THE MESSENGER,NEWS & INVESTIGATIONS FROM EAST AFRICA, 18 MAY 2017

 

With a recent increase in the number of people needing emergency food assistance, the impact of Ethiopia’s drought is worsening. And that comes only around a year after one of the country’s most severe dry spells in decades.

At the end of April, the National Disaster Risk Management Commission reported the number of people in need of immediate food assistance had reached 7.7 million, an increase by 2.1 million from the commission’s estimate at the beginning of the year. At that time, $948 million dollars was requested to help the affected people — who are mostly in the south and east of the country — under half of which has been contributed.

In the worst hit Somali regional state, an estimated 785,000 people are suffering from hunger, malnutrition and water shortages. After visiting the area in late February, UN Central Emergency Response Fund’s Stephen O’Brien stressed the importance of prompt action. “Millions of people’s lives, livelihoods and wellbeing depend on continued donor support,” he said. “Time lost means lives lost.”

Exacerbating the problem, year-on-year food inflation has reached 12.6 per cent, the highest since January 2016, according to Ethiopia’s Central Statistical Agency, with major staples such as teff, maize, wheat, sorghum and barley exhibiting increases. The government had previously pledged to keep the inflation rate in the single-digit range.

Although central bank governor Teklewold Atnafu told lawmakers in April that prices were under control, economic research firm Business Monitor International expects soaring inflation in coming months because of reduced agricultural output due to the lack of rain. However, the statistics agency says that despite the drought an increase in production has been registered in the last main Meher season (June to September 2016) harvesting season with close to 290.4 million quintals of crops yielded. That means production showed an 8.8 percent increase from last year, which is likely to be roughly in line with Ethiopia’s consistently high official economic growth figures.

Food inflation is up in spite of official reports of increased food production.

An assessment of the secondary Belg season (roughly, February to April) will be used as a basis for a revised Humanitarian Requirements Document that is expected to be released in July. Planners hope that early publication of the document, capturing the impact of the Belg rains, will help mobilize donations to prevent a projected break in the delivery of food aid.

In 2015 and 2016, Ethiopia experienced its worst drought in half a century in which 10.2 million people needed emergency aid, while 7.9 million people were chronically food insecure and dependent on an ongoing relief program. Still reeling from the effect of that devastating episode, which was induced by El Niño, an ocean-warming climatic phenomena with global impact on weather patterns, swathes of the country have experienced rain failure again.

According to the World Bank, it often takes as many as four years for households to recover from a drought because of asset depletion. The non-governmental organization Save the Children says the previous crisis left more than half the nation’s pastoralists destitute due to loss of livestock. An April announcement of the UN’s World Meteorological Organization predicts that El Niño has a 50 to 60 per cent probability of returning this year.

 In 2015 and 2016, Ethiopia experienced its worst drought in half a century.

The ongoing Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) currently provides regular food or cash transfers for 8 million Ethiopians, half of whom live in currently drought-affected areas. During severe rain shortages, the program expands to include new beneficiaries, as well as increasing the period of support from five to seven months of the year. To deal with the extra burden, one of the main donors, the World Bank, approved an extra $100 million for the PNSP on May 2, the same amount it topped the program up with last year. The PSNP recipients, plus the 7.7 people in need of emergency support, amount to more than one-sixth of Ethiopia’s population.

The drought is also causing an increase in the number of internal refugees. According to the International Organization for Migration there are currently 696,000 displaced persons at 456 sites throughout Ethiopia. And, additionally, the country hosted 830,000 refugees from other countries as of March. Because neighboring South Sudan and Somalia are deeply impacted by the conflict and drought, respectively, an increase in the number of refugees is likely.

UN OCHA’s latest humanitarian funding update, from May 10, says there is a $507 million shortfall, of which $291m is needed for food aid. After avoiding catastrophe last year, donors praised Ethiopia’s government for diverting as much as $700 million to the relief operation. (The main sources were alleged to be cash allocated for road development and funds that had accrued in an oil stabilization fund). Mitiku Kassa, head of Ethiopia’s disaster commission, is now urging donors to step up their funding, while the government is again mobilizing all the resources it can. “We all must work hand in hand to tackle this problem,” he says.

But even if that occurs, while the country is still managing to avoid the dreaded famine classification, the impact of successive serious droughts on a fragile and resource-stretched nation is mounting.


 

Global Voices: As WHO Director-General Election Nears, Ethiopia’s Candidate Is Accused of Cholera Cover-Ups. #WHA70 May 16, 2017

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As WHO Director-General Election Nears, Ethiopia’s Candidate Is Accused of Cholera Cover-Ups

A Unicef-supported pump in Ethiopia. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

In January 2017, when Ethiopia’s candidate for director-general of World Health Organization, Tedros Adahanom, stormed to the top of the final three candidates — beating out six other candidates — it was a high time for Ethiopia’s government.

Although Adahanom had faced ferocious opposition from his fellow citizens, he has largely made it through unscathed, giving a propaganda victory for Ethiopian state media. With his well-funded campaign, Adahanom has traveled to more than 120 countries, and his supporters felt confident that his election is all but a matter of time.

Then on May 13, the New York Times ran a story reporting that a “prominent global health expert” had accused Adahanom of concealing three cholera epidemics from 2008 to 2011 during his tenure as Ethiopia’s health minister. Lawrence O. Gostin made the allegations; he is an informal adviser to one of Adahanom’s opponents in the director-general race, the UK’s David Nabarro, but Nabarro told the New York Times that he had not instructed Gostin to make the accusations on his behalf.

Finally! The @NYTimes calls out @WHO DG candidate @DrTedros for covering up cholera epidemic using the euphemism of Acute Water Diarrhea. https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/863525012258656257 

Abebe Gellaw, a prominent Ethiopian journalist in the diaspora, wrote on Facebook that it was only the beginning:

New York Times has a hard-hitting article on Tedros Adhanom. Tedros says it is a “smear campaign”. But the revelation is just the tip of the iceberg. A lot more will come out in the next few days…

A screenshot of the New York Times article on Tedros Adahanom. Click the image to read the story on nytimes.com

The explosive article made Adahanom and his supporters defensive while it created a sense of vindication for his opponents. Adahanom has denied the allegations. A former Reuters journalist who wrote Ethiopia’s cholera outbreak in 2009, however, responded on Twitter that the accusations as detailed in the New York Times story was consistent with what he had seen.

In 2009, when Tedros was health minister, I obtained minutes of an NGO/UN meeting, in which a cholera outbreak was acknowledged.

NGOs, UN and government refused to comment. And UN officials pressured me not to run story. Full story here: http://reut.rs/2pLNcz5 

Photo published for Cholera/diarrhoea outbreak hits 18,000 in Ethiopia

Cholera/diarrhoea outbreak hits 18,000 in Ethiopia

Cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases have infected 18,000 people in Ethiopia over the last three weeks in many parts of the country, including the capital Addis Ababa, according to a document seen…

reuters.com

At the time, UN officials regularly complained in private that lack of acknowledgement from govt stopped them getting more aid in.

In responding to the allegations, Adahanom accused Nabarro’s camp of engaging in smear campaign with imperialistic intentions. Pro-government groups took this line of accusation even further, claiming Nabarro is working with Ethiopian opposition groups that are labeled as “terrorists.”

Ethiopia’s semi-official news outlet accuses the current special advisor to the UN Secretary General, Dr. David Navarro with terrorism.

😳 https://twitter.com/abbaacabsa/status/863805131342700545 

Since April 2014, a popular protest movement in Ethiopia has challenged the government, which in turn has responded brutally. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 800 people have died, and thousands of political opponents and hundreds of dissidents have been accused of terrorism. Since October 2016, authorities have imposed some of the world’s toughest censorship laws after it declared a state of emergency.

Now, the tactic of calling opponents “terrorists” has spilled over Ethiopia’s borders and might create blowback for Adahanom as his record is examined critically by international media.

The health ministers of WHO member states will vote for the new director-general on May 23, 2017.

Fragile States Index (FSI) 2017: Ethiopia: The Most-worsened Country Over The Past Year May 16, 2017

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ETHIOPIA: The country’s Public Services score in the FSI has worsened from 7.0 in 2007 to 8.8 in 2017 – much of this is due to poor access to internet and communications, as well as limited improvements in water and sanitation facilities within the county. Health infrastructure also remains weak in many areas, with only 15% of births attended by a skilled health professional, and just 0.02 Doctors per 1,000 people within the populous country. The highly centralized nature of the EPRDF means that the nine ethno-linguistic regions of Ethiopia have limited power and resources for provision of public services. The military also plays an active role in reinforcing the centralized development agenda – with much of the county’s development driven via the military-controlled conglomerate Metals, Engineering Corporation (METEC). As a 2016 report by Dutch think tank Clingendael surmised, this increases risks of “corruption, nepotism and inefficient resource allocation,”6 all of which can increase the disconnect between development and rural populations.

 “The state of emergency was also used as a tool to crackdown on political opponents and media. An estimated 400 people have been killed in clashes with security forces in Oromia alone. The increased pressure in 2017 marks a continuation of a long-term worsening trend for Ethiopia, whose score has increased from 91.9 in 2006 to a high of 101.1 in 2017.” – Clicck here to read more at Fund For Peace: MOST WORSENED COUNTRIES IN 2017

GOLDEN ERA OF GROWTH FAILS TO MASK DEEPER GRIEVANCES IN ETHIOPIA


Since the end of an almost two-decades long civil war that began in 1991, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has provided relative political stability and enabled strong economic development. Though an inter-state conflict with Eritrea over disputed territory flared in 1998-2000, since the ceasefire was declared between the two countries in December 2000, Ethiopia has been on a path of strong fiscal growth and has become an increasingly respected player within the international community. Ethiopia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen from US$8.2 billion in 2000, to an impressive US$61.5 billion in 2015 – coinciding with major injections of foreign capital from development partners. Looking past these golden dollar sign headlines, however, there are signals that deep social and political fissures have the potential to set the country back on a path to conflict.

Ethiopia’s overall Fragile States Index (FSI) score has been incrementally worsening over the past decade, moving from 95.3 in 2007, to a score of 101.1 in this year’s 2017 index, with Ethiopia — along with Mexico — being the most-worsened country over the past year.

Some of this can be attributed to External Intervention, with its FSI score moving from 6.7 in 2007 to 8.7 in 2017, making it Ethiopia’s most worsened indicator overall for the decade. In 2000, Ethiopia received US$687.8 million in Official Development Assistance (ODA).1 By 2015, it had risen to over four times this with US$3.23 billion in ODA, mostly from the U.S., World Bank and European partners focused on social infrastructure and humanitarian aid.2 While this suggests low capacity of the state to plan and respond to natural disasters without external aid, arguably this development funding has also been crucial in stimulating the rapid economic trajectory of the country. Ethiopia’s economic indicators have both made improvements over the past decade, with FSI scores for Uneven Economic Development shifting from 8.6 in 2007 to 6.5 in 2017, and Poverty & Economic Decline from 8.0 in 2007 to 7.0 in 2017. While the economic trajectory tells one part of the story, the gap in public services between the urban areas such as bustling Addis Ababa, and rural areas – where 81% of the population still live3 — hint at growing disparities. The country’s Public Services score in the FSI has worsened from 7.0 in 2007 to 8.8 in 2017 – much of this is due to poor access to internet and communications, as well as limited improvements in water and sanitation facilities within the county.4 Health infrastructure also remains weak in many areas, with only 15% of births attended by a skilled health professional, and just 0.02 Doctors per 1,000 people within the populous country.5 The highly centralized nature of the EPRDF means that the nine ethno-linguistic regions of Ethiopia have limited power and resources for provision of public services. The military also plays an active role in reinforcing the centralized development agenda – with much of the county’s development driven via the military-controlled conglomerate Metals, Engineering Corporation (METEC). As a 2016 report by Dutch think tank Clingendael surmised, this increases risks of “corruption, nepotism and inefficient resource allocation,”6 all of which can increase the disconnect between development and rural populations.

Compounding these growing disparities between rural populations and economic growth are complex political and ethnic tensions. The historical influence of the Tigray ethnic group – which accounts for about 6% of the population – has been evident since the Ethiopian empire, and reinforced after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) defeated the Ethiopian government in 1991. The TPLF transitioned into the multi-party EPRDF, though Tigray elites are perceived to still hold significant political power within the essentially one-party state. Military leadership has also been dominated by Tigrayans,7 which makes perceptions of Tigray influence within the state apparatus all the more unpalatable to populations that feel increasingly excluded.

It is amidst this climate that major protests and violence have erupted against the government in Oromia and Amhara regions – home to the two largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Beginning in November 2015, Oromians began protesting the government’s planned expansion of the capital Addis Ababa into Oromia. Spiraling into a broader fight for increased political freedoms, representation and economic and land rights, the protests were met with brutal crackdowns by public security forces. Reflecting these dynamic factors, Ethiopia has seen negative spikes in its FSI score from 2016 to 2017 in Group Grievance, Human Rights and Rule of Law and State Legitimacy. Human Rights Watch suggests that more than 500 people have been killed during the government demonstrations in 2016, as well as reported incidents of arbitrary detention, torture, and media repression aided by the government’s State of Emergency declared in October 2016.8

While ethnicity remains a politicized factor within Ethiopia – and salient driver of group grievance for populations who feel excluded – it is useful to remember that conflict and violence operates within a system. Issues related to land tenure, access to resources, and economic exclusion can also be contributing drivers for the current insecurity. This is also complicated by ongoing demographic pressures resulting from floods and drought, and flows of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) from natural disasters, the effects of climate change, and neighboring countries’ insecurity. Indeed, the FSI score for Refugees & IDPs has steadily worsened over the past decade from 7.9 in 2007 to 9.3 in 2017.

Ethiopia’s centralized government control has served it well for economic growth and rebuilding after the civil war and conflict with Eritrea – as well as maintaining control of the security apparatus amidst neighboring conflicts and regional instability. However, as worsening FSI scores show through both a longer-term trajectory, and recent 2017 spikes, the country must change course to strengthen internal social and economic resiliency. The recent spate of protests and insecurity in areas such as Oromia and Amhara demonstrate the need for political reform – both in perceptions of ethnic elite power – and in more meaningful political representation of each region. This will help to address the disparities in public service provisions that are adding to group grievance and feelings of exclusion. A less centralized approach will also help build governance capacities at regional and local levels – which will support rural development, and provide a chance for better targeted planning and response for natural disasters. As the fourth largest ODA recipient country in 2015, international partners should also continue to play an encouraging role in Ethiopia’s reform, including expansion of civil liberties which will reduce group grievance and increase the perceived legitimacy of the state.

Through addressing the conflict risks and structural vulnerabilities within the country, Ethiopia has a chance to continue a path of peaceful prosperity and even greater economic growth and development.

ENDNOTES
1. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/DT.ODA.ALLD.CD
2. http://www.oecd.org/statistics/datalab/oda-recipient-sector.htm
3. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.RUR.TOTL.ZS
4. http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.ACSN.RU; http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.H2O.SAFE.RU.ZS
5. http://datatopics.worldbank.org/hnp/
6. https://www.clingendael.nl/pub/2016/power_politics_and_security_in_ethiopia/executive_summary/
7. Regime Change and Succession Politics in Africa; Jan Zanhorik (2009) https://books.google.com/books?id=Gow8JDgeZSoC
8. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/ethiopia


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QZ: China in Africa: One Belt One Road May 15, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistChinaAfrica

 



There’s one drawback to the project observers are calling China’s Marshall Plan. The One Belt One Road initiative, marketed as a modern-day recreation of the ancient Silk Road trading route, is about gaining access to new markets for Chinese goods. (Soft power and finding work for Chinese construction companies are important factors too.)

In this way, One Belt, One Road is similar to Britain’s colonial trade routes, used to take natural resources from its outposts as well as ship finished goods back to its colonial subjects, Eric Olander and Cobus van Staden at the China Africa podcast have observed.

African countries are already flooded with Chinese products. Chinese exports to African countries reached $103 billion in 2015, a figure that is likely much higher because of underreporting and smuggled goods. African countries are exporting far less to China than they’re importing. After years of falling commodity prices, now only 10 out of 53 sub-Saharan African countries have a trade surplus with China, according to 2015 data.–  qz.com



China’s campaign to build a massive network of land and sea links connecting Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa is expected to benefit the African countries along the route. Chinese companies will spend at least $1 trillion on roads, ports, and other updates to infrastructure in more than 60 countries that make up the…

via There’s one major pitfall for African countries along China’s new Silk Road — Quartz



 

We cannot be unprepared for the next global health emergency: Dr. David Nabarro. #WHA70 May 9, 2017

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Dr David Nabarro is the UK Candidate to be the next Director-General of the WHO.
 

Dr. David Nabarro is one of the candidates in the fray for election of the next Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which will be held on May 23.

He has been preparing for this role for a lifetime, in a career path that has seen him travel to 50 countries and responding to the needs of people with Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. He has also been pioneering a global movement on improving nutrition across 59 countries.

Besides, Dr. David Nabarro will focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are currently responsible for 70% of all deaths across the world. He is also committed to addressing the stigma of mental health, including depression which affects a staggering 300 million people globally.

Dr David Nabarro said, “We cannot afford to be unprepared for the next global emergency. I have experience on the ground, in communities and in running international crisis responses to ensure that WHO is ready to respond promptly when, not if, the next crisis hits.”

“Meanwhile we continue to fight a global epidemic of chronic diseases. They are killing more than 40 million people a year. As Director-General, I will champion prevention – it makes absolute sense to invest in preventing and reducing the long-term suffering and costs associated with conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.”

Dr David Nabarro is the UK Candidate to be the next Director-General of the WHO and has over 40 years of experience working in international public health as a practitioner, educator and public servant.

Reacting to Dr. David Nabarro’s candidacy, Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) said, “David is one of the most committed, passionate humanitarians I have had the privilege of working alongside. His breadth of experience as a doctor, development expert and multilateral adviser makes him the best choice for WHO’s next Director-General. He is able to bring diverse groups of people together and find solutions to some of the most challenging problems through brave and visionary leadership.”

“His energy is amazing! His expertise in addressing wicked problems such as climate change and malnutrition is unparalleled which is why I am confident that David will ensure WHO is fit to face the challenges of the next decade and that the poorest and most vulnerable do not get left behind.”

Dr. David Nabarro said that should he be elected Director-General, his goal is for everyone, everywhere to have universal access to the healthcare they need, especially women and children and added that WHO’s role is to provide rapid and high quality support to governments and their citizens.

Genocide Watch: Land Grabbing and Violations of Human Rights in Ethiopia May 2, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Land Grabbing in Ethiopia

Land Grabbing

Land Grabbing and Violations of Human Rights in Ethiopia

Malkamuu Jaatee, Anywaa Survival Organization

28 January 2016


Introduction

Land grabbing is classically known as the seizing of land by a nation, state or organization, especially illegally or unfairly. It is recently redefined as a large scale acquisition of land through purchases or leases for commercial investment by foreign organizations (6). Both micro and macro scales of land grabbing can result in displacement of indigenous communities and disappearance of their identities over time, because land is not only a fixed asset essential to produce sufficient amount of crop and animal to secure supply of food, but it is the foundation of identities (language, culture, & history) of communities living on the land.

Changes to land use without consultation of traditional owners of the land – mainly by forceful displacement of indigenous peoples, can, in the long-term, result in the disappearance of human communities traditionally identified with that ancestral land. Both expansion of amorphous towns & cities, without meaningful integration of indigenous peoples and large-scale transfers of rural land to investors, are the major political strategies of the current government of Ethiopia under the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) or the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to achieve the target of the systematic eradication of rural communities living around cities and at vicinity of agro-industries, mainly in Oromia and Southern (Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Omo) regions. Conflicts arising from land grabbing have become very complex wars disturbing the daily lives of the oppressed peoples of Ethiopia, because the peoples are undemocratically represented by the regime.

Conflicts arising from land grabbing have become very complex wars disturbing the daily lives of the oppressed peoples of Ethiopia, because the peoples are undemocratically represented by the regime.

The allocation of farmland to investors has been going on in Ethiopia since at least 1995. The years between 2003 and 2007 were the boom years for cut-flower exportation to Europe. Demand for land by foreign investors began to increase sharply since 2006. More than one-third of the land allocated to investors in the ten years period was given out in 2008. Year 2008 was a mad rush of investors to get access to land with many applicants requesting large tracts measuring more than 10,000 hectares (21). About one million hectares of land was transferred to 500 foreign investors in the period between 2003 and 2009. The largest foreign holding is Karuturi Company of India, which has been given 0.3 million hectares of land in Gambella and 11,000 in Bako district of Oromia (21). In 2009 and 2010, about 0.5 million hectares was allocated to investors. The land transferred to investors between 2004 and 2008 was 1.2 million hectares (27).

The land transferred to large-scale investors, without including land already allocated, has been planned to increase from 0.5 million in 2011 to 2.8 million hectares in 2013, and to 3.3 million hectares in 2015 (15 & 16). Total land transferred to investors will measure about 38% of land currently utilized by smallholders (21). Therefore, at least 7 million hectares of agricultural land was transferred to investors between 1995 and 2016. In addition the long-term plan to expand Addis Ababa city administration at 200 kilometers radius was secretly designed by the regime until the hidden plan has made public in 2014.

The impact of land grabbing in Ethiopia is manifested through five interconnected factors that the regime has designed to sustain its military, political and economic powers in order to protect its brutal and savage governance system for the next quarter or half a century. Analytical evaluation of effect of current land grabbing policy indicates destabilization of livelihood assets of rural communities of Oromia and Southern Ethiopia through the following five factors: aggravation of poverty, increase of food insecurity, intensification of conflicts, degradation of ecosystem quality, and deterioration of human rights conditions (13). This review focuses on the human rights violation and its political implications.

1. Deterioration of conditions for basic human rights in Ethiopia

The TPLF regime is escalating its violations of human rights through the implementation of a very dangerous policy of land grabbing in Oromia and Southern Ethiopia. The regime has killed at least 180 innocent Oromo civilians in the last two months (mid November 2015 to mid January 2016), while the Oromo people peacefully protesting against the unfair land use policy. Thanks to the founders of media technologies, reports of human rights violations are daily circulated around the globe at high intensity and are known to the international communities. The regime is accustomed to kill unarmed civilians since it has illegally controlled the capital city of Oromia, Finfinne (Addis Ababa), on May 28, 1991. Between 1994 and 2010, OSG (the Oromo Support Group, a UK-based human rights organization) has reported 4185 instances of extrajudicial killings, and 944 disappearances of civilians suspected of supporting groups opposing the government, a majority of them from the Oromo people (19). The capacity of human rights organization to access data of extrajudicial killings and disappearances in Ethiopia is at most limited to 10% of data recorded by the OSG, because carrying out politically motivated extrajudicial killings in darkness is common in the security system of the regime. Therefore, the number of civilians murdered by the regime, between 1991 and 2016, can be above 56,000 (fifty six thousands) based on a conservative estimation of the recorded extrajudicial killings in Ethiopia.

The violations of civil rights during the process of land grabbing include both direct and systematic crimes against humanity. Human rights violations directly carried out by the regime include physical mistreatment like beating, raping, detaining, torturing and killing during the forced evictions of rural communities from their ancestral land. Survival’s director, Stephen Corry, said that, “The Ethiopian government and its foreign backers are bent on stealing tribal land and destroying livelihoods: they want to reduce self sufficient rural communities to a state of dependency, throw all who disagree into prison, and pretend this is something to do with progress and development” (24). Systematic violations of human rights mainly involve limitation of accessibility to basic human needs through the destruction of livelihood assets of the people. Outcomes of violations of the legitimate rights of indigenous people to access ancestral land are as follows: increase of population living in extreme poverty; reduction of subsistence crop and animal production; unsafe drinking water and shortage of food; poor health conditions; increase of internal displacements and refugees; financial disability to access basic needs; and reduction to the status of forced manual laborer.

The direct human rights violation practices of the regime in Oromia and Southern (Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Omo) regions of Ethiopia demonstrate atrocities of the land grabbers. For example, human rights violations in the lower Omo valley are characterized by arbitrary arrests and detentions, beatings and mistreatment, governing through fear and intimidation, and violations of economic, social and cultural rights (11). The government and its police force are cracking down, jailing and torturing indigenous people and raping women in the Omo region that the people do not oppose the land grabs and an interviewee said, “Now the people live in fear – they are afraid of the government” (23). In a report based on more than 100 interviewees in May and June 2011, a victim from Gambella said, “My father was beaten for refusing to go along [to the new village] with some other elders, he said, ‘I was born here – my children were born here – I am too old to move so I will stay,’ but he was beaten by the army with sticks and the butt of a gun, he had to be taken to hospital, and he died because of the beating” (10). About 200 Bodi, 28 Mursi and 20 Suri tribes men and women of Omo region are in jail, and the indigenous people now fear that the security forces may start killing people and they said, “The arrests are a show of force, to intimidate us not to oppose the land grabbing policy: ‘we lived here in peace, in the heart of our land, the place where all of our cattle were grazing during both the rainy and dry seasons; but now, in this place there is a plantation owned by a rich Malaysian company who trained 130 soldiers and armed them with 130 machine guns by the government: if our people oppose the land grabbers, the soldiers are ready to kill us” (22). Since mid November 2015, the regime put Oromia under a martial law. The Oromo people of all age (children, youth, and elderly) and all classes (schoolchildren, university students, peasants, teachers, medical staff, engineers and other civilians) are indiscriminately targeted by the brutal and savage governance of the regime. The special military (Agazi) and the federal police forces of the regime have wantonly killed hundreds of Oromo civilians since April 2014. The regime has declared war on the Oromo people in order to maintain its illegal occupation of Oromia.

The then head of the TPLF regime, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, rejected the critics of land grabbing as ill-informed and he said, “We want to develop our land to feed ourselves rather than admire the beauty of fallow fields while we starve.” Also the head of the government agency responsible for land leasing (Mr. Essayas Kebede) said, “Ethiopia benefits in many ways from land deals that we will receive dollars by exporting food; the farms provide jobs; they import know how; they will help us to boost productivity; and therefore, we will improve food security” (20). However, the institutionalization of corruptions will effectively limit the distribution of investment benefits to the poor people of Ethiopia. For example, between 2000 and 2009, Ethiopia lost US$11.7 billion to illicit financial outflows. The illicit money leaving the economy in 2009 was US$3.26 billion, double of the amount in 2007 and 2008, and greatly exceeds the US$ 2 billion value of total exports of Ethiopia in 2009 (8). Even though the peoples of Ethiopia try, by any means, to fight poverty, the possibility to defeat evil system is full of challenges. The global shadow financial system happily absorbs money that corrupt public officials, tax evaders and abusive multinational corporations siphon away from the peoples of Ethiopia (8). Therefore, the implementation of global land grabbing policies directly limit socio-economic development of the rural communities to access primary human needs – mainly sufficient food, pure & safe water, and adequate house, cloth, & medical services.

Human rights violations directly carried out by the regime include physical mistreatment like beating, raping, detaining, torturing and killing during the forced evictions of rural communities from their ancestral land.

The right to feed households and family is realized in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa with the right to access agricultural land to produce sufficient food through crop and animal productions. Failure of African governments to protect & guarantee sustainable use of land & water, to produce food by subsistence peasants, constitutes a violation of the right to food, because assuring long-term supply of food is part of their obligations in relation to the right to food. The right to adequate food exists when every individual, household or family has achieved physical & economic access to adequate food at all times or means for its procurement. Agricultural investment policy of the TPLF regime encourages export oriented crop production. For example, the Saudi Star produces rice in Ethiopia and export to the Middle East. Karuturi marketing & logistics make no secret of the fact that the investment is commercial that the company will sell its agricultural products to those who pay most (20). But, at least 80% peoples of Ethiopia are very poor to access food economically to buy it, if it is available. Agricultural companies mainly focus on production of commercial crops, because investment on agriculture in remote areas is profit oriented. Therefore, the investment on the production of local stable food crop is very marginal. For example, the investment of Indian agro-companies on food crop is less than 10% (25). The violation of land accessibility rights of rural communities has resulted in increase of starvation rate through dramatic reduction of subsistence crop or/and animal productions. Therefore, the land grabbing policy of the TPLF regime will increase food insecurity.

The right of rural communities to access agricultural land is the most important factor to achieve primary standard of living, because agriculture is the foundation of the livelihood assets of rural communities. Access to land is an essential element of the right to an adequate standard of living and the realization of the right to work (art. 11 and art. 6 ICESCR). Land grabbing leads to forced displacements and refugees. The right to adequate housing is the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity (3). The right to housing is directly linked to the right to be protected from forced evictions. For example, the forced displacement of 270,000 indigenous peoples from the western Gambella and Omo regions to new villages by the government of Ethiopia details the involuntary nature of the transfers, loss of livelihoods, deteriorating food situations, and ongoing abuses by the armed forces against the affected people: and that many of the areas from which people are being moved are leased by the government for commercial agricultural development (10 & 11). The violation of the rights to live somewhere in peace is defined as the permanent removals of individuals, families, and/or communities from their homes and/or lands that they occupy, on either a permanent or temporary basis, without offering them appropriate measures of protection (4). Rural communities of the Omo Valley of South Ethiopia are neither ‘backward’ nor in need ‘modernization,’ they are as much a part of the 21st century civilization as the multinationals that seek to appropriate their land; but forcing them to become manual laborers will certainly lead to a drastic reduction in quality of their lives, and condemn them to starvation and destitution like many of their fellow countrymen’ (23). Despite some instances of income improvement by export opportunities, the expansion of world agricultural trade has failed to translate into better living conditions for most of workers on farm in the developing world (12).

Governments and private investors assume rural community accessibility to the job market compensates for the loss of land and livelihoods. However, income derived from daily wages never replaces livelihood assets of rural community, which are constantly and directly derived from land use. For example, some peasants were employed as casual laborers (day laborers) by the coffee plantation following eviction from their land and they received about 1$ per day for a fixed amount of work that they have often completed in two days work (1). Large shares of commercial agriculture jobs are characterized with very poor working conditions mainly very low payment, low-skilled daily work, seasonal fluctuation, without health insurance, very high risk of accidental death without insurance, violence, harassment, and employment of underage children. A young boy is digging up weeds kneeling in the middle of a sugar cane field in blistering temperature of 40 C º, while an Indian worker stands over him to make sure he does not miss any and Red is eight years old and earns 73 pence for one day work, i.e. less than the cost of using pesticides (20). Children attending primary school are significantly decreased in areas of land grabbing. Deputy Head of a school (Tigaba Tekle), near the Karuturi farm said that only 5 out of 60 students are sometimes attending a class, because most of them are working at agricultural fields of Karuturi (20). Land commercialization will never establish sustainable and safe employment opportunities for rural peoples of Oromia & Southern regions, because colonial governance system never takes into consideration security and dignity of oppressed peoples. Therefore, unsustainable and unsafe employment conditions can not compensate loss of livelihoods of rural communities forcefully evicted from ancestral land.

2. Political function of land grabbing policy of the TPLF regime

Governance authorities of imperial, military, and TPLF regimes are highly centralized with absolute land ownership right to sustain rule of dictatorship through chains of colonial agents at regional, provincial, and local levels of Ethiopia. Gebar land tenure system in the South as well as the Rist tenure system of North Ethiopia during imperial regime shows some resemblance to the current land tenure system and with some reservations also it resembles that of the military regime, with the exceptions that the communal Rist system is replaced by the organs of state, i.e. the peasant associations. Land grabbing is the major source of military, political, and economic powers of successive regimes of Ethiopia. Government of Ethiopia (the TPLF regime) is owner of the land, but the rights of individuals and communities are ‘holding (use) rights’ (Proclamation No. 456/200550). Though ethnic equality is now legally recognized, in practice, emergent regions are still politically marginalized and permitted less autonomy, partly due to the federal development strategy, which requires central control of local land resources and changes in livelihoods (14).

Centralization of land governance politics of successive regime of Ethiopia is manifested through the following five levels of land use rights: owner-ship, management, sanction, full accessibility right, & limited accessibility right (Table-1). Land tenure politics of both imperial and military or TPLF regimes are generally sharing similar political goal, i.e. manipulation of land use rights to maintain monopoly of governance powers. The commercialization of land has served as a political advantage for the state, because it enhances greater concentration of authority in the hands of the governors. A woreda (district) or an urban administration shall have the power to expropriate rural or urban landholdings for public purpose where it believes that it should be used for a better development project to be carried out by public entities, private investors, cooperative societies or other organs, or where such expropriation is decided by the appropriate higher regional or federal government organ for the same purpose (Proclamation No. 455/200558).

Table 1: Two types of land use rights in Ethiopia since 1889
Table-1: Two types of land use rights in Ethiopia since 1889

The TPLF regime is intentionally violating the land accessibility right of rural communities of Oromia and Southern Ethiopia to achieve political goals of maintaining its brutal & savage governance system. The regime has already institutionalized practices of human right violations through manipulation of constitution. It formulated politically motivated proclamations to limit humanitarian activities of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) using charities proclamation and to crash political opponents through manipulation of anti-terrorism law in order to protect its monopolistic ownership of military, political, and economic powers (18). The regime is not hesitated to practice arbitrary arrest, long detention, or extrajudicial killings of tens of thousands, and torturing peoples suspected to be supporters of opposition political organizations to sustain fears in civil societies. The regime is systematically escalating the level of insecurity by aggravating poverty, expanding borders of food insecurity, manipulating conflicts, degrading safety of ecosystem, and escalation of violations of human rights in order to produce the poorest of poor peoples mainly in colonized regions of Ethiopia. Thus it is intended to use victims of poverty as political animal through manipulation of land use right. The regime easily regulates support of rural communities for the opposition political parties by threatening subsistence livelihoods of about 80% of 95 million people. The rural communities are directly controlled by the regime and they cannot freely vote opposition political parties during election, because they will be deprived of land use right if they do so.

The regime […] uses food aid as an instrument to achieve political objectives, and to protect its governance powers.

The very existence of governance powers of the regime is possible only with external aids. Foreign aid was essential for birth of the TPLF regime and it is also very essential for growth and expansion of the regime, as oxygen is essential for lung. During the 1974 – 1991 financial, material, & technical supports of the international donor communities were channeled through political NGOs organized by the TPLF to areas under its control to support both military and emergency programs (17). The aids were resulted in increase of peasant-based supports, legitimacy expansion among the civilian population, use of aid resources to support organizational structures, and quantitative capability in feeding the armies (26). Since 1991, the regime received very huge sum of financial aids. It received at least a sum of US $ 50 billion in development aid as of 2015. However, majority of peoples in Ethiopia remained in the most wretched poverty, despite decades of development aids. The regime is manipulating foreign military and development aids as instrument to suppress peaceful transfer of governance powers since 1991 through marginalization of legitimate opposition political parties or fronts. The government of Ethiopia used donor-supported programs, salaries, and training opportunities as political weapons to control the population, punish dissent, and undermine political opponents—both real and perceived, that the local officials deny these people (i.e. supporters of opposition parties) to access seeds and fertilizer, agricultural land, credit, food aid, and other resources for development (9). Policies of aggravating poverty through destruction of livelihoods of rural communities are systematically implemented by the regime to sustain political manipulation of aids, because either emergency or development aids are political instrument of the regime to enforce political support. Therefore, increasing level of poverty is tactical increase of enforcement of peoples electing the regime.

The regime is frequently manipulating food aid distribution to crash supporters of political opponents. It uses food aid as an instrument to achieve political objectives, and to protect its governance powers. Land grabbing policy of the regime is systematically intended to increase size of people dependent on food aids in order to secure political support using food aids. For example: “Despite being surrounded by other communities which are well fed, a village with a population of about 1700 adults is starving. We were told that in the two weeks prior to our team’s arrival 5 adults and 10 children had died. Lying on the floor, too exhausted to stand, and flanked by her three-year-old son whose stomach is bloated by malnutrition, one woman described how her family had not eaten for four days. Another three-year-old boy lay in his grandmother’s lap, listless and barely moving as he stared into space. The grandmother said, we are just waiting on the crop, if we have one meal a day we will survive until the harvest, beyond that there is no hope for us (2).” The affected families were supporters of opposition political party participated in 2010 election in Southern Ethiopia. The regime intentionally increases climate of insecurity and fear in society that for those depend on food aids they must support the ruling party in order to survive threat of systematic assassination. Therefore, political loyalty to the ruling party (the TPLF/EPRDF regime) governs the existence of rural communities of Ethiopia.

3. Conclusion

The review indicates the genocidal plan systematically designed by the TPLF regime using the unfair land use policy as a tool in Oromia and Southern Ethiopia to achieve the political goal of complete ownership of the land through silent eradication of the indigenous communities in the long-term. “Genocide Watch considers Ethiopia to have already reached Stage 7, genocidal massacres, against many of its peoples, including the Anuak, Ogadeni, Oromo, and Omo tribes” (7). The people of Oromia in particular, and all oppressed peoples of Ethiopia in general, are struggling to reverse this policy of systematic genocide waged on them by successive regimes of Ethiopia.

International and local human rights organizations have frequently produced reports of violations of constitutional rights of peoples of Ethiopia… However, the defenders of successive regimes of Ethiopia have not paid attention to any of the independent reports.

The effort of human rights organizations to defend victims of the evil policy of land grabbing in particular, and the politically motivated human rights violations in general, are full of challenges, because the transformation of the global business into unfair economic development is mostly to the advantage of the strongest. Both international and local human rights organizations have frequently produced reports of violations of constitutional rights of peoples of Ethiopia by the TPLF/EPRDF regime since early 1990. However, the international communities and defenders of successive regimes of Ethiopia have not been paid attention to any of the independent reports.

The United Nations in particular, and the international community in general, should actively engage in establishing independent commissions of justice both at regional and global levels to investigate negative effects of unfair land grabs that threaten the existence of indigenous human communities in order to enable victims of land grabbing to access fair justice. I would like to close with a song of King David. “God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgement among the `gods`: How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless, maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.” (Psalm 82: 1 – 5)

Article source: Finfinne Tribune

TV Link: Why the Oromo People Are Fleeing Ethiopia April 28, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Uncategorized.
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 Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

 Ethiopian demonstrators

Ethiopians Fleeing Human Rights Violations Sparked by Land Use Conflict


Tristan MartinSally Hayden TV Link, April 26, 2017

When marathon silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finish line at the Rio Olympics, he crossed his arms above his head in an “X”, a sign of protest against the Ethiopian government’s treatment of his people, the ethnic Oromo.

The champion runner did not return home after the Olympics, fearing for his safety even though the government said he would not be punished.

Feyisa Lilesa
Feyisa Lilesa crosses the finish line of the Men’s Marathon athletics event during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 21, 2016. Lilesa crossed his arms above his head as a protest against the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on political dissent. | ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

“[I knew] I would be jailed or killed if not, I would [never be allowed] out of that country and allowed to participate in any international competition or race at all,” Lilesa told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I am quite sure those things would happen to me,” he said in a Skype interview from Rio where he has been staying since Monday when the rest of his team mates returned to Ethiopia.

The Oromia region, home to more than 25 million Oromos, has been riven by unrest for months over land rights and allegations of human rights violations.

Lilesa, 26, is one of thousands of Ethiopians estimated by activists to have left the country amid a security crackdown on demonstrations sparked by a conflict over land use policies.

City of Addis Ababa's proposed expansion plan
Map of municipal plans to expand city limits and include some parts of the Oromiya region within the capital city Addis Ababa.

Human Rights Watch estimated 400 demonstrators were killed by security forces between November 2015 and June 2016 during protests triggered by government plans to include some parts of Oromiya within the capital Addis Ababa’s limits.

Victim shot down during protests
Victim shot down during protests. | Oromia Media Network

Up to 100 people were shot in a single weekend in August when security forces also shut down the internet for 48 hours, according to activists.

Thousands more have been arrested, including the prominent Oromo activist Bekele Gerba, who was taken from his home in December.

The government, which disputes the death toll and says the protests are being staged illegally, stoked by rebel groups and overseas-based dissidents, did not respond to several requests by the Thomson Reuters Foundation for a comment.

Lilesa’s fear of being jailed upon his return home reflects the experiences of other Ethiopians who have spoken out against the government.

In the Greek capital Athens, 26-year-old Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo is staying in a cramped apartment with five other Oromo friends who are traveling with him.

A student from Haro Dumal city in Oromiya, Ayimoo was arrested by authorities and imprisoned for a month last November after he attended several non-violent protests along with fellow students.

Conditions for those detained were wretched and abuse was regular, Ayimoo said.

“They used to take us out one by one, torture us with electricity and beat us badly,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo
Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo, a 26-year-old Ethiopian refugee is staying in a cramped apartment in Athens with five other Oromo friends who are traveling with him. | Thomson Reuters Foundation

Ayimoo’s family in Ethiopia paid a bribe for his release, later selling everything they had to get him to Europe.

“I can’t go back because I would lose my life,” he said.

Those in Athens are the lucky ones: Ayimoo’s wife and baby girl drowned in April after the boat they were on crossing the Mediterranean from Libya sank, killing hundreds, according to survivors.

“I could hear the screaming of my baby as I fell. I couldn’t save my family,” he said.

Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo shows photograph of his family
Muaz Mahmud Ayimoo shows photograph of his wife and daugther before their boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea. | Thomson Reuters Foundation

Other Ethiopians now following the unrest from abroad include the journalists of the Oromia Media Network, a dissident satellite TV channel broadcasting into Ethiopia in the Oromo language from Minneapolis in the United States, a city home to around 40,000 Oromo.

Jawar Mohammed
Jawar Mohammed, executive director of the Oromia Media Network in Minneapolis. | Thomson Reuters Foundation

“We became part of the whole protester story,” said Jawar Mohammed, executive director of the network, which he said is watched by more than 11 million people in the Middle East and Africa at peak times.

Mohammed also regularly posts updates on his Facebook page, with more than 800,000 followers, about the unrest in his homeland.

Abel Wabella, 30, an activist who wrote for Zone9, a blog which focused on social and civic issues in Ethiopia, was imprisoned between April 2014 and October 2015 in what critics say was an attack on press freedom.

“I think the government is not ready for real reform the people are demanding right now. The people are tired of their false promises and will escalate their resistance,” he said.

 

Top image: Like many Ethiopian protesters across the world, women cross their hands during a protest against human rights violations in Ethiophia’s Oromia region, in front of United Nation’s information center in Pretoria, South Africa. | Ihsaan Haffejee/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


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WEF: #EarthDay: 9 things you absolutely have to know about global warming April 22, 2017

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9 things you absolutely have to know about global warming

Eureka Sound on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic is seen in a NASA Operation IceBridge survey picture taken March 25, 2014. IceBridge is a six-year NASA airborne mission which will provide a yearly, multi-instrument look at the behavior of the Greenland and Antarctic ice, according to NASA. Picture taken March 25, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/Michael Studinger/Handout (CANADA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENVIRONMENT) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - RTR3KGVN

Are you climate literate?
Image: REUTERS/NASA/Michael Studinger

Chances are you won’t make it in person to the March for Science in Washington DC, but you can be part of the ongoing Earth Day campaign to educate everyone about climate change, and its unprecedented threat to our planet.

The theme of this year’s Earth Day, on 22 April, is Environmental and Climate Literacy. The Earth Day Network, which coordinates the global awareness-raising day, is launching an ambitious drive to ensure every student in the world is “climate literate” when they leave high school – by Earth Day 2020.

You certainly don’t need to be a climatologist to talk knowledgeably about climate change, but it helps to have the key facts at your fingertips. So here’s a handy guide to get you up to speed on the climate change basics.

The Earth has been getting warmer – for 627 months in a row

2016 was the hottest year on record, according to separate analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It was also the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.

This record-breaking heat is part of a long-term warming trend. The Earth’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.1 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, when modern record-keeping began, and is projected to rise further over the next hundred years or so.

The warming, most of which has happened in the past 35 years, is being driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other man-made emissions into the atmosphere.

We’ve now had 627 months warmer than normal, when compared with an 1881-1910 baseline. If you were born later than December 1964, you’ve never known a month cooler than average, according to Climate Central.

 Image 1

Image: Climate Central

The Paris Agreement

Years in the making, the Paris Agreement, signed by 196 nations in 2015, aims to keep global temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and if possible, below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This can only be achieved if countries stick to their commitments to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

During his campaign, President Donald Trump promised to withdraw the US from the landmark agreement.

 Image 2

Image: REUTERS/Ian Langsdon

Carbon dioxide emissions

Air bubbles in glaciers provide a record of temperature and carbon dioxide stretching back 800,000 years, so scientists know the planet has experienced global warming before.

But this “paleoclimate” evidence also shows that the current warming is happening much more rapidly than in the past.

The primary cause is the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, mostly carbon dioxide, which form a blanket that traps heat at the Earth’s surface.

Human activities such as burning oil, coal and natural gas and deforestation have increased the amount of carbon dioxide by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution began.

Image 3

Image: NASA

Freak weather

Rising global temperatures affect rainfall in many places and increase the chances of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts or heat waves occurring.

Climate-related disasters worldwide have more than tripled since 1980. The US experienced 32 weather events between 2011 and 2013 that each caused at least $1 billion in damage.

 Image 4

Image: United States Environmental Protection Agency

Rising sea levels

The planet’s oceans are also seeing big changes – they’re becoming warmer and more acidic, glaciers and ice sheets are melting and sea levels are rising.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects a sea-level rise of 52-98cm by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow, or of 28-61cm if they’re significantly reduced.

Polar ice

Arctic sea ice is not only shrinking, but the oldest ice is melting, which makes it even more vulnerable to melting in future.

But the real climate wildcard is Antarctica’s ice sheet. The IPCC estimated it could contribute about 20cm of sea-level rise this century, but also warned of the possibility it could be several tens of centimetres more if the ice sheet became rapidly destabilized.

Deforestation

Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, acting as a “carbon sink”. Cutting them down means more greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere, which speeds up the pace and severity of climate change.

Forests still cover about 30% of land, but some 50,000 square miles of forest are lost each year. That’s equivalent to 48 football fields every minute. In the Amazon, for example, around 17% of forest has been lost in the last 50 years.

 Image 5

Image: REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Coral reef bleaching

In the past 30 years, the world has lost 50% of corals and it is estimated that only 10% will survive beyond 2050.

Climate change and rising ocean temperatures are the greatest threat, and are behind the mass bleaching along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef for the second year in a row.

Bleaching occurs when extreme heat, pollution or low tides cause coral to expel algae living in their tissues, turning them white. Coral can recover from bleaching events, but they are under more stress and if the algae loss continues they eventually die.

 Image 6

Image: The Conversation

The impact on humans and animals

People are already suffering the consequences of climate change. Around 22.5 million people were displaced by climate or weather-related disasters between 2008 and 2015, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Climate change is also a factor in conflicts driving people from their homes.

The UNHCR says that natural resources such as drinking water are likely to become more scarce and food security will become an even bigger concern in future because some crops and livestock won’t survive in parts of the world if conditions become too hot and dry, or cold and wet.

Climate change is also threatening wildlife: using satellite data from NASA, scientists estimate a possible 30% drop in the global population of polar bears over the next 35 years. That’s because sea ice is their main habitat, and it is shrinking.

 Image 7

Image: naturespicsonline.com

Click here and read more at World Economic Forum

This is the Difference Between a Hypothesis and a Theory April 20, 2017

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A hypothesis is an assumption, something proposed for the sake of argument so that it can be tested to see if it might be true.

In the scientific method, the hypothesis is constructed before any applicable research has been done, apart from a basic background review. You ask a question, read up on what has been studied before, and then form a hypothesis.

A theory, in contrast, is a principle that has been formed as an attempt to explain things that have already been substantiated by data. It is used in the names of a number of principles accepted in the scientific community, such as the Big Bang Theory. Because of the rigors of experimentation and control, its likelihood as truth is much higher than that of a hypothesis.

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Why the rule of law matters for human flourishing April 17, 2017

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“Rule of law is essential if you want to have a functioning economy,” says Samuel Gregg in the PovertyCure series. “You cannot have a functioning economy without secure property rights. You cannot have a functioning economy unless contracts are enforced. You cannot have a functioning economy if government officials can act in an arbitrary fashion.”

Indeed, as the following excerpt explains, a society can have the right people with the right skills and the right tangible goods and materials, but if individuals lack things like property rights, fair rules, access to courts, and access to markets, economic activity will fizzle as social frustration climbs.

“Try and imagine a football match without rules,” says economist Hernando De Soto. “…The rules are crucial to get that game going. But everyone knows how to drive a ball. Everybody knows how to buy and sell, so there is plenty of entrepreneurship in the world. The problem is the rules. In two-thirds of the world, there isn’t yet the rule of law.”

Click here to read more at: ACTON INSTITUTE POWERBLOG Why the rule of law matters for human flourishing 

IRIN: Analysis: Ethiopia extends emergency as old antagonisms fester April 9, 2017

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Ethiopia extends emergency as old antagonisms fester

James Jeffrey,  IRIN, 3 April 207


The Ethiopian government has extended a nationwide state of emergency for four months, hailing it as successful in restoring stability after almost a year of popular protests and crackdowns that cost hundreds of lives.

But while parts of Amhara, one of the hotbeds of the recent unrest, may be calm on the surface, IRIN found that major grievances remain unaddressed and discontent appears to be festering: There are even widespread reports that farmers in the northern region are engaged in a new, armed rebellion.

Human rights organisations and others have voiced concern at months of draconian government measures – some 20,000 people have reportedly been detained under the state of emergency, which also led to curfews, bans on public assembly, and media and internet restrictions.

“The regime has imprisoned, tortured and abused 20,000-plus young people and killed hundreds more in order to restore a semblance of order,” said Alemante Selassie, emeritus law professor at the College of William & Mary in the US state of Virginia. “Repression is the least effective means of creating real order in any society where there is a fundamental breach of trust between people and their rulers.”

The government line is far rosier.

“There’s been no negative effects,” Zadig Abrha, Ethiopia’s state minister for government communication affairs, told IRIN shortly before the measures were extended by four months, on 30 March.

“The state of emergency enabled us to focus on repairing the economic situation, compensating investors, and further democratising the nation… [and] allowed us to normalise the situation to how it was before, by enabling us to better coordinate security and increase its effectiveness.”

Clamping down

On 7 August 2016, in the wake of protests in the neighbouring Oromia region, tens of thousands of people gathered in the centre of Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara. They had come to express their frustration at perceived marginalisation and the annexation of part of their territory by Tigray – the region from which the dominant force in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition is drawn.

Accounts vary as to what prompted security forces to open fire on the demonstration – some say a protestor tried to replace a federal flag outside a government building with its now-banned precursor – but by the end of the day, 27 people were dead.

That toll climbed to 52 by the end of the week. In all, some 227 civilians died during weeks of unrest in the Amhara region, according to the government. Others claim the real figure is much higher.

A six-month state of emergency was declared nationally on 9 October. Military personnel, under the coordination of a new entity known as the “Command Post”, flooded into cities across the country.

“Someone will come and say they are with the Command Post and just tell you to go with them – you have no option but to obey,” explained Dawit, who works in the tourism industry in the Amhara city of Gondar. “No one has any insurance of life.”

Local people told IRIN that the Command Post also took control of the city’s courts and did away with due process. Everyday life ground to a halt as traders closed shops and businesses in a gesture of passive resistance.

In Bahir Dar and Gondar, both popular historical stop-offs, tourism, an economic mainstay, tanked.

“In 2015, Ethiopia was voted by the likes of The New York Times and National Geographic as one of the best destinations,” said Stefanos, another Gondar resident who works in the tourism sector. “Then this happened and everything collapsed.”

Lingering resentment

Before it was renewed, the state of emergency was modified, officially reinstating the requirement of search warrants and doing away with detention without trial.

Prominent blogger and Ethiopian political analyst Daniel Berhane said the state of emergency extension might maintain calm in Amhara.

It “isn’t just about security,” he said. “There is a political package with it: Since two weeks ago, the government has been conducting meetings across the region at grassroots levels to address people’s economic and administrative grievances, which are what most people are most concerned about.”

But bitterness remains.

“We have no sovereignty. The government took our land,” a bar owner in Gondar who gave his name only as Kidus explained. “That’s why we shouted Amharaneut Akbiru! Respect Amhara-ness!” during the protests, he added.

Others still feel marginalised and are angry at the government’s heavy-handed response.

“If you kill your own people, how are you a soldier? You are a terrorist,” 32-year old Tesfaye, who recently left the Ethiopian army after seven years, a large scar marking his left cheek, told IRIN in Gondar. “I became a soldier to protect my people. This government has forgotten me since I left. I’ve been trying to get a job for five months.”

A tour guide in Gondar, speaking on condition of anonymity, was also critical of the response: “The government has a chance for peace, but they don’t have the mental skills to achieve it. If protests happen again, they will be worse.”

However, some do believe the authorities have to take a tough line.

“This government has kept the country together. If they disappeared, we would be like Somalia,” said Joseph, who is half-Amharan, half-Tigrayan. “All the opposition does is protest, protest. They can’t do anything else.”

Mountain militias

Even as calm has been restored in some areas, a new form of serious opposition to the government has taken shape: Organised militia made up of local Amhara farmers have reportedly been conducting hit-and-run attacks on soldiers in the mountainous countryside.

“The topography around here is tough, but they’ve spent their lives on it and know it,” said Henok, a student nurse who took part in the protests. “They’re like snipers with their guns.”

“The government controls the urban but not the rural areas,” he said. “[The farmers] are hiding in the landscape and forests. No one knows how many there are,” he said, adding that he’d seen “dozens of soldiers at Gondar’s hospital with bullet and knife wounds.”

Young Gondar men like Henok talk passionately of Colonel Demeke Zewudud, who led Amhara activism for the restoration of [the annexed] Wolkite district until his arrest in 2016, and about Gobe Malke, allegedly a leader of the farmers’ armed struggle until his death in February – reportedly at the hands of a cousin on the government’s payroll.

“The farmers are ready to die,” a priest in Gondar told IRIN on condition of anonymity, stressing that the land is very important to them. “They have never been away from here,” he explained.

Without referring specifically to any organisation of armed farmers, Zadig, the government minister, said the state of emergency had been extended because of “agitators” still at large.

“There are still people who took part in the violence that are not in custody, and agitators and masterminds of the violence who need to be brought before the rule of law,” he said. “And there are arms in circulation that need to be controlled, and some armed groups not apprehended.” 

Solutions?

Terrence Lyons, a professor at The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in the United States, said the government must decentralise power to achieve longer-term stability.

“Grievances haven’t been addressed by the state of emergency or by the government’s commitment to tackle corruption and boost service delivery,” Lyons told IRIN. “There needs to be a reconsideration of the relationship between an ethnic federation and a strong centralised developmental state, involving a process that is participatory and transparent – but we aren’t seeing that under the state of emergency.”

In 1995, Ethiopia adopted a federal system of government, which in theory devolves considerable power to the country’s regions. But in practice, key decisions are still taken in Addis Ababa.

“If the government wants a true and real form of stabilisation, then it should allow for a true representative form of governance so all people have the representation they need and deserve,” said Tewodros Tirfe of the Amhara Association of America.

In a report presented to a US congressional hearing in early March, Tewodros said some 500 members of the security forces had been killed in the recent clashes in the Amhara region. “Deeper resentment and anger at the government is driving young people to the armed struggle,” he told IRIN.

But Zadig and the government insisted: “The public stood by us.”

“They said no to escalating violence. In a country of more than 90 million, if they’d wanted more escalation we couldn’t have stopped them.”

Lyons warns of complacency.

“As long as dissidents and those speaking about alternatives for Ethiopia are dealt with as terrorists, the underlying grievances will remain: governance, participation, and human rights,” he told IRIN.

“The very strength of the [ruling] EPRDF is its weakness. As an ex-insurgency movement, its discipline and top-down governance enabled it to keep a difficult country together for 25 years. Now, the success of its own developmental state means Ethiopia is very different, but the EPRDF is not into consultative dialogue and discussing the merits of policy.”

Internet: connectivity is the cornerstone to the development of digital economy in Africa March 31, 2017

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How Connectivity Can Change the Future for African Countries


 Media Planet– In an increasingly global world, one of the most important assets for people can be narrowed down to one thing: connectivity. The direct and indirect impacts of connectivity for parts of the world that are struggling economically cannot be overstated, and organizations like Huawei, a network and telecommunications company, are driving growth in African markets, particularly in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

CONNECTED: In Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa, individuals travel to internet cafes to get online.

Helping the economy

“Growing evidence suggests that broadband can boost GDP incomes, helping combat poverty and hunger,” says Phoebe Huang, public affairs manager for Huawei in Africa. “The innovation efficiency of countries with higher broadband penetration is 15 times that of countries with lower broadband penetration. Broadband development also influences productivity: specifically, it can lead to an increase of 5 percent in manufacturing, 20 percent in information services, and 10 percent in services. In addition, broadband development will create more job opportunities. A 10 percent increase in broadband penetration increases the employment rate by 2 to 3 percent.”

The value of connectivity, particularly in developing countries, is multifactorial and significant. For instance, the ability to access the internet and connect with others allows children to study, health care professionals to communicate, and the public to keep informed on important local developments. It has the ability to foster ideas, collaboration and growth. A technology infrastructure is also a job creator; not only are workers needed to manage retail sales, there’s a whole system of building and maintenance created once a geographical area is more connected.

Creating new jobs

“Huawei has been in Africa for more than 17 years, so we really see ourselves as an African company. We have created thousands of jobs — today we have more than 7,000 employees in Africa,” says Roland Sladek, vice president of international media affairs at Huawei.

“We hope to bridge the digital divide and build a better connected world. We are focused on connecting people to people, people to things and things to things. We are improving the broadband penetration in Africa.”

“We continuously leverage our global innovation capabilities and cooperate with governments,
customers and industrial partners to increase the telecom network coverage significantly to achieve a win-win cooperation,” says Huang. “We believe that connectivity is the cornerstone to the development of digital economy in Africa.”

A long-term investment

Sladek believes that now is a key time to address the need for this connectivity; it
has never been as cost effective as it is now to create high quality, yet affordable devices.

“We are today the third-largest smartphone vendor in the world — we’ve launched some really cutting-edge models,” says Sladek. “Africa is an important market, first because it’s one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world, and secondly because there’s a rising middle class in Africa who want a good phone for a good price. African consumers also tend to be more open-minded regarding brands — they’re not wedded to Apple, for instance.”

Investing into telecommunications networks is a long-term commitment, and more and more countries are not only aware of this commitment — they see it as a long-term goal, even keeping in mind that some economies may be growing slower than they have previously due to external factors. In spite of this fact, by 2020 mobile data traffic in Africa is expected to increase by at least 15 times in high traffic areas.

“We hope to bridge the digital divide and build a better connected world,” says Huang. “We are focused on connecting people to people, people to things and things to things. We are improving the broadband penetration in Africa.”

“If you don’t invest today in your own telecomm infrastructure network, tomorrow you will have no business,” says Sladek. “Huawei lays today the foundation of Africa’s future.”


 

LSE Book Review: The Despot’s Accomplice: How The West is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of Democracy by Brian Klaas March 30, 2017

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In The Despot’s Accomplice: How the West is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of DemocracyBrian Klaas provides a frontline account of the contemporary history of democracy, the current state of democracy promotion and the fundamental flaws in the West’s approach. This dynamic book offers convincing insight into the impact of current policy and proposals for future strategies that should be required reading for policymakers and practitioners engaged in democracy promotion, recommends Robert Ledger.

If you are interested in this review, you may also like to read an interview with Brian Klaas, reposted on LSE RB in October 2016, and listen to a podcast recording of his LSE lecture from 13 October 2016.

The Despot’s Accomplice: How The West is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of Democracy. Brian Klaas. Hurst. 2016.

Find this book: amazon-logo

The Despot’s Accomplice: How the West is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of Democracy, Brian Klaas’s new book, is an engaging account of the contemporary history of democracy, its promotion and the flaws in the West’s approach. Drawing on first-hand experience and interviews, the book provides insights into the impact of current policy as well as proposals as to how this strategy could be altered.

An academic at the London School of Economics, Klaas has also acted as an election monitor in a variety of locations and worked with a number of NGOs. This experience provides the core material for The Despot’s Accomplice, which contains extensive research and is written in a lively and highly readable style. As such, it will be enjoyed by the general reader as well as by university students and specialists. Klaas combines personal observation with astute political analysis. Many of the book’s insights are also gleaned from interviews with both high profile and lesser known figures, including former Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, and a former Belarussian Presidential candidate, Mikalai Statkevich, as well as other key actors in Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire and Madagascar. These interviews are a key feature of the book.

The structure of The Despot’s Accomplice includes an overview of democracy promotion, followed by several thematic chapters based around policy recommendations. The first section charts the recent history of the apparently unstoppable rise of the democratic ideal. Following the end of the Cold War, democracies proliferated across the world and the West helped facilitate this trend through its democracy promotion policies. The EU, for instance, tied democratic reform to access to its markets and regional development funds. One key case study given to illustrate this point is Latvia. Klaas outlines how until recently the tiny Baltic state was under the authoritarian control of the Soviet Union and the KGB. Since independence in 1991, the country has made the transition to become a lively liberal democracy, incentivised by EU accession, which it achieved in 2004. Comparing the Baltic country’s current situation within the EU with its Soviet past is instructive, and has been brought into sharper focus in light of Russia’s recent belligerence towards its ‘near abroad’.

Today, however, this process appears to have stalled or even to be in retreat. The Despot’s Accomplice identifies a number of policy mistakes that have made matters worse: for instance, waging war to impose democracy in the Middle East; tolerating authoritarianism in the hope that autocrats can be cajoled into reform; and generally giving legitimacy to ‘counterfeit’ democracies. Klaas outlines the West’s baleful habit of branding elections partly ‘free and fair’, when in reality they are often neither. Klaas describes why this trend is so critical:

Democracy’s core attributes do affect daily life considerably. The aspirations of billions of people hinge upon this seemingly academic debate. Democracy, in its essence, has fundamental advantages over dictatorship. Consolidated democracies spawn more economic opportunity, enjoy better physical security and are bastions of greater justice (219).

Image Credit: (HOGRE CCO)

Readers familiar with the subject will be keenly aware of the shadow imposed by China and Russia on democracy promotion, covered in the chapter titled ‘The Bear and the Dragon’. The influence of these two powers is impeding democratisation, while the ‘Beijing Consensus’ – aid not tied to democratic or institutional reform – is providing an alternative option for authoritarian regimes in need of cash. The impact of this trend is being seen in many regions, an apt example here being Thailand. As a result, the resolve of Western policymakers – desperate to maintain influence – towards democracy promotion is waning. As Klaas forcefully argues, this is a mistake: ‘Global democracy is in decline. As a result, the world is becoming less stable, less prosperous, and vastly more dangerous’ (213).

The recommendations found in The Despot’s Accomplice offer a fascinating and innovative approach to this topic. These include pragmatism, such as offering a ruling despot a ‘way out’ if they have lost an election and fear retribution from the victor. Klaas describes how often there is no incentive for despots to relinquish power; in fact, the opposite is usually true. Other chapters feature practical suggestions like encouraging a new regime to include elements of the old one. The West should also not directly interfere with elections and should concentrate its resources on reformers as opposed to wasting money on counterfeit democrats.

Another theme identified in the book is that the West, in order to convincingly promote democratic norms, has to lead by example (177-80). Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the recent Presidential elections in the United States. Across the Western world, a deluge of propaganda, opinion being prioritised over facts as well as the ‘fake news’ phenomenon are all discrediting democratic practices. Cries of hypocrisy strengthen the narrative provided by the likes of Russia.

However, the most thought-provoking chapter concerns the idea of a ‘League of Democracies’ (152-60). This would entail an apolitical trading area of consolidated democracies, membership of which would be contingent on democratic behaviour and standards. Although this proposal would be fiendishly difficult to put into practice, linkage with economic incentivisation is a key reason why democracies proliferated in the 1990s.

The very notion of democracy promotion by the West has proven controversial in recent years and readers may not agree with all of Klaas’s principles. Nevertheless, as the world drifts further into an era guided by narrow self-interest and Realpolitik, the overarching argument here is convincing. Democracies form a more stable international system, a so-called ‘democratic zone of peace’. Working out how to encourage democratic transition and consolidation is crucial.

There are numerous books on the West’s strategy towards democracy promotion. Others highlight different approaches, such as a security focus, the importance of regional peace as a precursor to democracy, reducing corruption or building institutions alongside democracy. The Despot’s Accomplice has a different emphasis, providing a number of thought-provoking policy principles. Klaas’s dynamic new book is as vital as it is timely, and should be required reading for foreign ministries engaged, however notionally, in democracy promotion.


Robert Ledger has a PhD from Queen Mary University London in political science, his thesis examining the influence of liberal economic ideas on the Thatcher government, and an MA in International Relations from Brunel University. He has worked in Brussels and Berlin for the European Stability Initiative – a think tank – on EU enlargement and human rights issues. He has published widely on European and British politics, edited the Journal of International Relations Research and is also a regular contributor to Global Risk Insights, a political risk group. Read more reviews by Robert Ledger.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 

Aster Gannoo: Pioneer Afaan Oromo Literature developer, teacher, writer and translator March 30, 2017

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Aster Gannoo, dubartii Oromoo bara 1894 keessa afaan Oromootin kitaaba barreessite

Aster Gannoo, dubartii Oromoo bara 1894 keessa afaan Oromootin kitaaba barreessite


References 

AI: ETHIOPIA TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT: License to torture March 29, 2017

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A license to torture

Seyoum Teshome is a professor at a university in Ethiopia and writes to fight the spread of fear that has engulfed his country as a result of an increasingly repressive administration. In September 2016, Seyoum was arrested and charged with incitement to violence against the state. In this blog, he describes the treatment of prisoners in one of Ethiopia’s rehabilitation centres, where he was detained further to his arrest. Thousands of Ethiopians like Seyoum have been arrested and tortured in rehabilitation centres since the state of emergency was imposed in October 2016.

It was around 6:30 am on 30 September 2016 when I was rudely awakened by loud knocks on my door and someone shouting out my name. Peeping through the keyhole, I saw around 10 local police officers. Some of them were staring at the door while others were guarding the corridor.

I said to myself, “Yap! At last…here you go, they have come for you!”

One of them asked if I was Mr Seyoum Teshome to which I replied in the affirmative. They said they wanted to talk to me for a moment, so I opened the door. They showed me a court warrant which gave them permission to search my house. The warrant indicated that I had illegal weapons and pamphlets to incite violence against the government.

Accused without evidence

After searching my entire house and despite finding no signs of the said items, they arrested and took me to a local police station. They also carried off my laptop, smartphone, notebooks and some papers. Confident that they hadn’t found the items mentioned in the court warrant, I was certain of my release. However, three hours later, I found myself being interrogated by a local public prosecutor and two police investigators. The interrogation eventually led to the commencement of a legal charge.

I was scheduled to sit a PhD entry exam on 2 October 2017 at Addis Ababa University, something I had been working towards for a very long time. Throughout the interrogation, my pleas for the case to be hastened so that I wouldn’t miss the rare opportunity to pursue a PhD course fell on deaf ears. My colleagues had provided a car and allowance fee for a police officer to go with me to the university so that I could sit the exam. This is a standard procedure. Yet on that day, they were not willing to lend me a hand. I was stuck in pre-trial detention due to Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and missed my chance.

Little did I know that, in just 12 hours, I would be the state’s guest for merely expressing my opinion.
Seyoum Teshome

The day before my arrest, I had given an interview to Deutche Welle-Amharic radio station about the nation-wide teachers meeting where I commented that, in Ethiopia, expressing one’s own opinion could lead to arrest, exile or possibly death. Little did I know that, in just 12 hours, I would be the state’s guest for merely expressing my opinion.

On 3 October 2016, I was presented in court. I was accused of writing articles and posts on social media sites aiming to incite violence against the government. In addition to the two notebooks and papers they had taken from my house, the investigator had also printed 61 pages of the 58 articles I posted on the Horn Affairs website that year. In total, they brought more than 200 pages of written and printed writings as evidence to support their allegations. I denied all the charges.

Another court session was scheduled in 10 days to allow the police to conclude their investigations. The 10 days lapsed and the police requested an additional seven days to complete their investigations on me while denying me bail.

On 20 October 2016, a jury found there was no evidence to support the police department’s claims. I thought the matter was over but I was immediately accused of contravening the State of Emergency that had been declared on 9 October 2017. A piece of paper with some writing on it was presented as evidence to support the charge.

Barely survived

The Police initially took me to Tolay Military Camp and later transferred me, together with others arrested, to Woliso Woreda Police Station in central Ethiopia, outside Addis Ababa.  We were shoved into a 3×5 metres squared detention room where we joined more than 45 other people already there. It was very hard to find a place to sit. I survived suffocation by breathing through a hole beneath the door. After that terrible night, I was taken back to Tolay where I stayed until 21 December, 2016 – 56 days after my arrest.

Access to food in the first 20 days was limited. We were made to walk while crouching with our hands behind our heads. We also walked barefoot to and from the toilet and dining areas. Due to this treatment, three of my fellow detainees suffered cardiac arrest. I don’t know whether or not they survived. I also heard that a woman’s pregnancy was terminated.

Every day, a police officer came to our room and called out the names of detainees to be taken for the so-called “investigation.”  When they returned, the detainees had downtrodden faces and horrible wounds on their backs and legs.  Waiting for one’s name to be called was agony.

The healing wound on the back of Seyoum’s leg after being beaten with wood and plastic sticks while in detention.

It took eight days before my name was finally called. I sat in front of five investigators flanked on either side by two others. While I was being interrogated, detainees in another room were being beaten. I could hear them crying and begging their torturers to stop.

Moved by what I had witnessed, I decided to secretly gather the detainees’ information. It didn’t take long before I was discovered by the authorities. On a hot afternoon, they came to my room and called my name. A group of investigators ruthlessly began beating me, to the point where I fainted three times. The beatings were unbearable so I finally confessed to collecting information in the camp. The chief investigator was then called in so that I could also confess to him.

Undeterred

By then, I had gained enough strength to renounce my earlier confessions which angered   the Chief Investigator very much. He drew a pistol and threatened to kill me for making a fool out of them. I stretched turned around and spread my arms wide.  Then, I said, “Fear of death doesn’t make me confess against myself! Go ahead, shoot!”

Amazingly, the commander ordered me to go to my room and take a shower. I didn’t believe it. I still don’t. I quickly ran off. I was released a little over two weeks later.

Though I finally left Tolay, those memories and emotions are still with me. Though I am still afraid of another arbitrary arrest and being sent back to prison, what I fear more is the totalitarian state that complete denies freedom. . While there, I told myself that, if I made it out, I would raise international awareness on the government’s outrageous treatment of prisoners.

I will continue to do so as long as Tolay exists.

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NEWS ANALYSIS: TOURISM IN PROTEST-RIDDEN ETHIOPIA IS HURTING; REVIVING IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN UNVEILING A LOGO March 28, 2017

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NEWS ANALYSIS: TOURISM IN PROTEST-RIDDEN ETHIOPIA IS HURTING; REVIVING IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN UNVEILING A LOGO

Fitsum Abera, Addis Standard, 27 March 2017


Last week on March 22, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who also chairs the Ethiopian Tourism Transformation Council, officially introduced the Amharic version of Ethiopia’s new tourism logo ‘Ethiopia, Land of Origins’. It is now called Midre Kedemt in Amharic.

The Prime Minister unveiled the Amharic version of the new logo while attending the fourth regular meeting of the Council, which was established three years ago in March 2014 along with the Ethiopian Tourism Organization. Reason? To transform the country’s ailing tourism industry.

A sign of urgency to reboot the country’s tourism industry plagued by, among others, poor tourism infrastructure and absence of meaningful coordination, both the Council and the Organization were established following a regulation issued by the Council of Ministers (CoM) in August 2013.

The ups and downs

Tourism in Ethiopia has been witnessing an increasing- if modest- growth since the country officially opened its doors to foreign tourists in 1963.  According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MOCT), the most significant dip in the number of foreigners visiting Ethiopia happened during the 17 years in power of the military Derg regime from 1974 to 1991.  Since then, following the coming into power of the incumbent in 1991, the numbers have shown a steady growth from 64,000 to 750,000 during the 2014/15 fiscal year.

That was until November 2015, when anti-government protests that would grip the country throughout 2016 first started, an unexpected turn of an event both the Council and the Organization seemed not prepared to handle.

“That [the time the protests began] was when we started to notice the difference,” says a tour operator who requested anonymity.  “More and more clients began asking questions about security as the [protests] got international press coverage. Pretty soon the low season was upon us and the number of tourists plummeted as we [feared]. But we didn’t expect that more than 95% of our bookings for the high season would end up being canceled.”

The high season in Ethiopia typically starts in September, when the main rainy season is over; and it ends around February when it becomes too hot to take tourists to famous destinations such as the Danakil depression.

Encouraged by the steady inflow of tourists before the start of the protests, our source invested in two 4WD cars. “We bought two cars towards the end of the last fiscal year,” he explained. “We borrowed money from a bank and invested some from our own accounts. But there are no tourists now and we can’t even rent the cars to business tourists coming to Addis Abeba. We don’t know what to do. We are just paying rent, maintaining a small staff and hoping for the best at the moment.”

Although order seemed to have returned following the declaration of the current state of emergency in October last year, and “we are getting more requests now than before, it is not enough to maintain our business,” our source worries. “If things continue at this rate, we will be forced to close down. We picked a bad time to expand our business.” He also said most of their clients come from abroad after communicating with them via the internet, which suffered its own share misfortune as the country shut down internet following protests. Walk in and domestic clients account only for less than 2% of their total bookings, he said.

His frustrations are shared by many tour and travel companies that joined the market recently. Not only tour operators but those working in the transport sector were affected as well, according to Getnet Asefa, a freelance driver/guide. Getnet, who used to make an average 500birr (around $21) per day as a freelance guide, says he is now considering a change in career. “Last year at this time, I worked at least 4 days a week,” he says, “Now getting tourism work has become very difficult. Some of my friends have started working as taxi drivers. At this point, we don’t know what is going to happen next and that is scary.”

Embassy travel warnings aren’t helping the matter, either. The United States traveling warning, issued in Dec. 2016, and the United Kingdom foreign travel advice, updated most recently in Jan. 2017, are still in effect. In fact, the only country that has lifted its travel ban is Germany. But even that excludes traveling to North Gondar, an area located in a region where most tourist detestations are found.

The effect is also felt among tour and travel agencies that on the surface seemed to be doing well. “We are concerned that the company won’t survive this year,” says Yenealem Getachew, managing director of Horizon Ethiopia Tour and Travel plc. “We don’t expect to be reimbursed for our losses. But we do have many commitments. For example, we have to pay profit tax at the end of the year. Some of us have bank loans. When you have a debt to service, that is the first thing you want to take care of. If you can’t do that, you start to lay off employees.”

Yenealem said his company has asked the government for help but they “still haven’t got a response. I think they are more concerned about companies with physical damage. They don’t seem to grasp that without clients we tour operators get nothing.”

In late Oct. 2016, Ethiopia Ministry of Culture and Tourism, MOCT, has established a command post to assess the damage the industry sustained as well as to ensure the “safety of tourists”. “We went to see the damage caused by the protesters,” Tewedros Derbew, Tourist Services Competence and grading directorate director at the ministry and head of the committee, told Addis Standard. “We called the owners for a meeting to discuss how to help them as well as to offer moral support. We have now sent a report to the investment commission detailing their losses. We have also distributed questionnaires to tour operators but we haven’t received their responses yet.”

Tewedros admits “the industry has been severely affected. There is no question about that.” But contrary to the actors in the industry say, he insists “no tour and travel company was forced or threatened to close down or let go of its employees because of it.”

The opposite of…

In late 2015, around the same time the protests began, MOCT announced that it wanted to “triple the number of foreign visitors, to more than 2.5 million, by 2020”, and make Ethiopia become one of Africa’s top five tourist destinations.

In a stark difference to what the actors in the industry and several reports say in post-protest Ethiopia, in a January 2017 report to the house of people’s representatives, Hirut Woldemariam, the new minister at the ministry of culture and tourism, reported that despite the current state of emergency 300,000 tourists have visited the country during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, generating $872 revenue to the country.

But as in every sector, data for this sector is prepared by the government itself. If one goes by Hirut’s numbers above for example, more tourists have visited Ethiopia during its turbulent year than in its years of peace. In Oct. 2015, one month before the start of the protests, the same ministry said that during the 2014/15 fiscal year, 750,000 tourists have visited Ethiopia, fetching in $2.9 billion income to the county. That figure is close to the $3b the government expected to earn from the industry by the end of its first Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) in 2015.

Other hurdles

In Oct. 2016, Lonely Planet has rated Ethiopia 10th out of the “Top Ten Countries to visit in 2017.” But, that announcement seemed to contribute little when it comes to shaking off Ethiopia’s image in the aftermath of the widely reported yearlong protests.

“Image is everything for a country’s tourism sector,” one expert says. “We had just managed to overcome decades of bad publicity caused by famines and violent regime changes. [As of late] Ethiopia had been named one of the emerging tourist destinations. The country’s overall infrastructure was getting better. Then this [the protest] happens. It will take a long time to recover from the effects of the unrest. It is difficult to predict just how long.”

Other issues many tour operators cite in relation to the decline in tourism are the substandard services and accommodations, inadequate maintenance given to tourism infrastructure and destinations, and the lack of communication between tour operators and government agencies.

“Take Lalibela for example. It looks exactly the way it did 10 years ago but the entrance fee has increased,” says Yenealem. “Our hotel bookings are dropped with little to no notice when there are big events like Epiphany in Gondar. The local guides monopolize any work to be done on the sites [including] increasing entrance and guide fees at will and they chase away anyone who refuses to have a guide.”

Lots of plans

In addition to the five-year plan by the MOCT, in September 2016, The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has handed over Ethiopia’s Sustainable Tourism Master Plan (STMP) 2015-2025 to the then minister of tourism and culture, Ayisha Mohammed Mussa. It targets to lift the number of international visitors to five million in the year 2025. The projected income from the industry to increase from ETB14.197 billion in 2012 to ETB180 billion in 2015. The corresponding number of jobs in the tourism sector will increase from 985, 500 to 4.8 million, according to the document.

As part of its several initiatives to revive the industry, as of last week, the Ethiopian Tourism Organization is organizing a series of workshops in several cities in North America including New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

ETO has also recently signed, for an undisclosed amount of money, an agreement with New York-based CornerSun, a tourism marketing and public relations firm to “represent and promote Ethiopia” to travel trade and media throughout the United States and Canada. Since it was formed in 2014, the organization, led by an industry veteran Solomon Tadesse, has spent more time and resource to promote Ethiopia by participating in various fairs and exhibitions outside the country.

With all that said and all the inconsistencies considered, however, tour operators worry that the number of tourists visiting Ethiopia will continue falling short than both the five year plan by the ministry and ECA’s STMP have anticipated.

Last week and this week, while Solomon Tadesse, along with a group of hotels as well as tour and travel company owners, is doing a three-city roadshow in the Americas, some tourists who want to take chances to visit Ethiopia signed onto Lonely Planet’s online forums to complain about complicated visa requirements at Ethiopian embassies abroad and a steep rise in domestic flight fare by the state monopoly, Ethiopian Airlines, an indication that beyond the protest-tainted image the industry is facing as of late tourists are also dealing with other problems that are equally urgent; but problems that are less the focus of the endless plans to revive the sector, including a new logo. AS