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

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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 

Nineteen African countries are facing acute levels of food insecurity. Ten of those countries are experiencing internal conflict. March 28, 2017

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Acute Food Insecurity and Conflict in Africa

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies

February 17, 2017

Acute food insecurity and conflict in Africa by Africa Center for Strategic Studies


Nineteen African countries are facing acute levels of food insecurity. Ten of those countries are experiencing internal conflict.
Nineteen African countries are facing acute levels of food insecurity. Ten of those countries are experiencing internal conflict.
Click on image to download as PDF.


Historic droughts in East and Southern Africa have caused food prices to skyrocket to record levels, doubling the price of staple cereals in some areas. The areas of greatest food insecurity, however, are those affected by conflict. An arc of conflict-affected countries, largely overlapping regions of greatest food insecurity, spans the center of the continent from Somalia to Mali. In addition to disrupting production, conflict undercuts markets that would normally bring food to areas of greatest shortage. In some places, conflict prevents even conducting a full assessment of the level of food insecurity. And because countries in conflict lack the resilience or coping mechanisms of more stable areas, their food crises tend to last longer and have more lasting impact. In short:
Nineteen African countries are facing crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity
Ten of those countries are experiencing civil conflict
Eight of those ten countries are autocracies
Those eight are also the source of 82 percent of the 18.5 million Africans that are internally displaced or refugees


 

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Africans are rising – we can hold our leaders to account and build a better kind of future March 28, 2017

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Africans are rising – we can hold our leaders to account and build a better kind of future


Africans rising
Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity is officially launching on 25 May. Illustration: Sarah Walsh

The expression “Africa rising” was popularised by the Economist and focuses on GDP growth. The growing middle class and major increases in foreign direct investment all pointed to Africa being a prime investment destination and the promised return-on-investment levels that City bankers could only dream of since the collapse of the Asian tigers.

But while GDP has been rising across Africa, Africans themselves have been sinking – into deepening inequality, increasing corruption, shrinking civic space and in low lying areas, literally due to climate change.

This is why 272 people from 44 African countries (and the diaspora) founded Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity, in August last year, out of a deep desire to rewrite the rising narrative. The vision is a decentralised, citizen-owned future. Social inclusion, peace and shared prosperity are the key touch points of this new pan-African movement.

Africa is a rich continent. It has been impoverished by colonialism, slavery and now by new forms of economic injustice. We can’t undo history and the mess that we find ourselves in but we refuse to allow our political and business leaders to blame everything on colonialism.

History is not to blame for the human rights violations happening right now, for the gender inequality, for using fossil fuels when we have some of the best conditions for renewable energy. These wrongs are current and Africans Rising is about calling out our leaders on these failures and building a better, more just, more peaceful and sustainable Africa.

On 25 May – commonly know as Africa Day and officially as African Liberation Day – there will be a series of actions and events across the continent to mark the launch of the movement. We chose that day so that we can remind ourselves, our leaders and the world that we are tired of waiting for that liberation to be delivered. And to show them that we are prepared to take action and hold political and business leaders accountable and reinvigorate the journey to that better life for all.

Red is the colour of the launch, primarily to commemorate the blood that was spilt for the freedom of the peoples of Africa (and reminding our leaders that what is asked of them today is much less than what was asked from leaders in our anti-colonial struggles). Secondly, red signifies that Africa is bleeding its wealth on a daily basis through illicit financial outflows. Thirdly, we want to remind all Africans that whatever our beliefs and origins, we all have the same blood and, we have to work together for peace and justice.

Africans Rising is a catalysing movement and the launch will amplify existing struggles. If you are addressing violence against women for instance, you can use #25May2017 to advance your demands or other struggles at local or national level.

On the evening of 25 May, we’re calling on people to switch off their lights between 7pm and 8pm and to light a candle. This is for two reasons. One is to recognise there are still millions of Africans living in absolute energy poverty, which has consequences for education, health and economic activity. Even though Africa is blessed with some of the best renewable energy resources, we have hardly begun to harness these to lift our people out of energy poverty and create decent jobs. Secondly, the candles are a signal to our leaders, who do not have the political courage to lead in the way that we need them to, that we will not allow them to destroy the futures of current and forthcoming generations.

At the launch events all over the continent on 25 May, people will read out the Kilimanjaro declaration and pledge that: “We are Africans and we are rising for justice, peace and dignity”.

Young people are at the centre of Africans Rising, and were the majority at the conference in Arusha, Tanzania that gave birth to the movement. We are one of the youngest continents in terms of our demographic profile but we have some of the oldest leaders. If political leaders were honest with themselves many would acknowledge that they’ve been in power for far too long. They’ve run out of fresh ideas. We need to make way for younger people who have new perspectives on the problems facing the world.

We are building pan-African solidarity. When there is a crisis of humanity in Africa, either through manmade or natural disasters, the first people to step forward and offer solidarity often are people from outside the continent. Valued though those expressions of solidarity are by the victims of injustice, this allows our governments to cry imperialism and foreign interference.

There are devastating human rights violations happening in many countries including Zimbabwe, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Cameroon and in my own country, South Africa. While we have a wonderful constitution for which so many people gave their lives, we still see protesting workers killed.

Supporters of president-elect Adama Barrow celebrate his inauguration at Gambia’s embassy in Dakar, Senegal after President Yahya Jammeh, who has led the government for 23 years, refused to stand down.
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Supporters celebrate his inauguration of president-elect Adama Barrow at Gambia’s embassy in Dakar, Senegal after President Yahya Jammeh, who has led the government for 23 years, refused to stand down. Photograph: Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters

Africans Rising is about deepening solidarity across the continent. We must step up and be the first to speak out against human rights violations.

Even though we have not yet formally launched, Africans Rising has already responded to crises with a solidarity mission to the Gambia, after the long-serving president refused to accept electoral defeat and a fact-finding mission to Cameroon to investigate a brutal state crackdown on protests by minority Anglophone communities.

We are committed ethically as well as tactically to peace. The Kilimanjaro declaration explicitly commits us to non-violent means of resisting injustices. But we believe peaceful civil disobedience is the right of citizens when governments refuse to listen or to act in the interests of the people.

That doesn’t mean we won’t engage in conventional dialogue with governments. We will, but we won’t do so believing that merely meeting with government is going to deliver the changes we need, quickly enough to improve the lot of our people.

We are building a movement that aims to finish the journey of true African liberation, for which so many people laid down their lives in the struggle against colonialism and since. We refuse to accept that all that blood was spilt for the difficult lives people live every day on the continent. The struggle continues!

DW: Africa’s new sovereign debt crisis March 25, 2017

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Africa’s new sovereign debt crisis


Mail & Guardian Africa, 21 March 2017


Mozambique is the first major African nation in recent times to become unable to meet obligations to international creditors

A decade after the last major debt write-down, African states are again in difficulties. (DW/M. Sampaio)
A decade after the last major debt write-down, African states are again in difficulties. (DW/M. Sampaio)

Finance ministers and central bankers from the G20 group of the world’s most influential industrialised and emerging economies met in Baden Baden, Germany on the 17/18 March. The German NGO Erlassjahr.de (Jubilee Germany), which campaigns for debt relief, saw this as an opportunity to draw attention to the growing debt problems of many developing countries. The NGO has identified as many as 40 African countries which are showing signs of heavy indebtedness.

“This is not surprising because today’s economic indicators are telling a story very similar to the situation in the late 1970s and early 1980s which led to the Third World debt crisis,” said Jürgen Kaiser, political coordinator at Jubilee Germany. In the wealthy industrialised countries, interest rates are very low, but in Africa investors can fetch returns of between seven and 15 percent.  This leads to large capital flows from the North to the South.

The debt trap: declining commodity prices
“The low interest rates encourage countries to take out big loans which they then have difficulty paying back,” Kaiser said. The situation becomes particularly precarious when commodity prices fall. This leads to a subsequent decline in tax revenue in economies that are dependent on oil, natural gas, coal or other raw materials.

This latest debt crisis may come as a surprise to some people because numerous developing countries had a large share of their debts written down under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.  However, commentators who were convinced at the time that that this initiative launched by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the G-8 group of leading industrialised nations, including Germany, would solve the developing nations’ debts problems turned out to be wrong.

Mozambique insolvent again despite debt relief
Figures released by Jubilee Germany show how unsustainable the HIPC initiative was. Among the 40 African states where the indebtedness indicators were flashing red, 26 went through the HIPC program. One of those countries was Mozambique. In January 2017, the country ceased paying back its debts on time. In 2012, Mozambique’s obligations to its creditors amounted to 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), they now total 130 percent. Banks and investment funds were keen to lend Mozambique money believing it would be safe because the country possesses huge reserves of coal and natural gas. Those investors have been left empty-handed.

Debt explosion in Angola, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa
“Mozambique is a very dramatic case. It is the first country to cease repayments in such an abrupt significant manner since HIPC debt relief,” said Jürgen Kaiser. “But countries such as Gambia or Ghana, which also have an abundance of natural resources, are in a very critical situation as well. Senegal, which does not have much in the way of natural resources, is also in difficulties once again,” he added.

On analysing World Bank data of African nations’ indebtedness with foreign countries, it quickly becomes apparent that a large number of African economies have recently acquired dramatic levels of new debt. Between 2005 and 2015 – the most recent year for which figure are available – Angola, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa have witnessed a threefold increase in their debt levels. Smaller countries such as Cape Verde also borrowed fresh capital during this time frame.

The solution: international insolvency proceedings?
Currently there is no internationally recognised set of proceedings to settle the affairs of a country which has become insolvent. Many countries have such mechanisms for individuals and companies, but all attempts to create insolvency proceedings for sovereign states have been blocked by a lobby consisting of banks and nation states.

IMF Managing Director Anne Kruger proposed the creation of a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism in 2001. It would have been administered by the IMF, but the proposal was blocked by the United States. It wasn’t the only proposal. In 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution “towards the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes.” There were 124 votes in favor, 41 abstentions and 11 votes against. This resolution was non-binding and the chances of it being implemented are slim. One of the 11 states that voted against it was Germany.

“That could have been a mechanism that could have helped us move forward right now,” said Jürgen Kaiser referring to Africa’s present debt crisis. “Insolvency proceedings would mean that it wouldn’t be just the creditors who would decide when debts should written down on or not. In the past that practice has led to debt relief being dispensed too late, on too small a scale, or not at all.

Sovereign debt restructuring was not on the agenda of the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers at the weekend, but if more developing countries follow Mozambique’s example and default on loan repayments, then it could be that G-20 will be forced to tackle the issue of debts levels.

The Guardian: Ethiopia’s deadly rubbish dump landslide was down to politics, not providence March 25, 2017

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Fadila Bargicho believes divine intervention saved the life of one of her two sons when a landfill site collapsed near Addis Ababa. The reality is more prosaic

A rescue worker holds a photo of missing children following the fatal landslide at the Reppi rubbish dump on the outskirts of Addis Ababa
A rescue worker holds a photo of missing children following the fatal landslide at the Reppi rubbish dump on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

It was only a misplaced shoe that prevented Fadila Bargicho from losing a second child when an avalanche of rubbish crushed makeshift houses, killing at least 113 people in Addis Ababa earlier this month.

An impatient Ayider Habesha, nine, had left his older brother searching for his footwear. He headed to religious lessons in a hut next to the towering dump. Ayider was buried alive with his six classmates and teacher when a chunk of the open landfill gave way on the evening of 11 March. His body was recovered two days later.

While Bargicho sees divine intervention at play in the incident, the collapse at Reppi landfill was an avoidable, manmade disaster.

In 2011, the French development agency (AFD) gave Addis Ababa’s government 34.6m euros (£17.3m) to close and rehabilitate Reppi and build a new landfill site at Sendafa, about 25 miles outside the capital in Oromia state.

Oromia has been engulfed by violence since November 2015. The unrest has been fuelled by concerns over a masterplan to integrate the development of Addis Ababa – a metropolis of about 5 million people – with surrounding Oromo areas. While federal officials insist the blueprint would mean harmonious progress, activists cast it as another land grab that would mean the eviction of thousands more Oromo farmers as the capital expands.

The AFD funding also covers retraining for the hundreds of people who picked through the waste at Reppi for valuable items, some of whom died in the landslide.

Police and rescue workers watch as excavators dig in search of missing people at the Reppi rubbish dump in Addis Ababa
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Police and rescue workers watch as excavators dig in search of missing people at the Reppi rubbish dump in Addis Ababa. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

When Reppi was established in the 1960s, it was in the countryside. Now it is surrounded by shops and houses, which have encroached on an expanding rubbish mountain.

Rubbish started being sent to Sendafa, rather than Reppi, in January last year. But operations were suspended seven months later after protests by local farmers, who said the Sendafa site was poisoning water and killing livestock.

The trucks returned to Reppi, where rubbish had been dumped without being treated, compacted or otherwise managed for half a century. Authorities knew Reppi was unstable and over capacity when they resumed operations, according to Nega Fantahun, the head of the city government’s solid waste recycling and disposal project office, the responsible agency.

“One cause is the return to Reppi. It’s not the only reason, but it’s one cause, one reason, it aggravates it,” he says of the landslide.

The government hasn’t given up on Sendafa, a joint initiative of the city and Oromia region. But activity at the fenced-off site is limited to work on buildings and other infrastructure. Black sheeting covers a shallow bulge of rubbish to try to reduce the smell. An eight-metre high net was constructed to prevent waste blowing on to adjacent farmland but, when a gust of wind arrives, several plastic scraps soar into the air and tumble over the fence into the fields.

In rolling farmland next to the landfill, local opposition to the project is fierce. Gemechu Tefera, 40, a farmer, says maggots from the landfill have ruined food, cattle have died from toxic water, and a dog brought a human hand back from the site. Consultation was so inadequate that residents thought the site would become an airport, the group claims. “If they come again they will have to go through us. We will continue protesting. They will have to kill us first,” says Tefera.

The French financing included Sendafa’s construction and the closure of 19 hectares (about 47 acres) of Reppi’s 36 hectares between 2011 and 2013. Eventually, the plan is to transform the toxic site into a park. Seven hectares have been set aside for a separately funded $120m (£96m) waste-to energy plantowned by the state electricity company, which could deal with 75% of the city’s rubbish when it becomes operational later this year.

The AFD is waiting for notification from the city government to begin rehabilitating the remaining section of Reppi. That will only begin once the site is no longer being used for dumping, says Shayan Kassim, project manager at the French agency’s Addis Ababa regional office.

According to Kassim, consultants reported that the performance at Sendafa of the city’s contractor, Vinci Construction Grands Projets, was satisfactory and there were no irregularities in dealing with the impact on the community. Vinci worked with AFD and the authorities on improving Sendafa for a year after completion, and the government is undertaking more work following storms that caused some leakage into the nearby environment, he says.

The local administration responsible for the new landfill’s location supports the farmers’ pollution claims. Shimallis Abbabaa Jimaa took over as head of Bereke district government last year after the protests. He produced an October 2016 report from Oromia’s government that concluded water in a local well was not potable and the cause could be a river polluted by seepage from Sendafa. The area had been earmarked by the region as a productive cropping area and should not have been selected for waste disposal, says Jimaa.

The promised improvements could mean local acceptance of Sendafa but, given the strength of the resistance, that seems unlikely, he says. “No one agreed with the project so they rose in revolt.”


 

UNPO: Urgency of Addressing the Plight of Women Belonging to Vulnerable Groups in Ethiopia Highlighted at UNPO EP Conference March 24, 2017

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Urgency of Addressing the Plight of Women Belonging to Vulnerable Groups in Ethiopia Highlighted at UNPO EP Conference


After welcoming speakers and participants from across the globe, the conference’s host, MEP Liliana Rodrigues, opened the event by expressing that the responsibility to stop the atrocities in Ethiopia belongs to us all: “We are here to help break the silence.” Dr Shigut Geleta, of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), reminded the audience that large donors, such as the European Union and the United States, continue to provide substantial aid to Ethiopia despite the country’s heinous human rights record. Dr Geleta emphasised that this aid has been crucial in maintaining the ruling coalition’s stranglehold on political power in Ethiopia.

Continuing off of this point, Mr Denboba Natie, an executive committee member of the Sidama National Liberation Front, raised the question of how marginalised communities can make their struggle known when internationally sponsored funds are flowing into the authoritarian regime, contributing to their repression. For a moment of reflection, Mr Natie asked the entire conference to stand in silence to honour the pain and sacrifices of these subjugated peoples and of the women and girls who have been victims of gender-based and sexual trauma in Ethiopia. UNPO Secretary General Marino Busdachin made reference to the array of issues affecting these regions, such as land-grabbing, eviction, poverty and extrajudicial killings, ultimately declaring that “enough is enough.”

To open the first panel, a statement by Graham Peebles, freelance writer and director of The Create Trust, was read by moderator and UNPO Programme Officer Julie Duval. Mr Peebles’ statement drew attention to a number of worrying issues in Ethiopia – the lack of independent media sources, the stifling of any political dissent, the routine sexual abuse and rape of imprisoned women – all of which contribute to the precarious condition of human rights for marginalised populations. Ms Ajo Agwa of the Gambella People’s Liberation Movement and the Gambella Women’s Association gave a poignant overview of the ongoing violence in her region, where public schools and medical clinics are looted, children are abducted and civilians are massacred by assailants clad in military uniforms under the guise of enforcing protection along the border with South Sudan.

The testimony of Ms Dinknesh Dheressa, Chairwoman of the International Oromo Women’s Organization, highlighted the extreme level of state violence in Oromiya, where government security forces have repeatedly “used live ammunition to disperse protests.”

Mr Garad Mursal, Director of the African Rights Monitor, stated that “civilians in Ogaden, Oromiya, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Sidama have been subjected to mass murder, torture and rape” by the Ethiopian government and their allies. Mr Mursal explained that due to the famine and the cholera epidemic in the Ogaden region, entire villages of Somalis are being wiped out and yet the Ethiopian government continues to prioritise economic development over fundamental human rights. Following Mr Mursal’s speech, a clip of Mr Peebles’ short documentary entitled Ogaden: Ethiopia’s Hidden Shame was shown in which Somali women give first-hand accounts of the sexual violence and torture they endured at the hands of Ethiopian security forces.

The second panel focussed more exclusively on women’s rights and sexual violence. Mrs Rodrigues reminded the audience that Ethiopia is hardly a unique case when it comes to sexual abuse and rape being used as a weapon of war. She called for accountability measures to be enacted by the Ethiopian government to guarantee that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice, but also to provide physical and psychological care for victims of sexual trauma. Significantly, Mrs Rodrigues emphasised that there must be liability where foreign aid is concerned, and she urged the European Union to put Ethiopia at the top of its agenda.

MEP Julie Ward (S&D) succinctly but powerfully intoned that “The root cause of violence against women and girls is inequality.” In considering the effects of how widespread sexual violence has contributed to the devastation of marginalised communities in Ethiopia, Ms Ward stressed that as a war tactic, mass rape is constitutive of genocide and ethnic cleansing. She further declared it “absolutely wrong that EU aid money should be in any way complicit in these human rights violations and crimes of sexual violence”.

Oromo medical doctor Dr Baro Keno Deressa reiterated Ms Ward’s statements about rape being used as a tool of war in Ethiopia, where sexual violence is used strategically to terrorise and ultimately destroy marginalised communities. He maintained that “it is a violation of human rights when women are not given the right to plan their own families”. Moreover, women from these regions are deliberately excluded from the women’s empowerment programmes touted by the Ethiopian government as a model of their progress. Both Dr Deressa and Ms Mariam Ali, an activist currently studying at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, asserted that rape has become institutionalised in Ethiopia.

In closing the second panel, Ms Ali provided a summary of facts about the situation in the Ogaden region, including that the Ethiopian army’s blockade has kept independent journalists and medical officials from entering the region. The population is being starved by a “man-made famine”, and Ms Ali affirms that women are subjected to near-constant rape and torture. Ms Ali ended her speech by addressing these brutal human rights violations with a Somali proverb, “Dhiiga kuma dhaqaaqo?” which translates to “Does your blood not move?”

Mrs Rodrigues and Ms Duval gave the final remarks, addressing both the general human rights situation in Ethiopia and the particular burden born by women from marginalised regions. Mrs Rodrigues underlined once again that action must be taken to see that international funds are solely being used in a fashion that supports human rights and ensures women’s rights. Overall, the conference provided a distinct opportunity for representatives of marginalised groups in the regions of Oromiya, Ogaden, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella and Sidama to speak directly to Members of the European Parliament and recount their experiences to a wider audience of human rights activists and civil society actors. A fruitful exchange of views following the official programme brought this important event to a close and allowed representatives from the media, academia, political decision-makers, as well as representatives of civil society and diplomatic missions to engage in a lively discussion.

 

Click here to find the conference declaration and here to find more photos of the event

UNDP: Human Development Report 2016: Left behind and unable to catch up: systemic discrimination against women, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, among others. Ethiopia ranks 174th out of 188 countries March 23, 2017

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Human Development Report 2016: Human Development for Everyone


It is time to face up to deep-rooted barriers to development


“In order to advance, we need to examine more closely not just what has been achieved, but also who has been excluded and why.” – Selim Jahan

“By eliminating deep, persistent, discriminatory social norms and laws, and addressing the unequal access to political participation, which have hindered progress for so many, poverty can be eradicated and a peaceful, just, and sustainable development can be achieved for all.” – Helen Clark


UNDP Report 2017, key principles to achieve human development to everyone


Beyond averages—using the family of human development indices

Human development is about improving the life chances of individuals. However, the measures used to monitor progress in human development often cover only countries and not individuals or groups. Disaggregated measures are therefore needed that show who is deprived, where they live and the nature of their deprivations. National, subregional and regional Human Development Reports have identified deprivations by analysing data disaggregated by age, gender, subnational units, ethnicity and other parameters. Disaggregating and analysing the family of human development indices— the Human Development Index (HDI), the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI), the Gender Development Index (GDI), the Gender Inequality Index (GII) and the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)— are early steps towards quantifying the scale of deprivations globally.


Collective capabilities—helping marginalized groups

Human development is not only a matter of promoting the freedoms that individuals have and have reason to choose and value. It is also a matter of promoting the freedoms of groups or collective entities. Individuals are not the only unit of moral concern; structures of living together are, too. The failure to explicitly include them in evaluating the state of affairs leads to the loss of important information.


Ethiopia ranks 174th out of 188 countries in the latest UNDP Human Development Report (published 21st March 2017). Ethiopia’s Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2015 is 0.448, which put the country in the low human development category. According to the report, Ethiopia’s 2015 HDI of 0.448 is below the average of 0.497 for countries in the low human development group and below the average of 0.523 for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Top 10 countries on the Human development index are Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Singapore, Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland and Canada.


Click here to explore more on International Human Development Indicators 2016 report

Oromia: Oromo Fashion Show on Siiqqee Power Concert March 22, 2017

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Click here to read on: Ateetee:The divinity for motherhood and fecundity in Oromo mythology

IRIN: Ethiopia in 2017: New drought: 15.9m people in famine crisis March 19, 2017

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Farmers, traders and consumers across East and Southern Africa are feeling the impact of consecutive seasons of drought that have scorched harvests and ruined livelihoods.

Ethiopia: The strongest El Niño phenomenon on record led to an extreme drought in 2016, with 10.2 million in need of food aid. A new drought means 2017 could be just as dire, throwing an additional 5.7 million people into crisis. Farmers and herders found their resilience tested to the limit last year. They have very limited resources left to cope with the current crisis. More at IRIN: Drought in Africa.

OCHA: Ethiopia: New drought puts recovery and neighbouring countries at risk

 

2016 was a challenging year for Ethiopia. But 2017 could be equally dire, as the country has been hit by a new drought. As 2.4 million farmers and herders cannot sustainably practice their livelihoods and reinvigorate their already drought-stricken farms, the new drought is throwing an additional 5.7 million people into crisis.

At the launch of the Humanitarian Requirements Document, UN Humanitarian Chief Stephen O’Brien called for US$948 million to meet people’s survival and livelihoods needs in 2017.

“We need to act now before it is too late,” he said. “We have no time to lose. Livestock are already dying, pastoralists and farmers are already fleeing their homes in search of water and pasture, and hunger and malnutrition levels will rise soon if assistance does not arrive on time.”


Source: 2017 Humanitarian Requirements Document

Back-to-back cycles of poor or non-existent rainfall since 2015, coupled with the strongest El Niño on record, led to Ethiopia’s worst drought in decades. The new drought has hit southern and eastern regions, and pastoralists and farmers are fleeing their homes to find water and pasture.

The new drought extends beyond Ethiopia’s borders—in Kenya and Somalia, it has already pushed 1.3 million people and 5 million people into hunger, respectively. Severe water and pasture shortages in Somalia have resulted in livestock deaths, disrupted livelihoods and caused massive food shortages.

Ethiopia: List of Fascsit TPLF Military and Intelligence officers involved in planning and commanding the Somali region Liyu Police mercenary paramilitary conducting genocide against the Oromo People March 19, 2017

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List of TPLF Military and Intelligence officers involved in planning and commanding the Somali region Liyu Police mercenary paramilitary


1. Col. Gebremedihin Gebre, Shhinelle Zone Coordinator and deputy commander of Somali Special Forces
2 Col. Fiseha, chief of intelligence of somali regional government, specializing particularly in Oromos and Oromia issue, also heads and supervises Fefem zone security
3. Col. Gitet Tesfaye , coordinates and leads disputed borders issue and security
4. Major Desalegn Haddish, Babile front intelligence chief
5 Major Abraha Sisay, heads training of mercenaries and somali recruits at Bobas training center
6 Brigadier General Hadgu Belay, advisor to the president of Somali region on security and organizational affairs on security at regional government level
7 Col. Gebretensae, heads and coordinates Somali militias organization Oromo mercenaries working with the TPLF officials
1. Lieutenant Hassan Ali, former member of defense forces of Ethiopia, now commands a Liyu Police unit consisting 120 members at attacking Erer district( wereda)
2. Captain Mohammed Ibrahim, with a unit of 120 members at Babile front( WEREDA)
3 Sergeant Usman Mohammed, Garalencha district
4 Sergeant Jibril Ahmed spies on Oromo militia in Gursum district, to Fafam direction
5 Sergeant Mohamed Usman, Raqe, Meyu Muluke areas military operations
6 Sergeant Fuad Aliyi, Chinaksen district
* The Liyu Police and Somali region militia are organized in 26 regiment each consisting up to 500 personnel.


 

GLOBAL EMERGENCY PLEA FOR THE DROUGHT STRICKEN AREAS OF EASTERN AFRICA March 18, 2017

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AN URGENT PLEA!
Hello dear esteemed managerial staffs, Risk-taking and Committed Journalists and Thoughtful and Truthful Reporters of Global Media Outlets!
Today, I kindly call up on and humanely urge you, to search, research and report on the case of drought weakening and dismantling almost all parts of Eastern Africa. Literature and memories have it that, though the intensity and severity might differ, almost all countries in this part of the world is facing some amount of pressure from drastic factors of Climate Change. Particularly, these regions are suffering from A Very Rapid Desertification locally and irreversible Global Warming universally since the last three decades. It is very sad that, we have multitudes of witnesses and plentiful of testimonies also that the deep-rooted Poverty, ever growing and rampant Corruption and other pertinent problems of Good Governance make the issue under a multidimensional media’s spotlight. This is why, this area is literally dubbed ‘a hell on the face of the planet earth’.
Recently, I, personally, observed the case of Borana, Gabra, Garri, Guji, Gedio, Sidama, Western Arsi and Eastern Shawa communities in Central and Southern Ethiopia, Northern Kenya and South-Western Somalia. More or less, people of these areas lived up experiencing droughts in the past. In these vicinity all in pastoral, agro-pastoral and agricultural settings they saw the taste of desert somehow. I also, personally have seen it. Bitterly faced it. Kept living being affected by it. I admit that I have seen peoples’ livelihood shifted, villages abandoned, children drawn out of schools, old men engaged in hard and unsafe work, pregnant women traveling long journeys in search for a can of drinking water and lives perished in vain and lost in the perching wilderness- all because of severe drought. Nevertheless, unlike the drought we are accustomed to know, this year round it is different completely. There is no place unaffected. No loopholes to take refuge for the herds and shepherds.
For instance, in the case of Borana Zone there has been no rain for the two consecutive normal rainy seasons. No fodder and water for animal consumption in any part of this area let it be Liban, Dirre, Malbe, Golbo, Sakhu or Waso. Now as we speak, in Borana, the drought is so much severe than its former status that let alone livestocks, human lives are at stake and at unredeemable risk if we fail to react as soon as we can. FYI, a rumor is being aired that quite a number of people have been died of hunger in Sakhu (Marsabit) county, around Magado in Dirre Woreda, Chari in Elwaye Woreda and some are on their deathbed around remote parts of the province where trucks can not easily travel and distribute the life’s essentials like water and food. The case of Liban areas, that is the worst case scenario though we need more details to cover much on the matter later on.
Anyway, this challenge has persisted long enough (more than consecutive 8 months now) in this area to render all community members helpless and hopeless; whether they are/were rich or poor, young or old, men or women, educated or non-educated. In these all periods of drought, the urban elites and youth groups from these communities have tried their best in easying the matter. They tried their best. They have raised funds at different levels and tried to help the drought stricken community members. Their vigor and hope is now fading. Therefore, they are pleading with the Global Communities. They say in unison, “We appreciate all efforts done by our fellow humans to help our pastoral community, in standing by our side and restoring the livelihood of rural dwellers which is very worse in comparison to towns’. Not only in the past, but also we have seen many individuals and groups supporting the rural people along with us. However, the drought is still being more severe than any time before. Despite the willingness of many Voluntary Aid Organizations and Emergency Projects to share what they have there is a huge gap in provision. We all know that, the Humanitarian Aids Organizations aim to save the lives and give us supplementary and temporal handouts at least. Unfortunately, most of them could not manage to do that because of the lack of tangible information on the ground. Leaders tend to talk about Resilience and Sustainability than our immediate need right now. We want sustainability as any other nations in the world. But now, our urgent need is food, water and medicine for survival.” They also asserted, “The governments, various social groups and stakeholders shall not keep silent on us because we’re on the brink of death. Mass death!’

Ethiopia: IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS: QOSHE GARBAGE DUMP COLLAPSE: A TRAIL OF CORRUPTION, CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE AND COUNTLESS VICTIMS March 18, 2017

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IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS: QOSHE GARBAGE DUMP COLLAPSE: A TRAIL OF CORRUPTION, CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE AND COUNTLESS VICTIMS


Mahlet Fasil,  Addis Standard, March 17, 2017 


For the second time in less than six months, the Ethiopian ruling party EPRDF-dominated parliament has declared a three-day nationwide mourning. This time it is for the victims of a devastating collapse of a mountain of solid waste located 13 km southwest of the capital Addis Abeba on Saturday, March 9.

More excavators arriving

As late as Wednesday and Thursday more excavators were arriving

The story of the growing numbers of Ethiopians (115 as of yet) who died buried under a pile of Addis Abeba’s solid waste first broke nearly 12 hours after it struck. For such a story about Ethiopia’s “forsaken” [“we are the forsaken; why would anyone care, right?”], it was neither surprising nor unexpected.

In the shadow of death

Officially known as “Reppi” landfill (commonly called by its local name Qoshe in Amharic) the area is a mountain of an open dumpsite where millions of tons of solid waste collected from the sprawling capital, home to some four to five million inhabitants, has simply been disposed off for more than half a century.

Established 54 years ago, and occupying 37ha surface area, Qoshe is not your ideal landfill. For starters, its surroundings on all four sides is home to both plastic makeshift shelters and poorly constructed mud & wood houses that shelter hundreds of people, a figure by far bigger than what the government admits as ‘houses’ with registered title deeds; and unlike repeated media reports that followed the tragic incident, the residents of the plastic makeshift and mud & wood houses are not all rubbish scavengers. “I work at the Ethiopian electric power corporation,” said Alemayehu Teklu, a father of four who, as of this writing, is still looking for his three children and his wife. “Only my first born son survived because he was not at home the night the garbage mountain caved in.”

Alemayehu and his family resettled in the area ten years ago when several shanty towns were demolished in many parts of Addis Abeba city to give way to new high rising buildings. “We had a two bedroom old house near Kazanchis that belonged to the families of my wife. The Kebele administrators had told us we should evacuate in two months but our house was demolished within three weeks after we were served with the notice,” Alemayehu said, “we were paid 70,000 birr [roughly $2, 500 in today’s exchange rate] as value for our house and were told we would be given a plot in one of the outskirts of the city. No one ever responded to our repeated pleas afterward and I settled my family here after buying the plot for 10, 000 birr.” Struggling to contain his tears, Alemayehu said: “we are the forsaken; why would anyone care, right?”

Living under a pile of waste

The people living around Qoshe are not only waste pickers who come from the city

The massive scale of decades-old evictions of the poor from the center of the city, which is, by all measures, a corruption-infested practice by city administration officials, means there are countless stories similar to Alemayehu’s. None of the dozen interviewees approached by Addis Standard say they become residents of an area surrounding a mountain of waste by choice. These include Mintiwab Gushe, a mother of four who lived in the area for the last 35 years, gave birth to all her children in the same mud & wood house they now remain buried under. Mintiwab is unable to compose herself to talk. And others, such as Gurmu Kidane and his now missing family of two have come to Qoshe as recently as June 2016, when more than 200 special police task force units have started demolishing houses in Nefas Silk Lafto Kifle Ketema in western Addis Abeba, which city authorities claimed were built illegally since 2005. “My family and I came here after losing our house because my sister who got a new condominium unit and had rented her house here in Qoshe gave it to me so I can shelter my family,” said Gurmu. He owns a cement mixer and lives off renting it to construction sites. His 16 years old daughter and his wife are now among the missing.

But the area surrounding Qoshe is not just home to the 200 or so households known to the city Administration; there are at least “500 households most of which also rent additional quarters to tenants,” said a young man who wants to remain anonymous. Here is where the story of Hadya Hassan, 72, fits. She rented her house to 13 different people who came from different parts of the country in search of labor. They are unregistered anywhere hence unknown to city officials. “We have been submitting requests to be relocated to our respective Kebele officials for years. Today, they came to see us mourn,” Hadiya told Addis Standard.

More unregistred tenants also lived in Qoshe

A sign posted at a tent erected to mourn the victims show the presence of unregistered tenants

Haunted by collect and dump

Until 2014, Qoshe has consolidated its notoriety as the only open dumpsite that outlived its original purpose. For 54 years, it served as a dumpsite while having no facilities such as fences, drainage systems, odor control, or recycling methods.

“The present method of disposal is crude open dumping: hauling the wastes by truck, spreading and leveling by bulldozer and compacting by compactor or bulldozer,” admitted a research overview paper commissioned by the Addis Abeba City Administration in 2010 and was delivered to the UN Habitat. It also estimated that about 200,000 tons of waste was annually produced in Addis Abeba alone, of which 76% is generated from domestic households.

The ten-years-old commissioned review is an early sign that city authorities have long been haunted by the black mountain of dumpsite they have created half a century ago and have subsequently failed to manage properly. Nor have they been short of policy recommendations from think-tank organizations funded by foreign governments.  “Adequate planning of waste management is essential if communities and regions are to successfully address the challenge of a sustainable development, including resource conservation, climate protection, and pollution prevention,” reads one such action brief written in 2010 and was partially funded by the German government’s ministry of education.

The Addis Abeba City Government Cleaning Management Agency, an agency accountable to the city administration, began taking the ensuing disaster at Qoshe a little more seriously around 2009, according to an official in the agency who spoke to Addis Standard but wants to remain anonymous because “now is a sensitive time.”

“At that time, authorities have begun to discuss selecting alternative sites and the closure and eventual transformation into a public park of Qoshe. Project proposals were submitted to several donors to conduct feasibility studies to open a modern dumpsite, which would also be used to generate green energy,” he said. Several donors, including the US, have responded positively and have provided large amounts of grants to the city administration,” he said, without mentioning the exact amount of money. “It was a lot.”

This was followed by a binge of workshops, both by the city administration and donors, research works, study tours to foreign capitals for high-level city officials including the Mayor, Diriba Kuma, and proposals on alternative sites and type of a state-of-the-art dumpsite.

As the spree of talks and workshops began to take shape, in a process the details of which is shrouded in backdoor negotiations, in 2012 the Addis Abeba city administration decided to obtain 136ha land in Sendafa, some 30km northeast of Addis Abeba, and is home to hundreds of farmers. As of now, Addis Standard is not able to verify the availability of documents, if any, detailing the process and eventual decision by the city administration to acquire this plot of land in Sendafa.

Be that as it may, with a US$337 million grant secured from the French government, and a  project office assigned to do the job – Addis Abeba Waste Recycling & Disposal Project Office – the city administration looked poised to turn Sendafa Sanitary Landfill become everything Qoshe was not in more than 50 years of its history.

Sendafa Sanitary Landfill had a US$27.6 million initial budget; it is supposedly guided by an elaborated Environmental and Social Impact Assessment report;  it had a 40 million birr [roughly US$1.8 million] compensation scheme for the farmers to be displaced by the project; it was benefiting from the rich experience of VINCI Grands Projets, a French construction company (coincidence?); it was to be assisted by four separate waste transfer stations for preliminary treatment of waste; and city officials determined to change the city’s face defiled by the solid waste its residents keep on producing and dumping carelessly.  Sendafa Sanitary Landfill had everything to become a modern-day landfill.

Simultaneously, city administration officials have assigned a US$158 million for a project to turn Qoshe into a 50mw waste-to-energy plant and have awarded the contract to the UK-based Cambridge Industries; this was to be followed by yet another ambitious work to turn Qoshe into a green public park. This plan to green Qoshe was receiving institutional guidance, including from the Addis Abeba University (AAU) and the Horn of Africa Regional Environmental Center and Network (HoARE&N).

If the French government came to the financial rescue of the Sendafa Sanitary Landfill, turning Qoshe into a waste-to-energy plant and a green park is enjoying a large sum of donors’ money Ethiopia is receiving in grants as part of its newly designed ClimateResilient Green Economy (CRGE) planned to last for 20 years at cost of US$150 billion. One of the four pillars stated in this new lucrative project is the government’s wish to expand “electricity generation form renewable energy for domestic and regional markets.” Among the major contributors to this project are the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) and OECD countries.

However, reminiscent of delays the Sendafa Sendafa Sanitary Landfill experienced, the Qoshe waste-to-energy project has already missed its opening deadline several times.

What really went wrong?

Delayed as it may, Sendafa Sanitary Landfill opened in February 2016; Qoshe took its first break in 53 years. But six months into its service, Sendafa Sanitary Landfill imploded, leaving Addis Abeba to explode with its waste.

In July 2016, farmers living in and around the new landfill have forced garbage trucks to stop dumping the city’s unsorted, crude waste in the landfill.

At the heart of the matter is the US$27.6 worth landfill which looked nowhere close to its plans on paper. “VINCI Grands Projets was paid may be half of the initial amount it won the contract for and even that, it was done in bits and pieces with several delays. The company was also not able to receive the hard currency it needed to import some of the equipment it badly needed” said a project team member at the Addis Abeba Waste Recycling & Disposal Project Office, who also spoke to Addis Standard on conditions that he remains anonymous. “And yet authorities from the city administration have rushed the opening of the landfill before it was fully completed.”

A-household-next-to-the-smaller-pits-of-toxic-fluids-Sendafa-Landfill-768x576

in Less than six months, households in Sendafa were exposed to toxic fluid

Addis Standard is unable to hear from VINCI Grands Projets representatives because its office is nowhere to be found in the addresses it listed was its location: “Sendafa Subcity – Woreda 13 and Yeka Subcity – Woreda 13 (Ayat Village Zone 06) Legetafo road.” And there is no registered telephone line under the company, or at the very least, operators at the state owned telecom giant are not aware of it.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Sendafa Sanitary Landfill was not only incomplete when it started receiving the city’s solid waste, but also none of the four waste transfer stations incorporated in the plan were built. These were sites designed to serve as preliminary waste treatment sites and were planned to be built simultaneously in four separate sites including Akaki sub city and Reppi itself.

“And yet, in Oct. 2016, the Addis Ababa City Government Cleaning Management Agency spent close to US$5 million to purchase 25 compactors and ten road sweepers designed to be given to all sub-cities to boost the existing, old compactors in order to dispose off the city’s waste in an efficient manner at the designated waste transfer sites. This was the second time the agency made such huge investment to buy compactors. Already in 2012, it bought 19 compactors at a cost of US$3.9 million; almost all of them were sitting idle by the time Sendafa Sanitary Landfill was opened,” our source at the Agency said.

Having consumed millions of dollars, but being not much of use in a city that never knew how to sort its garbage, Sendafa was quickly becoming just another Qoshe and the farmers were a storm in wait.

Sendafa-Landfill-A-truck-was-pushing-the-pile-of-trash-

A truck pushing the pile of trash in the new Sendafa Sanitary Landfill

Under-compensated (of the 40 million birr originally assigned as compensations package, an official from the Solid Waste Recycling and Disposal project Office admitted having disbursed only 25 million – but the actual payment is even less than five million birr); dispossessed of their land; lied to as they were told their land was needed for future construction of an airport; and forced to live near a landfill that already started to stink, the Sendafa farmers have refused to accept nothing less than the total closure of the landfill.

And as the yearlong anti-government protests that started in Nov. 2015 continued to gather momentum, questions also began popping up; questions that probe the tumultuous power the city of Addis Abeba exercises over its surrounding villages administratively belonging to the Oromia regional state. Authorities both from the city administration and the Oromia regional state were locked in last minute discussions to avoid the fallout, and find ways to re-open a US$27 million worth new landfill, to no avail.

A City threatened by trash

A city threatned by trash

As the pile of solid waste threatened Addis Abeba in the middle of the summer rainy season, the city administration decided to quietly reopen Qoshe.

Not the old Qoshe anymore

But in the six months since Qoshe was going through its eventual closure, Reppi as an area has completely changed. The real estate market in its surroundings, hyper inflated by the promise of a future public park and the ever increasing land value in Addis Abeba, has boomed. Construction sites near Qoshe have mushroomed, and bulldozing excavators have begun working aggressively for several projects the poor residents of the area know nothing about. “One day before the collapse of the trash, several bulldozers were ploughing the earth for what one of the operators carelessly told us was an ‘important government project’,” said Gebresselasie Mekuria, a resident at the western end of Qoshe landfill. “The smell was getting worse and we have filled our complaints to the Kebele officials asking them to relocate us; they responded to us as if we were mad people; as if living in this hell on earth is our preordained destiny.”

Meanwhile, while the planned constriction of the 50mw waste-to-energy plant is still ongoing, the plan for earlier promises to turn Qoshe into a green public park has stalled. With the collapse of the black mountain, its residents are now left with nothing but unknown numbers of victims.

Qoshe waste-to-energy plant

The new waste-to-energey plant from outside

For the hundreds of these people who lived in the shadow of death, death is a routine exercise; and every time it happens, it leaves in its devastating wake a trail of lives altered forever. That is what happened on Saturday night to Bethlehem Yared, 16, who feels the burden of not been able to save her six years old brother who “decided to hide under the sofa when I ran for my life and asked him to follow me; I had to leave him behind”. Another one, Ayalew Negussie, who survived with his family, is deeply disoriented because “I lost all of my neighbors and friends whom I knew longer than I knew my children”; and Bedria Jibril, who is unable to “think anymore” after losing everything she has in less than 25 minutes. “I only left the house to buy milk for my one-year-old son and when I came back, I couldn’t find where my house was; I lost my husband and my two children all in less than 25 minutes.”

The collapse of this mountain of waste also deprived a means of income to no less than 300 waste pickers who scour it every day. Some of these are residents of the area, but many come from the city in search of something valuable, including food.

 Qoshe is not new to life-devouring accidents. In 2015, a flashflood had displaced more than 70 households, many of which are plastic makeshift; in 2014, shortly before the closure of the dumpsite, a small collapse triggered by waste pickers had killed about 13 of them.

But on Saturday March 9, the black mountain of dirt finally decided to end sheltering the people who have taken refuge in it from a city that loathes them but loves their labor. Sadly, their story is not only a story of a waste mountain that collapsed on them, but has a trail of corruption and criminal negligence that left  survivors with nothing but counting the bodies of their loved ones. AS


Additional reseach by Selam Ayalew from Addis Abeba University (AAU) 

Unmarked Photos: Addis Standard

HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ELECTION OF THE NEXT WHO DIRECTOR-GENERAL: PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY NOW March 18, 2017

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HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ELECTION OF THE NEXT DIRECTOR-GENERAL: PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY NOW

BY , Oneill Institute, 15 March 2017

 

I believe that human rights, and the right to health in particular, should be a top priority of and guiding principle for the next WHO Director-General, whom the world’s health ministers will choose at the World Health Assembly in May. Human rights, after all, encompass the values needed to achieve health for all and health justice, such as equity, non-discrimination, universality, participation, and accountability. They are legally binding precepts. Above all, they embrace human dignity, and the utmost respect for all people in health systems and health-related decisions. They embody the notion of people-centered health services.

This importance demands electing to the post a credible and strong leader on human rights, someone with a history of fighting injustice, of opposing human rights violations, of standing up for the marginalized and oppressed, of resisting political, corporate, or other interests that stand in the way of human rights. This centrality of human rights means electing an individual willing to stand against forces and policies that tolerate or even perpetuate discrimination, or that let political or other concerns override the rights of women, minorities, immigrants, political opponents, or anyone else. It entails appointing a person who views organizations fighting for human rights as partners, even when their own governments may oppose them.

Three candidates remain in the race to be the next WHO Director-General: Tedros Adhanom, David Nabarro, and Sania Nishtar. All candidates should be accountable for their past support of human rights, and outline their plans for furthering human rights around the world if chosen to lead WHO. While it is important for all candidates to do this, one candidate in particular ought to provide a detailed public account of where he stands, and has stood, on human rights. Having spent more than a decade as a cabinet minister in a government that has committed large-scale human rights abuses, Dr. Tedros must make clear his position and intention.

Dr. Tedros served as Minister of Health of Ethiopia from 2005 through 2012, when he became Minister of Foreign Affairs, remaining in the post until a cabinet reshuffle last November. He was, and remains, a member of the Central Committee of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), long the country’s dominant political party, of the more select, nine-member TPLF Executive Committee, and of the Executive Committee of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling coalition.

Some background on human rights in Ethiopia is in order. It is a country where the ruling coalition won all 547 seats in its most recent (2015) parliamentary election, which surely says much more about the state of democracy than the government’s popularity. Freedom House rates Ethiopia as “not free,” ranking it below than many other of the “not free” countries (p. 18) and with one of the world’s largest declines in freedom over the past decade (p. 10).

In its World Report 2017, Human Rights Watch calls the media in Ethiopia “under government stranglehold,” with at least 75 journalists fleeing into exile since 2010, and others arrested. A 2009 law “continues to severely curtail the ability of independent nongovernmental organizations.” Security forces “frequently” torture political detainees, of whom there are many. Over the past decade, Ethiopia has denied entry to all UN human rights special rapporteurs, other than on Eritrea.

The Ethiopian government’s repressive ways gained international prominence at the Rio Olympics last summer. As he crossed the finish line, winning the silver medal, Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa crossed his arms as a symbol of protest against the government’s violent response to protests in the Ethiopia’s Oromia region. Two months earlier, Human Rights Watch had released a report detailing the government’s violent response to the protests, the most recent round of which began in November 2015. They broke out in response to the government clearing land for an investment project. This fed into wider fears about farmers being displaced without adequate consultation or compensation as part of a master plan to massively expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa, the capital, into the neighboring Oromia region. Adding fuel to the protests were environmental and other local concerns, and longer-standing grievances among members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, of political, economic, and cultural marginalizationAmnesty International reported that least 800 protesters had been killed by the end of 2016.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a blog on its official website in October 2016 (when Dr. Tedros was still Foreign Minister) in response to Human Rights Watch’s reporting on Ethiopia. The piece accuses Human Rights Watch of baseless allegations, intentionally misleading its audience, and propagating “scare stories.” It focuses on the NGO’s response to an October stampede during an anti-government protest at an annual festival in Oromia, though addresses Human Rights Watch’s reporting in Ethiopia more generally. Yet Human Rights Watch is widely recognized to employ a gold standard of research. The above-mentioned report, for example, was based on more than 125 interviews, “court documents, photos, videos and various secondary material, including academic articles and reports from nongovernmental organizations, and information collected by other credible experts and independent human rights investigators.” All material in the report was verified by two or more independent sources.

In light of Ethiopia’s severe human rights abuses and Dr. Tedros’s prominent position within the ruling party and the government, a natural question becomes: What was his role in the country’s systematic abuses of human rights?

I do not know the answer, or the veracity of other charges that Ethiopian diaspora organizations have lodged. In his role in the TPLF and ERPDF power structures, is it possible that he tried to change things from the inside, using his position of power within the government to oppose the government’s repression?

What we do know, though, based on the independent reports of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the U.S. State Department, and others, is that the human rights situation in Ethiopia is dire. And Dr. Tedros has long been an important member of the government.

Dr. Tedros has committed to an open and transparent approach to running WHO. Now is the time for him to demonstrate this commitment, publicly addressing the concerns about human rights during his time in the Ethiopian government, and his role, including as a member of the power structures of the ruling party and coalition. States should evaluate his answers carefully and in light of other evidence.

States should also consider whether regardless of Dr. Tedros’s actions within the government – perhaps unless he vigorously fought against rights-abusive policies from the inside – the mere fact of having served (particularly for a considerable length of time) in a high-level post of a government that perpetuates such severe human rights abuses should be an automatic disqualifier from any international leadership position. Would electing someone put forward by such a government, particularly someone who has long served in that government, in some way represent the international community endorsing, accepting, the legitimacy of that government and its policies, and diminish the importance we ascribe to human rights?

We live in an era where human rights remain under great threat. Especially at such times as these, it is vital that states vote for a candidate whose record and integrity will enable them to lead WHO into a new era of health and human rights.

WP: Analysis: Ethiopia boasts about its economic progress. The body count at a garbage dump tells another story. March 16, 2017

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This year has not been kind to Ethiopia, including widespread popular unrest, drought in many parts of the country, a cholera outbreak and stampede at a culture festival. Yet the deaths at the Addis Ababa landfill on Saturday stands out as a sobering counterpoint to the country’s boasts of economic progress.
…But 30 percent of Ethiopia’s population still lives below the poverty line.
“These people, including many women and children, had no option but to live and work in such a hazardous environment because of the government’s failure to protect their right to adequate housing, and decent work.” – WP

 Ethiopia boasts about its economic progress. The body count at a garbage dump tells another story.


Three days of national mourning began Wednesday for the victims of a catastrophic landslide at the Ethiopian capital’s main garbage dump that left at least 113 bodies buried under a wall of trash and dirt, mostly women and children.

This year has not been kind to Ethiopia, including widespread popular unrest, drought in many parts of the country, a cholera outbreak and stampede at a culture festival. Yet the deaths at the Addis Ababa landfill on Saturday stands out as a sobering counterpoint to the country’s boasts of economic progress.

Ethiopia’s government for the last decade has tried to put behind the familiar cliches in Western minds of famine and poverty. The numbers help their case. Ethiopia has one of the best-performing economies in Africa. But 30 percent of Ethiopia’s population still lives below the poverty line.

The changes are especially apparent in Addis Ababa, which was once little more than an overgrown village with a few government buildings. The city is now sprouting with glass and metal skyscrapers ringed by affluent new neighborhoods catering to an emerging middle class.

But the landfill tragedy is a reminder that the slums and shantytowns are still there, too. One of them was built amid the artificial mountain of garbage, where people scrap out a living combing through the refuse. Late Saturday, they heard a roaring sound. The garbage mountain suddenly gave way, sweeping away makeshift homes and burying dozens.

The growth of the capital has often outstripped efforts to manage it, creating hazards like the half-century-old landfill of Reppi, also known as Koshe or dirt in Ethiopia’s Amharic language.

Located southwest of the city, just a 15-minute drive from the embassy-filled neighborhood of Old Airport that is also home to the city’s best international school, this mountain of trash is now surrounded by housing developments.

Here, hundreds of men, women and children known as “scratchers” comb through the daily trash deliveries from the rest of the city, squabbling over the highly prized refuse from the wealthier neighborhoods that yield the most valuable castoffs or the best food. Overhead birds circle the more than 70-acre site, waiting for their own turn on this artificial mountain of trash.

Even before the latest collapse claimed dozens of lives, injuries and deaths from the settling trash or the bulldozers were common in this area, which is often a first port of arrival for immigrants from the countryside.

There was an attempt recently to close down the Koshe dump. But protesters from the surrounding Oromo region blocked garbage trucks heading for a new site.

In sharply worded statement Monday, Amnesty International held the government responsible for this “totally preventable disaster,” saying that the government was aware it was at full capacity but used it anyway and allowed people to build their huts on the garbage.

“These people, including many women and children, had no option but to live and work in such a hazardous environment because of the government’s failure to protect their right to adequate housing, and decent work.”

An estimated 300 people scavenge through the rubbish mountain at any given time and it is feared that the death toll could keep rising. The tally of dead rose sharply Wednesday from 72 to at least 113, an Addis Ababa official, Dagmawit Moges, told the Associated Press.

The government has announced the relocation of at least 300 people living on the site as well as compensation for the families. There have been scuffles though between residents and rescue workers, claiming they are not doing enough.

In the days since the landslide, there has been a heavy security presence at the site.

There has been no official reason for what caused the landslide, though the site’s overcapacity and the strain of accepting every day more garbage from the city’s estimated 3.5 million residents could be part of it.

Some residents have also claimed that the trash mountain was destabilized by a small foreign-funded biogas facility on the site to harvest methane gas and part of a years-long (and so far unsuccessful) effort to eventually close down the landfill — an accusation denied by the government.

Next to the festering, unstable landfill, that represents everything wrong with waste disposal across Africa and the developing world, is a project that could hopefully become a symbol of the continent’s future.

Ethiopia (Tyranny): TPLF/EPRDF’s Regime Relegates Majority to A Second Citizenship Whilst Facilitating their Death March 14, 2017

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Press Releaseby Peoples’ Alliance for Freedom  and Democracy (PAFD)

March 14, 2017


In Ethiopia, once again, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunties, uncles, grannies and grandads have painlessly perished under the rubble of rubbish dump landslide in the outskirt ghetto of the capital. Once again, one of the darkest days repeated in different form on a different segment of the society. Once again, the peoples of Ethiopia are mourning for the tragic death of several dozen, in addition to ongoing execution of the Oromo and the rest peoples of Ethiopia by terrorizing TPLF’s security apparatuses under its draconian State of Emergency; death of Ogaden Somali people who’re left to die from preventable Cholera epidemic; and the ongoing suffering of Gambella children who’re routinely abducted by the foreign forces and the civilians who are killed by the said invaders without the protection of TPLF’s authorities who call themselves government.

The PAFD’s member originations, on behalf of their respective nations send their deepest and heartfelt condolences to the families of such tragedies. We know that there is no accountable government or institution to be held into account; although we never stop pushing with our demand for the TPLF’s regime to be held responsible. We’ve also learnt that, hundreds have been left homeless when their substandard and dilapidated houses, which they call it, a home has been buried under tons of negligently dumped garbage landslide. TPLF’s regime has ignored a repeated advice of the experts to do something about the garbage, preferring to focus on executing civilians instead.

Therefore, the death of more than 68 people in the said landslide at a huge garbage dump on the outskirt of the Ethiopian capital (Finfinnee/Addis Ababa) on the night of March 11, 2017 is, a clear case of dereliction of duty by the Ethiopian TPLF’s dictatorial regime. Further reports also indicate that, several dozen are still missing; and the subjects are said to be some of those who have been neglected by the ruling TPLF/EPRDF in the last 26 years of its reign; whereas the rest of the victims were some of those who have been uprooted from their ancestral lands from the outskirts of Fifinnee (Oromia) to vacate it for TPLF’s generals and politicians to trade with their lands under pretexts of investment. In either case, however, the regime in power is responsible.

The subjects are ended up with such brutish and unforgiving death. We, in PAFD are deeply touched with such unsettling incidents mainly affected the subjugated and disregarded groups of society by the regime in power. We urge the peoples of Ethiopia to stand hand in hand and support the victims during such harrowing process of transition to their contexts of normality. Meanwhile, the regime in power must be wholly condemned for failing to provide the citizens with the elementary protection in the outskirt of the capital from where it exploits their resources without regards to their safety and wellbeing. The PAFD also urges all nations and peoples of Ethiopia to unite in fighting the brutalizing regime to bring about genuine change in Ethiopian politico-economic and social landscape thereby to be able to stop such negligence of unrepresentative TPLF’s government who has proved its inaptness in the last 26 years.

Finally, the TPLF’s dictatorial government must be held into account for its failure to protect the citizens; urged to unconditionally compensate the families of this tragic incident for negligently causing the death and destruction of their lives and livelihoods.

May the soul of those who have died and are needlessly dying due to TPLF’s deliberate negligence and because of the ongoing operation of security apparatuses all over the country rest in peace. The PAFD never rests until justice prevails on behalf of all its stakeholders and the rest of subjugated peoples of Ethiopia.


Related articles:

AI: Ethiopia: Government failures: The death of more than 60 people in a landslide at a vast rubbish dump is a clear case of dereliction of duty by the Ethiopian authorities

 

Al Jazeera: Death toll soars to 82 in Addis Ababa rubbish landslide

Scuffles break out in Ethiopia as bereaved families accuse rescue workers of delays after rubbish collapse kills scores.

The Guardian: ‘It’s life and death’: how the growth of Addis Ababa has sparked ethnic tensions

AI: Ethiopia: Government failures: The death of more than 60 people in a landslide at a vast rubbish dump is a clear case of dereliction of duty by the Ethiopian authorities March 14, 2017

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Ethiopia: Government failures to blame for dozens of deaths at rubbish dump


Amnesty International, 13 March 2017


The death of more than 60 people in a landslide at a vast rubbish dump on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital over the weekend is a clear case of dereliction of duty by the Ethiopian authorities, said Amnesty International today.

Dozens are still missing since the landslide at the 36-hectare Repi municipal dumpsite in Addis Ababa on 11 March, and many families have been left homeless after their makeshift houses were buried under tonnes of waste.

“The Ethiopian government is fully responsible for this totally preventable disaster. It was aware that the landfill was full to capacity but continued to use it regardless. It also let hundreds of people continue to live in close proximity to it,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

The Ethiopian government is fully responsible for this totally preventable disaster. It was aware that the landfill was full to capacity but continued to use it regardless
Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

 

“These people, including many women and children, had no option but to live and work in such a hazardous environment because of the government’s failure to protect their right to adequate housing, and decent work.”

Now in its fifth decade, Repi – also known as Koshe, which means “dust” – is the oldest landfill in Addis Ababa, a city of more than 3.6 million people. More than 150 people were at the site when the landslide happened. Many of them had been scavenging items for sale while others lived there permanently, in unsafe makeshift housing.

“The government must do everything in its power to account for all those who are missing, provide survivors with adequate alternative housing, and safe and healthy working conditions,” said Muthoni Wanyeki.

“It must also ensure that a full-fledged inquiry is held to determine the specific causes of the landslide, and hold the individual officials responsible to account.”

The Trash kills: Addis Ababa (Koshe landfill): Ethiopia: Massive garbage landslide kills over 48 and the death toll is rising.Bakka kosiin itti gatamu Qoshee jedhamu kan Finfinneetti argamu kanatti balaa sigigaachuu tuulaa balfa kanaatiin hanga ammaatti namoonni 48 lubbuun kan darban yoo ta’u hedduusi barbaaduutti jiran March 12, 2017

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