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WESTERN DONORS SHOULD END THEIR SUPPORT FOR THE FASCIST/ TYRANNIC REGIME IN ETHIOPIA August 11, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

#OromoProtests, #GrandOromiaProtests, 6 August 2016, all over Oromia. Dhaadannoo. p6


Dictators are in a constant battle of gaining meaning to their existence by denying meaningful life to others. Through its atrocious actions and inactions, the TPLF/EPRDF has taken the animosity between itself and the people of Ethiopia to another threshold. It has completely lost the shred of legitimacy it had in few quarters when assuming power in 1991.
It is incumbent on us – the people – to struggle for the restoration of our humanity and dignity. Although the primary responsibility to liberate ourselves rests upon us, we should not underestimate the role of the international community in this life-and-death situation. Since November 2015, over 600 people have been killed, thousands wounded, and tens of thousands imprisoned in Oromia, by government forces, while protesting peacefully. Over 100 people have been killed in Oromia and Amhara regions only during the last weekend.

Most of the financial aid is given in the name of development and social services. While the dictators in Ethiopia are busy killing and detaining innocent people across Oromia and Amhara regions – not doing development or running social services – the World Bank is busy processing 1.2 billion USD in new aid for the regime.

It should be noted that, following the bloody 2005 elections during which about 200 people were killed by government forces, the Bank introduced a slightly tightened control system, which it has progressively loosened. Through the Program-for-Results Financing (PforR), it is currently implementing a scheme that is consequentially similar to the direct budget support it used to run before the 2005 elections. The “Results” in the “PforR” is to be confirmed by a mere report by the government, and the World Bank has no verification system of its own. The effect is that the regime will be able to divert the fund away from the intended purposes, including using it for enforcing tyranny.

To aid the government of Ethiopia in this time, when it is perpetrating a brutal crackdown against peaceful protesters, is an antithesis of development/public service and painful for the people suffering under the current regime. Remember, actions become eventful not only in themselves but also in relation to the context in which they take place. On both sides of the actions, there are human beings – those who stand with the authoritarian regime to enforce repression and those who suffer the consequences.

It is unfortunate and outrageous that the international donor community has refused to seriously consider the plight of the oppressed and continued to offer diplomatic, financial, and military aid to the oppressor. By doing so, the donor community supported dictatorship and serious human rights violations and deferred the dawn of freedom against the oppressed. They chose to support an authoritarian, minority regime in contradiction with the values they ostensibly advocate for – hypocrisy can only start to explain this blatant contradiction. It is unfortunate that the people of Ethiopia will have to put up with this agonizing reality.

It has been repeatedly said that dictators do not learn from history and, I add, hypocrites do not learn from history either. Allies of the TPLF/EPRDF regime are in a moral bankruptcy, with alarming consequences. We hold them morally responsible for sustained repression of the people of Ethiopia. Those who continue to directly and indirectly support a regime that kills, maims, and tortures innocent people will be held responsible in the court of public opinion and leave a bloody history for generations to come.

The delay of freedom and justice is very costly to all the oppressed people of Ethiopia, the cohorts of the regime, and the world at large. However, the quest for these virtuous goals will continue and, no matter how long it takes, will ultimately hit its desired destination. Then comes a time when redressing current moral bankruptcy of the international community becomes impossible. Nonetheless, today has offered non-ignorable options for all to consider seriously.

Out of faith in the inner sincerity of human beings and humanity’s united yearning for liberty and justice, I appeal to the citizens and tax payers of Western donor countries to hold their governments accountable and demand an end to financial, diplomatic, and military support to the authoritarian regime of Ethiopia, which is turning the country into war zone. Behold donors and Western allies of the minority regime, the struggle in Ethiopia may soon enter a massively new phase.

YEROOBLOG

By Gutu Olana
Dictators are in a constant battle of gaining meaning to their existence by denying meaningful life to others. Through its atrocious actions and inactions, the TPLF/EPRDF has taken the animosity between itself and the people of Ethiopia to another threshold. It has completely lost the shred of legitimacy it had in few quarters when assuming power in 1991.

It is incumbent on us – the people – to struggle for the restoration of our humanity and dignity. Although the primary responsibility to liberate ourselves rests upon us, we should not underestimate the role of the international community in this life-and-death situation. Since November 2015, over 600 people have been killed, thousands wounded, and tens of thousands imprisoned in Oromia, by government forces, while protesting peacefully. Over 100 people have been killed in Oromia and Amhara regions only during the last weekend.

Most of the financial aid is…

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The World Bank’s approach to human rights is disingenuous, outdated and “deeply troubling”, an independent UN investigator has said. October 24, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Senior UN official castigates World Bank over its approach to human rights

By Sam Jones, The Guardian,  22nd October 2015

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/oct/22/world-bank-human-rights-un-special-rapporteur-philip-alston

 

 
UN special rapporteur accuses bank of leading ‘race to the bottom’ on human rights, and says organisation is better at talking about issues than tackling them.

‘They won’t touch human rights’ … Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has taken aim at the World Bank.

The World Bank’s approach to human rights is disingenuous, outdated and “deeply troubling”, an independent UN investigator has said.

Professor Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, said that after 40 years of inconclusive internal discussions, the Washington-based organisation and its 188 member countries had to realise they could no longer separate human rights from development financing.
World Bank funding ‘shrouded in darkness and riddled with abuse.’

“The bank has for a long time played a double game where a lot of the publicity suggests that they are engaging intensively with human rights. You’ll find many references on their websites. They have conferences every year where there are lots of panels on human rights and so on,” he said.

“But the reality is the exact opposite. They can talk about these issues but when it comes to country programming and the advice and so on that they give – which is their core mission – they won’t touch human rights.”

The World Bank Group, which spent $61bn (£39bn) supporting developing countries last year, has often been criticised for failing to take into account the impact its projects can have on human rights.

The World Bank has rejected Alston’s claims.

In a recent and unusually scathing report, Alston described the bank’s approach to human rights as “incoherent, counterproductive and unsustainable”, adding that it was for most purposes, “a human rights free zone”, and an institution whose operational policies treat human rights “more like an infectious disease than universal values and obligations”.

The special rapporteur, a law professor at New York University, rejects the bank’s argument that a “political prohibition” clause prevents it from becoming involved in the “political affairs of any member” and that its decisions can be governed only by economic considerations.

 

“I see that legal analysis as bankrupt,” he said. “It is not in line with anything else the bank does. They have singled out human rights as almost the only issue that they would see as political [yet] they engage in the full range of environmental issues, which are deeply political. They engage in governance, which is entirely political, they engage in anti-corruption campaigns. None of these is characterised as political. But suddenly they draw the line at human rights and I think this is very artificial.”

Such an interpretation, he added, was based on cold war thinking rather than the 21st century, when human rights are enshrined in a range of international treaties to which almost every state has signed up.

Alston argues that building human rights into the decision-making process also makes economic sense. He points to Tunisia before the revolution that triggered the Arab spring.

“If you looked at the bank’s analysis, things were going great in Tunisia. It was a good investment, etcetera. If you looked at all the human rights groups, they would tell you that things were very grim in Tunisia, that there were many problems and they would suggest that the model was not sustainable.

The World​ Bank arguing that the whole development equation can be kept separate from human rights is deeply troubling.
“That’s not to say that the bank should have switched over and been an Amnesty International when looking at Tunisia, but if you and I are sitting in Washington DC, working out what policy we’re going to have towards Tunisia, it would make a very big difference if we factor in the reports that are coming in from human rights sources and we might then start to develop the programming in a different way to take account of what the risks really were.”

Alston also said that the advent of two rival development banks – the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Brics’ New Development Bank – could actually offer the World Bank an opportunity.

“Some people point at the new banks and say, ‘That’s why the World Bank can’t have high human rights standards, because it won’t be able to compete with new banks that don’t care about human rights,” he said.

“The irony in fact is that what those other banks seem to be doing so far is simply replicating the World Bank’s very low standards.”

He added: “It’s the World Bank that has led the race to the bottom rather than the other two. [Yet human rights] could be its strength.”

 

Despite his criticisms, Alston pointed to the bank’s major role in the fight against HIV/Aids and Ebola and said it would play “the key role” in the sustainable development agenda over the next 15 years.

“It has the capacity to do these things, it’s got a very sophisticated staff,” he said.

“Much of what it does is very progressive, and that’s why I think it’s a big mistake to suddenly have what one might call, in another context, this Chinese wall separating human rights out. That really just puts them at a disadvantage.

“To have the thought leader arguing, in effect, that the whole development equation can be kept separate from human rights is deeply troubling”.

Alston acknowledged that human rights policy could be extremely problematic, but said that was no excuse for the bank’s member states to avoid a debate on the issue.

“I think there’s been a lot of convenient defeatism on the part of some of the western countries who all say, ‘We stand for human rights but we just don’t see the support out there. The political environment is not strong’. I think that’s a sellout, that sort of argument. With human rights, you’re always pushing against barriers.”

He conceded that his choice of words in the report was not “the normal diplomatic language” but said he felt he had to opt for bluntness.

“The thing that frustrates me most is that a report like mine comes out and what you get are a few dismissive comments attributed to the spokesperson or whoever, but no engagement with the issues,” he said.

“Where’s it wrong? In what ways are the facts that I describe inaccurate? Where are human rights brought into any of their programming? But they haven’t engaged in that debate and I think that’s a real problem.”

A spokesman for the World Bank said Alston’s report had fundamentally misrepresented its position on human rights, adding the bank was disappointed that he was using his voluntary position as a special rapporteur to present “a distorted picture” of the its work.

The spokesman went on: “Human rights principles are essential for sustainable development and are consistently applied in our work to end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For decades, the World Bank has argued that human rights and development are mutually reinforcing.”

Ethiopia: EVICTED AND ABANDONED: THE WORLD BANK’S BROKEN PROMISE TO THE POOR: How a World Bank Translator Became a Hunted Man October 8, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Human rights advocates criticize the bank for failing to speak up about the jailing of a former employee

Pastor Omot Agwa knew he was in danger.

“Greetings from Ethiopia in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” he wrote in an online message to friends and colleagues on March 11, 2015. “I am informing you that since yesterday I have been hunted by security.”

The gentle, round-faced church leader had long been an embarrassment to Ethiopia’s authoritarian regime. As a prominent leader of the Anuak, a heavily Christian indigenous group, Agwa had spoken out against alleged beatings and killings of his kinsmen by government forces.

Days before his message, a federal agent had come looking for him at the Mekane Yesus Seminary, the evangelical church that he belonged to in Addis Ababa.

“He wants to arrest me,” Agwa wrote. “If I keep silent without communicating I will be in custody.”

The Ethiopian regime had various reasons for wanting to arrest Agwa, but at that moment, one loomed large: he had recently served as a translator and consultant for an investigation into whether government authorities had used World Bank money to bankroll a campaign of violent evictions targeting Agwa’s Anuak community.

The soft-spoken pastor arranged interviews for the bank’s Inspection Panel, its internal watchdog, with Anuak who told World Bank investigators about beatings, rapes and summary executions by Ethiopian soldiers —placing Ethiopia’s lucrative aid package from the bank into jeopardy. Months later, Agwa translated for a reporter from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on a newsgathering trip to Ethiopia.

Omot AgwaPastor Omot Agwa worked as a translator for the World Bank before his arrest. Image: Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas / WG Films

In February 2015, the Inspection Panel released its report, faulting the bank for failing to properly scrutinize the Ethiopian government’s programs before giving money to the regime.  Soon after, Ethiopian government agents began hunting for Agwa, visiting his church, his family and leaving messages on his phone, he told human rights groups.

“I have locked myself in the room now,” the frightened pastor wrote in his distress message. “Please pray for me for God’s protection and I don’t know what to do.”

He was arrested four days later as he tried to leave the country on a flight to Kenya. In September, Ethiopian authorities indicted him on terrorism charges.

Human Rights Watch called the charges “absurd,” a transparent attempt to punish Agwa for exposing government abuses and to intimidate other Anuak into silence.

But another key player in the church leader’s case has made no public objections: his former employer, the World Bank.

World Bank officials say Ethiopian authorities have assured them that Agwa’s arrest had nothing to do with his work for the bank’s Inspection Panel. The bank won’t comment on whether it believes the charges against Agwa are valid. And the bank has continued its financial relationship with Ethiopia’s government—approving more than $1.3 billion in loans to the regime since it learned of its former employee’s arrest.

“The World Bank just abandoned him,” said Obang Metho, the executive director of the advocacy group Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, who once belonged to Agwa’s congregation. “Had they not told Omot to investigate this, he would be at home today with his family.”

The World Bank’s decision to continue bankrolling Ethiopia’s government in the aftermath of allegations of human rights abuse is not unusual. The bank has repeatedly refused to intercede on behalf of protesters or local communities when they are mistreated by borrowing governments or to cut off funding in such instances, ICIJ, The Huffington Post and other media partners reported in September.

The bank maintains that as a development lender, it has a specific and limited mandate.  The bank’s rules against violent evictions, abuse of indigenous peoples and other safeguards apply to the projects it finances, not all activities of its borrowers.

Jim Yong Kim.

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim. Photo: AP Photo/Geraldo Caso Bizama

The World Bank’s charter specifies that “the Bank and its officers shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member”—a clause that the bank has long interpreted as a prohibition against advocating for human rights.

Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, charged in a recent report that the bank has misinterpreted this ban on political interference  to justify treating human rights “more like an infectious disease than universal values.”

Alston said that while he generally opposes across-the-board sanctions as a reaction to wrongdoing by a borrower country, they could be justified in extreme cases and that the bank needs to develop clear guidelines for responding to cases of retaliation and other abuses by its borrowers.

The World Bank declined to answer questions for this story.

In a statement to ICIJ after the terrorism charges against Agwa were revealed, the bank said it often works “in places with complex political and social issues. When allegations of reprisal are brought to our attention, we work, within the scope of our mandate, with appropriate parties to try to address them. We have made several inquiries about Pastor Omot Agwa since his arrest in March 2015 and detention.”

The Ethiopian government did not respond to requests for comment to its embassy in Washington, D.C., and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Pastor and activist

The case of Omot Agwa offers a striking view of the bank’s hands-off approach.

Agwa was born in the fertile, low-lying Ethiopian state of Gambella, a traditional homeland of the Anuak, an indigenous tribe of several hundred thousand people living in Ethiopia and South Sudan. He attended an American missionary school and was “born again” as a Christian in first grade, establishing his lifelong ties to the Protestant church. He went on to earn scholarships for Bible translation that set him on a path to church leadership.

As he drew closer to the evangelical church, Agwa retained a strong Anuak identity. When he was a teenager, Agwa had the six front teeth on the bottom half of his mouth plucked out in a traditional initiation rite.

“If your teeth are still there they say that, one, you are not pure Anuak,” the pastor explained last July, a mischievous smile crossing his face, “and second, that your face looks very ugly because your mouth looks like a goat’s mouth.”

An outbreak of violence in December 2003 prompted Agwa to take his first steps into activism. Ethiopian soldiers and members of Ethiopia’s lighter-skinned ethnic majority slaughtered hundreds of Anuak in the state of Gambella’s capital. Agwa survived by hiding inside a friend’s house.

By that time a well-known church leader, Agwa collected the names of the dead and traveled to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to seek out human rights groups that could spread word of the massacre beyond Ethiopia’s borders.

“I went to Oxfam America, I knocked on their door,” he said, “and they interviewed me in their office where, for the first time, I weeped. I cried loudly because I was traumatized, and it was a time now that I was released.”

Human Rights Watch later determined that 424 people from Gambella had died in the massacre.

Collecting names of the dead

Hear Omot Agwa’s account of hiding in a friend’s house as gunshots echoed outside during a 2003 massacre in Gambella, Ethiopia.

In the following years, Agwa’s fluent English and ties to the Protestant church made him a frequently sought out liaison by human rights observers and others who wanted to know more about the government’s repression of the Anuak.

In 2010, federal authorities launched the “villagization program,” a massive campaign in Gambella and three other rural states to relocate Anuak and other minorities into government-sponsored villages. The government said the plan was intended to provide health, education and other essential services, but many Anuak denounced it as a land grab and refused to move from their ancestral homes.

The former governor of Gambella described personally diverting roughly $10 million in World Bank money intended for the health and education program to finance a series of violent evictions of the Anuak, ICIJ reported in April.

When the World Bank’s Inspection Panel came to Ethiopia in February 2014 to investigate abuse accusations, it hired Agwa as a consultant and interpreter. Agwa travelled with the investigators through the communities in Gambella where he had grown up, translating interviews with Anuak villagers. One man who was interviewed reported that an Anuak who was a member of the Ethiopian military’s Special Forces was shot dead on the spot by a government police officer after he refused an order to evict fellow tribe members from their farms.

In summer 2014, Agwa worked with ICIJ during a reporting trip in Ethiopia to explore the alleged abuses linked to the villagization program. Despite his fears that he would be discovered by federal agents, Agwa assisted an ICIJ reporter with steady good humor, interspersing his painful recollections with an infectious smile and frequent references to his Christian faith.

When the Inspection Panel published its findings in February 2015, security police began looking for him soon after, Agwa reported to human rights groups.

The government claims the Swiss church charity’s workshop that Agwa was traveling to when he was arrested was a “terrorist group meeting.”

On a telephone call the night before his arrest, Agwa said the police were after him because of his work with the Inspection Panel, according to David Pred, managing director of Inclusive Development International, one of the human rights groups supporting Agwa.

On March 15, Agwa sought to leave the country for a food security workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, organized by the Swiss Protestant church charity Bread for All.

He made it as far as the airport.

Ethiopian security forces arrested Agwa in Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport and locked him up without charges, along with six other indigenous and pastoralist leaders on their way to the gathering in Kenya, according to human rights groups.

Church in Gorom refugee campAnuak refugees, who fled Ethiopia, worship at a church in the Gorom Refugee Camp in South Sudan. Photo:Andreea CampeanuThe arrest of the well-known church leader set off a flurry of activity by Agwa’s allies. They struggled to find out why Agwa had been detained, and pressed the U.S. State Department and European embassies in Ethiopia to appeal to the Ethiopian government for his release.

Both the human rights groups and the World Bank—as well as ICIJ—agreed to keep the matter quiet so that the Ethiopian regime could release the outspoken pastor without losing face.

On March 31, little more than two weeks after Agwa’s arrest, the World Bank made a move that surprised Agwa’s defenders: it approved a $350 million loan to the Ethiopian government. The money supported a five-year initiative to improve productivity and market access among small farmers.

Agwa was locked up in the Maekelawi police station, a site notorious for the torture of political dissidents. He was held for three weeks in solitary confinement, supporters say. For months after, his family was not allowed to visit him.

His supporters still hoped that the Ethiopian government might let Agwa free.  Instead, on Sept. 7, Ethiopian authorities charged the pastor with terrorism, alleging that Agwa’s contacts with an Anuak activist in London were a conspiracy to plan armed attacks in Ethiopia, according to a charging document obtained by ICIJ. The government claims the Swiss church charity’s workshop that Agwa was traveling to when he was arrested was a “terrorist group meeting.”

Human rights groups familiar with Ethiopian law say if convicted, Agwa would face a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

The Ethiopian government has not responded to repeated requests for comment about Agwa. It is possible that authorities are in possession of evidence that would support their claims against the pastor. But Ethiopia has a  history of using its anti-terrorism laws as a weapon against journalists and political activists, and human rights groups that are active in the country say the government trumped up the charges against Agwa in order to silence him.

On September 15, just over a week after the government filed formal charges, the World Bank approved a new $600 million loan to the Ethiopian government.

The newest round of financing is for a project the bank says is intended to improve health, education and other services. It replaced a central component of the same health and education program that Agwa had helped investigate. Despite the testimony facilitated by Agwa that detailed abuses by Ethiopian officials associated with the program, the bank decided to continue funding a similar arrangement into the year 2019.

Human rights groups say they informed the World Bank of Ethiopia’s terrorism charges almost immediately after they were filed.

“I have no doubt that if they intend to convict him, they will,” said David Pred of Inclusive Development International. “He’s facing 20 years to life, which is a death sentence.”

Obang Metho, the Ethiopian activist who remembers Agwa as his former pastor, said that losing the imprisoned church leader would be a crushing blow for the Anuak people.

“Omot is not just a translator,” Metho said. “He is a husband, he is a father, he is a pastor. . . . The community loved and respected him.”

Finfinnee: A Partnership between France And The World Bank In Gentrification and Inhumane Mission. #Landgrabs. #Oromia #Africa September 20, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in No to the Addis Ababa Master Plan, NO to the Evictions of Oromo Nationals from Finfinnee (Central Oromia).
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???????????Say no to the master killer. Addis Ababa master plan is genocidal plan against Oromo peopleTigrean Neftengna's land grabbing and the Addis Ababa Master plan for Oormo genocide

A Partnership between France And The World Bank In Gentrification and Inhumane Mission

Screen-Shot-2015-09-18-at-10.29.03-PM-777x437

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (The Post Post)–France with the help of the World Bank has embarked on missions that destroyed many lives in some African countries. One of those countries in which this duo operates is Ethiopia. Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin are the other victims of the “urbanization for the 21st century,” which mainly advocates building cities around public transportation.

In May 2014, university student protesters of Oromo ethnic origin took to the streets of Ethiopia in opposition to the “Integrated Development Master Plan.” Some student protesters quoted by social media activists dubbed it “a master killer,” because dozens of students and people who protested were gunned down by Ethiopian security forces. Some of them pointed to its “unconstitutionality,” saying it encroaches on Oromia’s land. Ethiopian government security forces effectively silenced the protesters.

However, the real victims of the urbanization projects were the low-income families who lived in Addis Ababa and vicinity. Bekele Feyissa, a farmer in Sebeta, complained to Bloomberg’s reporter in 2014 that he got paid $36 for 1.5 acres of land. Even though the government owns the land, Mr. Feyissa, a father of six has customary rights to the land. He has at least eight people to feed. People like Fayissa are the ones who have gotten the short end of the stick.

It all started with the 1999-2000 urbanization projects. There were multiple moving parts—lender [World Bank Group], contractor [Lyon Town Planning Agency], Addis Ababa city government, French government agencies and German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ).

A document detailing the zenith of a 15-year-old mission is buried in the deep web pages of UrbaLyon—The Planning Agency of the Lyon metropolitan area. Coincidentally, “Mission from 19-26 May 2009” is displayed in bold letters under a picture of Addis Ababa on a cloudy day. According to the header, the document was a result of a collaboration of three organizations. They were Addis Ababa City Government, Lyon Town Planning Agency, and Ville de Lyon—city municipal of Lyon—France’s second-largest city after Paris. The page after the agenda for the seven-day mission, splashes a photo of Ethiopian Herald, with a title that reads, “Officials of Ville De Lyon keen to work with Addis.”
Ethiopian Herald’s title was misleading as it implied working with Addis was a new venture. The “technical cooperation” started ten years before, and the May 2009 mission was to transform it into “city to city cooperation.”

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addismasterplanagreement

In the historical background section, the document emphasizes the cooperation of Addis Ababa city government and the French (Grand Lyon and the French Embassy). It further states the decision by the French to fund the revision of the 2002 master plan was to establish pre-operational project processes, implying they were there to collect the return.

This rich French city also has other contracts with other African cities like Bamako, Ouagadougou, Porto-Novo and Rabat, whose stories are not too far from that of Addis Ababa. Some of those countries were a little generous to their displaced people due to urbanization planned by Lyon Urban Planning Agency, even though the displaced still suffered consequences.

The most significant part of this document shows the involvement of the World Bank, which is not a surprise by any stretch. However, investigative reports showed the organization’s involvement in projects which ruined at least 3.4 million lives worldwide. These contracts Grand Lyon signs with sub-Saharan cities, do not seem to involve financial planning even though it appears they often made sure the World Bank funded the projects. Three World Bank officials were listed in this document among the contacts: Abebaw Alemayehu (senior development specialist), Yoshimichi Kawasumi (senior highway engineer), and Yitbarek Tessema (senior water and sanitation specialist).

Reports by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, The Huffington Post, and The Investigative Fund found that The World Bank Group repeatedly failed to enforce own rules to protect communities in its projects’ path. One of the stories featured by these reporters includes Ethiopian Anuak family who were beaten, raped, and displaced from their land as a result of The World Bank Group funded Ethiopian government villagization program.

The disconcerting and destructive quote to The World Bank’s mission came from the World Bank’s Ethiopia program director, Greg Toulmin. “We are not in the physical security business,” ICIJ quoted him saying at the time. Despite his dismissive quote towards human rights and his contradicting of the World Bank Group’s mission, Mr. Toulmin is currently the acting Country Director for Ethiopia.
The World Bank, whose private lending arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC) is a defendant in a class action lawsuit filed in District of Columbia, sent a link to a press release in response to The Horn Post’s request for a budget document showing financial compensation for the displaced people in the outskirts of Addis Ababa. In the press release, in March 2015, the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said, “We took a hard look at ourselves on resettlement and what we found caused me deep concern.” He also goes on to acknowledge failures in overseeing projects involving resettlement, implementation and enforcement of own policies.

The World Bank’s Operational Policies (OP 4.12) clearly states involuntary displacement needs special attention in paragraph 2.

“Involuntary resettlement may cause severe long-term hardship, impoverishment, and environmental damage unless appropriate measures are carefully planned and carried out. For these reasons, the overall objectives of the Bank’s policy on involuntary resettlement are the following:

  1. Involuntary resettlement should be avoided where feasible, or minimized, exploring all viable alternative
  2. Where it is not feasible to avoid resettlement, resettlement activities should be conceived and executed as sustainable development programs, providing sufficient investment resources to enable the persons displaced by the project to share in project benefits should be meaningfully consulted and should have opportunities to participate in planning and implementing resettlement programs.
  3. Displaced persons should be assisted in their efforts to improve their livelihoods and standards of living or at least to restore them, in real terms, to pre-displacement levels or to levels prevailing prior to the beginning of project implementation, whichever is higher.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, the press release came after both the ICIJ report and the lawsuit accusing International Finance Corporation of irresponsible and negligent conduct in appraising, financing, advising, supervising and monitoring a coal-fired powered plant in India.

Countries like China and Turkey are operating in Ethiopia, but France takes the lead in displacing the poor with near zero compensation in the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

An email from The Horn Post to Lyon city officials seeking comments regarding Addis Ababa Master plan did not get a response at the time of this publication.

Leaves in a Dry Wind September 14, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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???????????Drought, food crisis and famine in Afar state captured through social media1, August 2015ethi_famine_30_years1414175983

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

Version 2
The essay I am reproducing below is a reply to a comment made in my blog by OromianEconomist regarding the pictures and short essay on my blog  (You can find them HERE.) in which I referred to the Ethiopian drought of the early 1970’s. This was his comment:

“The same is going on right now in Ethiopia. Authorities are either hiding the presence of famine or stealing the food aid.”

He included the below link to an article written about the current drought which I suggest you read.  https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/the-cause-of-ethiopias-recurrent-famine-is-not-drought-it-is-authoritarianism/      My comments follow below.

                                                           Leaves in a Dry Wind

I wrote this initially short reply to the Oromian Economist’s comment on my blog, but then I seemed to just keep writing and writing until it turned into an essay of sorts.  The facts are from memory and I realize I need to do some further research and I’d…

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The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine Is Not Drought, It Is Authoritarianism August 27, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Famine in Ethiopia.
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The Cause of Ethiopia’s Recurrent Famine Is Not Drought, It Is Authoritarianism

Dawit Ayele Haylemariam,  The Huffington Post,  24 August 2015
A concerned Citizen and Graduate Student of Political Science at University of Passau, Germany

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Twenty years ago one Ethiopian Diaspora in Washington asked the late Prime minister Meles Zenawi what his vision for the country was. A rather polite and amiable Meles outlined his vision in a very human centered way. He said he hopes that in ten years every Ethiopian will have enough to eat three times a day and after 20 years Ethiopians will not only have enough food but they will also have the luxury of choosing what they eat.

Here we are now. Three years have passed since Meles died in office after 21 years in power. Once again Ethiopia’s food crisis is topping the headline. As seasonal rain fails in Eastern and Southern parts of the country, famine is threatening millions of Ethiopians. The UN estimates over 10 million are in need of emergency food aid.

Why is famine and hunger so common in Ethiopia?

Many experts relate Ethiopia’s cyclical famine with the country’s dependence on Rainfed smallholder agriculture, drought, rapid population growth or agricultural market dysfunctions. Although these factors do have significant role in the matter, they tend to hide the critical cause of hunger in the country – lack of rights and accountable government.

Nobel Prize winner and economist Amartya Sen has extensively analyzed the relationship between democracy and famine in his book Development as Freedom. Sen argues democracies don’t have famines, only authoritarian systems do. Famine tend to happen in places where the victims are oppressed by dictators.

A historical investigation of famine also identified 30 major famines during the 20th century. All happened in countries led by autocratic rule or that were under armed conflict, four being in Ethiopia.

Why does autocracy lead to famine? The most fundamental reason is that autocrats often don’t care enough about the population to prevent famine. Autocrats maintain power through force, not popular approval. This argument has been proven true in the case of Ethiopia.

During 1983-1985 the worst famine in the country’s history had led to more than 400,000 deaths. Extensive investigation by Alexander De Waal in his book Evil Days: Thirty Years of War and Famine in Ethiopia has found “more than half this mortality can be attributed to human rights abuses that caused the famine to come earlier, strike harder, and extend further than would otherwise have been the case.” The military government is not only spent between $100 and $200 million to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the revolution while millions were starving, Mengistu’s regime also attempted to impose customs duties on aid shipments.

Similarly during the 1973-1974 Wollo famine, attempts to hide the reality of the situation by the Imperial Feudal System caused 300,000 deaths. This particular famine was not a problem of food shortage in the country but lack of ability to access food. The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture Report of 1972 stated that output for 1972-1973 was only 7% lower than the previous year. Also,food price in Wollo were no higher-often substantially lower-than elsewhere in the country. The problem was the poor just couldn’t afford to buy. Meanwhile, Emperor Haile Selassie spend some $35 million to celebrate his eightieth birthday in 1973.

Unfortunately the trend of autocratic-led hunger has not changed under the current government either, if anything Meles’s regime took it to the next level.

In 2004 Humanitarian Exchange Magazine exposed that disregarding experts advise that the situation in the country was very severe and does qualifies as a famine, the government of Ethiopia and USAID conspired to downplay the 2002-2004 food crisis as “localized famine” in fear of global media attention and political dangers for the EPRDF. The report states “the lack of classic famine images….facilitates further disengagement by the media and Western publics, even as large numbers of vulnerable people face destitution, malnutrition, morbidity and mortality.”

Again 2010 in a report titled Development without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia, Human Right Watch extensively documented how the EPRDF is using development aid to suppress political dissent by conditioning access to essential safety net programs on support for the ruling party.

Today, once again the danger of another catastrophic famine is looming large on the horizon. Ongoing drought worsened by the El Niño global weather phenomenon has already caused deaths of many cattle and have put as many as 14 million people at risk.

After denying the problem for weeks; the government finally admitted to it but only to claim that it has enough food stock to tackle the problem. However, journalists on the ground have reported the government’s grain reserve has run out long ago. According to Barrie Came, WFP representative, the food supply by the UN is also not enough to curb the problem.

The government also argues the country has already realized food security at a national level, that is to say we have enough food in the country to feed everyone. The inherent flaw in this argument is that the presence of food in the country doesn’t necessarily mean those affected by drought will have access to it. As it was the case during the 1973 Wollo famine, when a crop fails it not only affects the food supply, it also destroys the employment and livelihood of farmers, denying them the ability to buy food from the market.

Reports have also shown that the government was informed of the risk of seasonal rain failure forecast as early as two months ago but it chose to keep it to itself. Had the government shared the information with the media and local governments to inform pastoralists to move their cattle near rivers or highlands, much of the animal loss would have been avoided and relief supports would have been delivered on time.

Democracy can effectively prevent famine

Why is the Ethiopia government acting so irresponsibly? The answer is simple – because there is no incentive for the government to work hard to avert famine. Amartya Sen argument related to absence of political incentives generated by election, multiparty politics and investigative journalism is also true in the case of Ethiopia.

The EPRDF led government has successfully wiped out all groups that might pose any form of threat to its power. Fresh from its 100% “election” victory, with very fragmented opposition parties, no civil society and no scope for uncensored public criticism, Hailemariam’s regime doesn’t have to suffer the political consequences of its failure to prevent famine.

If there were a democratic system to keep the government accountable, the state’s response would have been much different. For instance, Botswana, like Ethiopia, is prone to drought but a democracy since its independence in 1966, Botswana never had a famine. Botswana’s democratic government immediately deploys relief efforts during every drought, and even improves them from one drought to the next. Had the government in Botswana failed to undertake timely action, there would have been severe criticism and pressure from the opposition and maybe even bigger political cost in future elections. In contrast, the Ethiopian governments did not have to worry with those prospects.

Another Sen’s key argument is information flow and free press – democracy contributes greatly to bring out information that can have an enormous impact on policies for famine prevention. If it weren’t for the foreign media reporting and social media activists outcry, the government might have kept the current problem a secret for long and caused much greater damage than it already has. In Sen’s words “free press and an active political opposition constitute the best early warning system a country threatened by famine can have”

If aid organizations comprehensively and immediately deploy humanitarian assistance, the current crisis could be impelled with minimal damage. However, the argument that famine in Ethiopia is caused by drought doesn’t hold water anymore. Unless the problem is addressed from its roots, another famine is just a matter of time. For Ethiopia to truly achieve food security and avoid any dangers of famine in the future, nothing but building a democratic, transparent and accountable system is the solution.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dawit-ayele-haylemariam/the-cause-ethiopias-recurrent-famine_b_8019244.html

The Causes of Famine in Ethiopia August 25, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Famine in Ethiopia.
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Famine in Ethiopia: The act of man or Nature?

Mekbib Gebeyehu, PhD

Dura nagaan dhaama

drought1

What are really the causes? Why? What went/goes wrong? What are the main reasons for continued famine in Ethiopia? Is it an act of nature, an act of man or God? Who is to be blamed?

A combination of long period political and economic instability has produced chronic famine in Ethiopia. We could recall the 1972/1973 and 1984/1985 starvation episodes that devoured hundred thousands of lives. Even this time millions of people are starved to death.

It is taken for granted that millions who are starving or threatened with starvation in Ethiopia to day are the victims of a drought caused by an unpredictable and unpreventable reduction of rainfall or natural disaster. In other words, drought or decrease in the annual rain fall is offered as an explanation for famine in Ethiopia. In reality, however, the famine we are witnessing in Ethiopia is not due exclusively drought or natural catastrophe as the Tigray based Ethiopian minority regime and some “researchers” would like us to believe. It is a good example of an inevitable result of bad government polices.

Drought, climate variation and other natural calamities (disasters) occur not only in Ethiopia, but in any part of the world. However, drought does not necessarily result in famine. Famine can be avoided if the government takes its responsibility. Therefore, there are good reasons to consider political instability and lack of democratic governance as significant factors.

Famine should be understood more broadly as a symptom of some thing the solution of which strongly demands a deep understanding of political and environmental systems of the country. In other words famine vulnerability has to be sought in human and natural elements.

Let me try to elaborate this with a very simple formula.

F = HN
Where: F = Famine; H = Human intervention; N = Natural interference

Human Intervention

Lack of political and economic instability:

  • The TPLF government expends enormous resource to fight against opposition forces
  • There is restricted freedom of assembly
  • There is restriction upon the press Thousands of able bodied men and
    women including journalist and experts are in prison detained without charge
  • Misplaced political priorities
  • Many educated and experts are in exile to save their lives
  • Environmental degradation mainly as a result of bad managementPolitical crises are thus the centre of the famine problem. When there is politically induced insecurity, instability, repression, people will be affected by famine. When there is lack of freedom of association and lack of voice, there will follow restrictions on economic opportunities. Human right violations cause persecution, suffering and forced displacement of people.

Lack of democracy and peace are major obstacles which have the main effect on famine in Ethiopia. Under authoritarian rule, it is always difficult to fight famine and poverty. The TPLF minority government which is obviously on turmoil seems determined to conduct its campaign under the so called democracy which may as well target national groups to fight what it calls narrow nationalism and separatism.

It has been observed that famine do not occur in democratic countries with a relatively free press and active opposition parties because people have established mechanisms to compel governments to address their pressing needs. Moreover, famine in general and starvation in particular happen because of the failure of governments. Democratic governments are bound by social and political contract to respond to the need of their citizen. They know that failure of the contract on their part brings an end to their stay in power. Elections and the possibility of public criticism make the penalty of famine affect the rulers as well – not the starving people.

Therefore, the main roots of the famine crises in Ethiopia are related to political instability and economic uncertainties. Changes in these features are required on a real urgent base.

Misplaced political priorities can also easily lead to famine. For example, if high emphasis is given to the agricultural development sector and annual imputes into the rural sector are increased, Ethiopia can feed itself with out any problem. Serious studies indicate that only 20% of Ethiopia’s 65% suitable land is used for cultivation.

Natural interference

Drought, pest and disease are good examples of natural interference. Pest and disease are not reported to cause the famine in Ethiopia (at least the government did not claim). Drought by itself is the result of deforestation, soil erosion and biological soil deterioration. Drought triggers the famine crises, but does not cause it. It is to be recalled that calamitous forest fires raged across large areas of the country especially in Oromia region and destructed a vast area of forest. Such type of destruction of forests leads to lowering of soil moisture and suppress rail fall because much of the rain comes from water evaporated off forests/vegetations.

Drought is an environmental issue that has political and social dimensions. Of course, famine preconditions and drought /Environmental degradation are related. The reasoning becomes dangerous however, if we neglect other important agents of famine described above and focus only on drought. Though the Tigray minority regime has failed to address the cause of famine in Ethiopia, there are serious documents that prove that the famine is caused by human intervention rather than by natural catastrophe. Droughts may lower the agricultural production, however, it does not necessarily result in famine anywhere in the world

As the forest is destroyed, it holds less water and produces a drier local climate or drought. Therefore destroying forest reduces not only the amount of rain but also the moisture to evaporate or run off damaged soils. The problem is that the soil’s water-retaining capacity has been reduced by human interference with nature.

The most important thing is to understand that drought is not the direct cause of famine. Assume that drought in Ethiopia has resulted in low levels of production. Does this lead us to conclude that it results in famine? No! People do not starve in a drought related famine simply because there is low production or no food. Famine is influenced by working entire economy. It is very important to take an adequate view of the politico-economic processes that lead to famine in Ethiopia which continue to kill millions of people. What determines whether a person is starving is its food entitlement that is the amount of food he or she can obtain, own and use, not just the total availability of food in the country or region. I can give Ethiopia as an example. Throughout the famine 1984-1985, Ethiopia was a net exporter of food, Ethiopia still export food.

Given the deep-seated interdependences that influence economic and political deprivations and famine, a narrowly drought centred view would defeat the purpose finding practical ways of fighting famine in Ethiopia. Political-economic-peace-democracy and famine interdependences have to be adequately seized for the ultimate elimination of famine and starvation in Ethiopia.

Conclusion!

  • Catastrophe political and human crises are taking place in Ethiopia. Millions people are on the edge of death, Children, young and old are dying every day.
  • The famine we are witnessing to day is the inevitable result of bad government policies, lack of political and economic instability, lack of peace and democracy and misplaced political priorities. Therefore, it is important to take an adequately wide view of the political and economic processes that lead to famine which continue to kill millions of people and blight the lives of hundreds of millions
  • Any attempt to overcome the famine situation in Ethiopia must involve broad understanding of political, economics, humanitarian, social, environmental crises as well as decentralization of the TPLF power, resolution of the demands for the national self-determination, democratization and peace full transfer of power in the country.                                                                                                   Read more at :-  http://www.ayyaantuu.net/famine-in-ethiopia-the-act-of-man-or-nature/

Related:-

Drought, food crisis and Famine in Ethiopia 2015: Children and adults are dying of lack of food, water and malnutrition. Animals are perishing of persisting drought. The worst Affected areas are: Eastern and Southern Oromia, Afar, Ogaden and Southern nations. #Africa #Oromia

https://oromianeconomist.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/drought-food-crisis-and-famine-in-ethiopia-2015-children-and-adults-are-dying-of-lack-of-food-water-and-malnutrition-animals-are-perishing-of-persisting-drought-the-worst-affected-areas-are-e/

https://www.oromiamedia.org/2015/08/omn-london-oduu-hagayya-23-2015/

Daaroo Labuutti gargaarsi warra beela’eef kenname hatamee gurgramaa jira

(OMN:Oduu Hagayya 23, 2015) Godina Harargee Lixaa, aanaa Daaroo Labuutti, sababa hanqina roobaatiin ummata beelaaf saaxilameef gargaarsi muraasni dhaabbilee gargaarsaa mitmootummaatiin kennamu, ummata beelaan dararamu otoo hindhaqqabiin qaamolee bulchitoota mootummaa Itoophiyaatiin jumlaadhaan gurgurtaarratti akka argamuufi ummatichi daran beelaan lubbuun galaafatamaa akka jiru jiraattonni Oromiyaa Midiyaa Networkitti himan.
Hanqina roobaa mul’ateen ummata Oromoo balaa beelaatiin rakkachaa jiruuf gargaarsi mootummaa Itoophiyaatiin godhamu dhabamee wayita jiru yeroo kanatti, gargaarsa muraasa dhaabbileen mit-mootummaa, ummata beela’e afaan jiisuuf ergan qaamoleen mootummaa gurgurtaarra oolchanii dantaa dhuunfaatiif oolchaa akka jiran himame.
Godina Harargee Lixaatti jiraataan aanaa Daaroo Labuu tokko OMNitti akka himanitti, ummanni aanichaa beela’e waan nyaatu dhabee wayita du’aan galaafatamaa jiruufi qe’eesaarraa godaanuuf dirqamaa jiru kanatti, qaamoleen mootummaa Itoophiyaa midhaan gargaarsaa dhaabbilee mitmootummaarraa argame, qoonqoo namoota beelaaf saaxilamaniirraa fudhatanii gurgurachaa akka jiran dubbatanii, gara jabummaasaanii hadheeffatanii ibsan.
Midhaan nyaataa dhaabbileen gargaarsaa kan akka ‘Food program’ kennan kunniin, bulchitooonni aanaa Daaroo Labuu hojjattoota qonnaa waliin raabsuuf itti gaafatamummaa fudhataniillee, ummata jalaa gurgurachuuf waliigaluudhaan hojjataa waajjira qonnaa tokkoo kan Abdulhakiim jedhamutti dhimmi bahuudhaan jumlaan daldaltoota Magaalaa Machaaraatti gurgursiisaa akka turan kan himan namni kun, dhumarratti icciitiin jalaa bahuusaatiin fakkeessaaf hojjaticha yeroo muraasaaf to’annaa jala oolchanii murtii tokko malee akka gadhiisan saaxilan.
Dabballoonni mootummaa, bulchitoonni sadarkaa aanaafi gandaa jiran, akkasumas hojjattoonni kaabinee harka keessaa waan qabaniif dhimmichi xiyyeeffannaa akka hinarganneef yaalii gochaa akka turan namni kun dubbatanii, ummatichi afaanii baasee akka hindubbanneefi ragaa hinbaaneef sodaachisaafi hidhaa akka turanillee himaniiru.
Balaan beelaa, aanichatti daran hammaatee akka jiruufi guyyoota afur dura ganda tokko keessatti qofa guyyaa tokkotti haati ijoollee sadii waliin lubbuun galaafatamuusaanillee dubbataniiru.
Gargaarsa mootummaa dhabame ilaalchisee, mootummaan ummaticha quba akka hinqabaanne namni kun mul’isanii, bulchitoonni gandaafi aanaa rakkina ummataa mul’achaa jiruuf furmaata kennuuf daran akka hindhiphanneefi ummataaf hojjachaa akka hinjirre ifa godhaniiru.
Balaa beelaa yeroo kanatti ummanni ittiin dararamaa jiru ilaalchisee, ummanni Oromoo naannawa Harargee Bahaafi Dhiyaa, Arsiifi Baalee, akkasumas Karrayyuu beelaaf saaxilame waan nyaatu dhabee qe’eesaarraa godaanaa jiraachuusaa maddiittii, beelaydoonnisaa jalaa dhumusaaniifi lubbuudhaanillee galaafatamaa akka jiru gabaasawwan Oromiyaa Midiyaa Networki armaan duraatiin isiniif dhiheessuun keenya ni yaadatama.

Gabaasaan Tasfaayee Laggasaa ti.

Why is Eritrea Thriving While Ethiopia is Starving?

By Alem Fisshatzion,
http://www.ayyaantuu.net/why-is-eritrea-thriving-while-ethiopia-is-starving/

(Tesfa News) — It was with dismay that we read today alarming reports that warn of catastrophicfood insufficiency in Ethiopia. The grim picture shows that Ethiopia will need an extra $230 million from donors to secure aid for4.5 million people this year alone. How come this is possible must be a very big mystery as Ethiopia is considered to be one of the fastest growing economies of Africa.

To be fair to Ethiopia, the nation has been badly hit by failed seasonal rains. On the other hand, the whole region is suffering from the same phenomenon as weather conditions and other such ‘Acts of God’ neither know nor distinguish between nations; weather neither recognizes nor respects territorial boundaries.

Is it then not about time that the question gets raised why Ethiopia is the only country in the region which is too busy spending its resources on building up military might to terrorize neighbours, occupy sovereign foreign territories and be a general menace both at home and around the neighbourhood while her own people are constantly faced by drought, hunger and famine.

It is exactly thirty years and twenty-five days ago since the artist Bob Geldoff organized the Live Aid concert which was watched by an estimated 1.5 billion worldwide, featuring 16 hours of live music and raising about £50 million on the day, and about £150 million in the decades since the event from merchandise sales. The event which was held live and simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on July 13, 1985 featured some of the biggest and most prominent artists of the day. This big charity event was to give aid to the starving millions of Africa as result of failing rains and droughts. Ethiopia was one of the major targets and beneficiary of that heroic effort.

At that time, Eritrea was illegally occupied by Ethiopia and was frenetically fighting for independence. Today, three decades later, Eritrea is a thriving independent nation. Eritrea is as badly hit by failing seasonal rains as Ethiopia, but these adverse effects of ill planning, ill management and poor governance making Ethiopia to go on begging spree year after year are a thing Eritrea left behind her the moment she won her independence.

So, what is Eritrea doing right and Ethiopia doing very wrong? President Obama has partly answered that question when he once said that what Africa needed was strong institutions and not strong men.

Do the Ethiopian leaders not read the holy scriptures? Even pharaoh had the common sense to plan when he dreamt about seven lean cattle devoured seven fat ones. Joseph deciphered the dream as a need to gather and save food during seven years of bounty to cater for seven years of drought and famine. The nation of Egypt thrived and survived those seven lean years without having to beg. Even ants save for a rainy day!

Eritrea is constantly yearning and working for sustainable peace between her and her giant neighbour. Ethiopia would have been more sensible to maintain a more peaceful and amicable co-existence with Eritrea and cooperate in the many sectors in which Eritrea has a proven track record of success such as agriculture despite failing seasonal rains.

dams-construction-eritrea

UN says 4.5 million Ethiopians now in need of food aid after poor rains

Estimates of those requiring help have surged by 1.5m, and donors must urgently provide an extra $230m to meet their needs, say UN agencies

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/aug/25/un-ethiopia-need-food-aid-after-poor-rains

Ethiopia: Why the World Bank Should Embrace Human Rights. #Africa #Oromia August 20, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Aid to Africa, Free development vs authoritarian model, World Bank.
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 Ethiopia: Why the World Bank Should Embrace Human Rights

By Sarah Saadoun, Huffington Post  19 August 2015

World Bank underwrites repression in Ethiopia. What should the Bank do in situations like this — where it funds badly needed assistance to poor communities only to see those programs used as an instrument of political repression? (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

In Ethiopia, the World Bank helps fund a program that provides food and cash to people who work on public infrastructure projects. It’s a popular program and many people need the work. But a poor farmer said that when he went to sign up for the program he was turned away. “This doesn’t concern you,” the program coordinator told him.

Three other farmers said they registered and did the work, only to see their names taken off the distribution list to receive the promised two sacks of wheat and 400-500 Birr (US $35-$44). All four were members of Ethiopia’s opposition party. “There is not a single opposition person in the safety net program with me,” a member of the ruling party who took part in the program admitted.

What should the World Bank do in situations like this — where it funds badly needed assistance to poor communities only to see those programs used as an instrument of political repression? The bank’s answer is, not much. Situations like this appear not to violate the World Bank’s social safeguard policies, which borrowing countries are required to follow for World Bank-financed projects.

But those “safeguards” don’t specifically require bank projects to respect human rights at all–an inexcusable omission.

Now the bank is carrying out a supposedly comprehensive overhaul of its safeguard policies but without addressing this problem. Last Tuesday, it released a long-awaited second draft of its proposed changes. The bank had promised that the new safeguards will be “clearer [and] stronger” than its current policies, in support of the bank’s recently adopted twin goals to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.

But the revised draft still doesn’t recognize that those goals can’t be met without demanding respect for fundamental human rights. Instead, it treats human rights as aspirational values that the bank may selectively promote, rather than as a set of obligations with which its borrowers must comply.

As the bank rightly pointed out when adopting its twin goals, even as economic development has raised average income growth, the poorest 40 percent of the population have seen little improvement, and “the world should pay particular attention to those who are less fortunate.” But World Bank projects have harmed these same communities in country after country, as we and others have documented, threatening their land tenure, damaging resources they depend on, or forcing them to resettle in inferior locations.

We have also documented cases around the world of people who speak out against these problems being harassed or even arrested. The bank has policies requiring vulnerable people to be consulted in carrying out its projects, but none require the bank to take responsibility for preventing, investigating, and remedying attacks on people who dare to speak their mind or even the people who file complaints with the bank’s own independent accountability mechanisms.

Where safeguard policies fall short of human rights standards, they leave communities unprotected against governments’ abuses against the most marginalized and poorest communities in carrying out bank projects or retaliation against project critics. Requiring countries to respect human rights would ensure that, at a minimum, bank projects do not harm the same communities that the bank claims are their beneficiaries.

Embracing human rights also has implications beyond the bank. It could set the bar for other development banks and help build borrowing countries’ capacity and support for human rights. On the other hand, there is the risk that the bank’s dilution of human rights standards can weaken existing rights. As the case of the Ethiopian cash-for-work program illustrates, discrimination on the basis of political opinion – or a person’s language – violates human rights but apparently not bank policy. It is a grim sign that the definition of discrimination in the United Nations’ proposed Sustainable Development Goals does not explicitly include discrimination against people for their political opinions or language.

The World Bank should do three things to make good on its promise of clearer, stronger safeguards. First, its operational policies should make clear that it will not finance projects that contravene borrower’s human rights obligations. Second, it should revise its requirements, including on non-discrimination, to comply with human rights. And, third, it should obligate borrowers not to retaliate against project critics.
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Sarah Saadoun is the Leonard H. Sandler fellow at Human Rights Watch.