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WE SAY THE LAND IS NOT YOURS: BREAKING THE SILENCE AGAINST FORCED DISPLACEMENT IN ETHIOPIA. #OROMIA. #AFRICA April 14, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, No to land grabs in Oromia, No to the Addis Ababa Master Plan, Omo.
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OLand grab inOromia

Ethiopians talk of violent intimidation as their land is earmarked for foreign investors

, Guardian Africa network,  14 April 2015
New report gives damning indictment of the government’s mandatory resettlement policy carried out in a political climate of torture, oppression and silencing.  Breaking the Silence
Ethiopia has long faced criticism for forcibly relocating tens of thousands of people from their ancestral homes.
The human cost of Ethiopia’s “villagisation” programme is laid bare by damning first person testimony published on Tuesday. The east African country has long faced criticism for forcibly relocating tens of thousands of people from their ancestral homes to make way forlarge scale commercial agriculture, often benefiting foreign investors. Those moved to purpose-built communes are allegedlyno longer able to farm or access education, healthcare and other basic services.

The victims of land grabbing and displacement are given a rare voice in We Say the Land is Not Yours: Breaking the Silence against Forced Displacement in Ethiopia, a report from the California-based thinktank the Oakland Institute. Some of the interviewees still live in Ethiopia, while others have sought political asylum abroad, and all remain anonymous for their own safety.

‘My village refused to move so they forced us with gunshots’

“My village refused to move,” says one, from the community of Gambella. “So they forced us with gunshots. Even though they intimidated us, we did not move – this is our land, how do we move? They wanted our land because our land is the most fertile and has access to water. So the land was promised to a national investor. “Last year, we had to move. The promises of food and other social services made by the government have not been fulfilled. The government gets money from donors but it is not transferred to the communities.” The land grab is not only for agriculture, the interviewee claims, but the community has also seen minerals and gold being mined and exported. “We have no power to resist. We need support. In the villages, they promised us tractors to help us cultivate. If money is given to the government for this purpose, we don’t know how it is used. “The government receives money from donors, but they fill their pockets and farmers die of hunger. The Saudi Star rice paddy in Gambella. The government wants to voluntarily resettle 200,000 people in the region over the next three years. 

Opposition will not be tolerated

Opposition to the scheme is not tolerated, according to the witness. “People are intimidated – we are forced to say positive things about villagisation, but really we refuse to accept the programme. If you challenge, the government calls you the mastermind of conflict. “One of the government officials was opposed to the government. They wanted to put him in prison. He escaped and is now in Kenya, living as a political refugee.”

Agriculture makes up nearly half the GDP of Ethiopia, where four in five people live in rural areas. But since the mid-2000s, the government has awarded millions of hectares of land to foreign investors. The commune development programme, which aims to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new “model” villages across the country, has faced allegations of violent evictions, political coercion, intimidation, imprisonment, rapes, beatings and disappearances. A witness from Benishangul laments: “This is not development. Investors are destroying our lands and environment. There is no school, [no] food security, and they destroy wild fruits. Bamboo is the life of people. It is used for food, for cattle, for our beds, homes, firewood, everything. But the investors destroy it. They destroy our forests. “This is not the way for development. They do not cultivate the land for the people. They grow sorghum, maize, sesame, but all is exported, leaving none for the people.” In response to the report’s allegations, a spokesperson for the Ethiopian embassy in London has denied that the country engages in land-grabbing, saying: “As our economic track record clearly shows, the vast majority of Ethiopians have benefitted from the growth and sustainable development programme under implementation.”

‘The government dictates’

Another interviewee, from South Omo, says mandatory resettlement has stoked conflict among different ethnic groups. “There was no open consultation between the community and the government. If there was a common agreement based on joint consultations, perhaps the community might accept. But, the government dictates. “We are scared that the highlanders will come and destroy our way of life, culture, and pasture land. What will we do? The government says we can keep two to three cattle, but this is a challenge. Our life is based on cattle, and we cannot change overnight. I keep cows, oxen, sheep, goats – where do we go? “The investors take land in the Omo Valley. They clear all land, choose the best place where trees are, leaving the area open. They say it is for development, but they are clearing the forests. I wonder how to reconcile development with forest destruction.” Such accounts threaten to dent the image of Ethiopia, a darling of the development community that has enjoyed double digit economic growth for the best part of a decade. The government has been criticised for brooking little opposition, clamping down on civil society activism and jailing more journalists than any country in Africa, except its neighbour Eritrea.

‘Basic human rights are not being upheld’

A government employee told the researchers: “I want the world to know that the government system at the federal level does not give attention to the local community. “There are three dynamics that linger in my mind that explain today’s Ethiopia: villagisation, violent conflict, and investment. They are intertwined and interrelated. It is hard for outsiders to know what leads to what. When people are free, they talk. When they are afraid of repercussion, they stop.” Critics have claimed that British aid to Ethiopia’s promotion of basic services programme were being used by the Ethiopian government to help fund the villagisation programme. But last month the Department for International Development announced that it was ending the contributions because of Ethiopia’s “growing success”.

Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute, who conducted the interviews in 2014 and 2015, said: “The context in which we release this report is one of torture, oppression, and silencing. A development strategy without ensuring its citizens freedom of speech and expression is not a development strategy but a scheme to benefit the ruling elites. “Those basic human rights are not being upheld in Ethiopia. It is therefore urgent to make voices of those impacted heard.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/14/ethiopia-villagisation-violence-land-grab?CMP=share_btn_fb http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/ethiopians-talk-violent-intimidation-their-land-earmarked-foreign-investors http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/ethiopians-break-their-silence-against-government-repression-and-forced-displacement

Related:

Ethiopia: UK Company Takes License to Produce Largest Gold and Silver Reserve in Ethiopia

The mining of gold and silver will support our national economy A United Kingdom company, KEFI Minerals Ethiopia Limited, has discovered the largest gold and silver ore reserve, and took a license from the Ministry of Mines yesterday at the Ministry. Minister of Mines Tolosa Shagi said that the type of licensing given to the company is large-scale mining in western Welega Zone. After exploring for the last 8 to 9 years in the area and fulfilling the required regulations, the Ministry has provided them with license to carry out mining in Ethiopia. http://www.directorstalk.com/ethiopia-uk-company-takes-license-to-produce-largest-gold-and-silver-reserve-in-ethiopia/ As a result more than 1600 Oromo families from Western Oromia (West Wallaggaa) are being dispossessed  and evicted from their ancestral land.

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Land Grabs and the African land question March 20, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Land and resource Rights, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia.
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???????????Tigrean Neftengna's land grabbing and the Addis Ababa Master plan for Oormo genocideLand grab inOromiaThis is a teenage girl working in Dugda Flower Farm. This was owned by her father in Dugda area...and taken away by the Ethiopian governemnt and given to a TPLF affiliate businessman...now she works as a labourer in this farm being paid under half a dollar a day...

The African land question is replete with issues of increasing landlessness, insecure tenancy, eviction and conflict. Portrayed against the backdrop of African Land Tenure and Foreign Land Ownership, commonly referred to as Land Grabs, this article raises questions as to whether such a phenomenon poses a threat or provides opportunity for sustainable development in Africa. More specifically, our thesis contends that the current land acquisitions by foreign investors have put the land question in Africa back on the global development agenda and also argues that land ownership and land use in Africa is a highly contentious, yet emotive, and worthy of critical analysis.

The concept of land is complex and incorporates many different aspects. Even when land is narrowly defined as a question of control over agricultural and pastoral land (rather than rights to natural resources such as water, minerals or forests, which are linked to, and to a large degree, embedded within the question of land rights), the land question is multi-dimensional, with economic, political, social and spiritual dynamics – it is as one civil society activist put it, “When someone loses their land not only do they lose their livelihood, but they also lose their identity”.

During the period 2007 to 2008, when the food insecurity crises pervaded the globe, the land question took on a new meaning and direction. Africa became the new frontier for global food and agro-fuel production. Currently, billions of dollars are being mobilised to create the infrastructure that will connect more of Africa’s farmland to global markets, and billions more are being mobilised by investors to take over those farmlands to produce for foreign markets.

In a rapidly globalising world, land demands are to an increasing extent driven by factors anchored exogenously. Products derived from land use are often not consumed where they are produced. The globalisation of the economy implies that local land use changes are increasingly driven by demands for products that are part of commodity chains with a large geographical span. Local human needs and local capital input are not necessarily as important determinants for land as was the case in many land use systems before the phenomena of globalisation swept the world. In this respect, the land question in Africa has come to the fore, once again. However, this time around, Africa has become the new frontier of land acquisitions – not by local people, but by foreign financial institutions, specifically multinational corporations.

Various terminologies have been used to describe the phenomenon of land outsourcing in Africa and other developing countries. Terms such as “commercialisation”, “colonisation”, “new imperialism”, neo-colonialism”, “land grabbing”, “agro- investments” and “new land invasions” are being used to describe the land acquisition process in Africa. Some investigators contend that the direct control of land by foreign companies is only part of a general trend towards the commodification of land in Africa. They warn that in this period of globalisation, a new inherent tension of security of property rights is born in a hegemonic form, and this in turn, is based on the right to exclude and alienate land. In this respect, it is the peasantry which suffers the most, especially being alienated and evicted from their customary land, once again.

A combination of higher and more volatile global commodity prices, demand for green energy, population growth, urbanisation and globalisation and its overall effects on economic development are the main macro-level factors that have contributed to the land grab phenomena. More specifically, though, the strategic programmes for land acquisition are of food security, particularly in the investor countries, bio-fuels for energy markets in the developed world, finance and hedge funds for land speculation, and more recently, biochar production for the carbon market accreditation.

Given the financial meltdown of 2008, all sorts of players in the finance and food industries, investment houses that manage workers’ pensions, private equity funds looking for a fast turnover, hedge funds which are driven off the now collapsed derivatives market and grain traders seeking new strategies for growth are turning to land, for both food and fuel production – as a new source of profit. Traditionally, land itself is not a typical investment for many of these transnational firms. Indeed, land is so fraught with political conflict that many countries don’t even allow foreigners to own it. And land doesn’t appreciate overnight like gold.

To get a return, investors need to raise the productive capacities of the land. Moreover, the food and financial crises of 2008 combined have turned agricultural land into a new strategic asset. Globally, food prices are high and land prices are low and most of the “solutions” to the food crisis talk about pumping more food out of the land that is available. Clearly, there is money to be made by getting control of the best soils, near available water supplies, as fast as possible.

While the benefits for land-seekers are obvious, the benefits to African countries may not be as apparent. For example, one of the most important patterns to notice in these transnational land acquisitions is the limited importance of financial transfers. Recent reports by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) reveal that the main benefit to the host country is perceived to be investor commitments like employment creation and infrastructure development. Similarly, other reports indicate that such land agreements can provide macro-level benefits such as GDP growth and greater government revenue, raise local living standards, and bring technology, capital and market access. In addition, improving the productivity of African agriculture undoubtedly serves as a huge point of interest for governments seeking foreign investment and in turn transnational land leases.

Despite the possibility for benefits associated with such land transfers, reactions from land-based movements, civil society organisations and organisations like the Oakland Institute and GRAIN have been highly critical and the perceived costs to the local land users appear high. Complaints about the lack of transparency in land agreements are widespread, a problem which can easily spur corruption and unfair negotiations. Many reports describe unbalanced power relationships where rich governments or international corporates have an obvious advantage in negotiating with African nations that may not always be politically stable or respectful of the rights of their citizens and may lack the institutional frameworks necessary to enforce contracts.

Similarly, the issue of land tenure comes up repeatedly, as African governments are criticised for failing to protect their agricultural workers from exploitation in this regard and accused of leasing land that they only “nominally own.” Land deals are often done in secret without informing the current land users, which causes them to be suddenly dispossessed.

Land garbs are also beginning to pose other threats and risks. Many global analysts predict that the biggest security threats in the twenty-first century may centre on disputes over water and the food that earth’s dwindling water supply is able to produce. The greatest threat to our common future, writes Lester Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute, “is no longer conflict between heavily armed superpowers, but rather spreading food shortages and rising food prices—and the political turmoil this would lead to.”

Commodity speculation in food staples has created huge profits for companies such as the American investment firm Goldman Sachs, which is regarded as one of the world’s leaders in the trading of crop futures. Many other international banks are also heavily involved. The United Kingdom–based public interest group World Development Movement (WDM, now renamed Global Justice) estimates that Barclays, for example, has made up to £340 million a year from speculating on food prices. The WDM also found that financial speculation on food had nearly doubled in the preceding five years, from $65 billion a year to $126 billion a year worldwide.

Even ‘prestigious’ universities are joining the queue to invest in these new hedge funds. A new report on land acquisitions in seven African countries suggests that Harvard, Vanderbilt and many other US colleges with large endowment funds have invested heavily in African land in the past few years. Much of the money is said to be channelled through London-based Emergent asset management, which runs one of Africa’s largest land acquisition funds, run by former JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs currency dealers.

Land grabs—whether initiated by multinational corporations and private investment firms, sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East or state entities such as China and India—are now in the news constantly.

Land grabs in the contemporary period are reminiscent of the colonial era with foreign nations again staking a claim on the continent. Moreover, since African governments are partnering with foreign investors in the land grab, onlookers are left to question if this is another case of corrupt African leaders selling their citizens short or simply governments pursuing an economic development opportunity. Evidence suggests a marked disparity in the benefits received by those involved in and affected by these transnational land acquisitions, particularly for those originally dwelling on the land.

Such a problem deserves both increased international attention and country-level debate to ensure these agreements provide more equal benefits to all parties involved.

The new phenomenon of land outsourcing spawns it own discourses and prescriptions as to how land should be held and how disputes and conflicts should be adjudicated and the institutional frameworks that should underpin such systems. Thus holistically viewed, land outsourcing has to be understood within the context of two mutually inclusive processes, i.e. the macro level (global, regional and national levels) and the micro level (the peasantry and the intermediary administration). In this respect, it is essential to understand nuances and narratives at the intersections of the two, in order to establish what is really going on within the land acquisition process.

The possibility of volatile land conflicts also loom large within the context of the land acquisition process. Given that most of these acquisitions are for macro scale crop production, it is highly likely that a large number of vulnerable rural inhabitants will be displaced. As long as the African peasantry feel and experience economic exclusion, they are more likely to protest politically about their lack of access to land.

Given the recent history of colonial exploits, we contend that the new phenomenon of land acquisition begs the question of how to make the new agreements consensual endeavours as opposed to unwelcomed “land grabbing” that infringes upon the rights of local land holders. While there are definite possibilities for macro level economic benefits for African countries from foreign investment in agriculture and land development, these gains may not be felt by those originally dwelling on the land. The issue must be seriously and immediately debated by African governments, civil society organizations, policy makers, politicians and scholars.

Finally, the authors are of the sincere conviction that business schools, if they are ‘worth their weight in salt’ and bear any testimony to the intrinsic values of social entrepreneurship should assist in unveiling the exploitative tentacles of insidious financial institutions and multinational corporations. In this respect, business educators can contribute significantly by introducing issues of social responsibility, social justice and ethics in their programmes, especially when they deal with investment portfolios of the new hedge funds and multinational companies. This must of necessity be the founding principle of mission statements of all business schools in Africa and other emerging economies.

Certainly investors can make huge profits through investments in new international hedge funds which focus on land, but at what cost? Let us be reminded, once again by Dalrymple’s visionary account of the history of the East India Company – “its story has never been more current”. The new wave of ‘looting’ of land and other natural resources will continue on a scale hitherto unknown. We need to think of the thousands of people in Africa and other emerging nations who are and will become landless in the countries of their birth by an act which is transcribed by a pen on a piece of paper, and then ‘transported’ by a click of a button, thousands of kilometers away to be sanctioned and acted upon. The negative multiplier effects of such acts are too horrendous to contemplate. Remember Dalrymple’s prophetic words!

Source: From part of the article:

Hedge funds and corporate raiders in Africa: Space invaders of the third kind by Dhiru Soni, Ahmed Shaikh, Anis Karodia and Joseph David, 2015-03-16, Issue 718

Ahmed Shaikh, is a senior Faculty and the CEO of REGENT Business School. Anis Karodia, is senior Faculty and Director of the Centre of Health Care Management at REGENT Business School. Joseph David, is senior Faculty and Director of the Centre for Public Sector Management at REGENT Business School. Dhiru Soni, is a researcher and consultant to the higher education sector

Read more at:

http://www.pambazuka.net/en/category/features/94233

A major UK- and World Bank-funded development programme in Ethiopia may have contributed to the violent resettlement and evictions of the indigenous people January 20, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Afar, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Ethnic Cleansing, Free development vs authoritarian model, Gambella, H & M, Land and Water Grabs in Oromia, Ogaden, Omo, Omo Valley, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, UK Aid Should Respect Rights, World Bank.
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Ethiopia: human rights groups criticise UK-funded development programme

Leaked World Bank report rejects claims from the Bank’s management that no link existed between their programme and villagisation
The Guardian, Tuesday 20 January 2015
Traditional homestead in Gambela
 
A major UK- and World Bank-funded development programme in Ethiopia may have contributed to the violent resettlement of a minority ethnic group, a leaked report reveals. The UK’s Department for International Development was the primary funder of a World Bank-run development project aimed at improving health, education and public services in Ethiopia, contributing more than £388m of UK taxpayer funds to the project. However, a scathing draft report of the World Bank’s internal watchdog said that due to inadequate oversight, bad audit practices, and a failure to follow its own rules, the Bank has allowed operational links to form between its programme and the Ethiopian government’s controversial resettlement programme. Multiple human rights groups operating in the region have criticised the Ethiopian government’s programme for violently driving tens of thousands of indigenous people, predominantly from the minority Anuak Christian ethnic group, from their homes in order to make way for commercial agriculture projects – allegations the Ethiopian government denies. Many of those resettled remain in poor conditions lacking even basic facilities in refugee camps in South Sudan. The leaked World Bank report, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and seen by the Guardian, rejected claims from the Bank’s management that no link existed between their programme and villagisation. According to the report, weak audit controls meant bank funds – which included over £300m from the UK’s Department for International Development – could have been diverted to implement villagisation. The report did not itself examine whether the resettlement programme had involved human rights abuses, saying such questions were outside its remit. However, the watchdog highlighted a series of failures in the planning and implementation of the programme, including a major oversight in its failure to undertake full risk-assessments as required by bank protocol. Crucially for the Anuak people, the bank did not apply required safeguards to protect indigenous groups. Anuradha Mittal, the founder of the Oakland Institute, a California-based development NGO which is active in the region, said DfID was an active participant in the programme, and should share responsibility for its failings. “Along with the World Bank and other donors, DfID support constitutes not only financial support but a nod of approval for the Ethiopian regime to bring about ‘economic development’ for the few at the expense of basic human rights and livelihoods of its economically and politically most marginalised ethnic groups,” she said. Mittal was also critical of the World Bank panel’s draft findings, falling short of directly implicating the World Bank and its fellow donors in the resettlement programme. “It is quite stunning that the panel does not think that the World Bank is responsible for villagisation-related widespread abuses in Ethiopia resulting in destruction of livelihoods, forced displacement of Anuaks from their fertile lands and forests.” Disclosure of the draft report’s findings come as the UK government faces increasing scrutiny over its involvement in villagisation. DfID is the project’s largest donor and in March ministers will face a judicial review over whether the UK’s contributions indirectly funded the resettlement programme. The case has been brought by a farmer from the Gambela region who claims he was violently evicted from his land. Responding to the report’s findings, David Pred of Inclusive Development International – the NGO which filed the original complaint on the Anuak group’s behalf – said: “The Bank has enabled the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of indigenous people from their ancestral lands. “The Bank today just doesn’t want to see human rights violations, much less accept that it bears some responsibility when it finances those violations.” A World Bank spokesman declined to answer the Guardian’s questions about the report. “As is standard procedure, World Bank staff cannot comment on the results of the inspection panel’s investigation until the executive board of the World Bank Group has had the opportunity to review the panel’s report over the coming weeks.” In previous statements the bank’s management said there was no evidence of widespread abuses or evictions. Asked about the findings, a DfID spokesman said: “We do not comment on leaked reports. “Britain’s support to the Promotion of Basic Services Programme is specifically for the provision of essential services like healthcare, schooling and clean water, and we have no evidence that UK funds have been diverted for other purposes.”   http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/20/ethiopia-human-rights-groups-development-programme-world-bank-villagisation

Ethiopia: The Water Grabbing Dam, Ecological Destruction, Social Devastation, Hunger And Conflicts January 13, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Access to water, Africa, African Poor, Water Grabs.
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Ethiopia dam will turn Lake Turkana into ‘endless battlefield’, locals warn

John Vidal, The Guardian

Ethiopia dam will turn Lake Turkana into ‘endless battlefield’, locals warn
Kenyans near world’s largest desert lake predict conflict, hunger and cultural devastation when hydroelectric project is completed.

Turkana man

The Turkana are traditionally nomadic pastoralists, but they have seen the pasture that they need to feed their herds suffer from recurring droughts and many have turned to fishing. However, Lake Turkana is overfished, and scarcity of food and pastureland is fuelling long-standing conflict with Ethiopian indigenous Dhaasanac, who have seen grazing grounds squeezed by large-scale government agricultural schemes in southern Ethiopia.
Locals fear the completion of the Gibe III dam could exacerbate tension in the region between Kenyans and Ethiopians.

People living near Lake Turkana in northern Kenya have little understanding that the fresh water essential to their development is likely to dry up when a huge hydoelectric dam in neighbouring Ethiopia is completed.

Fishermen, farmers, teachers and others living near the world’s largest desert lake say Turkana’s volume has reduced significantly over the past 30 years because of higher temperatures and changing weather patterns.

But few of the 100 people interviewed by a Kenyan researcher for International Rivers watchdog said they had been consulted or warned what could happen when the reservoir of the Gibe III dam, one of Africa’s largest hydropower projects, is completely filled in about three years’ time. The $1.8bn construction project, which is 90% complete, will start limited power generation in June.

The downstream impact of the dam is hotly contested. Some hydrologists have predicted that Ethiopia’s expansion of water-intensive sugar and cotton plantations on the Omo river, which the Gibe 111 dam allows, could reduce flow to Lake Turkana by up to 70%. This would kill ecosystems and greatly reduce the water level of the lake.

This, says International Rivers, could make the difference between marginal livelihoods and famine for the tens of thousands of already vulnerable people who depend on the lake for their livelihoods.

When told of the possible impact of the project, ethnic groups and communities near the lake predicted widespread conflict, hunger and cultural devastation. “If the Gibe III dam is constructed, the lake will dry up and this will lead to desertification and there will be depletion of resources: there will be no fish, no farming, and low humidity [and less rain]. If that is the case, the community will be finished,” said Sylvester Ekariman, chairman of the council of elders in Kakalel pastoral village.

The government says the Gibe III dam will boost development, give access to power for many Ethiopians — about half of the population — currently living without it. But critics say Ethiopia must also consider the environmental and social impact it will have on some 500,000 people living downstream and at Lake Turkana in neighbouring Kenya, who rely on the river for their livelihood.

Gibe

Currently, the lake, which could split into two if incoming water is restricted, helps to prevent conflict between communities in Ethiopia and Kenya, and locally between the Turkanas and the Rendille ethnic groups, who live on opposite sides of the lake. If the lake shrinks, conflict is much more likely, says the report.

“This place will turn into an endless, uncontrollable battlefield,” said Joseph Atach, an assistant chief at Kanamkuny village.

Helen Alogita, a seed seller, told researcher Narissa Allibhai that she feared the people living on the other side of the lake. “They will come and kill us and that will bring about enmity among us as we turn on each other due to hunger. Find the person [building the dam] and ask them where they expect our communities to go? Where are our Kenyan leaders? If famine and hunger will make us die of starvation, where will they get votes from?”

Fisherman Dennis Epem said: “When the lake goes back, our enemies, which are the people of Ethiopia, will be reaching here. They have weapons, but we don’t have weapons. How will we defend ourselves when the people of Ethiopia cross? This lake is our security.”

Many of the people interviewed in the 14 communities said they were angry that an Ethiopian dam should affect Kenyans. “Not a single country [should] harm the other one by taking its waters without discussing with the other countries, because water is life. It should not be decided by one country. Who is funding these Gibes? They should withdraw their assistance or the loans they are giving,” the researcher was told.

Children sitting on the Omo River bank which is slightly cracked due to the lowering of water level. Gibe III Dam, Africa’s Tallest Dam with installed capacity of 1870 MW which is under construction, is said to impact 500,000 Ethiopians and Kenyans relying their lives on Omo River and Lake Turkana. The lowering of water level and the change of water salinity may especially impact aboriginal tribes who already live in severe drought and poverty, and may end the fragile peace between tribes.
“Awareness of the dam’s impacts and development process is extremely low,” said Allibhai. “A majority of interviewees were extremely uninformed. Any consultations with local communities were either minimal or non-existent. People in the villages had either heard about the dam only through local NGO Friends of Lake Turkana’s awareness-raising or through rumours; misinformation was rampant.

“Those in the towns were slightly more informed, especially the few with access to the internet – but even so, not one interviewee was sure of the details of the upstream developments, agreements and progress,” she said.

“All community members are opposed to the dam and irrigated plantations, as it will deprive them of their livelihoods and lead to increased famine, conflict and death. Their messages to the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments and the international community reflect their despair, and feelings of helplessness, anger and betrayal.”

Many older people said the developments in Ethiopia could tip the region into a crisis because climate change had made them more vulnerable. The lake was already much smaller than it was 30 years ago and villages like Impressa Beach, Lokitoenyala and Nachukui used to be under water, said locals. Rains are unpredictable and temperatures and wind have increased.

“These water grabs will disrupt fisheries and destroy other ecosystems upon which local people depend,” said Lori Pottinger, International Rivers’ Africa campaigner. “Local people have not been consulted about the project nor informed about its impacts on their lives.”

Both the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments have strongly backed the dam, which they maintain will increase development by providing more electricity.

The World Bank, which has been strongly criticised for funding developments that force evictions, is supporting the transmission line from the dam to Kenyan cities.

The Ethiopian government this week strongly rejected claims that the dam would harm Lake Turkana. A spokeswoman said: “The dam will provide a regular flow of water to Lake Turkana, which gives the possibility of providing a water supply throughout the year, whereas the lake is currently short of water in the dry season. The regular flow of water will also improve the aquatic life of Lake Turkana, providing a better livelihood for people living round the lake.

“The project … is instrumental in forging regional integration – the Gibe III dam will have a role in the realisation of close economic cooperation between Ethiopia, Kenya and the countries beyond. Kenya [will] obtain more than 300MW of electricity from Ethiopia.

“Campaigners are consciously trying to distort all these positive developments … in order to incite misunderstanding between the fraternal countries of Ethiopia and Kenya.” she said.

The Kenyan government was invited to respond to the report but has so far declined.

Suggestions for action by the communities ranged from using force to stop the dam, persuading the the Kenyan government to stand up for the people of Turkana and Marsabit, pressing for donors to withdraw funding and requesting compensation.

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jan/13/ethiopia-gibe-iii-dam-kenya

Saudi Star To Restart Rice Project on Disputed #Anuak Lands in Ethiopia. #Gambela. #Oromia #Omo. #Africa. January 3, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, African Poor, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Colonizing Structure, Corruption in Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Gambella, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, Oromia, Uncategorized.
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OLand grab inOromia

 

Saudi Star Agricultural Development plans to pump $100 million into a rice export project in Gambella region of Ethiopia despite allegations of human rights violations surrounding the “villagization” program under which the land has been taken from indigenous Anuak pastoralists to lease to foreign investors.

The company is owned by Mohamed al-Amoudi, who was born in Ethiopia to a Saudi father and an Ethiopian mother. Al-Amoudi made a fortune from construction contracts to build Saudi Arabia’s national underground oil storage complex. Now a billionaire many times over, al-Amoudi has invested heavily in Ethiopia where he owns a gold mine and a majority stake in the national oil company.
Al-Amoudi was one of the first to invest in a new scheme under which president Meles Zenawi offered to lease four million hectares of agricultural land to foreign investors and his company was also one of the first to become the subject of controversy. After Saudi Star was awarded a 10,000 hectare (24,700 acres) lease in 2008, a dozen aggrieved Anuak villagers attacked Saudi Star’s compound in Gambella in 2010 and killed several employees.

Saudi Star abandoned work at the time but this past November the company announced that it would return to invest millions to grow rice using new large-scale flood irrigation techniques. Saudi Star hopes to sell its produce to Saudi Arabia under King Abdullah’s Food Security Program.

“We know we’re creating job opportunities, transforming skills, training local indigenous Anuak,” Jemal Ahmed, Saudi Star CEO told Bloomberg. “The government wants the project to be a success and see more Gambella people able to work and produce more, that’s the big hope.”

But activists say that Saudi Star’s newly invigorated project in Gambella is likely to have a detrimental impact on the local population, notably pastoralist groups like the Anuak as well as the Nuer.

“Sadly, right now, the Anuak, nearly all small subsistence farmers, are becoming refugees in their own land as they are internally displaced from indigenous land their ancestors have possessed for centuries,” Obang Metho, Executive Director of Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, told the Africa Congress on Effective Cooperation for a Green Africa.

“They have become ‘discardable’ by a regime that wants their land, but not for them, in order to lease it to foreigners and regime-cronies for commercial farms,” he added.

All told as many as 1.5 million subsistence farmers are expected to be offered voluntary relocation to new settlements where the government has told them that they will be given housing, social services and support infrastructure under the villagization program.

However, activists like Human Rights Watch and the Oakland Institute say that the relocation process has been plagued by violence and broken promises.
Instead of getting housing, villagers are forced to build their own tukols – traditional huts – and risk beatings if they speak out, says Human Rights Watch, which conducted interviews of 100 residents during the first round of villagization that occurred in 2010.

The majority of resettlements did not have a school, health clinic or even water wells, says the Oakland Institute. Lack of agricultural assistance such as seeds, fertilizers, tools and trainings, have further exacerbated the risk of hunger and starvation among families.

The traditional pastoralist communities also say that they are having a hard time adapting to sedentary farming practices in the new settlements. “We want you to be clear the government brought us here…to die…right here,” an Anuak elder in Abobo district told Human Rights Watch. “They brought us no food, they gave away our land to foreigners so we can’t even move back. On all sides the land is given away, so we will die here in one place.”

TJ Petrowski

From CorpWatch

Saudi Star Agricultural Development plans to pump $100 million into a rice export project in Gambella region of Ethiopia despite allegations of human rights violations surrounding the “villagization” program under which the land has been taken from indigenous Anuak pastoralists to lease to foreign investors.

The company is owned by Mohamed al-Amoudi, who was born in Ethiopia to a Saudi father and an Ethiopian mother. Al-Amoudi made a fortune from construction contracts to build Saudi Arabia’s national underground oil storage complex. Now a billionaire many times over, al-Amoudi has invested heavily in Ethiopia where he owns a gold mine and a majority stake in the national oil company.

Resettled Ethiopian villagers. Resettled Ethiopian villagers.

Al-Amoudi was one of the first to invest in a new scheme under which president Meles Zenawi offered to lease four million hectares of agricultural land to foreign investors and his company was also one of the…

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Stop Clearing Oromo from their Land in the Name of Boosting Economic Development: Who Will Stand for the Oromo People Living on the Outskirts of Finfinnee? February 11, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Aannolee and Calanqo, Africa, African Poor, Aid to Africa, Climate Change, Colonizing Structure, Corruption, Culture, Development, Dictatorship, Domestic Workers, Economics, Economics: Development Theory and Policy applications, Environment, Ethnic Cleansing, Finfinnee, Food Production, Gadaa System, Human Rights, Human Traffickings, Humanity and Social Civilization, ICC, Ideas, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure., Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. African Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, Land Grabs in Africa, Nubia, Ogaden, Omo, Oromia, Oromo, Oromo Culture, Oromo First, Oromo Identity, Oromo Nation, Oromo Social System, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Oromummaa, Self determination, Sirna Gadaa, Slavery, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, Uncategorized, Youth Unemployment.
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It is to be recalled that Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) was founded as the present capital city the so called Ethiopian in 1886 by a man called Minilik II. During this time, the area was inhabited by the Oromo people and the area was almost covered with natural forest. Initially the Shawa government made it seat at Ankober. Hence, before the founding of Finfinee as a political and economic capital of the king, all the areas within the present Finfinnee and the surround areas was free like any other Oromia lands. However, after 1886 the Semitic people from the northern segments and others had taken the land and the Oromo people who were used to live in these areas were forced lost their land through time.

For example, according to Central Statistics Agency of Ethiopia (2007) Out of the 2,738,248 100% total population living in Finfinnee, the total number of the Oromo people living in the city was only 534,255 (19.51%). Since its founding as a capital, Finfinnee remained the capital city for the successive Ethiopian regimes (Menilik II, Lij Eyassu, Zawuditu, Hailesillasse I, Mengistu, Melles and HaileMariam). Through time, the number of inhabitants increased and urbanization expanded greatly. The deliberate and implicitly planned mission and decision of the Semitic people to erase any sign of Oromo history from Finfinnee was started during the forcefully integration of Oromo people into Ethiopia as second-class citizens and the process has continued in the present government.

Different people mostly from the northern part of the so called Ethiopia have come from the various ethnic groups come and settled in the capital owing to its supper suitable agro-climatic and exploit the natural within the outside today’s Finfinne from the near distance in the name of work and investment. Where did those Oromo farmers go when Finfinnee became the property of new invaders? Be in mind that the Oromo’s are pushed to the peripheral areas of the capital and the number of Oromo people inhabitants decreased from time to time, as the above data depicts. The indigenous people of the land were pushed out one after the other and were replaced by the invaders from the north. What is happening to the Oromo people living on the outskirt of Finfinne today? It is simply the continuation of a process, which had resulted in a massive displacement of an indigenous Oromo people.

B. The New Master Plan of Fifinnee and Areas to be Incorporated

For the last 100 or so years the Master Plan of Finfinnee city was revised several times. The recent proposal of preparing new Master Plan for City administration that planned to incorporates all the towns and districts lying within the range of 1 hour commuting distance from the Finfinnee, justifies the blatant violation of the constitution and their voracious appetite to systematically replacing resource and land deficient people to these fertile lands owned by the Oromo people. According to the proposed plan of established the “Integrated Regional Development Plan”, an additional 36 towns and 17 districts currently administered by the Oromia regional State will be merged with Finfinnee so that the right of the land use will be determined by the central mayor .

The new Master Plan was intended to incorporate Oromia’s land locating in 100kms around the Finfinnee city. According to Ethiopia Government preparation, the following 36 Towns and 17 Districts are included in the newly planned Master plan. (See the figure 1.)

Some of the Towns are: Adama, Sodere, Mojo, Wenji Adama, Ejere, Alem Tena, Koka, Adulala, Bushoftu, Dukem, Gelen, Akaki Beseka, Godino, Chefe Donsa, Sebeta , Sendafa, Milkewa, Wendoda, Sirti, Duber,Gorfo, Chancho, Mulo, Debra,Muger , Ulo, Adis Alem, Holota, Burayu,Debre Genet, Illu Teji, Tefki, Sebeta, Boneya, Melka Kunture and etc.
Some of the Districts areas are: Adama, Dodota, Bora, Lome, Liben chukala, Adea (around Bushoftu), Akaki, Gimbichu, Bereh(around Sebeta), Aleltu, Jida, Sulultu, Ejere, Welmera, Illu, Sebeta Hawas and etc.
Today, when the world is concerned about preserving ecology and wild life in their natural habitat, it is an Ethiopian Government that is clearing an indigenous Oromo people from their home Land in the name of inequitable Economic Development. Hence, who should stand and speak for these innocent people and argue to preserve the right of the extremely vulnerable Oromo people living in the proposed territories and to preserve the indigenous Oromo people, culture, Languages and etc. Otherwise sooner than latter these great people will be marginalized and lost their identities.

Finfinee
Figure 1: The newly Developed and proposed Master Plan of the tomorrow’s Finfinne over the coming 25 years

C. The Agenda behind the “Integrated Regional Development Plan (IRDP)”

An office called “Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia Integrated Development Plan” prepared an International and National Conference on June 2013 at Adama Town, Galma Abba Gadaa. The Objective of organizing the conference of the top ranking government cadres (mostly OPDO’s) was to work on the manifesting of the proposed Integrated Regional Development Plan (IRDP) and prepare the cadre’s to work on the people.

On the Conference, it was stated that, the Purposes of the “IRDP” are:

Instrumental to unleashing Regional Development Potentials
Enables localities addressing their mutual development challenges
Enables localities addressing their mutual development challenges
Strengthens complementarities and interconnection of localities
These purposes can be the explicit or clear objectives of the plan. However, the plan have hidden or implicit agenda. Systematically bringing the land under their custody so that, it will sooner or later scramble among their impoverished people in their region. For example, the Finfinnee City Administration and Finfinnee Special Zone can address their mutual development challenges without being incorporated into one master plan. However, the Master plan is not prepared on mutual benefit as the plan is solely prepared by Finfinnee City Administration, despite the name of the office. Hence, though development is boldly emphasized, the main purpose seems to clear the Oromo farmers from their lands in the name of unfair Economic Development.

It was also stated that the Pillars of the Integrated Regional Development Plan are:

Regional Infrastructure Networks
Natural Resource and Environment Stewardship
Cross – Boundary Investments/ e.g FDI)
Joint Regional Projects
However, there seem hidden agenda behind these pillars. For example, in the name of cross-Boundary Investments, local Oromo farmers are going to lose their land for the so-called “investors” and under the pretext of promoting national economy through FDI initiatives In addition, if the plan is going to be realized natural and environmental degradation is inevitable.

In addition, the Basic Principles of the Integrated Regional Development Plan are:

Ensuring Mutual Benefits
A joint development Framework – not a substitute for local plans
An Integrated Regional Plan voluntarily accepted by participating partners
Differences resolved through negotiation and under in-win scenario
Nevertheless, the plan will not ensure a mutual benefit at it is largely intended to displace Oromo farmers from their land. In additions, the populations of the two areas are not homogenous. Hence, they have no common interest. Even though it is said the “IRDP’ will be voluntarily accepted by participating partners, the top cadres in Oromia themselves have strongly opposed the plan on the conference. Beside, the implicit objective of the plan is to remove/avoid the differences in language and culture there by to plant “Ethiopianism or Tigreans” on Oromo land. The plan is intended to say good bye to Oromo Culture and language. The other thing is that the differences between Oromo and others cannot be resolved as it is intended to eradicate Oromo identity, culture and language. As we know from history, Oromo’s never compromised on these issues. Hence, if the plan is to be implemented, peaceful co-existence may not be there.

D. Problems that may come because of the Integrated Regional Development Plan

As different sources shown, many Oromo’s living in Special Zone has already lost their land in the name of foreign direct investment and land grasping. This is because of several fa3ctories are constructed in the special zone by taking the Lands from local Oromo farmers. It is not new to see Oromo labor workers or guards in their own land. Family members are highly displaced by this measure. Many went to street. Not only the displaced Oromos damaged by this. It is said chemical coming out of the factories are also hurting the health of the remaining Oromos. It is said that “In Central Oromia, thousands of people and their livestock died due to the industrial pollution directly released to rivers and lakes.”

Taking the above as an experience, there also different reasons why the newly Master plan of Finfinne should not be implemented on Oromo people. Some of the reasons are:

1. It will bring Extreme Poverty: It is inevitable that the local Oromo farmers lost their land in the name of investment and urbanization. This means that the Oromos are systematically cleaned from their own land, as they were cleaned from Finfinnee in earlier days. Hence, the local farmers lose their land which is part of their permanent asset. After the lose their land, the farmers will going to work for 300 birrr in the factory or serve as house servant or home guard, which is already started. By doing so, the farmers face extreme poverty. In addition, the gap between rich and poor will very high. For example, one writer described the impact of “investment” saying:

“The current regime has sold out more than 3 million hectares of fertile land to the foreigner investors after forcefully displacing Oromo farmers from their ancestral land. The grabbing of land ended the indigenous people without shelter and foods. This displacement of the Oromo people accompanied by limitless human rights violations set the Oromo to be the vast number of immigrants in the Horn of Africa.”

2. Family displacement and disintegration: Members of a family will be displaced and disintegrated as a result of loosing their land. In addition, the workers of Finfinnee special zone will be displaced as they are working in Afan Oromo.

3. Abuse of constitutional rights: After long year of struggle and sacrifice of thousands of Life, Afan Oromo given constitution right to be used in administration, school and other sectors in Oromia region. This is one of the basic objectives that Oromos has been struggling. However, if the master plan is going to be implemented, working language of Finfinnee City, Amharic, is going to be used in the areas. By doing so, the local people will be forced to learn new language to use it for different purpose. The measure will take back Oromo to the “Atse” region. The Federal Constitution states “Every people, nation and nationality have the right to speak, to write and to develop their own language, as well as to express, to develop and to promote their culture and history.Article 39” will be clearly violated. The Oromo living in Finfinnee Special Zone will lose the rights that the FDRE constitution guarantees them.

4. Academic and psychological impacts on Oromo students: If the newly proposed master plan of Finfinnee City is going to be implemented, Oromo students living in the surrounding area will attend their education in Amharic, which is second language to the students. It is strongly argued that using the native languages of students as a medium of instruction is a decisive factor for effective learning However, this situation, failure to give a role to native languages and largely depending on second/foreign language instruction, brought various difficulties to students. The students are expected to entangle not only with learning the subject matters but also the language itself. It also creates difficulty to students in expressing themselves and as a result it limits their classroom participation as there is fear of making mistakes. In addition, it is a barrier to smooth classroom communication. It is also argued that use of a second/foreign language in education negatively affects the ability and the ease with which knowledge is acquired by students. It also affects the performance of students and creates difficulties in developing their cognitive skills. Moreover, giving low status to native languages of students in educational setting leads to marginalization of majority of the citizens from active engagement in the development arena. In general, the master plan will have negative impacts on Oromo students in various academic aspects.

5. Impact on Identity and Culture of Local Oromo People: The new plan will make Oromos to lose their identity and culture, like the previous regimes did. This is because people having different identity and culture are going to settle on Oromo land. The settlers will push out the Oromo identity and replace by their own. The Oromo’s will have very limited opportunity to exercise their cultural value and linguistic form. The language and cultural development will be also hampered by the new plan.

6. Economic impact: If the master plan is going to be realized, the Finfinnee City Adminstration will control all economic aspects of the areas. The income that is collected from different factories will be taken. The Oromiya government will loose great income to Finfinnee city administration.

7. Impact on Natural Resource and Environment: As the result of the plan, there will be overspread ground and surface water pollution. In addition, there will be severe deforestation and natural resource depletion.

8. Cutting Oromia into East and West Regions: The new Master Plan of Finfinne city will cut the current Oromia into two parts i.e. Eastern and Western. This is because the Central and great part of Oromia is proposed to be taken and incorporated into Finfinnee. Hence, the Central part that joins East and West will be taken.

D. What Should be done to Save the Oromo People around Finfinnee

As shown above, the master plan is so disadvantage for Oromia. In general, if we see the plan, it will affect local Oromo people in various aspects. However, the government who is supposed to represent the Oromo people is unable to see the danger. So we kindly ask the Oromos at home and Diaspora and other concerned bodies to forward ways and mechanisms to stop the intended plan. We ask the Oromo people and international communities, who will stand for the Oromo’s living around Finfinnee??

If we read an honest history of the present and past Governments of Ethiopia, we would conclude that the present Government is truly facing a difficult dilemma. At the dawn of the 21st century, we can neither run away from ourselves nor hide our realities. We have to face our generation and the historical realities of our time. It is undeniable that today, people demand respect for their human and national rights. Above all, people will not rest until their identity and their sovereignty over what is theirs is ensured. These are the peoples’ most burning issues. They realize that they have to make utmost effort of their own. It is within the context of the above-mentioned framework that the Oromo people resolutely demand their rights and freedom. It is to those who want to deny the rights and freedoms of the people that we are most bitterly opposed. It is a crime to deny the national identity and sovereignty of a people no matter how sophisticated the tactics used to do so. It is equally wrong to see the national desire of a people from a selfish perspective. It is based on the above concepts and precepts that the Oromo people continue their unceasing and bitter struggle against being treated as second class citizens. We know that our struggle is just for it is motivated by our desire to preserve our dignity and identity as a people.

We, the sons and daughters of the Oromo people, strenuously oppose the implementation of new Master Plan for Finfinne administration because we fully understand the historical development of the desire of other people to displace the Oromo people in order to benefit the non-Oromo new comers and their lackeys in this country. This highly orchestrated conspiracy, the present Oromo generation shall not tolerate at any cost. It will steadfastly and resolutely resist the conspiracy.

We also request international communities to put pressure on FDRE/TPLF Government and Finfinnee City Administration to stop the proposed Master Plan, which directly or indirectly harm the Oromo people.

We call on the Federal Government of Ethiopia, House of Peoples’ Representatives, the Federation Council, the Oromia Council to stop clearing Oromo people from their home Land in the name of inequitable Development and replacing others on their land.

Please generate comments as many as possible on what should be done about the plan.

May Waaq Gurraacha help us!

From: Sabbontoota Oromoo, Oromia.

We are always Oromo First!!!!

Sabbontoota Oromo can be reached at sabboontotaaoromo@yahoo.in

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Ethiopia: Raya under destruction

by Teumay Debesay | February 13, 2014
rayaRaya refers a tract of land stretching from Ala wuha in the south to Alaje in the north. That is bigger than Adwa and Axum awrajas combined. Historically, this is where the Weyane rebellion started in 1928 as a spontaneous reaction to a repressive system of the time. Originating in their present day Kobo wereda, the revolt would quickly spread to cover the entire Raya and Wejerat provinces. Later, the inhabitants of Enderta joined the revolt and a sort of quasi-organized alliance was formed after a decade of Raya and Wejerat rebellion. This alliance, Weyane, would emerge so potent that by its heyday it practically liberated the provinces of Raya, Wejerat and Enderta. The imperial government with the support of British Air force resorted to aerial bombardment of the rebel held areas which caused a wide-spread damage, including complete erasure of villages. However, the most detrimental factor that actually caused the demise of Weyane was to come from none other than Adwa people. In 1943, Dejazmach Gebrehiwot Meshesha along with a dozen of Adwans exploited the trust vested on them to assassinate the leaders of the Weyane movement. This is significant for in the Ethiopian tradition, at least until then, if one manages to kill the leader one will win the battle. Meshesha and co. breach of the traditional trust and value was so venomous that even to this date mistrust and resentment runs high in Raya. It is to be noted that if not for Meshesha of Adwa, the people were in a very strong bargaining position and if one has to look how similar revolts in Bale and other regions were resolved, the rebels demand for better governance was within reach. As a thank you for their contribution, Meshesha and his fellow Adwans were rewarded heavily by Haileselasse while a series of punitive attacks continued on the ‘originators’ of Weyane and ultimately Raya was divided between Wollo and Tigray.
When the TPLF started the armed insurrection in Ethiopia, it took little time to transform itself as an Adwa-only club by the same inherited act of treachery. The legacy of resentment that Meshesha and co. left means TPLF-Adwa had hard time to set foot in Raya. Hence, they needed to come up with a trick and did it so by cosmetically inserting the word Weyane in the Tigrigna version of its name. Taken with the harsher realities under DERG, Rayans reluctantly sided with TPLF on the principle of the lesser devil. Soon, tens of thousands of Raya youth joined the TPLF, including forming the majority and the backbone of Hadush “Hayelom” Ariaya’s fighting force that brought the little known“Hayelom” into prominence. However, if the experience of my village is anything, it is fair to conclude that almost all the Raya recruits ended up as cannon fodders. Those who survived, especially the independent and rational ones, would have never escaped the Meles-Sebhat death squad. In Raya, for example, it is not uncommon to talk to your relative TPLF fighter over the phone in the morning only to be notified of his death of “natural” consequences on the same day. I will say more on the motives next time. But for now, I want to draw your attention to the following Table, which is taken from the 1994 and 2007 population census of Ethiopia. I think this illustrates how the Raya and Adwa are faring under the TPLF-Adwa administration.
Table 1: Population of Raya and Adwa awraja towns in 1994 and 2007 census

Clearly, 7 towns (Robit, Gobiye, Waja, Mersa, Korem, Wedisemro, Chelena) of Raya from the total 11, i.e., 64% of the town that existed in the 1994 Census Ethiopia have died or are dying.  Well, with Adwa awraja towns the figures show a hard-to-believe growth registering as ridiculous as 1033% for Gerhusenay, Idegaarbi(377%), Nebelet(266%); even noticeable is the emergence of a novel city (Diobdibo) in the 2007 census, attesting to the developmental and modernization campaigns  in Adwa rural areas as well. The bar graph of the rate at which towns are expanding (Adwa) or shrinking (Raya) shown below can only be a proof that in the so-called Tigray “killil” both, depending on the area, de-constructive and constructive policies are in operation. To the unsuspecting, it may occur that this might have to do with the pre-1991 TPLF bandit caused civil war. However, it is not quite so for, for instance, there was no single bomb that was dropped on Adwa towns nor was a confrontation in populated areas in the entire Adwa awraja. There was insignificant causality as far as the civilian population of Adwa is concerned for the TPLF military engagement tactic in Adwa/Axum area was totally different from the rest awrajas. For example, Korem town alone might have received far more arial bombardment than the entire Adwa awraja. From SehulMikael (the Godfather of Ethiopia’s disintegration), to Meshesha-Sebhat-Meles-Sebhat(again), there exist very little dissimilarity.Raya-under-destruction2Right now, Alamata, the only remaining city not to die fast enough as Adwans would have liked to see, is under open destruction. The residents never complained on the absence of developmental activity but never expected that the Adwa administration of the city will come-up with a destruction agenda. Surprised by the revelation, the unsuspecting residents went to Mekelle to air their grievances in the hope that the big men there might be rational and take proper action. However, Abay Woldu’s administration did not give it a second to listen; just ordered more Bulldozers, armored tanks and a battalion to effectively carry out the planned destruction. Worse, those who complained the demolishing of their belonging are rounded-up and now languish in Adwa operated secret Tigrayan jails
Reference:

  1. Central Statistical Authority Ethiopia: The 1994 populaion and Housing Census of Ethiopia. Results for Tigray region, Volume 1, Statistical report.Table 2.2, Page 11
  2. Central Statistical Authority Ethiopia: The 1994 populaion and Housing Census of Ethiopia. Results for Amhara Region, Volume 1, Statistical report.Table 2.2, Page 13
  3. The 2007 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia: Statistical Report for Tigray Region, Table 2.1, page 7
  4. The 2007 Population and Housing Census of Ethiopia: Statistical Report for Amhara Region, Table 2.2, page 11

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Ethiopia’s Land Grabs And Endangered Communities: The Indigenous People Excluded from ‘Rapid Growth’ November 11, 2013

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Colonizing Structure, Corruption, Culture, Development, Dictatorship, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure., Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. Africa Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, Land Grabs in Africa, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Oromummaa, Self determination, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, Theory of Development, Tyranny.
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OThe ethnic communities living along Ethiopia’s Omo River and depend on annual flooding to practice flood retreat cultivation for their survival and livelihood. Credit: Ed McKenna/IPS

The ethnic communities living along Ethiopia’s Omo River and depend on annual flooding to practice flood retreat cultivation for their survival and livelihood. Credit: Ed McKenna/IPS

‘The government already has trouble managing hunger and poverty [among] its citizenry. By taking over land and water resources in the Omo Valley, it is creating a new class of ‘internal refugees’ who will no longer be self-sufficient.’

OMO VALLEY, Ethiopia, Nov 11 2013 (IPS) – As the construction of a major transmission line to export electricity generated from one of Ethiopia’s major hydropower projects gets underway, there are growing concerns that pastoralist communities living in the region are under threat.

The Gibe III dam, which will generate 1,800 megawatts (MW), is being built in southeast Ethiopia on the Omo River at a cost of 1.7 billion dollars. It is expected to earn the government over 400 million dollars annually from power exports. On completion in 2015 it will be the world’s fourth-largest dam.

“We are being told to stop moving with our cattle, to stop wearing our traditional dressand to sell our cattle. Cattle and movement is everything to the Mursi.” — Mursi elder
But the dam is expected to debilitate the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of indigenous communities in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley and those living around Kenya’s Lake Turkana who depend on the Omo River.

The Bodi, Daasanach, Kara, Mursi, Kwegu and Nyangatom ethnic communities who live along the Omo River depend on its annual flooding to practice flood-retreat cultivation for their survival and livelihoods.

But the semi-nomadic Mursi ethnic community are being resettled as part of the Ethiopian government’s villagisation programme to make room for a large sugar plantation, which will turn roaming pastoralists into sedentary farmers. The hundreds of kilometres of irrigation canals currently being dug to divert the Omo River’s waters to feed these large plantations will make it impossible for the indigenous communities to live as they have always done.

“We are being told that our land is private property. We are very worried about our survival as we are being forced to move where there is no water, grass or crops,” a Mursi community member told IPS.

The Omo Valley is set to become a powerhouse of large commercial farming irrigated by the Gibe III dam. To date 445,000 hectares have been allocated to Malaysian, Indian and other foreign companies to grow sugar, biofuels, cereals and other crops.

“The Gibe III will worsen poverty for the most vulnerable. The government already has trouble managing hunger and poverty [among] its citizenry. By taking over land and water resources in the Omo Valley, it is creating a new class of ‘internal refugees’ who will no longer be self-sufficient,” Lori Pottinger from environmental NGO International Rivers told IPS.

Top global financiers, including the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB), have committed 1.2 billion dollars to a 1,070 km high-voltage line that will run from Wolayta-Sodo in Ethiopia to Suswa, 100 km northwest of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. The transmission line, powered by Ethiopia’s Gibe III, will connect the country’s electrical grid with Kenya and will have a capacity to carry 2,000 MW between the two countries.

According to the AfDB, it will promote renewable power generation, regional cooperation, and will ensure access to reliable and affordable energy to around 870,000 households by 2018.

According to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s economy is set to maintain a growth rate of 11 percent in 2014. Fully exploiting its massive water resources to generate a hydropower potential of up to 45,000 MW in order to sell surplus electricity to its neighbours is central to Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation plan, a five-year plan to develop the country’s economy.

The Horn of Africa nation currently generates 2,000 MW from six hydroelectric dams and invests more of its resources in hydropower than any other country in Africa – one third of its total GNP of about 77 billion dollars.

According to a World Bank report published in 2010, only 17 percent of Ethiopia’s 84.7 million people had access to electricity at the time of the report. By 2018, 100 percent of the population will have access to power, according to state power provider Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO).

“We are helping mitigate climate risk of fossil fuel consumption and also reduce rampant deforestation rates in Ethiopia. Hydropower will benefit our development,” Miheret Debebe, chief executive officer of EEPCO, told IPS.

The Ethiopian government insists that the welfare of pastoralist communities being resettled is a priority and that they will benefit from developments in the Omo Valley. “We are working hard to safeguard them and help them to adapt to the changing conditions,” government spokesperson Shimeles Kemal told IPS.

However, there are concerns that ethnic groups like the Mursi are not being consulted about their changing future. “If we resist resettlement we will be arrested,” a Mursi elder told IPS.

“We fear for the future. Our way of life is under threat. We are being told to stop moving with our cattle, to stop wearing our traditional dress and to sell our cattle. Cattle and movement is everything to the Mursi.”

The importance of ensuring that benefits from Ethiopia’s national development projects do not come at a price of endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands pastoralist tribes is critical said Ben Braga, president of the World Water Council. Braga decried governments that failed to compensate communities like the Mursi as displacement of surrounding communities is always an inevitable consequence of major dams that need plenty of advanced planning to avoid emergencies.

“How can we compensate these people so that the majority of the country can benefit from electricity? There is a need for better compensatory mechanisms to ensure that benefits are shared and that all stakeholders are included in consultations prior to construction,” he told IPS.

Read more at the original source:http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/11/ethiopias-indigenous-excluded-from-rapid-growth/?utm_source=ipsnews&utm_medium=twitter

‘Foreign investors are taking as much as they can from an impoverished nation, including its crops, land and the hard work of an Ethiopian population, to serve their own interests above others. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 14.56 million hectares of Ethiopia’s 100 million hectare land mass is arable land, most of it cultivated by small hold, subsistence farmers. International investors have taken note and are rushing to this country, once synonymous with starvation, to take advantage of the government’s new push to improve its agricultural production capacity. But many fear the government’s sale of arable land to foreign nationals will create a modern form of agricultural colonialism. One such arrangement, launched in 2009 under Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah initiative and forming part of a $100-million investment scheme in Ethiopian agriculture, had farmers grow teff (a North African cereal grass), white wheat, maize and white sorghum, among other crops, before these were exported back to the Gulf region. The Economist referred to it as an instance of a “powerful but contentious trend sweeping the poor world”, further saying that countries which export capital but import food are outsourcing farm production to countries that need capital but which have land to spare. According to Human Rights Watch, in less than five years Ethiopia has approved more than 800 foreign-financed agricultural projects. The watchdog group further said that from 2008 to 2011, the Ethiopian government leased out no less than 3.8 million hectares to foreign investors, displacing local inhabitants and resulting in tens of thousands of internally displaced persons who are often forced to migrate to urban areas. The majority of land acquisitions occur in government-to-government deals. In the past, Saudi officials and closely tied sovereign wealth funds negotiated with former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, while presently, such discussions take place with the ruling coalition of his successor, Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe. Supporters argue that such deals increase production efficiency and improve economic outlooks but only if investors are willing to pay a fair price. In 2011, Oxfam reported that Middle Eastern and Far Eastern investors were purchasing plots in developing countries, including Ethiopia, for as little as $1 per hectare. That same year, Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc leased 10,000 hectares for a bargain price of $9.42 per hectare annually for the next 60 years. (Saudi Star, a food company owned by Ethiopian and Saudi Arabian billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi, and which forms part of the Derba group, produces sugar, rice and edible oil. The company is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.) Advocacy groups from Spain and the US commented that the government sponsored deal had caused human rights violations as well as the forceful relocation of hundreds of thousands of residents, including the Nuek and Anuak indigenous groups. The government retorted by saying that the resettlement plan was acted out voluntarily on behalf of residents. Saudi Star claims that it acted in good faith and that the benefits of the land deal – including improvements to regional infrastructure – outweighed the consequences, despite scepticism. Fikru Desalegn, former State Minister of Capacity Building in the Ethiopian federal government and current CEO of Saudi Star, played down the negative connotations associated with the controversial foreign investment. He said there was “nobody in the 10,000 hectares” and that the company had “not paid any compensation” but that the possibility of employment opening up would “teach the public it is very useful for them”. In July 2012, the Derba Group announced plans for an additional 300,000-hectare development project in the fertile region of Gambela. While no figures have been released, industry experts suspect that the lease was contracted below cost, generating approximately $923 million per annum for the consortium. The company intends to export the majority of the crops harvested, with 45 percent destined for Jeddah.’ http://www.ventures-africa.com/2013/11/land-grabs-in-africa-a-double-edged-sword/?utm_source=buffer&utm_campaign=Buffer&utm_content=buffer675be&utm_medium=twitter

 

‘From Senegal in West Africa to Ethiopia in the Horn, and down to Mozambique in the South, land considered idle and available has changed hands, with profound implications for local people and the environment. With estimates ranging from 56 to 227 million hectares globally (with 60-70% of this in Africa), what is clear is a rapid transformation of landholding and agricultural systems has taken place in the past five to 10 years. Underpinning these deals is the longstanding failure of many African states to recognise, in law and practice, the customary land rightsof existing farming households and communities, and the perpetuation of the colonial legal codes that centralise control over such lands in the hands of the state as trustee of all unregistered property. And it’s not just African land and water that are now so desirable for international investors, but also the growing African consumer market. In the face of growing urbanisation and consumer demand in Africa’s cities, the challenge is to scale up production and connect small farmers to markets, lest the benefits of rising food demand in Africa’s cities be netted by importers and foreign supermarkets. The land grab raises questions not only about land rights and transparency in investment, but also what constitutes inclusive agricultural development and how to bring it about.’ Read further @http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2014/jan/23/land-deals-africa-farming-investment?CMP=twt_gu

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