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Hello dear esteemed managerial staffs, Risk-taking and Committed Journalists and Thoughtful and Truthful Reporters of Global Media Outlets!
Today, I kindly call up on and humanely urge you, to search, research and report on the case of drought weakening and dismantling almost all parts of Eastern Africa. Literature and memories have it that, though the intensity and severity might differ, almost all countries in this part of the world is facing some amount of pressure from drastic factors of Climate Change. Particularly, these regions are suffering from A Very Rapid Desertification locally and irreversible Global Warming universally since the last three decades. It is very sad that, we have multitudes of witnesses and plentiful of testimonies also that the deep-rooted Poverty, ever growing and rampant Corruption and other pertinent problems of Good Governance make the issue under a multidimensional media’s spotlight. This is why, this area is literally dubbed ‘a hell on the face of the planet earth’.
Recently, I, personally, observed the case of Borana, Gabra, Garri, Guji, Gedio, Sidama, Western Arsi and Eastern Shawa communities in Central and Southern Ethiopia, Northern Kenya and South-Western Somalia. More or less, people of these areas lived up experiencing droughts in the past. In these vicinity all in pastoral, agro-pastoral and agricultural settings they saw the taste of desert somehow. I also, personally have seen it. Bitterly faced it. Kept living being affected by it. I admit that I have seen peoples’ livelihood shifted, villages abandoned, children drawn out of schools, old men engaged in hard and unsafe work, pregnant women traveling long journeys in search for a can of drinking water and lives perished in vain and lost in the perching wilderness- all because of severe drought. Nevertheless, unlike the drought we are accustomed to know, this year round it is different completely. There is no place unaffected. No loopholes to take refuge for the herds and shepherds.
For instance, in the case of Borana Zone there has been no rain for the two consecutive normal rainy seasons. No fodder and water for animal consumption in any part of this area let it be Liban, Dirre, Malbe, Golbo, Sakhu or Waso. Now as we speak, in Borana, the drought is so much severe than its former status that let alone livestocks, human lives are at stake and at unredeemable risk if we fail to react as soon as we can. FYI, a rumor is being aired that quite a number of people have been died of hunger in Sakhu (Marsabit) county, around Magado in Dirre Woreda, Chari in Elwaye Woreda and some are on their deathbed around remote parts of the province where trucks can not easily travel and distribute the life’s essentials like water and food. The case of Liban areas, that is the worst case scenario though we need more details to cover much on the matter later on.
Anyway, this challenge has persisted long enough (more than consecutive 8 months now) in this area to render all community members helpless and hopeless; whether they are/were rich or poor, young or old, men or women, educated or non-educated. In these all periods of drought, the urban elites and youth groups from these communities have tried their best in easying the matter. They tried their best. They have raised funds at different levels and tried to help the drought stricken community members. Their vigor and hope is now fading. Therefore, they are pleading with the Global Communities. They say in unison, “We appreciate all efforts done by our fellow humans to help our pastoral community, in standing by our side and restoring the livelihood of rural dwellers which is very worse in comparison to towns’. Not only in the past, but also we have seen many individuals and groups supporting the rural people along with us. However, the drought is still being more severe than any time before. Despite the willingness of many Voluntary Aid Organizations and Emergency Projects to share what they have there is a huge gap in provision. We all know that, the Humanitarian Aids Organizations aim to save the lives and give us supplementary and temporal handouts at least. Unfortunately, most of them could not manage to do that because of the lack of tangible information on the ground. Leaders tend to talk about Resilience and Sustainability than our immediate need right now. We want sustainability as any other nations in the world. But now, our urgent need is food, water and medicine for survival.” They also asserted, “The governments, various social groups and stakeholders shall not keep silent on us because we’re on the brink of death. Mass death!’
Multidimensional Poverty Index: Ethiopia has the second highest percentage of people who are MPI poor in the world: of Ten Poorest Countries in The World (All in #Africa) – MPI 2015 Ranking
‘Human development is a process of enlarging people’s choices—as they acquire more capabilities and enjoy more opportunities to use those capabilities. But human development is also the objective, so it is both a process and an outcome. Human development implies that people must influence the process that shapes their lives. In all this, economic growth is an important means to human development, but not the goal. Human development is development of the people through building human capabilities, for the people by improving their lives and by the people through active participation in the processes that shape their lives. It is broader than other approaches, such as the human resource approach, the basic needs approach and the human welfare approach.’ -UNDP 2015 Report
Ethiopia’s HDI value for 2014 is 0.442— which put the country in the low human development category— positioning it at 174 out of 188 countries and territories.
In Ethiopia 88.2 percent of the population (78,887 thousand people) are multidimensionally poor while an additional 6.7 percent live near multidimensional poverty (6,016 thousand people). The breadth of deprivation (intensity) in Ethiopia, which is the average of deprivation scores experienced by people in multidimensional poverty, is 60.9 percent. The MPI, which is the share of the population that is multidimensionally poor, adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.537. Rwanda and Uganda have MPIs of 0.352 and 0.359 respectively.Ethiopia, UNDP country notes
(Sunday Adelaja’s Blog) — When Poverty and non-existent double digit growth met face-to-Face at a dumpster site called KORA in Ethiopia. As we speak, thousands of people in Addis Ababa survive from the leftover “food” dumped in such dumpsters. People, in fact, used to call them “Dumpster Dieters”. They are either the byproducts or victims of the cooked economic figures. You be the judge!
Yet the new measurement known as the Multidimensional Poverty Index, or MPI, that will replace the Human Poverty index in the United Nations’ annual Human Development Report says that Ethiopia has the second highest percentage of people who are MPI poor in the world, with only the west African nation of Niger fairing worse. You probably heard that Ethiopia has been a fast growing economy in the content recording very high growth rate not just in Africa but the world as well.
This comes as more international analysts have also began to question the accuracy of the Meles government’s double digit economic growth claims and similar disputed government statistics referred by institutions like the IMF. The list starts with the poorest.
Central African Republic
What is the MPI?
People living in poverty are affected by more than just income. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) complements a traditional focus on income to reflect the deprivations that a poor person faces all at once with respect to education, health and living standard. It assesses poverty at the individual level, with poor persons being those who are multiply deprived, and the extent of their poverty being measured by therange of their deprivations.
Why is the MPI useful?
According to the UNDP report, the MPI is a high resolution lens on poverty – it shows the nature of poverty better than income alone. Knowing not just who is poor but how they are poor is essential for effective humandevelopment programs and policies. This straightforward yet rigorous index allows governments and other policymakers to understand the various sources of poverty for a region, population group, or nation and target their humandevelopment plans accordingly. The index can also be used to show shifts in the composition of poverty over time so that progress, or the lack of it, can be monitored.
The MPI goes beyond previous international measures of poverty to:
Show all the deprivations that impact someone’s life at the same time – so it can inform a holistic response.
Identify the poorest people. Such information is vital to target people living in poverty so they benefit from key interventions.
Show which deprivations are most common in different regions and among different groups, so that resources can be allocated and policies designed to address their particular needs.
Reflect the results of effective policy interventions quickly. Because the MPI measures outcomes directly, it will immediately reflect changes such as school enrolment, whereas it can take time for this to affect income.
By Tokkicha Abbaa Milkii, http://www.ayyaantuu.net/
“We are still surprised by the prevalence of draught-induced food shortages in Africa, 3,500 years after the Pharaohs worked out how to store grain.” (The dictator’s Handbook, by Bruce Buend De Mesquita and Alastair Smith, p x-xi)
A recorded history shows that there was famine during the reign of Minilik. This famine was attributed to a plague called “ye Hidar Beshita” as their chroniclers put it. The story goes like this, “this plague killed people and their domestic animals like cows and oxen that caused a wide spread catastrophe and famine throughout the newly incorporated regions of the empire. The true story which the chroniclers did not want to mention was the plague broke out due to genocide committed in Oromia and the southern regions by Minilik army.
Somehow the plague killed millions of people and farm animals. Since the farm animals were extinct there were no means left to plow the land to grow crops. The chroniclers of the king’s history told us that the king ordered the skilled people to produce pickaxes to be distributed to the people to dig the land by hand in which the king himself participated in digging to prepare the land for growing crops. That was a “big technological innovation” discovered by Minilk to mitigate famine according to them.
This was narrated by his admirers to present Minilik as the innovative king who had concern for his people. For a shallow minded people it looks true. But Minilik who was an expert in amassing war technology like gun and ammunition from European countries to kill several millions of Oromos and the Southern Peoples had no sympathy to ask for medicine, food and farm technology aid from his war patrons.
If anybody think that this bloodthirsty monster had no knowledge how to get that aid is a fool. He had enough access and knowledge but did not want to save the subjects lives and introduce any sort of civilization into the newly incorporated regions.
To simply understand Minilik’s diplomatic ability and access to European countries it is enough to look at the next example. He amassed the next bulk of guns and ammunitions between 1968 and 1990 from four European countries with which he massacred millions of unarmed Oromos and the Southern Peoples.
Country guns ammunitions
1-England 15,000 5,000,000
2-France 500,000 20,000,000
3-Italy 50,000 10,000,000
4-Rusia 150,000 15,000,000 (Source Amharic book Written by Tabor Wamii titled “ye wugena Drsetochina yetarik Ewunetoch” p 499, translated from Amharic)
During Minilik’s reign a productive forces- all men capable of producing- from the north ( Habasha country) were forced to wage colonization war on the South (oromi’a, Sidama, wolayita,Somali, etc,) productive forces who resisted colonization. This process of war took more than two decades and during which all sort of production and progress was impeded. Therefore it is not a matter of wonder if famine and plague hit the people, because it was a man made famine and plague.
Take the case of Tewodros, he didn’t force the European missionary to produce improved farming tools. Instead he forced them to produce not even simple guns, but cannons. This shows that his appetite for mass destruction was overwhelming and clarified that Habasha rulers were and still are obsessed not with development and growth but with killing neighboring people to colonize and loot their wealth. This famine is inherent in this part of the world because the regimes were busy at war and looting the resource of the people rather than development and progress.
Out of thousands of Tewodros’s barbaric acts, to mention one of his anti-production deeds “Tewodros went to Karoda village. Karoda is known with its grain production and specially, in grape production. It was said that in Gonder one barrel of wine was sold with one bar of salt. Europeans said Karod wine was superior to European wine. He (Tewodros) ordered that grapes to be uprooted. Everybody who heard the King’s order uprooted his grapes. After that there was no wine in Ethiopia. Haleka Weldemariam wrote that, “Tewodros upon his arrival at Karoda ordered the people to be gathered at one place, 1700 people including children were gathered together. He packed all people in the houses at a maximum capacity and burnt them alive.” (Yewugena dirsetochina ye tarik Ewunetoch, by Tabor Wami, p416-417). Tewodros’s advocates try to convince us that he had a big vision for Ethiopia. I don’t understand how, the king who instead of rewarding those productive people at Karoda, burn them alive can be presented as visionary.
Tewodros never owned and resides in a palace and never settled in one place. He was called a king who lived in tent. He came to power through war, he waged war on different rival chiefs, brutally punished the people in the localities he found resistance. He committed genocide and brutal acts like mutilation of hands and legs, burning alive in mass, slain etc. wherever he set foot on. What makes Tewodros special is, even though he did the same crime on neighboring Wallo Oromos, his victims include Abisinyans. This does not mean that he had no hatred for other nations like Oromos, he had extreme rancor for Oromos and had a long intention to invade and evict them from their land. This evil intention was expressed in his letter written to Queen Victoria of England to ask for armaments to wipe out these Oromos whom he mentioned “pagans who occupied his father’s land”.
When we come to the modern era we find the Haile Selassie aristocratic and keliptocratic monarchy rule which the remnants of Naftenyas consider as nirvana. In actual fact it was as hell as the present time for the people who were expropriated their land and reduced to gabar, chisagna, slave, etc. This regime divided all the colonized peoples’ land among his invading army leaders who were changed to feudal land lords. This system of land ownership discouraged the farmers to produce in full capacity and famine was the day to day life style of the people. We can mention what famine meant to these rulers.
“Heart-wrenching images of starving children are a surefire way to stimulate aid donations. Since the technology to store grain has been known since the time of the pharaohs, we cannot help but wonder why the children of North Africa remain vulnerable to famine. A possible explanation lies in the observations of Ryszard Kapuscinski. Writing about the court of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, Kapuscinski describes its response to efforts by aid agencies to assist millions of Ethiopians affected by drought and famine in 1972.
Suddenly report came in that those overseas benefactors who had taken upon themselves the trouble of feeding our ever-insatiable people had rebelled and were suspending shipments because our Finance Minister, Mr.Yelma Deresa, wanting to enrich the Imperial treasury, had ordered the benefactors to pay high customs fees on the aid. “You want to help?” the Minister asked. “Please do, but you must pay.” And they said “What do you mean, pay? We give help! And we are supposed to pay?” “Yes, says the minister, “those are the regulations. Do you want to help in such a way that our Empire gains nothing by it?”
The antics of Ethiopian government should perhaps come as little surprise. Autocrats need money to pay their coalition. Haile Selassie, although temporarily displaced by Italy’s invasion in the 1930s, held the throne from 1930 until overcome by decrepitude in 1974. As a long term successful autocrat, Selassie knew not to put the needs of the people above the wants of his essential supporters. To continue with Kapuscinski’s description:
‘First of all, death from hunger had existed in our Empire for hundreds of years, an everyday, natural thing, and it never occurred to anyone to make any noise about it. Drought would come and the earth would dry up, the cattle would drop dead, the peasants would starve. Ordinary, in accordance with the laws of nature and the eternal order of things. Since this was eternal and normal, none of the dignitaries would dare to bother His Most Exalted Highness with the news that in such and such a province a given person had died of hunger……..So how were we to know that there was unusual hunger up north?’
Silassie fed his supporters first and himself second; the starving masses had to wait their turn, which might never come. His callous disregard for the suffering of the people is chilling, at least until you compare it to his successor. Mengistu Hail Mariam led the Derg military regime that followed Silassie’s reign. He carried out policies that exacerbated drought in the Northern Provinces of Tigry and Wollo in the mid1980s. With civil war raging in these provinces and a two year drought, he engaged in forced collectivization. Millions were forced into collective farms and hundreds of thousands forced out of the province entirely. Mass starvation resulted. Estimates of the death toll are between 300,000 and 1 million people. From the Derg’s perspective the famine seriously weakened the rebels, a good thing as Mengistu saw it. Many of us remember Live Aid, a series of records and concerts organized by Bob Geldof to raise disaster relief. Unfortunately, as well intentioned as these efforts were, much of the aid fell under the influence of the government. For instance, trucks meant for delivering aid were requisitioned to forcibly move people into collective farms all around the country. Perhaps 100,000 people died in these relocation.” (The Dictators Hand Book, by Bruce Bueno De Mesquita and Alastair Smith, P162-163)
What I mentioned above is to refresh your memory a little bit. Even though corruption and kleptocracy were not started by Habasha rulers they were the first to introduce it to Africa. H/ Silassie started hording billions of Dollars in Swiss banks long before any African country got its independence. Therefore he is considered to be the first kleptocrat, the father and teacher of corruption in Africa.
We are still in the same vicious circle of corruption and kleptocratic rule. Instead of avoiding the barbaric acts of their fathers and forefathers todays Fascist rulers modernized and continued the same barbaric acts. Instead of burning alive, mutilation of hands and legs in public like Tewdros and Minilik, and instead of killing and throwing the dead body of their victims on the streets of cities like the military junta, today’s rulers do it behind doors, in known and un known detention camps, and prison centers like H/ Silassie deed. A hidden war is waged on the people in all colonized regions too.
Therefore it is not a matter of wander if peoples of this part of the world are starved in millions year after year. All Monarchs, Communist Military Junta leaders and The Fascist TPLF Dictators are on the same set of war against the colonized people, corruption and looting. In all of the mentioned criminal regimes government revenue was and is spent on bribing supporters and left open for corruption and on buying the loyalty of a few key cronies at the expense of general welfare. Yet these corrupt dictators make sure that the people cannot coordinate, rebel, and take control of the state and endeavor to keep those outside of their coalition poor, ignorant, and unorganized.
That is what TPLF fascists are doing today. Instead of mitigating poverty and hunger they loot all tax payers money, borrowed and aid money to reward their supportrs and buy weapons with the extra money to wage war on the colonized peoples like Oromo, sidama ,Ogadeenia, afar etc. who ask for their freedom. What is heart breaking most is on the very day they preached the self- sufficiency of the country in food supply and the idea was praised by US President, the International Agencies and medias started disclosing at least 4.5 million people are starved in a “Praised Ethiopia for its double digit economic growth”.
These Fascists behave like shy to tell the truth to the people of the country they rule about the famine looming on the people. On another hand they are courageous enough to exaggerate the damage to the donor countries to attract more relief funds. Once the aid fund is secured, it is simple for them to divert it into their private accounts, rather than being steered towards famine mitigation. Letting people die is good governance for them. This is the behavior of corrupt rulers.
I want to quote “We started this chapter with an account of Hail Silassie’s shakedown of donors. By now it should be clear that this practice is all too common, and reflects the logic of privately given aid. When private donors provide aid, governments must either strike deals with them so that the government gets its cut-that, after all, is the value of aid to a small coalition regime-or, in the absence of such deals, they must shakedown well-intentioned private donors. Either way, the government must get its piece of the action or it will make it impossible for donors to deliver assistance.”(The Dictator’s Handbook, p.186) This prevalence of master thieves among world leaders is shocking.
As the writer of this book clearly stated this practice is all too common to day and the corrupt TPLF leaders are an expert in channeling aid money to their foreign bank accounts. Their so called Civil Society’s Law was declared only to shakedown donors like their grandfather did half a century ago. So this process is a vicious circle which does not go away by itself. Nothing can stop this peril except liberating ourselves from the grip of these keliptocratic fascist dictators with our own struggle and sacrifice and build democratic and accountable governance.
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:
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…
One of the most common misconceptions about the challenges in food security (the term used to describe getting people consistent access to the food they need), is that it exists due to a lack of food. That’s just not true. In fact, the world already produces more than one and a half times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. So what gives?
First, it’s important to understand that being food insecure isn’t just about lacking enough food to put on the table. It’s also about lacking access to diverse nutrient-dense foods like fresh produce. In this way, some people who are obese can actually be considered food insecure if the food they consume isn’t nutritious.
Here’s a rundown of the factors leading to food insecurity.
1) The most obvious is that people can’t afford nutritious food. While it’s up to governments to ensure that healthy, affordable food is available at all times, addressing the root causes of inequality will also go a long way towards empowering people to earn higher incomes.
2) Another barrier that stands in the way of food security is a lack of access. Around the world, people can find themselves in one of two dangerous situations: they live in areas so remote that there are limited options nearby, or they live in food deserts (urban neighborhoods or towns that lack ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.) When the latter is true, families end up buying their food from convenience stores (think 7-11) and fast food chains- both which are filled with unhealthy, processed food.
3) Distribution can be just as much of a challenge when you consider all of the things that can go wrong between food leaving its point of production to its point of sale. In the developing world, many of the roads are poorly maintained and there are few high-quality railways to transport goods to a centralized market. Imagine a one-lane dirt road in the middle of a heavy rainstorm. If a truck is delayed and it lacks adequate temperature control, much of the food could go bad before arriving at its destination. That’s a problem for the farmer, and the consumer.
4) As the planet has grown warmer and prone to more extreme weather events, small-scale farmers are paying the price. Droughts and heavy rainfall affect crop yields, and poor farmers can’t bounce back the same way that large agribusiness can. This affects consumers as well, who end up paying more when food becomes scarce. To protect farmers and consumers, world leaders and governments need to work with local farmers to fix the existing systems that leave small-scale farmers vulnerable.
5) Conflict and political instability have the power to wreak havoc on already fragile systems by interrupting distribution and isolating people. Food aid can help, but it must be done the right way- with consideration of what the local people eat, and with the intention of minimizing dependence on foreign aid.
6) Lastly, too many small-scale farmers aren’t empowered to reach their full potential– especially women. In many countries, laws exist that prevent women from inheriting the land they’ve spent their entire lives working on when their fathers or husbands pass. Similarly, women are often prevented from purchasing land, and prevented from selling their food at the market. By empowering women, more families will have the opportunity to thrive, especially since women invest more of their income in their families than men.
Furthermore, men and women alike need access to education to learn the most effective ways to grow and sell food, and they need the resources to implement the strategies they’ve learned. Without these changes, small-scale farmers are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to not only lift their families out of poverty but also to provide their communities with delicious, healthy food.
While it might feel daunting to consider how many barriers stand in the way of food security, the silver lining is that it isn’t some mystery. Experts understand what needs to be done to feed the world’s people- it’s just a matter of building support and implementing proven strategies.
Ethiopia: Proportion of undernourished in total population in 2014-16: 32.0 %.
Number of people undernourished (millions):2014-16: 31.6 (millions)
Undernourishment means that a person is not able to acquire enough food to meet the daily minimum dietary energy requirements, over a period of one year. FAO defines hunger as being synonymous with chronic undernourishment.
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
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.”
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.
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.
In the midst of fastest growth hype and official statistical lies, Ethiopia has been plagued by high rocketed prices for basic goods, intensive and chronic shortages in all sectors of economy. This is the situation of TPLF ( fascist government and monopoly) controlled economy experiencing declining production (supply deficit) relative to citizens demand for basic necessities. In dealing with bureaucratic corruption that tinkers with distribution, citizens are experiencing long queue (disutility) in cities for basic goods for which very limited supply is available. They may be approved or disapproved to get access to the purchase by TPLF local cadres decisions. It has been reported that Ethiopia’s rural areas are in catastrophic famine. Widespread shortages, spiraling inflation and famine are fueling humanitarian crisis.
This is the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa (Finfinne) where the population of the early morning standing in long lines under the blazing sun (Sunday August 2015) for the purchase of sugar and oil. Cars, children, women, old and adult, all are in never ending line. Source: http://www.ayyaantuu.net/addis-ababa-this-is-eleven-percent-yearly-growth-in-ethiopia-endless-lines-for-sugar/
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
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.
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.
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/
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
(Tesfa News) — It was with dismay that we read todayalarming 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.
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
Africa: a continent of wealth, a continent of poverty
By Tom Lebert, senior international programme officer (Resources & Conflict) at War on Want.
At New Internationalist Blog
There has been much talk of an African renaissance in recent years. Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s second post-apartheid president, has spoken of a ‘rebirth that must encompass all Africans’. So as African politicians and mining companies convene in London this week for ‘Mining on Top’ – Africa’s annual mining summit – where are the voices of civil society? Their absence speaks volumes.
Africa is blessed with a rich bounty of natural resources. The continent holds around 30% of the world’s known mineral reserves. These include cobalt, uranium, diamonds and gold, as well as significant oil and gas reserves. Given this natural wealth it comes as no surprise that, with the tripling of global mineral and oil prices in the past decade, mining has exploded on the African continent. Over the period 2000 to 2008 resource extraction contributed more than 30% of Africa’s GDP while the annual flow of foreign direct investment into Africa increased from $9 billion to $62 billion (most of this into extractive industries). However, despite being so richly endowed, and despite the mining boom of the past decade, Africa has drawn little benefit from this mineral wealth and remains one of the poorest continents on the globe, with almost 50% of the population living on less than $1.25 per day.
So, why is it that a continent with such vast potential wealth can remain so poor? It is in large part down to ‘illicit financial flows’: the illegal movement of money or capital from one country to another. The exploitation of mineral resources has all too often led to corruption and a large proportion of the continent’s resources and revenues benefiting local and foreign elites rather than the general population. Trade mispricing (and in particular transfer pricing and trade misinvoicing) is the most common way of transferring illicit funds abroad. Through trade mispricing, companies seek to maximize profits artificially through maximizing expenses in high-tax jurisdictions and maximizing revenue and income in low-tax jurisdictions. This enables corporations to minimize tax payments illegally and transfer the funds abroad.
Such illicit flows undermine social development and stymy inclusive economic growth. Instead of investing resource revenues into improving infrastructure, health and education, political elites, often in collusion with mining companies, have siphoned off proceeds from the continent’s mineral and oil wealth – lining their own pockets to the detriment of ordinary Africans.
Zambia presents as a wealthy country – the largest producer of copper in Africa and the 7th-largest globally. Yet Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 74% of the population living on less than $1.25 a day and 43% of the population being undernourished. This is in part due to a haemorrhaging of wealth, mainly to transnational mining companies. According to the Zambian Deputy Finance Minister, in 2012 the country was losing $2 billion a year from tax avoidance – around 10% of Zambia’s GDP. The mining industry was the largest culprit and the bulk of the loss was attributed to transfer pricing – where parts of the same company trade with each other at prices that they determine on their own – and to the over-reporting of costs and under-reporting of production. The situation is compounded by overly generous tax incentives provided to companies by the Zambian government.
The Zambian example is not an isolated case. Such corporate practices in the mining sector are common right across the continent. In South Africa, illegal capital flight through trade-misinvoicing (a means to evade tax) is rife in the ores and metals sector. Over the period 1995 to 2006 trade misinvoicing alone amounted to $167 million. And when it comes to fuel-exporting countries, over the period 1970 to 2008 states were losing on average $10 billion per year because of misinvoicing – the sum accounting for nearly half of all illicit financial flows from Africa during this time. Moreover, statistical data generated through the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, which was introduced in 2003, revealed that diamond production was nearly twice as large as estimated, indicating massive smuggling, under-reporting and tax evasion in the sector. The list goes on.
So, what is to be done? At the heart of any solution must be transparency. Countries need to be more open in their dealings with mining companies, put in place and enforce fairer tax regimes and anti-corruption rules, and pursue economic policies that promote diversified economies and reduce dependence on revenues from mineral wealth. International mining capital would also, of course, have to play by the rules or be held to account for its indiscretions. Such measures would go some way to ensuring that the continent’s wealth benefits ordinary people and puts Africa onto a path to greater prosperity.
Mining routinely disrupts and destroys people’s livelihoods while damaging their health and the environment. It is local communities right across the continent that are most affected by the extractives industry. ‘Mining on Top’ should be the perfect opportunity to bring these communities into the very discussions that will affect their lives. Shamefully, they’ve not been invited. So while the mining elite discuss how best to exploit a continent, ordinary Africans continue to lose out.
The ‘Mining on Top’ Africa – London Summit takes place on 24-26 June at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, 200 Westminster Bridge, SE1 7UT. On Thursday 25 June, War on Want will join London Mining Network and Gaia Foundation in protest at the failure of organizers to include civil-society representatives at the summit.
World map showing countries by nominal GDP per capita in 2008, IMF estimates as of April 2009. Sbw01f’s work, but converted to an SVG file instead. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
‘It has to be known that the social structures, the power relations, that have generated and continue to generate poverty.’
In the present world, poverty, particularly as it is experienced in the developing countries, has become the main topic to a great deal of discussion among economists and policy
makers, and there have been various campaigns going on to overcome it: “to make poverty history.” The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) project is for front of these undertakings. In these makings, the issue is absolute deprivation, and the current widely accepted standard defines poverty as living on less than $2 per day and extreme poverty as living on less than $1 per day. The $2 per day and $1 per day figures are in terms of 1990 purchasing power. The World Bank uses these standards to report each year on the number of people living in poverty and in extreme poverty. The definition of poverty in terms of absolute deprivation may make good sense. When people do not have the basic necessities – the food, the shelter, the clothing – that they need to lead a reasonable life, they are living in poverty. Although we might not agree over the exact baseline. There may look nothing wrong with the term.
However, there are problems with this absolute deprivation term of poverty. Primarily, there is the problem of whether or not an income measure can actually handle what we understand by people living in an ‘unreasonable’ condition of deprivation; not all the things that
make for a reasonable existence can be directly transformed to purchasable goods and services. Besides, there is the problem of what we mean by ‘deprivation’. Of course, economic well-being – cannot be properly measured and clearly understood by a single, absolute measure. In particular, the meaning cannot be properly captured by individual’s or a people’s absolute level of income. Actually, this issue has been widely recognized by the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI), Sen’s capabilities concept, and to some extent by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) campaign. Achieving an income goal alone does not eliminate poverty. A closely related issue is that poverty (or well-being) cannot be captured properly by any single measure or single combination of measures, such as the HDI. Both the terms of poverty and economic well-being do not take into account issues of inequality in the distribution of income or the distribution of other measures of well-being. This failure to take into account issues of distribution in defining poverty (economic well-being) is conceptually and practically problematic. If poverty is understood in absolute terms without consideration of distributional issues, the social structures that generate poverty tend to be ignored. It has to be known that the social structures, the power relations, that have generated and continue to generate poverty. As Arthur MacEwan of University of Massachusetts Boston argues: ‘To a large extent, the poor are poor because they lack power, and they lack power because they are poor. When power is brought into consideration, the focus of policy shifts towards such issues as land reform and the effective control of state actions – i.e., of the underlying factors that determine spending on health care, education and other social services. The problem of poverty, then, would be approached as a socio-political problem, not simply as a technical problem. (Technical changes can bring about changes in socio-political relations, and that is one of the reasons, in addition to their direct impacts, that they are often good. But technical solutions are less likely to be effective when they are implemented without consideration of power relations.’ For instance, as studies on the Horn of Africa recognize, the colonizing Abyssinian Ethiopian structure has been a very serious development problem in Oromia. In recent debates the UN and other international organizations are taking human rights issues to a center stage in the discussions of eliminating poverty as it is to define the post 2015 actions. Actually, individual human rights and collect (group) rights must be at the center stage in processes of poverty eliminations and achieving development. A person can be socially and economically deprived and made incapable to achieve life goals not only as individual but also because he/she is a member of a group. That is what we have learnt from the experiences and studies on indigenous people such as the Oromo nation under Ethiopian social and political structures.
As disccused in the above sources, poverty is not only a matter of lack of income. And also economic growth alone does not alleviate poverty. As it has been analysed in following sources: “The problem with seeing poverty only through the lens of income is that it leaves economic growth as the only option to remove poverty. The underlying assumption is that the poor will be someday and somehow able to earn enough money to take care of all their needs, starting with having sufficient food. The problem is that the poor also lack skills to earn sufficient money, they are denied credit or loan by the banks, they have no access to quality education and healthcare facilities, and face social discrimination and political marginalization. Therefore, it is rather naive to expect that just because the economy is doing well, they will suddenly start having good income and come out of poverty. Thanks to the efforts of eminent economists such as Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and late Dr Mahbub ul Haq of Pakistan, better ways of measuring poverty and human well-being than income have emerged. If the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) launched in 1990 provided the first global tool to probe the standard of living, a bigger thrust was given in 2010 by the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that uses 10 different indicators to probe various deprivations the poor face. An application of the MPI analysis on the above two countries reveals an entirely different picture. Ethiopia has 90 percent poverty while Uzbekistan reveals just 2 percent multidimensional poor. What we learn from this is that the society in Uzbekistan looks after its people much better than the Ethiopian society. Therefore, poverty is better understood in terms deprivations, not lack of income. Economic Growth Alone is not “Development.” The real purpose of development is to enhance the well being of people and raise their standard of living, for which economic development is an important tool. However, this tool has been converted into an end in itself. Another popular view sees “development” as technological development; other contemporary concepts of development are industrialization and increasing the GDP growth (and keep doing it forever!). The way international business is being steered through global treaties, it appears that the world is being converted into a big bazaar and people into mere tools of production and consumption. The per capita consumption has emerged as modern measure of development and hence, of the well being of people. Hence, people of “developed” nations are the biggest consumers on the planet. Rest of the world is catching fast to beat them in this competition.” http://goodpal.hubpages.com/hub/Looking-at-Poverty-Beyond-Lack-of-income
‘Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom. Poverty is a call to action – for the poor and the wealthy alike – a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities. Poverty is the state of being without, often associated with need, hardship and lack of resources across a wide range of circumstances.’http://www.fightpoverty.mmbrico.com/poverty/what.html
“Since poverty is often so linked with human development, or lack of it, the 1996 report took a special look at poverty and concluded that income poverty is only part of the picture. “Just as human development encompasses aspects of life much broader than income, so poverty should be seen as having many dimensions,” says the report. As a result, the report introduced a new, multidimensional measure of human deprivation called the capability poverty measure, (CPM). The CPM focuses on human capabilities, just as human development index does. Instead of examining the average state of people’s capabilities, it reflects the percentage of people who lack basic, or minimally essential human capabilities, which are ends in themselves and are needed to lift one from income poverty and to sustain strong human development. The CPM considers the lack of three basic capabilities. The first is the lack of being well nourished and healthy, represented in this case by the proportion of children under five years who are underweight. The second is the lack of capability forhealthy reproduction, shown by the proportion of births unattended by trained personnel. The third is the lack of capability to be educated and knowledgeable, represented by female illiteracy. The composite index emphasizes deprivation of women because, says the report, “It is now well known that the deprivation of women adversely affects the human development of families and of society.” Comparing the new capability poverty measure with the income poverty index, the report found that while 21 per cent of the people in developing countries are below the income poverty line, 37 per cent face capability poverty. That is, 900 million people in developing countries are income poor, but 1.6 billion are capability poor.” http://www.womenaid.org/press/info/poverty/cpm.html