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The Myth of Development: Ethiopia’s Land loyalties, Displacement and Government Genocide in Oromia and the Omo region March 2, 2013

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‘In Ethiopia, land sales are occurring in six key areas. Oromia and Gambella in the south, Amhara, Beneshangul, Gumuz, the Sidaama zone, or SNNP and the Lower Omo Valley – an area of outstanding natural beauty with acclaimed UNESCO World heritage status. The Ethiopian government’s conduct in Omo and Oromia, Genocide Watch (GW) considers “to have already reached stage 7 [of 8], genocidal massacres”. A statement that shocks us all, and casts shame upon the government and indeed slumbering donor nations, who act not, who speak not, but know well the cruel methods, which violate a plethora of human rights laws, employed by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). A regime whose loyalties, it seems, rest firmly with investors, corporations, multi-nationals and the like, and who cares little for the people living upon the land, or indeed in the cities. The government proclaims land sales are part of a strategic, long-term approach to agriculture reforms and economic development, that foreign investment will fund infrastructure projects, create employment opportunities, help to eradicate hunger and poverty and benefit the community, local and national. The term development is itself an interesting one; distorted, linked and commonly limited almost exclusively to economic targets, meaning growth of GDP, established principally by the World Bank, whose policies and practices in relation to land sales, the OI discovered, “have glossed over critical issues such as human rights, food security and human dignity for local populations”, and its philanthropic sister, the International Monetary Fund; market fundamentalism driving the exported (one size fits all) policies, of both ideologically entrenched organisations, that promote models of development that seek to fulfill corporate interests first middle and last. Defined in such limited ways, Ethiopia, having somehow achieved impressive GDP growth figures since 2004, (with a dizzy 9.8%, average, similar to that of India) would seem to be in the premiership of development. Inflation, though, sits at 30% and, whilst unemployment in urban areas has dropped to around 20%, over a quarter of young people aged 18-24 remain out of work; high unemployment in urban areas means young women are often forced into commercial sex work or domestic servitude. Statistics compiled by The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), provide a broader, less GDP-rosy picture of the country. They place Ethiopia 174th (from 187 nations) on the Human development index (HDI), with average life expectancy of 59 years and 40% of people living in poverty (on less than $1.25 a day). The 2012 Global Hunger Index makes Ethiopia the 5th hungriest country in the world (IFPRI), with between 12 and 15 million people a year relying on food aid to keep them alive. What growth there is benefits the rich, privileged minority. There is a growing divide between the 99.9% and the small number of wealthy Ethiopians – who, coincidentally, are mainly members of the ruling party trickle down, gushing up’, concentrating wealth with the wealthy; as the Inter Press Service (IPS) 22/08/12 reports, “development has yet to reach the vast majority of the country’s population. Instead, much of this wealth – and political power – has been retained by the ruling party and, particularly, by the tiny Tigrayan minority community to which [former Prime Minister] Meles belonged.” Protagonists laying claim to the all-inclusive healing powers of agriculture and agro-industrial projects, contradict, the OI states, “the basic facts and evidence showing growing impoverishment experienced on the ground”. What about the bumper benefits promised, particularly the numerous employment opportunities? It turns out industrialised farming is highly mechanised and offers few jobs; overseas companies are not concerned with providing employment for local people and care little for their well-being, making good bedmates for the ruling party. They bring the workers they need, and are allowed to do so by the Ethiopian government, which places no constraints on their operations. Such shameful indifference contravenes the letter and spirit of the United Nations (UN) “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework.’ G.  Peebles,  http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/01/land-loyalties-in-ethiopia/

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/mar/14/why-are-we-funding-abuse-ethiopia/

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