Ethiopia’s climate risks: The Big Brother solution

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By Emmanuel Mayah

For long, the whistle has been blown on increasing poverty and vulnerability in Ethiopia caused by variability in climate with small-scale farmers and pastoralists bearing the brunt of water scarcity and food insecurity. But preferring to see its cup as half-full, Ethiopia has said it is winning the battle with the help of emerging countries in combating climate risks especially in forestry-agriculture through South-South cooperation.

The South-South cooperation is a term employed by policymakers and academics to describe the exchange of resources, technology and knowledge between developing countries. It is credited with the little success in decreasing dependence on the aid programs of developed countries and even more significantly in creating a shift in the international balance of power.

According to Mr. Melaku Tadesse of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture Environmental protection Authority (EPA), Ethiopia is on the path to building a climate-resilient green economy. With rain not coming on time anymore, collaborations have included assistance to small-scale farmers and pastoralists in adopting a variety of mitigation mechanisms. In growing number of communities, farmers are shifting to more drought tolerant crops and varieties, improved forest management practices, diversified energy sources, and alternative means of income from off-farm activities. Similarly, pastoralists have also divided pasture into wet and dry season grazing areas to better manage risk, while others have changed the composition of their heard from cattle to camels and goats, which can better tolerate dry, hot weather. The good news ends here.

Observers can hardly come to terms with Ethiopia’s glaring contradiction in policies. No one can make sense of the fact that a country which has on account of climate change severally suffered hunger and famine and indeed needs 70 percent increase in agriculture to feed a growing population is busy selling of its few arable land to foreign land grabbers. To escape their own climate change challenges, rich countries like Saudi Arabia faced with water shortages, have acquired swathes of choice agricultural land in Ethiopia to grow crops which at harvest are flown to their respective countries.  Melaku Tadesse said the policy is not land grab but land commercialization. He said there is enough irrigable land to go round. However, Prof. Karanja Njoroge of Green Belt Movement denounced the system, saying Africans have no business growing food for others when Africa imports food to feed itself.

 

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